Monday, December 29, 2008

NPR's Gary Walker - The Year In Jazz: Best CDs Of 2008

For album covers, links, descriptions and sound samples, click here.

David "Fathead" Newman
Album: Diamondhead

Chick Corea/Gary Burton
Album: New Crystal Silence

Pat Metheny Trio
Album: Day Trip

Steve Turre
Album: Rainbow People

The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra
Album: Monday Night Live At The Village Vanguard

Anat Cohen
Album: Notes from the Village

Dave Holland Sextet
Album: Pass It On

SF Jazz Collective
Album: Live 2008: 5th Annual Concert Tour

The Stryker/Slagle Band
Album: Scene

Dick Oatts
Album: Gratitude

Russell Malone is One Hell of a Fine Guitarist

Click through to view - embedding disabled on this video of Malone with Billy Taylor on Piano - There Will Never Be Another You.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

You Can Purchase the Pat Martino Movie "Unstring" Here:

The Jazz Cares website. Cost: $30 plus shipping. I wonder if this movie will be available on Netflix soon ....
90 min. Documentary Feature Film Legendary jazz guitar great Pat Martino underwent brain surgery that saved his life but erased all memory, emotion and the ability to play. There he should have remained yet, after years in the wilderness, he came back with such astonishing power and artistry as to bring into question all the known medical facts. Neuropsycologist Paul Broks explores the mysteries of memory, self and creativity underlying the human condition. Martino provides the sublime soundtrack. Martino is the protagonist of a story which is more Hollywood than Hollywood."
Oh yes, U.S. only.

Click here for earlier post on this movie.

Once a guitar genius, always a guitar genius.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Mark Whitfield

Great article on this amazing guitarist, here.

"I walked in because I heard someone playing guitar. On the stage, sitting by himself in a chair was Joe Pass. It had to be about three o'clock in the afternoon. Joe Pass is one of the four or five greatest guitar players of all time. And he is at Disneyland at around 60 playing a gig, playing solo guitar for two hours for a bunch of tourists and little kids. I just sat there and listened to him play for a couple of hours. Of course I was just dreaming that one day I'd be able to play like him. So that's where reality sets in ... one of the four or five greatest guitar players, and certainly one of the greatest musicians of all time, playing a gig at Disneyland. He's not playing the Hollywood Bowl. He's in Tea Cup Land. So reality says, 'Hey, you've got a long way to go before you can even be worthy to carry his guitar case. And this is what he's doing."

Listen to Whitfield's 1995 album, 7th Avenue Stroll, on, here:

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Just happened to discover an excellent jazz guitar site by Leon Henderson, of Oakland California. The site contains tutorials, performances, jam tracks, and more. Very highly recommended. Here is a minor jazz lick in Dm7 video tutorial by Henderson on YouTube:

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Jessica Williams on has 46 albums by Jessica Williams, an amazing (and prolific) pianist. Billy's Theme is below. Jessica Williams' web site is here, and it includes her extensive writings. All of her albums are available on

Selected discography

* 1976 Portal of Antrim — Adelphi
* 1979 Orgonomic Music — Clean Cuts
* 1980 Rivers of Memory — Clean Cuts
* 1982 Update (Jessica Williams album) — Clean Cuts
* 1986 Nothin' But the Truth — BlackHawk
* 1990 And Then, There's This — Timeless
* 1992 Live at Maybeck Recital Hall, Vol. 21 — Concord Jazz
* 1993 Next Step — Hep
* 1993 Arrival — Jazz Focus
* 1994 Momentum — Jazz Focus
* 1994 Song That I Heard — HEP
* 1994 In the Pocket — Hep
* 1994 Encounters — Jazz Focus
* 1995 Inventions — Jazz Focus
* 1995 Joy — Jazz Focus
* 1995 Intuition — Jazz Focus
* 1996 Gratitude — Candid
* 1996 Jessica's Blues — Jazz Focus
* 1996 Victoria Concert — Jazz Focus
* 1997 Higher Standards — Candid
* 1998 Encounters, Vol. 2 — Jazz Focus
* 1998 Joyful Sorrow: A Solo Tribute to Bill Evans — BlackHawk
* 1999 In the Key of Monk — Jazz Focus
* 1999 Ain't Misbehavin' — Candid
* 2000 Jazz in the Afternoon — Candid
* 2000 Blue Fire — Jazz Focus
* 2001 I Let a Song Go out of My Heart — Hep
* 2001 Some Ballads, Some Blues — Jazz Focus
* 2002 This Side Up — MaxJazz
* 2003 All Alone — MaxJazz
* 2004 Live At Yoshi's, Vol. 1 — MaxJazz
* 2004 The Real Deal (Jessica Williams album) — Hep Jazz
* 2005 Live at Yoshi's, Vol. 2 — MaxJazz
* 2006 Billy's Theme: A Tribute to Dr. Billy Taylor — Origin Arts
* 2008 Songs for a New Century — Origin Arts

