The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
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  1. #51

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    Quote Originally Posted by rob taft
    Below is link to in my opinion the best written interview with GB. It is a long one.

    https://amhistory.si.edu/jazz/Benson...Transcript.pdf
    Just about everything I posted above is in that interview, I just tried to do a bit of a summary.

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  3. #52

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    Quote Originally Posted by dasein
    Richie Hart tells this story about taking lessons with Benson:

    Richie was already a Berklee grad, getting gigs, really could play, knew his theory inside and out, could sightread, won Berklee's "best graduating guitar player" honors the year after Sco got it. In other words, he was no slouch.

    He decided to take some lessons with Benson. First they do is play some typical forms (blues, rhythm changes, etc). In Richie's words, he "destroyed me." But hey, that was OK, because Benson was one of his heroes.

    Afterwards, Benson started quizzing him on different chord shapes. He would play something and ask Richie to identify it. This was all pretty easy stuff, since he knew his theory backwards and forwards. But he soon realized that GB was not quizzing him, but genuinely asking him the names of the chords because GB did not know what they were called. It was very much a wake up call.

    Now, I think there's this tendency to label players like Wes and GB as sort of "idiot savants" who know no theory and play almost entirely by ear. This is not really true -- they may not know the "official" names for things, but in conversations with them, you can clearly see they have a practical theoretical understanding. A good example shows up in GB's infamous Hot Licks tape. When he talks about playing a Bb blues, he mentions that he likes playing "B natural" over the Eb7 chord, because it's "more colorful." This is a B7#11, and GB goes on to demonstrate with a line that perfectly outlines that chord, #11 and all. Is he going to know that it's called a "lydian dominant" scale or that it's a mode of melodic minor? Probably not, but he can clearly hear it, play it, and understand it, so who cares.

    If there's a "secret" to GB, I suspect his experience as a singer from a very young age, singing harmony in R&B and doo-wop vocal groups, helped give him *huge* ears. Anyone whose spent a lot of time singing in choirs knows that it really helps you hear inner voices very well. Combine that with his countless gigs from an early age (he got the McDuff gig when he was, what, 19?) and growing up in an age where the borders between R&B, blues, and jazz were less rigid. Good luck getting a gig playing 200+ jazz shows a year before you're out of your teens in this day and age.
    He can sing what he plays as he's playing it, I think Django would be another where they are playing what they want and not really following fretboard patterns or strict rules or whatever, it just so happens that what they played was something some people liked.

    There is more to it than just the above, as there are players who can also do the above but just don't seem to have much appeal.

  4. #53

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    In this youtube clip I think George uses the whole tone scale and a fair few 3rd to 9th arpeggios and bebop scale chromatic like licks.


  5. #54

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    Quote Originally Posted by rob taft
    Below is link to in my opinion the best written interview with GB. It is a long one.

    https://amhistory.si.edu/jazz/Benson...Transcript.pdf
    That was a great read!

  6. #55

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    1) It is not possible to play like George Benson or anyone else who plays at that level of EXCELLENCE, without knowing your theory and being a master at utilizing it. Frankly, it's silly to think otherwise, if you understand jazz music yourself.

    2) Knowing the names of everything is NOT necessary to be able to do it.

    I just watched an interview from the 80s, where Pat Metheny was explaining that he could already play the stuff before joining Gary's band, but he did NOT even know what everything was called. He said that he could play it long before he knew the names of what it was. He said that Gary was the one who taught him the proper names of all the things he was already playing. That was after he was already a great player.

    That's what those really excellent players mean when they say "they don't use modes" or that "you don't need modes to play great." And that leaves some people scratching their heads, trying to figure out what they mean by that. They know the modes backwards and forwards, they just may not know OR CARE what the name of the mode is, because it isn't necessary to play great. Also, some players think there is a better way of thinking about them than the typical mode method. They think of the guitar more like a slide rule (Google that one up younglings, if you don't know what a slide rule is), where you can transpose things around to get different juxtapositions of sounds. Knowing how to transpose on the spot IS really important. You do not need to know the official names of the modes to do that. You just need to know where all the notes are on the guitar for that "mode" and how to transpose your musical ideas. There is a school of thought out there believing that is the most insightful way to look at the guitar, rather than the traditional modes. I'm not saying which is better, just pointing it out. It's just a different way of keeping things organized in your noggin, that arrives at the same place, in terms of your fretboard knowledge.

