Well, it's been a long time since I've posted. I made a lot of progress on the memorization project, but my interests now are a bit different (I will probably write a small book about memorization in the future). Currently, I'm doing a number of duo gigs with the lovely and talented jazz vocalist Jeannette O'Toole, and endings have been on my mind a lot. And, also, bass lines, learning methods and resources, chord chart accuracy, and the use of the blues in jazz. I'm just going to drop a few hints right now about the whole deal.
Chord Chart Accuracy
To connect a bit with where this blog is coming from, I'll start with chord chart accuracy. It doesn't pay to memorize the wrong chords to a song! Plus, the wrong chords often don't make as much sense as the right chords, so they're harder to memorize. There are a lot of good charts around, but there are also a lot with inaccuracies. Do yourself a favor - listen to what you're playing, and listen to authoritative recordings. If what you're playing doesn't sound quite right, do the work to make it right. Find other charts or, even better, use a tool like my SlowGold or one of its competitors to nail those chords!
I started out by poring over Tuck Andress' DVD, but I have to say that, while it is definitely worth watching and thinking about (if only so your jaw can hit the floor and bounce back), it is pretty difficult material. On a more realistic level, I've re-rented (NetFlix is great for renting music instructional DVDs) and reviewed the Joe Pass DVD, Solo Jazz Guitar, which is well worth it if you haven't checked it out yet. Joe plays and talks for nearly an hour on the subject of I-VI-ii-V. It's quite amazing where he takes it. Particularly useful is his discussion of bass lines - but the best discussion I've seen about creating bass lines on guitar (and on various comping styles) is Jim Ferguson's book, All Blues for Jazz Guitar - comping styles, chords & grooves. I used to think, "hey, I'm a good guitarist. I can knock out a bass line anytime", but I guess my standards are higher now, and Jim's book hit the spot (disclaimer: Jim's an old buddy of mine from my Guitar Player magazine writing days).
I've read some material about endings, and gotten a good bit of advice, but recordings are really where it's at for these. Since I'm working with a singer with her head in the swing era (mine is there too) a lot, I've started looking for endings on vocal recordings. Ella and Louis is a total classic (if you don't know which Ella and which Louis, it's time to stop reading and start listening right now!) and we do some of the same tunes, so that's my first great source. In the next few posts, I'll start cataloguing some of these endings, starting with They Can't Take That Away From Me, which also has a wee bit of tastily-applied blues guitar tossed in at the perfect moment. So stay tuned!