Lala now tops my list of the best online music sites. Reasons:
  • a huge collection (lala claims 6 millions tracks, but I've found a number of albums missing).
  • stream any tune in its entirety once for free; after that one listen, you will be limited to the 30 second tease.
  • Pay 10 cents to purchase the right to stream any of these songs with no limitations on number of times. When you sign up you get 50 free songs for streaming, a $5.00 value
  • Purchase for download any of the songs for an additional 79 cents (89 cents total). The tunes are DRM-free mp3s. Most of the MP3 files are encoded using variable bit rates (VBR), aiming at an average of 256 kilobits per second (kbps)
  • will scan the collection on your computer and match them to's catalog (this "matching" is less than perfect). You can listen to your music collection on lala at no cost. If lala can't match the tune, it will upload your copy. (again, this feature is not perfect).
  • there are some sharing features which I haven't fully explored yet, but I have noticed that several lala users have become "followers" of my collection, which means they are exploring it to discover new music based on what I have listened to.
Lastly, you can embed tunes or albums in a blog, which I'll now do with favorite artists from time-to-time. I assume that you, as a reader, will be able to listen to the tunes once, per the listening restrictions described above, but of course you can go to Lala, become a member, and either add a tune to your online listening collection for 10 cents or download the tune.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Andreas Guitar Universe

Guitar virtuoso Andreas Oberg is starting an on-line guitar school. This is guaranteed to reduce the number of guitarists in the world, but to increase the number of girls and women learning jazz guitar.

Click the image to go to the site.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A full 51 minute lesson by Robert Conti - The More I See You

This is the first time I've seen several full lessons by Conti on the web. In the lesson below -- The More I Love You -- it's funny that Conti can't play the full tune because he didn't get an OK from the copyright owner. I would think that a performance of the full tune would be covered by fair use, but I guess he wants to be conservative. Several other full-length lessons are available from the page that hosts the video linked below.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Martino Unstrung

This movie about Pat Martino's brain disease and recovery has been a long time in the works. Apparently, it was released in late October. This is an extraordinary story that most jazz guitarists are familiar with. I hope the movie is a huge success, and exposes a lot of people to what seems to have been a miracle of brain science.

A link to the trailer on youtube is embedded below. The film has a website here. And, here is a link to an interview with Pat Martino on on the subject of the movie. Unlike many musicians, who tend to be private and reclusive, Pat Martino puts himself right out there.

I'm unsure how this movie will be distributed. The website mentions a couple of movie festivals (Barcelona and Seattle), but says nothing about broader distribution that I can see.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Matt Savage

There was an article about pianist Matt Savage in the Wall Street Journal yesterday (declared "a new Mozart" by Dave Brubeck). Here is a stream of his appearance on All Things Considered. Turns out he's a New Hampshire boy.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Eddie Lang on

