Listening Recommendations for Musicianship

edited May 2012 in Jazz
Hopefully everyone here knows that I play several instruments in the mandolin family and that I attend a few jams and perform with a group that does charity/community outreach. Well, someone decided that I am a pretty good mandolin player and that I would be a good addition to the Jazz ensemble he's putting together, which he believes could offer us some paying gigs. I realize, though, that I don't have much of a footing, either as a listener or player, in the kind of Jazz he plays. He likes more of the Jim Hall, Wes Montgomery, Bucky Pizzerelli thing. I feel that's a big hole in my Jazz listening: the closest I get is some Grant Green (and some Bucky). I'm pretty sure I caught his attention because I was playing "That's a Plenty," a ragtime piece that is a standard for traditional and early swing--we must have some common ground.

Anyway, I need some listening in order to orient myself, preferably one album of standards. I don't want to commit too much before I agree to sign on, but I would like something to go on. Anyone have any ideas (nothing kidnapped by Frankenhofer's monster, please)?



  • edited May 2012
    BT, I'll get back to you on this, but I've got no internet at home until the wretched cable guy comes Saturday, so it may not be too timely, but there are some jazz comps that should help.

    Edit - so I'll add as I find in no particular order -
    1. Jazz Guitar Legends - slanted towards the slightly more vintage, has a bunch of standards. Definite thumbs up.
    2. 100 Jazz Guitar Favorites - similar to above, probably some overlap, but a lot of standards and hot guitarists, and cheap.
    3. Jazz Guitar Essentials '55-'59 - this is Herb Ellis, one of my faves, with some tasty guests - 33 tracks @$4.40.
    4. Jazz Guitar Essentials - 45 track Grant Green comp. Nice.
    5. 100 Jazz Guitar Classics - Another large more vintage comp, rather Django heavy overall, a good thing or not depending on how you feel about him.

    Of these I'd go with either #1 or #2 to start.
    Regarding Jim Hall I really liked him on this Hampton Hawes album recently at eMu - All Night Session.
    31 track Wes Montgomery comp - Essential Jazz Masters - good starting point.
  • Oops! I forgot he played with Hawes. I'd better pay better attention.

    In spite of the diversity on the first two, I think I'm inclined toward the Ellis. I'm not currently subscribing at eMu, so I'll have to ponder this a little.

    Thanks, BigD

    BTW, If it weren't for the Frankenhofer thing, I'd so dl Kessel Plays Standards vol. 1.
  • BTW, have you seen this Django comp from JSP? Sounds pretty good.
  • edited May 2012
    It is good - I went for the CD set since I have most of the other JSP sets so I have to have the liner notes - but it has Django often in larger ensembles so it is more diluted in a sense than the earlier Hot Club of France sets, and perhaps less fierce, but I still like it even if you don't get as much straight up Django. At the eMu price of $5.84 times 2 for the 5 discs worth I'd rec it for sure.
  • When I see the word "musicianship", Jim Hall's one of the first names that comes to mind. Perhaps check him out with the 1963-4 Art Farmer Quartet. BT, do you have access to streaming?
  • Thanks, kargatron. I'll look into those albums. Indeed, the album of Swedish folk tunes that they recorded might be a good bridge between our styles.
  • eMu has 3 of those Art Farmer Quartet albums for $2.94 - no long tracks, hence the low price, and on Rhino Atlantic (no Frankenhofer). I have the Swedish one (which had fallen between the cracks) but I'm not sure about the other two so thanks for the heads up on that association.
  • Sorry, late to the discussion. Out of town for the long Derby weekend.

    My first choice was named by BigD... Herb Ellis. Immaculate swing and clean sound.

    Now, when you said mandolin, it made me think of Tal Farlow. His fingerpick style also seemed a little different than standard (but definitely mainstream swing). Here... I found a video so you know what I'm talking about.

    I also second the recommendations of Jim Hall and Grant Green. A decent Green comp should do the trick, or anything on his Blue Note stretch run, especially earlier stuff. Jim Hall would make a nice choice, especially since on some recordings he plays lovely slow, and it might really help your ear pick up the changes. For instance, you might find something to learn from on his duo album with Bill Evans...

    Some of those tracks get a bit cerebral, and perhaps not what you're looking for, but some should be in line.

    You might also want to check out Hall's play on Sonny Rollins' "The Bridge"...

