Master Class(6)

September 1, 2004

Seventh Heaven - John Pizzarelli Demystifies the Art of 7-String Jazz
By Jude Gold

"I remember when my father first brought one home," says John Pizzarelli of the exciting day in the mid '60s when his father, the great Bucky Pizzarelli, strolled into the house with a brand-new 7-string electric guitar. "I was only about six or seven years old, and I didn't know what the hell it was, but he said, 'This is the guitar I'm going to play.' He and a bunch of other jazz players-including Tony Mottola, Barry Galbraith, Al Caiola, Artie Ryerson, and Howard Collins-had just seen George Van Eps playing the new Gretsch 7-string at a master class/concert. They were so blown away, they all went to Manny's and bought the guitar right after the concert. But my father was one of the only guys in that crowd besides Van Eps who the 7-string really stuck to."

Like his father, John also became a 7-string devotee...His father can only be proud, because whether the younger Pizzarelli is performing before an audience of millions (as was the case during his recent appearance on Late Night with Conan O'Brien) or in the haze of a capacity crowd at a small New York jazz club, people everywhere are utterly mesmerized by his rousing sets. And it's not just his phenomenal chord melodies and blazing single-note improvisations that leave mouths agape, faces lit up, and toes a-tapping. It's also his singing, scatting, storytelling, and-last, but not least-his profound reverence for the great American popular song that wins over music lovers of every stripe, as you can hear on Pizzarelli's two-disc concert CD, Live at Birdland [Telarc].

Get the low-down on the art and science of the 7-string..

preview    download mp3 Beginner

EZ Street - Inside Power Chords
By Andy Ellis

Power chords-they're crucial to rock and metal, and play important roles in other styles, including blues and bluegrass. But what exactly are they? Technically, the term "power chord" is a misnomer. Composed of only two notes-the root and 5-a power chord qualifies as an interval. (A chord comprises three or more notes.) But "power interval" sounds like a track-and-field training regimen, so no wonder it never became a musical term. A power chord's beauty lies in its versatility.

Power up...

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Rock Guru Steve Morse - Vibey Vibrato and Bodybuilder Bends
As told to Jude Gold

Not all beginning players realize how many different ways there are to generate vibrato. The obvious, intuitive way is to fret a note and then literally bend it up and down-that is, yank it toward the floor, toward the ceiling, and so on. But this technique only allows the fretted note to go higher in pitch. What makes for true vibrato is when you encircle the center pitch by making your note go both sharp and flat-just as you might hear from stellar cellists, saxophonists, or, of course, vocalists.

5 examples for good vibrations...

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Blues Guru Popa Chubby - Branching Out of the Blues
As told to Jude Gold

Blues doesn't always have to be based strictly on Chicago or Delta sounds. I once had three days off at a hotel in the South of France, and I found myself hooked on a catchy samba groove that was inspired by the festive setting around me...I like to use a ton of vibrato. That's the B.B. King influence. I've always loved his vibrato-that's what makes B.B. talk. His bends are very interesting, because many of them are actually microtonal. He doesn't just play straight bends, he finds all these "between the frets" notes-which is really cool when you think about the blues going back to African music and Middle Eastern music, where microtonal elements are the norm. Microtonal bends allow you to be so much more expressive than you can be with just a plain old 12-tone scale.

Listen to Popa...

preview    download mp3 Intermediate

How to Play Like... Jeff Beck
By Andy Ellis

No other rock guitarist has managed to stay as creative, toneful, and innovative for as long as Jeff Beck. Emerging in the mid '60s with the Yardbirds, Beck proved that a ragged Fender Esquire could moan like a fuzzed-out violin. His lines in "Heart Full of Soul" and "Evil Hearted You" defined psychedelic guitar several years before Jimi Hendrix or Cream made the London scene. Beck's restless muse has dragged him from hard rock into jazzy instrumentals and even electronica, but across the decades, he has never lost his edgy sound or startling sense of adventure.

Jeff Beckons with these two examples...

preview    download mp3 Advanced

Jazz Guru Mike Stern - Making Single-Note Solos Sing
As told to Jude Gold

I tend to listen to horn players a lot more than I do guitar players. I love the singing, vocal sound horn players get, so I'm always checking out those cats and hanging out with them. Even horn players themselves strive to get that vocal quality. Miles Davis told me that Frank Sinatra was a huge influence. He said, "Frank was a motherf---er. I love his phrasing." Similarly, I try to get a lyrical sound on the guitar, and I unconsciously write singable lines. In fact, vocalists often say to me, "That's a nice melody. Can I put some words to it?"

Find your own voice...

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