Great post on Eddie Lang on

Eddie Lang, to many, was considered the first virtuoso guitarist. His unique style incorporated all the finer elements of Jazz, Blues, and contemporary European musics, which were all just forming within the birth of the commercial music industry. Lang was born Salvatore Massaro, son to an Italian instrument maker who immigrated to Philadelphia. He studied the violin for 11 years before leaving it to play banjo, then guitar. He was 16 when he started to play professionally, where he joined the already formed Mound City Blue Blowers. Shortly thereafter became an increasing industry interest in his unique guitar work, which placed him in many recording sessions with the "who's who" of early jazz. As was/is common, Jazz thrived on the spontaneity and distinctness of the moment. Many sessions were unique, in that the line-ups would regularly change. Although he got around, Lang regularly worked with a violinist and childhood friend, Joe Venuti. .... [continue reading]

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Daddy Stovepipe Plays and Teaches the Blues

So, it was just a matter of time before high quality guitar lessons appeared on the web for free, right? I don't know who Daddy Stovepipe is (but see here and here), but his lessons are damned good. This is obviously a labor of love.

Here's his lesson on Lonnie Johnson style blues guitar. Don't forget to drop your tuning to DGDGBE ....

Here's a link to a page containing all 91 videos (as of today). There are lessons in the styles of Rev Gary Davis and Lightnin Hopkins (to name just a few), as well as a lot of really nice performances (and beautiful guitars).

Monday, October 06, 2008

Mickey Baker

Over on the Jazz Guitar Forum a poster writes:

"It was probably close to 40 years ago that I got my first introduction to jazz guitar courtesy of Mickey Baker's jazz guitar method book. The book was first published in 1955 and is currently still in print (just like me, LOL). I've always wondered about whatever happened to the guy since then. Well I found out today. I was thumbing through the latest copy of Fretboard Journal in a bookstore and read a piece that they did on him. Turns out he has been living in France since the early sixties. They've got a current picture of him holding a nasty looking gun. Looks more like a Mafia hit man than a jazz guitarist, LOL. Interesting family history too. Apparently his grandmother ran a bordello and put her 12-year old daughter to work in the family business. Mickey was the product of one of those business transactions with a Caucasian guy. The rest, as they say, is history. An interesting comment from Mickey was that he wrote the method book before he really knew what he was doing."
Yeah, me too. Mickey Baker's jazz guitar books ("Complete Course in Jazz Guitar" ) were my introduction to the art as well. I've kept my original copies, and I find them as difficult and inscrutable today as I did then.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Monday, September 08, 2008

Ahh ... How Does He Do That?

Andreas Oberg

And one more ...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Letter From Evans - All Issues

With Win Hinkle's permission, I have uploaded all of the LFE issues to They are available here.

Here is a description of this material from the Bill Evans Webpages:
Between autumn 1989 -1994, a (hard copy) newsletter dedicated solely to the music and the life of Bill Evans was published by well-known Evans historian and bassist Win Hinkle. (Those who have appreciated Bill's work since that time may have seen references about Win and his published materials included in both the Peter Pettinger and Keith Shadwick books) "Letter From Evans" was available by subscription only back then, but now Win has made all twenty-six issues available online in .pdf files-- and it's all free!

During it's five-year run, LFE featured Evans news, album reviews, commentary, analysis, transcriptions and many exclusive interviews done mostly by Win with some folks you just might have heard of: Keith Jarrett, Marc Johnson, Steve Allen, Earl Zindars, Joe LaBarbera, Henry Mancini, Chuck Israels, Mundell Lowe, Jimmy Rowles, Denny Zeitlin and many others!

Some rare interviews with Bill himself from various sources appeared in LFE too, as did a number of nifty transcrptions of Evans solos -- many that were not available elsewhere. Just a few of those who contributed articles or reviews included musicians like Jack Reilly, Hal Galper, Kenny Werner, Richie Bierach, Evans archivist Ron Nethercutt and, in fact, yours truly (Jan Stevens).

For those Bill Evans fans and jazz listeners who haven't seen any issues of "Letter From Evans", you're in for quite a treat. They are all filled with loads of unique material-- and some related jazz reviews and comentaries from that time - that you just won't find anywhere else. Once again, the files of all issues are now free (though Win has mentioned at his blog that those who may wish to can contribute, just to help defray all the expense).

