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Gerald Albright and Norman Brown Live »

Hello all:

I’ve been listening heavily to a relatively new collaborative album by saxophonist Gerald Albright and Norman Brown called “24/7″.  I think it’s a great album.  Here’s a clip of a tune called “Keep it Moving” from that album.  I think they were performing in New York on a cruise ship.  Must have been a a lot of fun! Enjoy! 

Leon
 

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Jazz Inspiration and Advice from Russell Malone »

Hello all,

I hope everyone had a great holiday season.  Happy new year!  I wanted to start off the year with some excellent videos of Russell Malone, one the best jazz guitarists on the planet.   The first couple videos are of him playing with Dianne Reeves in Paris. The next few are of Russell telling some great stories and giving some great advice jazz players should take to heart.

Enjoy,

Leon

Norman Brown – Man in the Mirror – Fingerstyle »

Hello all,

I just found a rare video of clip of Norman Brown.  Looks like he was in Japan promoting the “Stormin” album, his first major album, sometime in the 90s.  I bet you’ve never heard him playing a Michael Jackson song before. Check out Norman playing fingerstyle! Who knew?  Amazing!

 

Enjoy,

Leon

George Benson – Guitar Man »

Hello all,

I just wanted to let you know about a great album that I highly recommend! It’s George Benson’s latest album entitled “Guitar Man”.  I think it’s just awesome.  Of course, I’m a little biased because I’ve been a Benson fan for years.  But this one’s a little different.

First, it’s a little more raw and less highly produced that some of his albums of late. It’s sounds like he’s playing with less instruments.  Not a lot of orchestral back up or overuse of synthesiszers.  Mostly the basics.  It must have taken a lot of back and forth with his record company to allow him to finally include tracks showcasing his amazing solo jazz guitar skills.  3 or 4 tracks with solo jazz guitar(chord melody) intros or full tracks (Danny Boy)  He plays these tracks with his thumb (a la Wes Montgomery) as he does on many of the other tracks as well.   My favorites are “Fingerlero” and the Michael Jackson tune “The Lady in my life”.

For us jazz guitar players, there tons of great licks to steal! So, gear up your transcribing software.  You’re in for ride!  Click the picture below to get more info abou the album. Below that is a promotional video for the album. Enjoy. 

To those who have already purchased the album, what you do you think of it? Post a comment below.

Leon

 

 

Free Live Jazz – Small’s Jazz Club »

Hello all,

I just wanted to let you know about an amazing jazz club in New York that has a free live streaming video feed for its jazz performances.  It’s Small’s Jazz Club in New York. Click on the live video link once you’re on the page. 

This is just amazing.  They have about 2 or 3 performances per night, including a jam session. These are top notch New York jazz musicians. In fact, I was just watching the Bruce Harris Quartet last night and none other than the great trumpet player Roy Hargrove showed up to jam.  He played a great rendition of Coltrane’s “Naima” and a few other tunes. I was amazed at the musicianship of the players.  I mean, everyone was good. Really good.  This was not the sort of nightmare jam session that we sometimes hear about.

I had to laugh when a singer got up and called “Just Friends” in Bb. I think only the piano player and Roy Hargrove took a solo on that one!  It’s usually played the key sof G or F. 

Anyway, check it out.  This goes on every night and you can get exposed to some great up and coming cats on the New York jazz scene.  This is expecially great for those of you who don’t live in this country and don’t really get to hear live jazz from great players.

www.smallsjazzclub.com

Here’s a pic of Roy Hargrove playing last night:

 

 

Michael O’Neill – A Superb Jazz Guitarist »

Hello all,

Today, I want to feature an excellent jazz guitar player.  Many of you have never heard of him before.  I first came across him while I was watching the Benson’s excellent “Absolutely Live” dvd (2001).  “(If you haven’t checked out this dvd and you’re a Benson fan, make sure you do get this dvd ASAP.  It’s awesome.)   As I was watching the video, I kept noticing Benson’s rhythm guitarist and I kept thinking to myself,  “Who is this guy? He must be a good player if Benson is playing with him”  So I did some research and came across his name: Michael O’Neill.  But the interesting part is that I also noticed Michael playing with Benson in the 1980′s!

Take a look at the first video.  You’ll see Michael playing rhythm guitar on the Absolutely Live dvd.  The song is “Deeper than you think”.  In the second video, I’m reposting a video of Benson playing the song “Take 5” in the 1980’s on the Tom Snyder show. Michael’s playing with Benson there too! Yes, Michael’s been playing with George off and on for over 30 years! and he’s still touring with him now in fact. Wow. That’s probably almost as long as George has been playing with his longtime bass player, Stanley Banks.

