Jazz

John Wheatcroft looks at one of the most ad­mired, the most im­i­tated and most sam­pled gui­tarists ever in jazz and pop­u­lar mu­sic.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

John Wheatcroft un­cov­ers the har­monic de­lights of Amer­i­can jazz le­gend, Grant Green.

Grant Green ar­rived in New York in the late 1950s, and for the next two decades, un­til his pre­ma­ture death in 1979, was one of the most pro­lific and in­flu­en­tial jazz play­ers on the scene. Green’s style brought en­ergy, soul and so­phis­ti­ca­tion to count­less gigs and record­ing ses­sions, both as a leader and side­man. He spent many years as the Blue Note Records house gui­tarist, with a style that was at all times authentic, orig­i­nal, in­no­va­tive, cre­ative, funky, soul­ful and con­stantly evolv­ing. Both Wes Mont­gomery and Ge­orge Ben­son were huge fans, with Ben­son stat­ing that Grant was his per­sonal favourite gui­tar player.

Green con­trib­uted to over 100 al­bums and at least 30 as leader. His mu­sic found a new au­di­ence af­ter his death, as hip-hop pro­duc­ers were drawn to his groov­ing later-era rhythm and blues in­spired sound, and his back cat­a­logue has been sam­pled heav­ily.

Grant’s play­ing had both swing and groove. There was di­rect­ness to his sin­glenote lines and at times his sound could be pri­mal and raw. You can clearly hear his two big jazz in­flu­ences, gui­tarist Char­lie Chris­tian and alto sax­o­phone ge­nius Char­lie Parker, but he also loved James Brown and this came out in his mu­sic loud and clear, par­tic­u­larly in the later pe­riod. There was also a strong blues and gospel feel­ing to his play­ing, with tons of Pen­ta­tonic ac­tion and he favoured sin­gle notes pep­pered with the oc­ca­sional dou­blestop, rather than use oc­taves like Wes, or chord frag­ments like Ge­orge.

There are eight con­cise but com­plete mu­si­cal ex­am­ples for you to learn, loosely fol­low­ing the evo­lu­tion of Green’s style through the years. Nat­u­rally, the in­ten­tion is to learn each ex­am­ple com­plete as writ­ten in its en­tirety. Once you’ve done this, how­ever, there is a great deal to be learnt from break­ing each ex­am­ple down into smaller pieces, iden­ti­fy­ing any par­tic­u­larly ap­peal­ing short mu­si­cal frag­ments and aim to in­cor­po­rate these tiny pieces of lan­guage into your play­ing style, com­bin­ing things in real time to cre­ate longer and more per­sonal mu­si­cal state­ments.

One of the big­gest mis­con­cep­tions about im­pro­vi­sa­tion is that rep­e­ti­tion should be avoided at all costs. In re­al­ity, quite the op­po­site can be the case, al­low­ing the per­former to es­tab­lish an idea and take the lis­tener on a mu­si­cal jour­ney through each rep­e­ti­tion by mak­ing very slight ad­just­ments as they go. Need­less to say, rep­e­ti­tion formed a big part of Grant’s style, so make sure you go to the source and see if you can hear when he em­ploys any­thing sim­i­lar to the ideas you see be­fore you and cherry pick those that you like best. And, as al­ways, en­joy.

NEXT MONTH John in­tro­duces the bril­liant bluesy jazz licks of the won­der­ful Kenny Bur­rell

He could leave out two or three notes and you wouldn’t know it, be­cause you could feel the rest of the notes

Ge­orge Ben­son

Grant Green, here play­ing a gor­geous Epi­phone Em­peror

Green used a se­lec­tion of gui­tars through­out his ca­reer, in­clud­ing Gib­son and Epi­phone, and no­tably a D’Aquisto New Yorker that af­ter Grant’s death was owned by Ge­orge Ben­son. Ac­cord­ing to Ge­orge, a big part of Green’s tone came from his amp set­tings, with the bass and tre­ble turned low and the mids ex­tremely high, so we’d sug­gest se­lect­ing the neck pickup and do the same to get some of that trade­mark clar­ity and bite.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.