May 29, 2007

Practice Jazz Cds

I got some mails of readers aksing if I can recommend them a particular kind of practice jazz cds.  Although I have used Aebersold cds a lot and I was and still am a big fan of those, I now use Band in a Box.  Of course the Aebersold cds sound better, they are played by real musicians, but I prefer the flexibility of Band in a Box.  The latest incarnation (2007) has real drums and although the other instruments are Midi, you can get a really nice sound if you use one of the free software synths and be carefull about the instruments you choose (who needs strings or steeldrums to practice?).  A simple setup like acoustic bass, real drums and Fender Rhodes sounds really good.

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May 15, 2007

Vince Lewis Trio

Charlotte Swing – The Gift

Points: 8/10

Vince Lewis, long time jazz guitarist and well known studio musician, has just released a new album, entitled “Charlotte Swing – The Gift”. This is trad. jazz that brings you back to the fifties and early sixties. Together with drummer Phil Riddle and bassist Tom Hildreth, Vince has created a nice collection of various old jazz songs, and has accomplished what probably was his goal: to let the listener lean back into that old rocking chair, close his or hers eyes and travel to a place far beyond the stress and intrigues of modern society.

The tight and steady drumming of Phil Riddle makes the perfect “landscape” which Lewis gladly explores, and the lovely, sustaining bass tones created by Tom Hildreth sets the mood. In a funny way these old songs sound fresh and new, though it should be noted that Lewis is far from a newbie on the jazz scene. The first note in “Will You Still Be Mine” shows what is to come, and “Perdido” is the perfect ending for the record. “The Gift” and “Just A Closer Walk” are in my opinion the most interesting songs. “The Gift” with its warm, hot and if I may say so, sexy feel is by far the song that sticks out, in a good way. The latter (“Just A Closer Walk”, that is) starts very gently and melancholic, only to burst out in a beautiful ballad which make you want to pick up an instrument yourself and play along.

All in all this is a very good trad. jazz CD. Vince Lewis uses his great technique and ability to play almost anything perfect to create a calm and cool feel over every song. You can clearly hear that this is a man who lives on the stage! The only thing that might disappoint someone (specially the younger listeners) is the fact that it’s all so perfect. You almost want him to make a mistake. I think it would be very interesting to see (or hear) him do something a bit more experimental. Nevertheless, this is a traditional jazz record, and people who are fond of such music will love it! All in all this is a very good record, and Vince Lewis has set his mark in the history of jazz guitar greats.

Jazz Guitar in Belgium: Philip Catherine

Philip Catherin is a jazz guitarist with a Belgian mother and English father who lived in London during the the Second World War, but returned to Brussels after the War. He worked with Charles Mingus, who called him "Young Django". In the States he is best known for his duets with Larry Coryell. Other people he worked with are Stephane Grappelli, Jean-Luc Ponty and Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen. In this video Philip Catherine plays a duet with Nigel Clark (Philip is the one on the left) on a life concert in Glasgow, Scotland in October 2006. They play a song called "Gilles et Mirona".

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May 11, 2007

Fingerstyle Jazz Guitar: George Van Eps

In this video clip you can see some rare footage of George Van Eps, the master of fingerstyle jazz guitar, playing the Gershwin tune 'I've Got a Crush on You'. In the late 1930s George Van Eps designed a 7-string guitar (with an extra bass string). He called his style of playing, later adopted by Howard Alden and John Pizzarelli, "lap piano".

Fingerstyle Jazz Guitar Tabs

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May 9, 2007

Amazing Fingerstyle Guitar

Here's Don Ross playing Michael, Michael, Michael in March 2006. Like the title of this post says, Don Ross is an amazing fingerstyle guitarist who won the US National Fingerstyle Guitar Championship twice (1988 and 1996). Don was born in Montreal in 1960 and started playing the acoustic guitar at the age of 8. He has the same record company as Andy McKee, Candyrat Records. You can buy guitar tabs of his work from his website here: Don Ross Guitar Tabs

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May 7, 2007

Jazz Guitar Videos: Bill Frisell

In this video from 1993, Bill Frisell performs Just Like a Woman on acoustic guitar on a live concert in Austin, Texas. Vely nice!

Bill Frisell's Guitar Gear

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May 4, 2007

10 Jazz CDs You Must Have Heard

  1. Kind of Blue - Miles Davis
  2. A Love Supreme - John Coltrane
  3. Time Out - Dave Brubeck
  4. 25 Greatest Hot Fives and Sevens - Louis Armstrong
  5. The Savoy and Dial Studio Sessions - Charlie Parker
  6. Getz/Gilberto - Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto
  7. Head Hunters - Herbie Hancock
  8. The Köln Concert - Keith Jarrett
  9. Lady Day - Billie Holiday
  10. My Funny Valentine - Chet Baker

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May 3, 2007

Andy McKee Tabs

I've got some requests for Andy Mckee tabs, but they are available at the website of his record company Candyrat here:

They are not free though, you pay $19.95 for four songs in mp3 format and matching quality guitar tabs and standard notation in .pdf format.  There are 5 sets of 4 songs each available.

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May 1, 2007

Guitar Practicing TIps

  • Practice regularly.  It's better to practice 1 hour every day than 2 hours every other day.  It's even better to practice 3 hours a day :-)
  • Practice things that need practicing.  Concentrate on those things that you're not good at and don't waste too much time playing things you already now.
  • Make a plan.  Write down what you need to practice on and make a weekly schedule.  Divide the daily time you have in blocks of minimum 10 minutes and give each topic a number of blocks.  Some things require practicing every other day, other more important topics need to be practiced every day.
  • Be patient with yourself.  Don't get angry or nervous when you make mistakes, you are allowed to make them.  When you are nervous you don't learn anything, so you are wasting your time.  When you do get nervous, stop practicing hard stuff, play some easy things that you enjoy.
  • Use a metronome or even better, a software program like Band in a BoxBand in a box is ideal for practicing new ideas, themes and improvisation.  It will straighten out irregularities in your timing and give you a harmonic background so you can really hear what's going on and train your ears.  It's like playing in a band.
  • Listen!  If you want to learn to play jazz music, listen to jazz music when you are not playing it.
  • Record yourself.  Record your guitar playing and be surprised!  It's like looking in the mirror.  Once again, Band in a Box is a great and easy way to record yourself.
  • Start slowly.  Make sure you can play the things you practice in a slow tempo and with a great tone, great articulation and no mistakes before you start speeding things up.  Gradually build speed.
  • Relax!  Don't build up tension in your hands, arms and shoulder.  They should be as relaxed as possible.
  • And most importantly: Have fun!

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