talk­back

Post Gui­tar Tech­niques, Fu­ture Pub­lish­ing, Ivo Pe­ters Road, Bath, BA2 3QS. Email neville.marten@fu­turenet.com us­ing the header ‘Talk­back’.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

Your com­ments and com­mu­ni­ca­tions...

ALL THAT JAZZ

I’ve been read­ing GT for many years and al­ways get some­thing from it. But one genre has al­ways al­luded me – jazz. No doubt the ar­ti­cles you write on it are of great use to those al­ready ‘in the know’, but for those of us on the out­side look­ing in they can be a bit over our heads. It’s frus­trat­ing, as I’d love to make some ground in this style.

I’ve heard that with jazz you re­ally have to start at the bot­tom, learn­ing how to comp first, but above all, learn­ing reper­toire. So how about a monthly jazz sec­tion that ad­dresses that? A new jazz stan­dard each month (or a set of changes based on a stan­dard), along with melody and a cho­rus or two of solo­ing ideas cov­er­ing a cou­ple of con­cepts. For ex­am­ple: arpeg­giat­ing, sub­sti­tu­tions, chro­mati­cism, melodic em­bel­lish­ment; start­ing sim­ple, and get­ting more in­volved. The added ad­van­tage of this is that learn­ing new melodies is real world prac­tice for those of us who are ben­e­fit­ing from your Read­ing Mu­sic se­ries. I hope this idea is of in­ter­est to you, and I can fi­nally start mak­ing progress.

Dar­ren Mor­gan

John Wheatcroft replies: You’re quite right, one of the best ways to get started with jazz is to learn some pieces from the stan­dard reper­toire. You might wish to get hold of a Real Book, which is a col­lec­tion of jazz stan­dards with just the ba­sic melody and har­mony, from which you can cre­ate an ar­range­ment in a va­ri­ety of con­texts. Start with a sim­ple tune, such as Au­tumn Leaves, maybe mov­ing onto a piece like Blue Bossa, be­fore tack­ling a more com­plex tune like All The Things You Are. This would help your read­ing, along with your aware­ness of har­mony and your vo­cab­u­lary of chord voic­ings. The trick is to look out for the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the melody and the chords and for the com­mon se­quences, such as the II-V-I, I-I7-IV-IVm and so on. There is def­i­nite po­ten­tial for a GT les­son that out­lines how one might in­ter­pret all this dry aca­demic in­for­ma­tion to trans­form the ba­sic notes and har­mony into a liv­ing, breath­ing and highly per­sonal form of mu­si­cal ex­pres­sion.

THE­ORY QUERY

I want to be­gin by thank­ing you and the team of con­trib­u­tors at Gui­tar Tech­niques. I ben­e­fit from the va­ri­ety and depth within each sec­tion and it truly caters for ev­ery­one. But what hap­pened to The­ory God­mother? I al­ways looked for­ward to read­ing it, pick­ing up all kinds of in­for­ma­tion in an easy-to-di­gest for­mat. I’m sure I’m not the only one who mourns its pass­ing.

Any­way, here’s to many more is­sues. I won’t miss one of them!

Peter Jen­nings.

We dropped The­ory God­mother be­cause David Mead, who wrote the col­umn, took the job as Gui­tarist’s deputy editor, which left him no time to con­tinue it. I did think of turn­ing this page into an­other the­ory Q&A, but then re­alised we are run­ning sev­eral ‘how to’ fea­tures at the mo­ment – Chord Camp, In The Wood­shed (which re­placed Read­ing Mu­sic) and so on, so for the time be­ing we’ll stick with the cur­rent for­mat. Who knows though, she may re­turn in some form or other at some point, wav­ing her magic wand!

BIG BAD JIM

I’m proud to say that at the age of 65 I have ev­ery sin­gle copy of Gui­tar Tech­niques, since the very first is­sue when you whet­ted our ap­petites with a kind of, ‘Who’s best, Sa­tri­ani or Vai?’. I don’t think you reached a con­clu­sion there – how very diplo­matic. What I am not so proud of is that, re­flect­ing on my play­ing since I picked up the gui­tar at the age of 12, I have not pro­gressed as much as I should have. That is down to a num­ber of things, not least of all in the 1960s and 70s there be­ing no re­ally good teach­ing meth­ods – apart from Bert Wee­don’s Play In A Day book, and much later the Hot Licks tapes. There are those fa­mous play­ers such as Clap­ton and May who rightly pay great homage to Bert’s book; they were, how­ever, per­haps nat­u­rally tal­ented and ded­i­cated. For my­self I reached a plateau of rea­son­able com­pe­tence and then worked in bands do­ing cov­ers con­cen­trated on churn­ing out the next pop­u­lar chart num­ber, which didn’t did test us too much.

Enough ex­cuses! So now I have more time to prac­tise I have turned away from the elec­tric and onto the ny­lon­string and will try, with the aid of great play­ers in your mag, to strive for ex­cel­lence in the field of clas­si­cal gui­tar in par­tic­u­lar, and fin­ger­pick­ing in gen­eral.

So, how about re­quest­ing Stu­art Ryan to tran­scribe Maple Rag? I don’t think it’s ever been done in Gui­tar Tech­niques. I very much like the ver­sion by Hiroshi Ma­suda on YouTube but any in­ter­pre­ta­tion would be great.

And what about an ar­ti­cle on Big Jim Sul­li­van? He left no au­to­bi­og­ra­phy and I don’t think many play­ers re­alise what a com­plete player he was. Sadly, I think he will soon be for­got­ten and that’s a tragedy for those who fol­lowed his play­ing. He has to be con­sid­ered a pi­o­neer. Big Jim played with Marty Wilde, as you do now, and so I’m sure there must be many sto­ries to tell!

If I don’t con­tact you again it might be due to the 254 copies of GT stored in the spare bed­room, caus­ing the ceil­ing in the lounge to col­lapse on me!

John Hub­bard

We don’t seem to have done Maple Leaf Rag, it’s true, al­though Stu­art did run a se­ries of ‘pieces’ a while back fea­tur­ing a va­ri­ety of solo fin­ger­pick­ing tunes. So this is def­i­nitely worth look­ing at for some time in the fu­ture.

Re­gard­ing Big Jim: I knew him, of course, and had the plea­sure of work­ing with him on the odd oc­ca­sion. He was a truly great player but his breadth of abil­ity was so vast that it would be hard to pin­point a spe­cific style to em­u­late. Gui­tarist has been talk­ing about a se­ries on the great ses­sion play­ers and he’s bound to fea­ture, should this come to pass. In the mean­time I’ll ponder how we could cover this Bri­tish ses­sion leg­end in GT.

Big Jim Sul­li­van: Lon­don Pal­la­dium 2007 with Marty Wilde (play­ing Nev’s ES-335)!

John Wheatcroft and Pete Cal­lard: jazz colum­nists present and past

David Mead: now with Gui­tarist mag

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