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  1. #1

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    I spent half an hour reading through some tunes I recognise in the Charlie Parker Omnibook - it’s not a repertoire I’ve looked at much before, but stimulated by Dutch Bopper’s videos I thought I’d try one.

    Billie’s Bounce - I found myself playing around the 10th fret up to the 15th fret, but it seemed awkwardly high. Down an octave it seemed too low.

    Is the register of the guitar just not suited to BeBop? I guess you just get on with it, make it work somehow. I imagine Billie’s Bounce is not the only one placed poorly on the guitar.

    I’m very prepared for people to say, “There’s nothing wrong with it. The problem is your poor technique!”

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    I haven’t done a lot of Bird heads either
    but I know what you mean

    i think I like it down the octave
    starting on the 6th string at the 8th fret

    but yeah .... i know what you mean

    be interesting what DB has to say

  4. #3

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    When this happens I tend to play them low rather than high, I think it just sounds better that way on the guitar.

    E.g. Billies Bounce sounds great down there where Benson plays it!


  5. #4

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    I learned it in the lower and middle areas of the fretboard. It was a very good challenge.

    One of the things that I concluded (or re-concluded) is that sax and guitar are just miles apart. We really can’t hang with them, but then they can’t play octaves or chords. Further, what instrument sounds better than a guitar? (None).

    So…. great trumpet solos might be a better fit? What about Bags on those vibes? And then of course we have bebop masters of the guitar. My point is, let the guitar be the guitar.

    Edit: Oops, I meant Donna Lee. My bad.

  6. #5

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    Years ago, I did a few concerts with virtuoso jazz guitarist Mimi Fox. For one set, she suggested we play Donna Lee. I suggested that we play the head together. When we tried it out, it turned out that I played the head up high and she played it down low. It worked out well. (it would have been even better for me had we done it a bit slower, but Mimi plays that stuff fast. Why? Because she can. )

    That melody sounds good on the guitar wherever you play it. Like all Parker heads do. Play it where you like it. Your hands will find it a bit awkward no matter where you play it.

  7. #6

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    Bebop is very tough on the guitar, in general.

    BTW - George may not have played bebop like Martino did, but he laid down enough bop lines in the above solo to make the point that he could weave bebop lines at will, and then did was he always did - kept it musical and interesting.

  8. #7

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    My little suede shoes sounds great on frets 8-11! Just right… but I did read it an octave lower at first. Maybe the alto heads are higher up and tenor heads down a bit…

  9. #8

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    Lots of these tunes are in concert C, F, or Bb. The ones in C (e.g. Yardbird) and Bb (e.g. Anthropology and other rhythm changes tunes) I tend to play in the middle of the neck, as also Ornithology in concert G. The tunes in F (BFA, Au Privave) I usually play in first position (fingerstyle with open strings), except Scrapple which I like up the octave. I find it is often easier (for me) to reach up the neck rather than down but I know players who prefer the reverse. And of course you could always transpose to another key. Books like 50 Bebop Heads and CP for Guitar tend to put things above the 12th fret, but I think they often sound better in the lower octave. (And I am partial to guitars without cutaways ...)

  10. #9

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    I just go by what sounds best, and that usually results from the years I spent listening to the masters of bop, Bird, Phil Woods, Stitt, etc...
    But playing something like Donna Lee is just impractical on the 15th fret, so it's gotta go down 8va,

    I don't like the sound of Benson playing BB down so low. You can play it up 8va.
    Same thing with Joe Pass playing Joyspring down an octave. I play it up 8va because it sounds joyous, like Brownie meant it to sound.
    Ornithology up 8va.
    Anthopology in 5th pos. Up 8va is impractical.
    And so on YMMV.

  11. #10

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    A variety of approaches there. I’ve avoided playing bebop as I just don’t have the speed technique, and sad to admit can’t be bothered putting in the graft. But there are a few pieces I’d enjoy playing at a somewhat slower speed. I’ll just do what sounds right to/for me.