    A nice mix of slow and fast tempo pieces on The Bridge, so it'll let your ear keep up and show your hands the possibilities.

    Also, you might want to check out Brandon Seabrook. Now, he's involved in a lot of projects that don't fit under the swing/standards title, but he uses a lot of non-traditional string instruments on jazz albums, and he might be worth listening just as a way of broadening your horizons on the possibilities of mandolin. Of late, he's been on albums by Eivind Opsvik, Jeremy Udden, John Zorn, Brian Blade (maybe; I could be misremembering that). He uses guitar, banjo, mandolin, and, hm, something else. I don't know that he'll help you with your current "assignment", but he's a name to keep in mind for future music projects.

  • Oh, wait, that Frankenhofer's monster... when I first read that, I just assumed that was a reference to avant-garde music that went over my head. If you're talking about encoding on eMusic, some of the above might have an issue. The Bridge was originally non-UMG, but I think the Bluebird re-issue might MIGHT fall under the Verve family. And Herb Ellis will be something to be careful of. Jimmy Smith was mostly Blue Note. Jim Hall was a little of everything.
  • edited May 2012
    Thanks, Jonah. I picked up an Art Farmer, as per Karg's suggestion. I also found a decent description of Hall's playing style. I'm holding off now on getting more until I know if I'm committing to this project. Farlow would be great, but you've peaked my interest about Seabrook.

    Right now I'm a little concerned about presenting myself as someone who could play Jazz. I am fairly versatile, playing Blues, Bluegrass, Celtic and Classical. I know the tunes to a few standards that I whip out at times (I'm proud of my Well, You Needn't, but I always can whip out a cool Summertime). However, my research into what constitutes a standards' repertoire has daunted me. I found this at Free Jazz Institute (a website founded by people from All About Jazz). I picked up about five tunes, including Night in Tunisia and Softly As In A Morning Sunrise, but it seems like I need to do a lot of work before I could call myself literate. I am also not quite sure what the mandolin's role in accompaniment is: there aren't many examples of mandolinists playing Jazz (Gris, Marshall, e.g.). I think I'm a year away from saying I could do this.
  • edited May 2012
    BT, have you considered getting a jazz Fake Book? It's been some time since I bought mine, and although I haven't used it as much as I should have (amongst many things), I consider it a worthwhile addition for any musicians library just in case you need a particular song. Any good one should be loaded with standards. I have the second one on that page from a number of years ago.
    The gods of Internet have finally taken mercy on me and restored my home connection. Hallelujah.
  • edited May 2012
    I have looked at the "Real Book". The second and third volumes are much more impressive than the first. I've actually found a decent number of transcription websites that should keep me going for a while. My current learning habits are more influenced by what trad musicians tend to do: listening over and over to recordings in order to nail not just the notes, but the subtleties of their articulation. Usually I'll drill a dozen songs into my head for two weeks, than transcribed using Audacity. I doubt that would work in this context, yet listening is still part of playing Jazz. I'm sure at some point I'll invest in a book.

    BTW, BigD, you should check out Free Jazz Institute. It's impressive.
  • @BT

    I don't know how much time you spend over on the AAJ forums, specifically the Musician 2 Musician section, but there are some very helpful discussion threads, usually started by high school students that are applying to various music schools, that ask what they should most focus on. Some of the bullet points that most often get emphasized.

    -Learn how to read music, and quickly.
    -Better to perform something simple and show you can keep time and hit the changes, rather than try something complicated and make a mess. Show that you have a feel for the tune.
    -Don't worry about memorizing every song and being able to play it in every key, but be able to look at sheet music (or pick up by ear) and understand what the point of the song is and how it will likely develop.

    There's other great points, and it might be worth your time browsing. Definitely pay attention to much of what Jazz Oud has to say, but he's definitely not the only one with great advice.

    Also, keep in mind that if a jazz musician/ensemble invites a mandolin player to sit in, they're probably not expecting a Jim Hall sound.

  • This might be useful to you, BT: pianist Marc Sabatella's A Jazz Improvisation Primer
  • It's a spambot so unlikely to respond to your injunction Brighternow, although I concur. I am deleting the posts and the account.
  • You're right , would you please delete my fuck off's too ?
  • I've given up since its on so many and I can't delete the account itself. I presume someone with higher moderation permissions than I can do it more efficiently.
  • I banned the account but I don't see any bulk delete options.
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