One of all musicians passions is listening to music. After all, we wouldn't have been inspired to play music if we had not heard, or seen, someone do it first. I'm hoping to start a few blog posts about artists and albums worth checking out. Although I am heavily influenced by guitarists, as I am one, there is a multitude of artists out there I am checking out. Hopefully through this Listen Up blog tag I can continually post about who I am listening to at any given time.
My first installment is due largely to my mass uploading of all my CD's onto my iTunes. It's 200+ albums strong right now and I decided I needed to find time each day to simply listen.
The great organist Jimmy Smith has always inspired me. I've loved the sound of the organ since I heard Wes Montgomery with Melvin Rhyne on Wes' recording 'A Dynamic New Sound'. I recently dug into my stash of music and unveiled Jimmy's 'Softly as in a Summer Breeze' album with Kenny Burrell and Philly Joe Jones. It features the aforementioned group on tracks one through four, and then it continues with a changing rhythm section and adds vocalist Bill Henderson. It's a burnin' record! Jimmy Smith plays the daylights out of that organ, and showcases Burrell playing a lot of melodies and great solos. I did not have a bunch of stock in Burrell until I heard this record. He plays so musically and can turn on the scorching at a moments notice. Philly Joe always plays his ass off and this album is no different.
After being led into the world of Kenny Burrell now, thanks to Jimmy Smith, I rediscovered I had the album Kenny Burrell & John Coltrane. Now this is an album! They play unison lines on a 'Freight Trane' and both solo like madmen. It's a little before the full blown "sheets of sound" style Trane went into, but you can sense its inception on a lot of these tracks. It's a fairly bluesy and definitely a listenable jazz album. I know people get caught up on jazz being music for musicians, but this is an album that connects with a wide range of audiences; unlike perhaps some of Trane's later albums.
I've been digging these two albums lately, but I have also put Howard Roberts' albums Good Pickin's and Magic Band II through the ringer as well. Howard is a much loved yet underrated guitarist. It's hard to see this generation behind me coming into place without having dug Howard Roberts. I was fortunate enough to buy a guitar from Gary Brunner at the Arlington Guitar Show about seven years ago. While there Gary parted a lot of great guitar knowledge onto me and gave me a lot to check out. His go-to guitar-guy was Howard Roberts. I wasn't old enough to know anyone in the jazz vein other than Bill Frisell ya'know? So I went out with my newly purchased guitar and found some Howard Roberts to listen to on vinyl. The moment he started playing it was a revelation. He has a clear, concise, but under played tone that really speaks and sometimes growls through a tube amp. He is a beautiful studio player featured on hundreds, if not thousands, of movie scores for years.
My guitar teacher at UCO tells a story about Howard: (all paraphrased from the numerous times I've heard it) "He said Howard was late to a studio recording and it was raining and he didn't have a guitar case. So Howard has a difficult time parking and has to run several blocks with his guitar in the pouring rain. It's hollow and water is sloshing around inside the body and he makes it an hour late to the studio. He apologizes to the director and sets up and nails his part on the first take."
I think that's a true testament to what a great player Howard Roberts was and the impact he left on guitarists to come has been too high to measure. He's not purely a jazz guitarist, but listen to his records, or the two albums mentioned, and you would think there is no possible way he could have time to do other music and play jazz that well too. He is truly an inspiration to me and I do thank Gary Brunner of Van Hoose Vintage for showing me the way to HR.
That should wrap it up for this installment of Listen Up. I will move my focus from guitarists after I relive my love for them a little more this week and try to make this post section a weekly project as the year progresses. Thanks for reading!
Found a great shot online of the final concert at the week-long Jamey Aebersold Jazz Workshop. I have a horrible time with names, but here goes (L to R): myself, Hannah (bass), Brian (tenor), Cole (drums), Matt (tenor), Greg (trumpet), Melvin (alto), John (pianist).
It was really awesome to work with all of these guys the first week of July. Everyone was very inspiring, especially seeing Hannah and Cole at such young ages digging into jazz so heavily. I started listening to Bill Frisell at 17 and these kids are already onto George Coleman. They will go great places and if I am ever in Iowa or Pennsylvania, I will track them down to listen.
There is a video of our performance, but it is hard to hear everyone (i.e. piano, guitar, sometimes alto.) So I won't bother posting it here, but rest assured it is on youtube. If you search around for Eric Alexander's combo a little, you'll find it.
