Last week I talked about the importance for any instrumentalist to listen to other instruments.
We, guitarists, can learn a lot from the piano and piano music. For it’s harmonic and polyphonic richness, it’s a landmark that we need at some point to look into, either for ideas here and there or for whole pieces of music like today’s video.
Ted Greene was a guitarist that devoted of a lot of time developing a contrapuntal approach of the guitar, with rich chord voicings and smart voicing leading. He shared his thoughts with his students and in his books, and only recorded one solo album. Despite his passing in 2005, he remains an influential teacher for any serious jazz musician. Most modern jazz player learn from him directly or indirectly, and people listen to his concepts without knowing it.
In 1977 Ry Cooder was working on a ‘traditional jazz’ album. His producer Joseph Byrd was interested in having some of Bix Biederbecke‘s piano piece played. Known mostly as trumpet player, Bix was a great pianist, and published some solo piano music, where the influence of modern classical music is flagrant. Byrd asked his friend Ted Greene to help adapting this music for guitar.
Ry Cooder is open about not liking this album : “JAZZ”. He says that this “chromatic playing” in standard tuning is not for him, he never did it before, and never did since. Fair enough.
I worship Mister Cooder, but I’m gonna respectfully disagree with him. I find the guitar playing is very interesting on this album. And I think Ry Cooder brings a great deal of feel to those arrangements. He plays as a blues and roots guitarist, not like a jazz guitarist : the result is very different from what Ted Green would have played.
I felt compelled to transcribe the piece called ‘Flashes’ -a solo piece- from this album.
Here’s a very nice video that my friend Cedric Pytel made, check his other videos -and his drumming- : he’s a talented man. Merci monsieur.
A full length analysis of the this is piece would be too long for the context of this blog : if you want to dig more into that tune, you can get my transcription here, and feel free to contact me if you have questions, I’m available for lessons in person (for Londoners) or through Skype.
Next week, a trumpet solo by Wynton Marsalis from David Crosby’s album “Croz“
Until then, take care of yourself: listen to good music !