Obviously, if you're an Evans aficianado, or even a casual fan, this is big news. asdf

Again, click here to read these newletters.

A link to Vol. 1, No. 1 is here:

Read this document on Scribd: Letter From Evans, Vol 1, No 1

Friday, August 01, 2008 - Very Nice Bill Evans Tribute Site

Of particular interest:
. . . between Autumn 1989 and the summer of 1994, a (hard copy) newsletter dedicated solely to the music and the life of Bill Evans >was published by well-known Evans historian and bassist Win Hinkle. (Those who have appreciated Bill's work since that time may have seen references about Win and his published materials included in both the Peter Pettinger and Keith Shadwick books) "Letter From Evans" was available by subscription only back then, but now Win has made all twenty-six issues available online in .pdf files-- and it's all free!

Click the image below to continue reading ...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Brad Melhdau Liner Notes "Book"

The liner notes to many of Brad Melhdau's albums are here in a 57 page pdf file.

Many other articles on Melhdau are on his web site, here.

Monday, July 21, 2008

A New Pat Martino Video

The documentary Martino Unstrung is apparently still in post-production. From the production company Sixteen Films:

The human brain; three pounds of jellified fats, proteins, sugars and salts - a matrix of robotic cells housing a myriad of intricate machines. Stare hard at that machinery and you see... well that's all you see. Machinery. That's all there is. But look at the spirits bubbling up from the sludge. Look at the carnival of consciousness flowing from the void. How is this possible?

Neuropsychologist and author Paul Broks travels America in search of the soul of legendary jazz guitarist Pat Martino who was brutally silenced by memory stripping brain surgery. Through this remarkable story of his ascent from the depths of amnesia to the peak of artistry once more, Broks explores the nature of memory, self, creativity and the brain systems underlying personal identity making some ground-breaking discoveries on the way. Filmed in the US through 2006 & 2007, the film features Les Paul, Carlos Santana, Pete Townshend, Joe Pesci, John Pattitucci, Delmar Brown, Red Holloway...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Gypsy Jazz Guitar Lessons by Romane

The first of three lessons by gypsy jazz guitarist Romane, in French with subtitles, is here. The other two lessons are easily accessed from the YouTube sidebar.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Blind Blake, Police Dog Blues

Courtesy of the Internet Archive

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Liner Notes to "The Sun of Our Lives, Rev. Gary Davis

It's wonderful to see liner notes from old albums appearing on the web. The liner notes for The Sun of Our Lives at Arbiter Records are very extensive and biographical:

Seated on his footstool, I offered an approximation of Buck Dance, expecting only minor corrections. Davis broke into a warm grin: "Heh, heh..., now. . . watch my fingers. . . this is how it goes. . . and if you see something you don't understand. . . you just stop me and I'll explain it to you." He spoke slowly, spacing his words, often silent for awhile after a question, leading you to wonder if he had heard you, yet sometimes he responded at once. As he played my amazement grew. Not only were most of my chords wrong but I had overlooked a wealth of details which gave the piece its meaning. His nesting right hand seemed to brush or stroke against the strings, rarely moving. Two fingers picked as the others anchored his hand onto the body slightly below the sound hole. He wore a plastic thumb pick and one metal pick on his index finger ("it saves your fingertips", although his left hand calluses were quite developed, for he preferred thick strings which felt like phone cables.) "Why don't you use the middle finger too?" I wondered. "You don't need more than two." His left hand's shaping of the chords on the neck was sculpted elegance, ...continue reading
Click here for more stories about Rev. Gary Davis

Friday, July 04, 2008

Mississippi John Hurt - You Got to Walk That Lonesome Valley

Click the image, and advance to around :45 in the video

Liner Notes to "Great Guitars of Jazz" DVD

Here is a link to the extensive liner notes to this DVD. It discusses the lives and bios of Charlie Byrd, Tal Farlow and Herb Ellis. A wonderful history of jazz guitar in the 20th Century, as experienced through the lives of these three musicians. Al Quagliata has posted links to two videos from this DVD.