  12. #11

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    Here’s a vid I did

  13. #12

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    Do you ever wish you hadn’t started a thread? I appreciate all the comments, but I’m sitting here thinking “Why did I ask a question that I know the answer to?”

    Thanks for the video, Christian, and of course I understood and already do everything you said, but I particularly liked the very last point about left-hand-only playing. I’ve done that in other contexts. In a classical context I call it a cross-string slur. It’s rarely mentioned in classical pedagogy, but you’ll find it in early Segovia editions, and even earlier, though seems to have fallen out of fashion.

    In short, I just need to get to work…see you later!
    Last edited by Rob MacKillop; 11-24-2021 at 05:49 AM.

  14. #13

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    Speed aside, I just try to play the melodies all over the neck, on different strings, different movements. After a while, it's similar licks, and they just fall in place.

    My weakest is always the lower strings, so extra practice time there!

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob MacKillop
    I spent half an hour reading through some tunes I recognise in the Charlie Parker Omnibook - it’s not a repertoire I’ve looked at much before, but stimulated by Dutch Bopper’s videos I thought I’d try one.

    Billie’s Bounce - I found myself playing around the 10th fret up to the 15th fret, but it seemed awkwardly high. Down an octave it seemed too low.

    Is the register of the guitar just not suited to BeBop? I guess you just get on with it, make it work somehow. I imagine Billie’s Bounce is not the only one placed poorly on the guitar.

    I’m very prepared for people to say, “There’s nothing wrong with it. The problem is your poor technique!”
    Like I said when I posted my video wil 10 Bird heads, I vastly prefer to play them as low in the register as possible. That's what you see me doing often. There exceptions in the vid but that is because I happened to learn these higher up the neck decades ago and did not feel like relearning them again. But the sound of bebop heads in the lower register I vastly prefer. Joe Pass often played them like that too.

    There is this book with 50 bebop heads arranged for guitar but it is useless because they are mostly played too high up the neck. That renders some of these unnecessarily hard to play and we all know that playing so high up the neck does not sound very good in the first place.

    Speed is a prerequisite for learning some of those heads (Confirmation, Donna Lee etc.), especially if you play them in the original tempi.

    DB
    Last edited by Dutchbopper; 11-24-2021 at 06:50 AM.

  16. #15

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    I play a lot of Bird's heads 8vb. They were written for alto & trumpet, not guitar, and IMO 'up there' tend to be out of tune and even strident sounding if you use too much treble. Scrapple From the Apple, for example, sounds and plays fine starting in 3rd position. Up high it would sound strained. Donna Lee (attributed to Miles) same thing. Confirmation, ditto---harsh and strident in the alto-trumpet range (and hard enough to play period). Dizzy's Con Alma sounds good on guitar exactly where it was written. I play it around 7th, with Diz's 2nd parallel part that Les Spann showed me once underneath (1st note D#, space below F on treble clef, with lead starting on G # a 4th above). Yardbird Suite is good w/1st note C, 2nd space from top of treble clef, 8th fret. That's mid-range for us, and it sounds and plays good there. Pettiford's Trictotism gets up pretty high played 8va in Db. The tenor on his recording, Lucky Thompson, IIRC plays it in what would be our mid to low range. Guitar sounds good in that range. Lucky plays it in unison with and Oscar and it sounds good. Bass and tenor are a nice blend, like guitar and tenor.*

    And yes to not picking every note. That would sound ridiculous, ESPECIALLY up high. I guess it would work for other music styles. We have to simulate an air column and 'breathe' by glissing more playing jazz single-string style on a guitar. They're horn tunes and should be executed in horn-like fashion. That takes a lot of years and work. Jimmy Raney and Jim Hall are perfect examples of successful adoption of horn phrasing/breathing on guitar


    *But then I favor a dark sound and play a lot in mid to low range, so I'm not w/o opinions or prejudice. I hear a flugelhorn and try to make the guitar sound like that in single note playing. That's just me. I'm sure there are some who can pull it off and sound good in the written range. That's what makes jazz jazz: there's no one way. The way that makes sense for how YOU hear and play is the way for you...