    Maybe George is a proponent of that school of thought? Maybe he just doesn't like showing people his stuff that much. Some players seem more open about sharing their musical knowledge than others.


  7. #56

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    Quote Originally Posted by semiplayer
    In this youtube clip I think George uses the whole tone scale and a fair few 3rd to 9th arpeggios and bebop scale chromatic like licks.

    He was still playing bebop in 1967. In the next year, he was on Miles in the Sky. Ten years later, he remade himself as a popular entertainer.

    If you were to book a lesson, you might wonder which George Benson would teach you.

  8. #57

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    Quote Originally Posted by Litterick

    He was still playing bebop in 1967. In the next year, he was on Miles in the Sky. Ten years later, he remade himself as a popular entertainer.

    If you were to book a lesson, you might wonder which George Benson would teach you.
    (just for the record, I do not believe this "miraculous lesson" idea)

    Interestingly I can not differentiate those recordings. I love all, and regardless which one I listening, I am listenig the same gutarist. Recognize him from a few notes. I do not bother about the style boxes, neither the date of the recordings. I simply forget about those when I am listening.

    so to your question the answer is simple: George Benson, the musician.

  9. #58

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    Quote Originally Posted by James Haze
    For me, a guitar lesson with George Benson would be like the greatest thing ever. We all know he’s one of the Giants of jazz guitar, right at the top of the giants of jazz guitar list. He's unquestionably one of the best ever to play the instrument. For me and I’m sure many others, many of the things he plays are so amazing and beautiful that it's really amazing. If I could ever sit down and have a 1 on 1 guitar lesson with him, I would be so happy, I would gush and have so many questions. There are so many things he plays that I would love to get some insight into how he thinks about it and comes up with those licks. His improv is so technically amazing and so melodically rich at the same time, it's wonderful. If I could get a glimpse into that genius, straight from the moth of the genius himself, I would feel like a kid in a candy store with a wad of cash in his pocket, for real.
    As phenomenal a player as he was he's never been a great teacher. Google George Benson Master Class and you will find absolutely nothing.
    There are many people in this world that have a wonderful natural gift for things but are at a complete loss for ever explaining it to anyone or imparting that knowledge to others. Wes Montgomery was the same, also Jimi Hendrix.

    You get sone 2nd hand from you know who at $800 a pop..(I refuse to mention his name as he makes me want to slash my wrists)

    They say you can learn everything about bebop from just one of Charlie Parker's tunes. The same must go for Benson.
    Your better off working him out by ear.
    Last edited by Maxxx; 12-07-2022 at 10:33 PM.

  10. #59

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    Inspired by this thread, I went ahead and got the George Benson ‘Art of the Jazz Guitar’ book and video. This is a new edition by Hal Leonard of the old ‘Hot Licks’ video (I got it from amazon uk as it was cheaper). You get a bigger book than the old ‘hot licks’ pdf, they have improved the transcriptions and also transcribed a lot more stuff. (I found a copy of the old pdf online, so I was able to compare them).

    For example they have transcribed the whole of George’s solo pieces Danny Boy, Tenderly, and a blues solo, none of this was in the old pdf booklet. The bits of the transcription I have worked through seem pretty accurate (I disagreed with a couple of notes but that’s normal to me!)

    With the book you get a code to download or stream the video.

    George does actually explain to some extent what his basic concept is, essentially it’s chord substitution taken to the max(!). E.g. on a ii-V such as Cm, F7, Bb, he plays Bmaj7 lines instead of F7. He also plays lines from other chords ‘in the cycle from B’ i.e. he means the circle of fifths from B. So he also plays Emaj7 lines instead of the F7, for example. Likewise in the chordal passages, he subs away like mad.

    I actually think the video is quite good, you get to see George playing some amazing solo chords and lines, he does a lot of playing, and the book is pretty good (notation and tab) - I’ve already managed to steal a couple of very tasty classic Benson licks from it. And his personality is very engaging, as you’d expect. It’s true he doesn’t exactly ‘hold your hand’, he kind of talks briefly then blazes away with a thousand notes etc, but it’s certainly inspiring to watch.

    So probably the nearest thing to an actual lesson with him that you are likely to get!