Friday, December 30, 2005


Everything you could ever, Ever, EVER want to know about Django Reinhart.

(Art by John Froehlich)

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Pat Martino Interview

Here is moving, in-depth interview with Pat Martino, a truly treat jazz musician. Martino suffered a aneurism in the late 1980s, and had to relearn the guitar, using his own music as guidance. He has faced many health and personal challenges, which are openly discussed in this interview.

His comback album, The Return was released in 1987, and he has released a number of superb recordings since then.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Joe Pass and Ella Fitzgerald

I've always thought that some of Joe Pass's best guitar playing appears on his recordings with Ella Fitzgerald. He comps beautifully while she is singing, and then lets loose with amazing solos during the breaks. The four albums are: Take Love Easy (1973), Fitzgerald and Pass... Again (1976), Speak Love (1983) and Easy Living (1986).

Friday, December 23, 2005

Can You Learn to Play the Guitar (I mean REALLY play the guitar) From Internet Lessons?

My take is that the jury is still out, but the odds are against it. The two major "learning" sites that I've used are Vision Music, by Mark Stefani. This awkwardly constructed site has "lessons" and jam tracks by a number of well known guitarists, and it certainly is worth exploring for a low monthly membership fee. But, the site's construction and organization is confusing, and I found that after using it for a few months there wasn't enough depth to keep me interested.

The second site is Truefire ("ignited we stand") a flashy, ambitious site that provides mini-lessons in a variety of styles, interactive video play, and DVD lesson packages such as Jazz U. I purchased Jazz U, and it turned out to be a series (a very large series) of lessons from back issues of Guitar Player Magazine. It was basically, "here's a riff, here's a chord sequence," written by many authors (some long dead), with no coherence or visible rhyme of reason. I could just see some summer intern at Truefire being told to go through the last 20 years of Guitar Player and collect and scan every jazz guitar lesson.

It took hours just to separate the good from the bad, and the good was only about 15% of the whole. This material was not conducive to learning jazz guitar, unless perhaps you are already highly accomplished and are looking for a few pointers or tricks.

The newest site, which has not yet opened, is WorkShopLive. This site promises -
WorkshopLive is a unique educational platform that delivers personalized and completely individualized music lessons through a broadband Internet connection. Its patent-pending technology determines how each student learns best, then delivers the teaching options, lessons and learning environment that best suits the student’s needs.

Some 600 guitar and keyboard lessons will become available to subscribers of the revolutionary Internet learning system in October. In advance of the company’s highly-anticipated debut, sample lessons will be posted at in coming days.

Among the first lessons or courses concluded are those from performers/bestselling authors Susan Mazer [Guitar for the Absolute Beginner] and Jody Fisher [The Complete Jazz Guitar Method, etc.], guitarist/singer-songwriter Matt Smith [Matt Smith Chop Shop for Guitar] and keyboardist Amy Rosser [Max Keyboard].

Hope springs eternal . . ..

Sunday, December 18, 2005

No Idle Frets

It's amazing how the web can create a new technology, seemingly overnight. How many people know what a podcast is? Very, very few, I would wager. Well, if you don't know, and you're interested in a definition, click here.

If you'd just like to hear a podcast - the first podcast to be devoted solely to jazz guitar - click here. This podcast, conceived and created by Nick Carver, is excellent, featuring jazz guitarists from all over the country, most of whom haven't quit their day jobs and have no plans to do so anytime soon. I keep wondering how deep the talent pool is, but it may be inexhaustible. Nick is 29 weeks into this weekly show, and he shows no signs of slowing down.

I'll be highlighting the No Idle Frets podcast, and linking to some of the artists featured, in later posts.

Friday, December 16, 2005

D'Addario Artists

The string maker D'Addario has a page of "Artists" where they link to interviews and videos of a number of great guitarists.

The page is here.

Check out the the interview with Pat Metheny here.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Geography is Destiny

Ulf Wakenius, Swedish jazz guitarist, doesn't get the credit he deserves in the U.S. Check out this amazing solo video performance. Ulf's web site is here.

Update, June 2008: It appears that Ulf's website is now on MySpace.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Frank Gambale Riff

D'addario strings has a lot of guitar information on their site - interviews, performance videos, and so on. Click here to see Frank Gambale showing off some pretty cool riffs.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Wes Montgomery Doctoral Dissertation

What could be more interesting to a Wes Montgomery fan than a doctoral dissertation entitled Wes Montgomery's Improvisational Style (1959-1963): The Riverside Years?

This dissertation, along with several other academic studies of Wes Montgomery's music, is available at Reno De Stefano's web site, here.

[Update: De Stefano is selling this dissertation, so only teaser chapters available now]


The amount of material relating to jazz guitar that is on the web is enormous and seems to be growing exponentially. This blog will collect and feature some of it. And, since the guitar is not the only instrument that is worthy, from time to time I'll wander into other instruments, most notably the piano and saxaphone, and other styles, including blues and rock.