Monday, June 30, 2008

George Benson, The Shadow of Your Smile, 1972

I suspect that a take-down notice on this one will arrive soon, so enjoy it while you can.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


A playlist of 21 solo guitar tunes by Jazzerman. Absolutely wonderful ....

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Ted Greene Memorial Site Continues to Grow

The Ted Greene site continues to add videos, lessons and performances.

"Ted Greene was renowned world wide as the author of “Chord Chemistry,” one of the most in-depth studies of chord harmony & theory ever published for guitar. Ted was also a brilliant, innovative and diverse guitarist capable of playing dazzling solos from jazz to neo-Baroque improvisation. Yet his chosen and most beloved path was as a teacher. He was highly sought out for his insightful and instinctive gifts in this area. As a testimony to his teaching abilities, for many years there remained a long list of guitarists waiting for an opening in his schedule." Continue ...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Borrowing the Blues: Copyright and the Contexts of Robert Johnson

"Robert Johnson was a poor African American itinerant blues musician who died in obscurity under mysterious circumstances in 1938 at a country crossroads near Greenwood, Mississippi. Johnson was one of a number of musicians who made their way through the Mississippi Delta during the time period of his life and death. The legend of Robert Johnson, however, surpasses that of his musical contemporaries: Robert Johnson is the most well known bluesman of his era today. From his humble beginning and obscure death, Robert Johnson later emerged to become one of the biggest influences on rock and roll music, particularly through musicians in Great Britain, many of whom like Eric Clapton, count Robert Johnson as one of their greatest influences."
Continue reading this article by Olufunmilayo B. Arewa, a professor at Northwestern University School of Law

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

All Things Emily

Click the photo .....

Jim Ferguson on Joe Pass

Irascible yet funny and warm, a high school dropout yet very well-read, Joe Pass had more than his share of personal contradictions. Cigar chomping and adorned with a bristling moustache that hardly compensated for his baldness, he may have looked like a longshoreman or truck driver, but his music eloquently spoke of his brilliance as a world-class guitarist, one who ultimately commanded the respect of many of jazz' top figures. Given his awesome technique, competitive spirit, ability to shape long lines in a group context, and jaw-dropping approach to solo guitar-where he freely wove walking bass lines, sleek chordal passages, and deft single-note phrases into rich musical tapestries-he easily qualifies as the most versatile player in the annals of jazz, and arguably was the greatest mainstream guitarist since Wes Montgomery. [continue reading ....]

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Comparative Study of Rhythm Guitar Styles

"Freddie Green's rhythm guitar style is unique - - Freddie does not sound like other famous rhythm guitarists. This lesson attempts to illustrate his uniqueness by comparing five different examples of a twelve bar blues in G. These examples are not transcriptions. All five examples were composed by the author in the style of the player, or in the style of the music.:
Wonderful article by Michael Pettersen, illustrating the rhythm styles of Freddie Green, Allen Reuss, Teddy Wilson and Barry Galbraith.

Wes Montgomery Remembered, by Jim Ferguson

"Over the years I've written several articles--historical and instructional--on the great Wes Montgomery, who arguably was the time in light of his hip, hard-swinging approach. Parts I and II comprise the complete text of the main part of an article that appeared in the August 1993 issue of Guitar Player (Part II picks up half way through). Part III is the first half of my August 1995 cover story for JazzTimes (Ted Dunbar, a fine player who provided a number of insights about Wes, died in May of 1998); Part IV is the second half. Part V begins the text of a series of interviews featured in the booklet to the 12 CD boxed set Wes Montgomery: The Complete Riverside Recordings, for which I received a Grammy nomination along with producer Orrin Keepnews. Nat Adderley's comments on Wes were posted in August 2001. The October post features Ron Carter, while this month features Kevin Eubanks" ... [continue reading]

Monday, June 16, 2008

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Jessica Williams Concert Videos

Jessica Williams at the 2007 Brecon Festival in Wales.

Click here.

There are links to two podcasts (Freshair and KIOS in Omaha) at the bottom of this page.