Chord melody arrangements and more.
Book Spotlight
10 January 2008, admin @ 11:39 am

Spotlight #3. The next book up is The Martin Taylor Guitar Method. This really isn’t a “method” book, but it does contain insights into Martin’s way of thinking about melody and harmony. He talks about breaking down the guitar into bass on the bottom strings, chordal stuff on the next strings and melody mainly on the top strings. He touches on all kinds of topics, such as arrangement ideas, tone production, rhythm, phrasing, etc. The last part of the book has him working on the tune Danny Boy. He builds it from the ground up with a basic arrangement and then on to more sophisticated arrangements. These include a bossa nova and swing style. There is also a blues that is transcribed. This song contains many of Martin’s stylistic trademarks and it is really fun to analyze and play. Watching Martin Taylor and Joe Pass play is interesting because of all the barres and mini barres they employ. I’ve used my thumb quite a bit for chordal work and I’m getting used to this other style. Martin addresses this in the book and there are some great pictures of the left and right hand. Overall, this is a great book and I highly recommend it to chord melody players.

Spotlight #2. Jerry Bergonzi is a saxophonist who has a series of instructional books about jazz improvisation. I’ve been looking at the first book entitled Melodic Structures. You are introduced to 4 note groupings, which get your ears and fingers use to playing over chord changes. This is similar to the Jamey Abersold approach that is detailed in his free booklet. I think this is a great way to approach diffucult tunes, such as Confirmation and Giant Steps. These are songs where the changes are coming fast and furious. Knowing crucial chord tones and/or extensions can help you negotiate these types of changes. And the more you work on patterns, the more they become a natural part of your playing.

One interesting thing about this book is Jerry preaches visualization. Most players do this to a certain extent, but here it is almost a from of meditation. Here’s the quote I thought was real interesting:

“The major stumbling block to making practice time effectual is most often a lack of concentration. It’s very easy to get side-tracked by the sound of your instrument. One moment you might be working on a specific idea and minutes later you realize you’ve gone off on a tangent playing something else. When you practice visualization without your instrument it demands concentration. Very often ten minutes of visualization is equivalent to two hours of physical practice.”

I’m going to try this and I’ll let you know what I find out. :-)

Spotlight #1. This week’s spotlight is on a book by Jim Ferguson called All Intros & Endings for Jazz Guitar. This is a small book w/cd, but it is jam-packed with ideas and devices to fill out your solo guitar repertoire. The book covers many different vamps for swing and latin styles. I’ve only had a few solo gigs, but knowing a lot of vamps was essential. Knowing how to take an intro or the right chord to end a tune on is important, too. That knowledge can take a good performance/arrangement and make it great. Check out All Blues for Jazz Guitar and All Blues Soloing for Jazz Guitar, while you are on his site. These are great books if you’ve been playing rock/blues and want to get a handle on jazz. There is also an emphasis on phrasing in all of Jim’s books. I tend to stream a lot of eighth notes together when I play, so working on phrasing/spacing/editing is crucial.