  17. #16

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    Thanks, guys.

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dutchbopper
    There is this book with 50 bebop heads arranged for guitar but it is useless because they are mostly played too high up the neck. That renders some of these unnecessarily hard to play and we all know that playing so high up the neck does not sound very good in the first place.
    lol I have that book and it is mostly crap, for the reasons you say. I have never used it!

  19. #18

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    Jim Hall has a great book, "Exploring Jazz Guitar', where he goes into great detail about his fingering choices on his tune Big Blues, (not quite as intricate as Billies Bounce, but more than a Sonnymoon/Bags Groove riff) I really took his advice to heart and try to work out as many different positions and registers for a bop head. I look for the smoothest and clearest-speaking fingering for each phrase rather than trying to play the whole thing 'in position', my 8vb fingerings for Billie's Bounce go from the first fret to the eighth or ninth, up an octave I jump around a lot on the high E string. For bop heads in general, sometimes I'll shift octaves for a certain phrase or adjust an eighth note here or there for the sake of flow...

    PK

  20. #19

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    Oh yeah, playing in position is a big mistake for this stuff...

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Donplaysguitar

    One of the things that I concluded (or re-concluded) is that sax and guitar are just miles apart. We really can’t hang with them, but then they can’t play octaves or chords...
    Please don't take this the wrong way, and I certainly don't mean to tell you or anyone else how to approach playing, but:

    I'm a little troubled when you say 'we really can't hang with them'. That could be a self-limiting conclusion for us, since the vocab of our music originates from the horn and piano players. Yes, horns can't do what we do, and, yes, I appreciate and love the unique qualities of our instrument, like the orchestral aspects you broach when you mention chords. Of course you are right.

    But the direction of jazz guitar since Charlie Christian as a soloing instrument has been in large part transferring info from the leading sax and trumpet players to guitar, then combining that with our resources, i.e. chords or just more than one note at a time. I think the master bebop soloists you bring up did that. Early in the game Jimmy Raney was processing Charlie Parker and using that 'simulated air column' concept where a guitarist doesn't pick every note, but glisses; uses dynamics and touch and phrases in a way where it sounds like breathing. Many others since him have picked up the gauntlet.

    For me it's not like we have to 'hang with them' or that our instrument is inferior to play jazz on---or that we should ignore our own proud tradition. It's more like that's that's where the advanced improvising info is. Think about it: we came late to the party as soloists. Though there were exceptions we mainly didn't really advance from rhythm section roles to being considered jazz soloists until after the advent of pickups. The 1st recorded amplified guitar solos in jazz were by Eddie Durham, in the late '30s. Coleman Hawkins and Pops were out there setting standards for every instrument as early as the early '20s. (Then there was a learning curve even for accomplished players after that, which took some time). Since there weren't really guitar innovators recording solos that early, when it came our turn to 'speak' naturally we gravitated to the horn players.

    It's just the way I view it after years of listening and playing. Again, no slam on your views. I hear you loud and clear. It ain't easy...
    Last edited by joelf; 11-25-2021 at 04:21 PM.

  22. #21
    I know what you mean about Billie’s Bounce. I guess you could play it in Eb. These tunes were definitely not written with the guitar in mind, but we play them because they’re in the repertoire and they do stretch you.

  23. #22

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    I tend to like 'em low.

  24. #23

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    FWIW here's how I play the head:


  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop
    When this happens I tend to play them low rather than high, I think it just sounds better that way on the guitar.

    E.g. Billies Bounce sounds great down there where Benson plays it!

    I don't have this recording, heard the track before. Is Ron Carter playing bass? The bass is doubling the melody the 1st chorus, and the sound is so dark and relaxed.

    Good stuff...

  26. #25

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    Yes it’s Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock, Billy Cobham (and Johnny Pacheco on congas).