Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Jazz Guitar

As a vocalist, jazz came very easily to me. I was very comfortable with singing melodies and scatting.   It was never something I had to work at.  I do recall in the 80's I was criticized for having lousy diction.  I realized that to fix the problem, I simply had to learn to 'speak' more clearly.  When I moved to Maryland I found myself being asked to do jazz gigs as a vocalist. I was learning a lot of material and how different the jazz world was compared to the pop/folk world I was used to. 

As a guitarist, I dreaded the subject of jazz, I never felt I could do it.  I knew enough to sound jazzy but not enough to want to accompany myself or anyone else for that matter.  Besides, I always preferred singing with pianists. I love the harmonic colors jazz pianists tend to have, compared to most of the guitarists I was familiar with.  

After being consistently frustrated with finding piano accompanists who were usually too busy or too expensive, I decided it was time to take on the challenge of trying to play jazz guitar.  At first I wanted to take some lessons, but then things just started to come to me and I started to understand things that had never connected before.   Being self-taught has created certain habits for me. For example, I respond more to concepts rather than somebody saying "put your hand here".  And of course did I  mention that I was left-handed?    Recently I  spent some time with a friend who had some rare workshop videos of a legendary guitarist. He would zip past the dialogue to a song saying, "listen to this." I was more interested in hearing what the legend had to say.  I want to know how a genius thinks. 

I've spent many years practicing and practicing , but I was never organized or structured in any way.  Now I'm pretty thought out with what I'm trying to do before I start my routine. I even keep a practicing diary, it helps me to stay focused. I still need a lot of work, but I'm having a lot of fun.  That's what it's all about, right? :)

Here's a piece I'm working on.