View Full Version : Jazz, Joe Pass & Jethro, etc.

Richard Polf
Jan-31-2004, 10:00pm
(This is a continuation of discussion that started on the Mandolin Snobbery" thread that veered off-topic. I thought we should it move over here and get everybody here in on it.) Here is Mark's post to me to put it into context:

"You took lessons from Joe Pass?!?! #Wow!!! #That is awesome. #Back when I used to pretend to play a little jazz guitar, he was sort of my hero. #Later I kind of liked Larry Coryell, but I never really took to people like Dimeola (although at one point I aspired to attend Berkeley School of Music... went to law school instead, ugh!). #

The Tacoma makes sense to me as a jazz instrument. #I tend to think in "bluegrass" these days. #Thus my preference for f-holes with "chop." #Are you playing jazz from sheet music, fake books, ear? #What stuff do you play? Seems to me the Django stuff is prime material. #I recently bought the two companion Django box sets, and it's just trememdous stuff. #

Mark "

Richard Polf
Jan-31-2004, 10:28pm
Well, I only took about 8 or so lessons as I recall, Mark. To be perfectly honest, I didn't know who he was --- I was young and a "folksinger" then (think "A Mighty Wind" http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif #) and really wasn't into jazz at that time. A bass player I knew told me about this "Jazz Cat" giving lessons when I told him I wanted to learn the kind of chords Jobim was using in "Bossa Nova". I agree with you, I also did get into Larry Coryell, but always felt that Dimeola was a little on the cold side --- just runs of eighth notes. (Oddly enough, I met up with Larry Coryell about 2 years ago when he came to Seattle to give a workshop.

I like to play "Standards". Like Ted Eschliman I'd like to see the Mandolin established as a legtimate "jazz" instrument. I work out of "The New Real Book" pub. by Sher Music, as well as the old, (illegal) "Real Book". Once I learn the tune I rely on my ear (such as it is) to go from there. I do believe in what Mr. Pass taught me: learn the melody, chords AND lyrics and then transpose it to all the other keys. By the time you do that with even one tune you have learned so much you can't believe it. I'm learning to all of this all over again from guitar to the mando. #
Hope there are more of you out there who'll want to chime in here.


J. Mark Lane
Feb-02-2004, 11:56pm
Hello Richard,

One of the things I was particularly wondering is where people go to learn how to do the chord work on the mandolin for songs like the old jazz standards. When I played (with) guitar, it seemed like there was always an abundance of material available to help with chord changes, substitutions, etc. Do you (others?) just use that material and construct the chords and changes? It seems to me there is very little out there in the way of written educational material for us low level players who might want to learn some of this stuff.....


Feb-03-2004, 1:21am
I am learning to play a jazz style (chord solo, polyphonics etc) thru my teacher. I have not seen any jazz method books personally.

I just take fake books tunes, transcribe them into mando friendly keys. then just play around with them. the goal , I guess, is to have as close to chromatic (parallel or contrary) movement underneath your melody as possible.

then there are ways to move the chord progressions.
for instance, you have to figure out your static vs progressive chord changes.
static changes typically use a flat 5 to resolve to a 4chord, or for other static changes, you would apply the two tone rule.
for progressive, like the 5chord back to 1, you use minor chords/scales a half step above the intended major chord, with has the same 3rd but also a lot of tension notes, then resolve.
here is a cheezy example

georgia on my mind.
fake book: G, B7, em, Am, Cm, G, E7, am, D7 , G , D#dim, am, D7 and first ending.

jazz chord solo way

G-Asusp4, B7(fdim or cm or d#dim) to, em/em7 or (G7), to (Amaj to aminor instead of am to cm)
G,Eb7, am7, D (-5) or Db7 ,
G,d#dim, am7, D7b5

roots make a big difference obviously,
I hope this makes some kinda sense.

Feb-03-2004, 1:57am
yes django stuff is prime, grappelli too. and joe v.
forgot his spelling joe vanutti. all of the old time jazz works great. I have whats called the "dixieland fake book". it has most of the tunes these old jazz bands played. there is actual dixieland, but mostly just old jazzy stuff.
I get books of the django stuff, bc I'm too lazy to listen and learn. I actually have an assignment I have been neglecting, to play stephen's solo for geogia.. as close to verbatim as possible. I dont have any of those magical playback systems (play slow same pitch) I dont have that stuff, so I would have to do it the "old way". when I do eventually do it. really any fake book should do.

if you need to, you can pencil in your harmonizing notes, or "chord up" the melodies, until you get used to doing it improvisationally.

Feb-05-2004, 6:02am
Hi Jeff, Mark - this has been listed (http://www.jazzmando.com/) in several previous threads, but - I don't think you can reference this site too often - if you play jazz or want to play jazz. Ted Eschliman has done a ton of work here and - it works. Rather than deal with one tune, Ted is in the process of explaining concepts. This idea works for mando, tenor guitar, mandola, bari Uke etc.

The ii V7 I page for one has got me vamping behind virtually any standard and making me sound as if I know what I'm doing (which is a big trick to start with). Enjoy the groove -

Keith Miller
Feb-07-2004, 7:33pm
I know this has been mentioned before but in case anyone has missed it try www.robcoleman.com He has 'lessons with Jethro' 3 discs worth of free stuff.
Keith. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/coffee.gif

Feb-12-2004, 1:33pm
Mandolin IS a legit jazz instrument. Horn players may not agree, but that's the truth. The combination of fiddle range, guitar/plectrum technique, the ability to play chords, polyphonically- http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/cool.gif yeah man!

I play jazz on both octave mando (like a baritone sax!) and mando.

Anyone who hasn't heard Andy Statman play Stardust should git over to MidContinent Music and order that CD (Buell Neidlenger- Bill will know which one)...it shows that the PLAYER not the INSTRUMENT is what makes it jazz-it's all in the concept of note choices, sense of harmony, rhythmic phrasing, and understanding the idiom. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Richard Polf
Feb-12-2004, 7:52pm

I couldn't agree more.

FWIW, I'm working through the "Basic Jazz Conception for Saxophone" books by Lennie Niehaus from my saxophone-playing days. It's great material for jazz mando for developing a sense of, yes, jazz conception and style (melodic line, riffs, chord progressions, etc.)

Yes! It's the PLAYER, not the INSTRUMENT.

Richard Polf

P.S. --- I know your work and regard it highly.

Feb-13-2004, 2:27pm
I think that the mandolin is as good a jazz instrument as any other. The issue is that the instrument (in the US) has been associated with various kinds of folk music, as opposed to classical music and jazz. As the folk tradition is primarily an oral one,the players who excel in those styles rarely have training in harmony, sight reading and virtuoso studies. The greatest jazz players have an excellent understanding of harmony, and most can read,transcribe and compose (of course, there are a number of superb jazz artists who never read music fluently).
A few years ago, I saw the Alan Broadbent Trio play here in Los Angeles. In this particular concert he played "Marmaduke"and some other bop tunes. He was unbelievable.I thought that he had a profound knowledge of bop, which is a style that I don't really play (in it's 'pure' form) all that much. After the concert, I ran up to him and asked if he taught. He said he was very busy writing arrangements, but then he said something to me that was very profound. He said, 'look, if you want to play bop like I do-just listen.'
And that's the real story-it's hard to play jazz (or any other style) if you never listen to it. One could take lessons and study for the next twenty years, but the best way to learn is to listen, and then play.