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, served as Director of Music at Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation from 2011 to 2017, and currently serve as Contemporary Band Director at the same congregation.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Lesson #16

This is a recap of my latest jazz guitar lesson with Dave Frackenpohl, who teaches at Georgia State University. This helps me wrap my head around the new assignment, and I hope it also helps others who may be on the same path.

We started with a series of 7th chord arpeggios over the melodic minor scale…1 going up, 2 down, 3 up, etc., and then working our way back down. Dave showed me a more useful fingering for a form that starts on the 6th string, but otherwise, these went pretty smoothly. Then we played through Four. He showed me some different chords to use in the B sections. I've been starting the B section on an E-flat, but Dave told me that it's more common to start on G minor. Next, we moved on to Old Devil Moon. I mainly wanted to work on this so that I could work up a good accompaniment and a chord melody solo. Dave was pleased with the chord melody solo, but noticed that I tended to rush the B section, when I switch from Latin to swing. He also questioned the lead sheet and asked me to double check other sources for the melody and changes in the last 4 measures. Finally, we started looking at When Sunny Gets Blue for the next lesson assignment.

The new assignment:

  • Continue Diatonic Arpeggios. I've worked on a series of 7th chord arpeggios over the major, harmonic minor, and melodic minor scales. Now I just need to keep at it until I can play them without having to think about them.
  • Excerpt from Perpetual Motion. This general technique exercise is from a Paganini piece. To strengthen my up-picking, I'm supposed to play the 8th notes up/down/up/down in addition to the usual down/up/down/up pattern.
  • You Took Advantage of Me. This was part of today's assignment, but I didn't work on it. I've had several gigs to prepare, and something had to go! The assignment is to listen to the Joe Pass/Ella Fitgerald recording of this song and steal as many comping licks and ideas as I can. I would eventually like to transcribe the guitar solo, too.
  • Four. I had a feeling I'd be working on this one again. I learned the basic melody and chords last time. Now, my assignment is to transcribe a chorus of either Miles Davis or Horace Silver from their recording of the tune.
  • Old Devil Moon. There's not much more to do with this song, at least as far as lessons go. I just need to check on the chords and melody at the end and put myself on a metronome to resist the tendency to rush the B section.
  • When Sunny Gets Blue. Memorize it.
As usual, I have a mix of old and new assignments to practice for the next lesson. We're getting deeper into the arpeggios and a couple songs, and I have newer material to learn. All of these lessons are paying off. It's nearing Christmas time. I find that holiday music is a good measure stick of yearly progress. You play them for about a month and then put them away until next year. This year, I'm finding many of the Christmas songs easier to play, and I've discovered that I can improvise over several of them unaccompanied, when last year I had to use a looper for nearly everything when I played solo.

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