Tunes of the day:
- Swing ’42
- Swing Gitan
Morning session – imrovisation Vladimir Mollov (Bulgaria, via Philadelphia)
(sorry, forgot to take some pictures!)
What was covered:
In a guitar heavy camp, I was one of the only guitar players in the session. Role-reversal with players on other instruments.
Vlado kept it simple. His focus was on getting us up on basic knowledge on how to approach a tune harmonically, through appropriate use of scales and arpeggios. In other words, the basic knowledge to “play safe” and sound good on a tune. We focused on Swing 42, and got an overview of the harmonic chops required for the other tune of the day, Swing Gitan
- It takes lots of rote practice before you can let loose as an improviser.
- Learn theory to the extent it is useful and will save you time. Theory can help you transpose the patterns you hear to other situations. But theory for its own sake…
Early afternoon session – rhythm, with Biel Ballester (Barcelona, Spain)
What was covered:
La pompe! More exactly: the sense of timing you need to cultivate as a rhythm player.
Meter strictness is a hallmark of gypsy rhythm. Variations in tension and intensity are effected within the strict meter, by emphasizing rhythm modes: legato or staccato. That strictness is called “tempo di marcha” in european music. it connotes the same strictness in meter, but its function can rather be more militaristic, as the name implies.
- The rules: strict, monotonous comping, with strumming style variations to alter intensity, as the song or moment requires.
- As Biel put it: “gypsy jazz rhythm is like Bruce Lee: quick, sharp and always alert”. Gypsy rhythms strictness has everything to do with the fact that the rhythm player has nearly-always the sole responsibility of “carrying the band” in your typical combo format.
- Rhythm practice: when listening to any 4/4 time popular music, make a foot-tapping beat emphasis on the 1 and 3 of the measure. you will gain control over any rhythm
- In this way, because it is focus on the ground instead of the syncopation which allows for polyrhythmic awareness.
- The relaxation movement in music pedagogy came as a reaction the stress and tension-related injuries that have long plagued musicians. But the relaxation approach turned out to be counter-productive to performance, especially with regards to rhythmic performance, which requires a kind of “tuned-in” attention. Biel used the word “tonic” to describe the proper attitude for good physical/mental performance in rhythm and lead playing.
- In my opinion, the disciplinary rigor of the meter has also everything to do with focusing the performance energy in the present moment, as the perpetual the center of attention and energy flow. In contrast, “rubato time” (as in classical and romantic music) encourages daydream, detachment.
Late afternoon eclectic offerings session: Vladimir Mollov on motif development
(again, no pics! dÃ©solÃ©…)
What was covered:
We played a number of motifs over the first half of the Puttin’ On the Ritz chord progression. The Puttin’ On the Ritz melody itself is a playful variation of three notes, with development.
- Motif development could be described as simple melodic ideas with rhythmic variations, repeated and developed as a melody theme
- The spirit of motif development is “jumping in, creatively working out the idea in real-time and seeing how you’re going to get out of it”.
In the evening, Andrew calls us into the Franklin King Living room to officially greet our camp guest star, German Gyspy guitarist Wawau Adler. Adler, who just got in this afternoon is on his first trip to the United States. As he doesn’t know much English, Adler is accompanied by a German journalist friend for general purposes of communication.
Time for the second impromptu show of the camp. Someone lends Adler a guitar, and he, Ted Gottsegen and Tim Kliphuis jump into some swingin’ gypsy jazz standards.
Are we amazed yet? Can’t wait to see their show on Saturday night!
Here are some pics of today’s jam sessions.