About Me

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Atlanta, GA, United States
When I suffered a lip injury that ended my career as a classical trombonist, I thought my life as a musician was finished, but I fell in love with music all over again when Santa gave me a guitar for Christmas in 2003. Even as I was struggling with my first chords, I was planning a new performance career. As a trombonist, I performed with the Heritage of America Band at Langley Air Force Base, the Ohio Light Opera, and in pick-up bands for touring acts that included Rosemary Clooney, George Burns, and the Manhattan Transfer. Reborn as a jazz guitarist, I sing and play my own solo arrangements of jazz classics, am half of the Godfrey and Guy duo, and hold the guitar chair in the Sentimental Journey Orchestra. I have been a freelance music copyist since 1995 and have been music director at Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation since 2011.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Lesson #5

Continuing with my practice of summarizing my guitar lessons with Dave Frackenpohl and outlining my next assignment…

Today's lesson went well. We warmed up on the major bebop scale, and then we played Nostalgia, which is a bebop tuned based on the chord changes from Out of Nowhere. When it came time to improvise, I did a pretty decent job of throwing in some ii-V licks that I've been learning. I had some trouble improvising over these changes last week, but the new ii-V licks really helped out. I actually sounded like I knew what I was doing this time! Next, we played Bags' Groove, and before improvising my own solo, I played the two Miles Davis choruses that I had transcribed. Next, I played through my F Blues assignment from Galbraith's Guitar Comping. Finally, Dave had me sight-read Fools Rush In, which is a tasty standard that I hadn't played before.

Dave commented that my work with the Miles Davis transcription paid dividends, telling me that I was starting to phrase more like a jazz player…more laid back and in the pocket, even when I'm playing faster phrases. It felt really good to hear that from him. I've been working diligently on my time and feel. I have a long way to go, but it's nice to know that I'm making progress.

Here's my next assignment.

  • Mixolydian Bebop Scale. Learn this scale, and also practice starting at the top of the scale and descending. We always practice our scales from bottom to top and then down again, but we need to be comfortable playing the other way. I'm going to apply this to my other scales, too.
  • Diminished Scale. I already know one form of diminished scale. Dave showed me a very easy diminished form that I hadn't thought of before…and that's why I'm taking lessons!
  • Girl from Ipanema. I kind of know this already, but this is a tune that I should have cemented in my memory. It will be by the next lesson! In addition to memorizing the melody and chords, I also will be transcribing a solo of my choice.
  • Wave. Here's another great Jobim song. I know the melody quite well, but I'm iffy on the chords. Again, in another two weeks, the chords will be solid. I'm very happy to be working on this song. I find it difficult to solo over these chord changes, so it'll be good to focus on this one for a couple weeks.
  • Galbraith Guitar Comping. I have the final two choruses from the F Blues exercise to learn. I've picked up a lot of useful ideas from this book. It's a tremendous resource.
  • ii-V Project. Although Dave didn't give me an assignment, it is my assumption that I am supposed to continue learning ii-V licks from the the sheet he gave me last time. I'm not in a hurry to learn all of these at once. I'll pick one or two more licks and drill them to death so that I can incorporate them into my vocabulary.
  • Bag's Groove. I'll be transcribing two more choruses from a Miles Davis solo. For learning good jazz phrasing, you can't do much better than play along with Miles Davis solos!
I'm enjoying my lessons. My favorite part is solo transcription. It's challenging, but it's incredibly rewarding. You get to see how the great players put their solos together, and you have the opportunity to steal some of their licks. In addition to the great ear training, it's beneficial to play along with the recording so that you not only learn the notes, but you get a real sense of style and phrasing.

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