The Complete Jazz Guitarist

I recently picked up The Complete Jazz Guitar by Jim Hall. The trio date, with Carl Perkins on piano and Red Mitchell on bass, was his 1957 debut as a leader. It’s a solid bop set and an interesting footnote in the development of Hall’s sound. His playing is restrained, melodically grounded, and only beginning to reveal shades of the subtle complexity that would lead him to loom large in the evolution of jazz guitar. From the standpoint of a jazz student like myself, The Complete Jazz Guitar also helps Jim seem a little more mortal; his sound and technique on the album is something I feel I can aspire to and achieve — less daunting than his masterful accompaniment of Sonny Rollins on The Bridge, for instance.

To that end, my jazz instruction in DC is off to a good start. The lessons with Steve Herberman are kicking my ass — in a good way. We’ve been dissecting one of my favorite standards, “Autumn Leaves”, which has involved some painstaking (but illuminating) arpeggio and scale etudes, intervalic exercises with the melody, and even a little transcription (see the Cannonball Adderley album Somethin’ Else for one of my favorite versions of the tune). I highly recommend Steve as a teacher; besides just being a super down-to-earth guy, he’s also very enthusiastic about teaching and accommodating of your personal goals as a student.

I also attended my first “jazz band masterclass” this week; the jazz ensemble program comes via sax player Jeff Antoniuk and his local cadre of master instructors. I’ll have the opportunity to sit in with a full band every other week and receive expert guidance on the ins and outs of jazz performance. This week our guest instructor was Brazilian bassist — and Montgomery College artist in residence — Leonardo Lucini, who shared theoretical and stylistic perspective on navigating the samba standard “So Nice,” among other tunes. It was a good first class, and I’m looking forward to future sessions. In the mean time, back to the woodshed…

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