We played George Coleman's "Amsterdam after Dark," and I plan to play it again at my recital. There will be a recording of my recital in a somewhat decent quality; although the room makes it difficult to record guitar (don't they all?) It will feature a smaller group than this and hopefully come out just as well.
I am still motivated to work hard since Aebersold. Trying to revise my playing from the ground up and focus on picking diligently. Corey Christiansen gave everyone in my masterclass a ton of tips of things to work on. In addition, check out Corey's Killer Technique video from Mel Bay. It's well worth the little it costs. Also, check out his website.
I have auditions the week of August 19th and then a recital to schedule somewhere close to the end of this year. I'll also hit the 25 year milestone in August. I hope it brings a lot of new experiences and ideas to the table. I want to spend time recording and putting some content together for graduate school auditions. I'm not worried about where or when just yet, but I want to get some recordings together that highlight what I have worked on the past three years.
Thanks for tuning in!
New shows have been added to the gigs section! Melissa and I are always excited to play at Zannotti's Wine Bar in Stillwater every chance we get; fortunately for us they have graciously booked us through the end of the year. If you can make a show please come out and do so. Our last Saturday concert at Zannotti's is August 10th, after which we will move to Tuesday's to fit within the college football schedule at Oklahoma State University. Since most game days are Saturdays, Zannotti's shifts gears allowing fans to drink and watch football live on the weekend. Oklahoma is a football state, so we are at the mercy of the college sporting gods until football season ends.
In addition, we are looking for local gigs here in Oklahoma City. We have compiled a list of contacts and plan to send out sound clips in early August. Melissa and I have done our best to compile a list of businesses we feel would best fit our sound, but we could have overlooked your favorite place. So let me know! If you're local and have a place you think would fit our style feel free to comment below or contact me.
I have been considering recording an album over spring break and next summer. It would likely turn into two albums: a vocal album and a jazz quartet/quintet recording. I am looking for a project(s) to solidify my time in Oklahoma both at UCO and the recent gigs with Melissa. Her and I would like a product we are able to sell at gigs and amongst our friends and family. On a personal level, I would like to walk away with an album showcasing what I have learned over my stay here. On top of that, I would like incentive toward writing more music. Having an outlet, like a CD, would validate the writing process rather than it sitting on my desk/computer.
So that's what I am working on. I have a recital in the Fall, hopefully on a Sunday or Monday night, which will mostly be standards and perhaps an original piece. I'm required to play a latin tune, ballad, blues, bebop, and a modern tune. It has to total somewhere between 30 and 45 minutes. My set list is coming along, but I will either need another tune, or to really stretch these tunes as far as they will go. I am hoping to enlist a quintet of players: piano, bass, drums, and saxophone with myself on guitar. I'm going to find music to challenge not only myself, but whomever I can get in my group. It will certainly be a blast and I cannot wait to rehearse with everyone and play music.
I've rehearsed all summer with musicians on Saturday at UCO. It's unfortunate how that might come to a close soon. I'm hoping to find a replacement bassist to continue throughout the year in the fall. It's been a wonderful and growing experience to play often this summer. I am happy I did not waste away in a practice room. Jazz is about communication - playing with other musicians and having a conversation with each other. I've grown a lot over these past few months both in Oklahoma and during my stay in Louisville. Each day this music gets clearer and I love it even more.
Thanks to any and all that have read all of this - you are the best!
Well, I did it. I finally moved out beyond Wordpress' blogging needs and into a much better looking website. Although options are still limited with all free websites, I feel as though Weebly has a lot more to offer as far as customization than my previous site.
Some other new happenings - Melissa and I will be back at Zannotti's Wine Bar on August 10th starting at 8pm. Come on out if you can! It is always more fun to play to a crowd. The summer tends to get pretty quiet in Oklahoma, so take advantage of a quieter wine bar experience. We are working on adding a few more venues to our rotation as well - more to come on that!
I'm very happy with my Collins Amplification 1964 Princeton Reverb clone. It sounds amazing and a big shout out goes to my father for building the cabinet. No pictures of it specifically yet, but it is featured in the photo on my about page!
If you would like to catch up on previous blog posts from my wordpress site, here's a link: wordpress
More updates to come on this exciting new site!