Anyway, the main reason for making this post is to hip you to fact that Michael is an excellent jazz guitarist in his own right.  He has produced many records of his own over the years and has recorded with countless top notch musicians.  The third video below shows Michael performing a masterclass on campus at the Australian Institute of Music this year.  I hope you enjoy this post and make sure you check out Michael’s website: http://www.michaeloneillmusic.net/

Enjoy,

Leon

 

 

 

Dear Fred – Letter to a Potential Adult Student »

Hi everyone, I came accross a letter that saxophone player and teacher, Greg Fishman of Greg Fishman Jazz studios wrote to a potential student. I thought it would be very helpful to my readers and it is posted here with permission. The post begins below with Greg’s explantation of the context of the letter and then goes directly into to the letter from Greg to the student. While you read the letter point by point, think about whether any of the areas that Greg points out generally apply to you. Are any of these areas holding you back?

Good luck,

Leon



Dear Fred, (Letter to a potential adult student)

A few weeks ago, I received an email from a potential adult saxophone student, asking about the possibility of studying with me. I love teaching, and I always look forward to helping new students. I responded to his request with an enthusiastic email, telling him that I felt I could really help him learn to improve his saxophone playing and his ability to learn the jazz language and to improvise.

He wrote back, stating that all of my words sounded good, but that he’s heard all these same claims from all of his past teachers as well. He asked why his lessons with me would be any different from those of his other teachers who tried and failed with him. I thought this was a fair and interesting question, and it prompted me to write this response below. It is a bit of a rant, and it should be taken with a bit of the tongue-in-cheek attitude with which it was written. I was laughing aloud as I recalled some of my more challenging students through the years.

I think that many readers will identify with the letter. For students striving to come to terms with the saxophone and with the jazz language, it will give a glimpse into the challenges facing his teacher. For teachers, it will provide a look at some of the traits possessed by some of their more challenging students through the years.

The following letter is meant to be observational, rather than judgmental. It’s not meant to place any blame for some adult (or non-adult) students being the way they are, nor is it intended to let teachers off the hook (myself included) by placing difficult students in an “unteachable” category to justify a lack of patience on their part with a difficult student. These are just some common traits I’ve noticed through the years.

Read the rest

The Life and Music of Wes Montgomery »

Hello all,
Just wanted you to take a look a great documentary series that I came across entitled: “The Life and Music of Wes Montgomery”.  The audio commentary was provided by the awesome jazz singer Nancy Wilson and produced by NPR Jazz Profiles.
Experience this excellent audio/video series and learn about one of the original jazz guitar masters!
Leon

George Benson and Earl Klugh Unplugged »

This video is great. It’s one of the few videos where George is playing without a full band. The video is George and Earl Klugh being interviewed on the Today Show by Bryant Gumbel back in the late 80s. They also play a beautiful short version of the tune “Mimosa” which was on their album called “Collaboration”. I highly recommend you buy this album, too.

 

So here’s what I’d like you to do. Watch the video and listen to the interview carefully. What did you learn from what George and Earl discuss that can improve your jazz guitar playing? Add a comment below and let me know what you think.  I’ll add another post with my thoughts.  Thanks.

 

Leon

 

 

Smooth Jazz Artists Can’t Play Straight-Ahead Jazz? »

I always find it amusing when I hear people bashing smooth jazz artists about how they can’t play “real” jazz.  Most of these artists are masterful on their instruments plain and simple. They choose to play smooth jazz for a number of reasons.  The number one reason being that they like it.  Certainly make sense to me.  I like it too—-a lot.   Anyway, here are a couple videos featuring some excellent musicians mostly smooth jazz artists playing some straight-ahead jazz well—verrry well!:

1. Tune: Confirmation   Artists: Chuck loeb(guitar), Jeff Lorber(piano),Will Kennedy(drums–Yellowjackets), Eric Marienthal (sax–Chick Corea fame), Konstantin Ionenko – Bass

2. Tune: Giant Steps:  Artists: Chuck loeb(guitar), Jeff Lorber(piano),Will Kennedy(drums–Yellowjackets), Eric Marienthal (sax–Chick Corea fame), Konstantin Ionenko – Bass

3. Tune: Sundown by Wes Montgomery   Artists:  Nick Collione (guitar), David Mann(Sax), among others.

Enjoy,

Leon