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Monday, July 23, 2012

Transcribing solos

It's been a busy summer thus far. I moved, which is always stressful and time consuming, plus my wife and I went to New York for a quick three day getaway. We love our new house I have a great office/studio which I am enjoying a lot. New York was great. I absolutely love that city. I always get re-energized when I go there and the city always re-comfirms my reasons for pursuing music as a life long journey. Music is a hard pursuit if done as a means to make a living but it is very satisfying and I think worthwhile endeavour.

In New York we saw some great music and some great jazz clubs. Smoke is a fantastic club on 103rd and Broadway and used to be called Augies when I lived in New York over twenty years ago. We saw organists Mike LeDonne's quartet with Vincent Herring on alto sax, Paul Bollenbeck on guitar and Joe Farnsworth on drums. Smokin' pun intended. Paul Bollenbeck plays his ass off and was a really cool guy when I spoke with him after the gig. We also saw the Christian McBride Big Band at Dizzy's at Lincoln Center. What a great band and the venue is beautiful. It overlooks Columbus Circle and Central park. Good acoustics too. I also got a chance to hang out and play with Adam Rogers for a couple of hours. Really nice guy plus he's a fantastic guitar player.

I used to transcribe solos  a lot and found that to be a great way to learn how someone like Wes Montgomery or Jimmy Raney or John Coltrane......constructed a solo. I have started to introduce transcribed solos to my lessons and am having the students learn them. Maybe not the whole thing but at least a chorus or two. It's a great way to not only learn the melody to harmony relationship that's possible in improvising but as importantly the phrasing and rhythm of the lines.

If any of you live in Toronto or plan on being here for three months in the fall I am conducting a jazz guitar improv and ensemble course starting in September.

Jazz guitar improv and ensemble classes

Jazz guitarist Sean Bray will be offering classes in jazz guitar techniques. Improvisation, chord analyses, comping techniques and repertoire will be discussed in an ensemble setting. Transcribed jazz solos will be looked at and learned to give further insight into jazz improvisation.

Classes run for 14 weeks starting in mid September until mid December. Classes are two hours each and students will have an opportunity to play their repertoire with a professional bass player and drummer during their final class.

For more info including start date and fees contact Sean at

I've been listening to:
Kenny Burrell and John Coltrane released in 1963 but recorded in 1958 at Van Gelder Studios in Hackensack New Jersey by the famous audio engineer Rudy Van Gelder. Man he knew how to record jazz. Great record with Paul Chambers on bass, Tommy Flanagan on piano and Jimmy Cobb on drums.  
Kenny Burrell is such a great guitarist with great, fat, swinging time and that full but discernible arch top tone. He plays very well with John Coltrane who was and will always be one of the most important  figures in jazz. Tenor saxophonists are still influenced heavily by his tone, phrasing and improvising. 

Nat Adderley - Work Song was recorded at Reeves Sound Studio in New York and released in 1960 on the Riverside label. Nat Adderley on cornet along with Wes Montgomery on guitar, Bobby Timmons on piano, Sam Jones, Percy Heath and Keter Betts on bass and Louis Hayes on drums. Another great jazz record on the Riverside label. The Work Song starts off the recording and what a great tune. Wes plays amazing as always and Nat really plays great on this record. Rhythm section is top drawer as well. Check it out for sure.

That's all for now.