Jazz

John Wheatcroft re­turns to the jazz masters with a look at the great Philip Cather­ine.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

Philip Cather­ine is one of Europe’s finest jazz gui­tar play­ers, with a phe­nom­e­nal re­sume and the well-earned re­spect of both peers and mu­sic lovers the world over. Born in Lon­don but raised in Brus­sels, Bel­gium, Cather­ine’s fa­ther was a classical vi­o­lin­ist for the Lon­don Phil­har­monic and young Philip en­tered into the fam­ily busi­ness at the ear­li­est op­por­tu­nity, study­ing at the pres­ti­gious Berklee School of Mu­sic and turn­ing pro­fes­sional while still in his teens.

Cather­ine’s play­ing has so­phis­ti­ca­tion and in­tel­li­gence with a per­fect blend of tech­nique and mu­si­cal­ity. He is acutely aware of the lan­guage and vo­cab­u­lary of jazz and he cre­ates his phrases and im­pro­vi­sa­tions with a vi­tal­ity and pres­ence that al­ways sounds fresh, ex­cit­ing and orig­i­nal while main­tain­ing id­iomatic aware­ness and au­then­tic­ity. Philip’s play­ing is held in such high es­teem by play­ers of all gen­er­a­tions. I re­cently saw the pair of young and su­per-tal­ented French gui­tarists An­toine Boyer and Noé Reine per­form­ing one of Cather­ine’s com­po­si­tions as a trib­ute. Th­ese two are stag­ger­ingly good, so I’d sug­gest you check them out too.

What fol­lows is a col­lec­tion of 10 short mu­si­cal ex­am­ples typ­i­cal of the type of things that Philip might play in an im­pro­vised sce­nario against many of the most typ­i­cal har­monic pro­gres­sions found in jazz. As you might ex­pect, with a ca­reer as long and var­ied this is just the tip of the ice­berg. I’d sug­gest that you check out his chord-melody play­ing, his acous­tic gui­tar work and at times he’s been known to kick on his Rat dis­tor­tion pedal, flip to the bridge pickup and rock out. What would Stephane Grap­pelli say about this? Well, I’m sure he’d love it.

As usual, once you’ve learnt th­ese phrases as writ­ten then it’s your turn to trans­form them be­yond all recog­ni­tion. Lit­er­ally throw any­thing you’ve got at them. Try turn­ing Mi­nor into Ma­jor, 16th notes into triplets, phrases in C into new phrases in F. There are no rules and no lim­its other than where your imag­i­na­tion might take you. In terms of ex­pand­ing your vo­cab­u­lary this is some of the most valu­able work and best uses of time that you can ever have with the gui­tar in your hands. Maybe just take one ex­am­ple and stick with this for an en­tire work­out ses­sion, au­di­tion­ing ideas while ex­pand­ing your pos­si­bil­i­ties at the same time. Most im­por­tantly, don’t for­get to have fun. It’s surely called play­ing for a rea­son.

NEXT MONTH John as­sesses the play­ing of Amer­i­can jazz leg­end Mun­dell Lowe

I LIKE MY SO­LOS TO SOUND LIKE A COM­POSED MELODY. I’M NOT AL­WAYS SUC­CEED­ING, BUT THAT’S MY GOAL. IT’S LIKE AN ETER­NAL COM­POS­ING PROCESS PHILIP CATHER­INE

Philip Cather­ine with the tool of many a jazz great’s trade, the Gib­son ES-175

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