N.B. for the remainder of this camp diary, I will use a summary format (as in today’s post) to describe the seminars and other noteworthy camp offerings and events.

Tunes of the Day:

  • Minor Swing
  • Django’s Castle

Morning session – improv with Michael Horowitz (Seattle, WA)

michael morning

What was covered:

How to get started on vocabulary building. We covered basic picking principles and phrase “templates” to apply in minor 6th chord progressions. We learned to variants of lick #9.1 in Michael’s Gypsy Picking book tutorial, one in eight notes, the other in eight note triplets. Then we learned a second lick for the turnaround, from D7 back to Gm6. The second part of this lick, going back into G6 is example #7.3 in the gypsy picking book. Finally, we also tried an ascending pattern to fit the Minor blues chords (example #5.3 from the same book).

Lessons learned:

  • Seems the major 6th scale step in a minor 6th chord is idiomatic of gypsy music.
  • In melodic phrasing, where your starting and end notes are moments where listeners can “pin the tail on the donkey”. ending on the 6th note in a phrase can therefore help characterize your melody within the gypsy jazz sound.

Early afternoon session with Ted Gottsegen (Hollywood, CA)

ted early aft

What was covered:

We focused on a minor swing chord progression. Areas of attention were la pompe and voice leading in minor blues chord progressions. This was the first workshop which covered the role and intricacies of la pompe – basic gypsy jazz rhythm on the guitar. The basic examples which Ted presented of ascending triad comping are also covered in Michael Horowitz’s book Gypsy Rhythm and Denis Chang’s DVD Jazz Manouche: The Art of Accompaniment.

Lessons learned:

  • In standard jazz chord progressions, dominant 7th chords are often reharmonized as diminished chords in gypsy jazz.
  • Despite the expectation that an accompanist should fully carry the harmonic intricacies of gypsy jazz in his playing, an accompanist often plays triads to leave on-the-spot reharmonizations to the soloist.
  • You can make a career as an accompanist and always have you hands full!

Late afternoon session eclectic offerings with Dennis Chang (Montreal) – problem solving

dennis late aft
What was covered:

Looked at the habits, mindset an techniques for building skills as an improviser. Focus of attention was on the minor 6th blues and other typical chord progressions, such as Minor Swing.

This was more an exploration session peppered with examples than the applied problem-solving program I expected.

Lessons learned:

  • Work with the metronome! A strict sense of timing is critical to playing this style of music.
  • The value of a teacher/mentor: get someone outside to pay attention to your playing habits.
  • Gypsy jazz improvisation requires that you get out of single or dual string horizontal playing to vertical, arpeggiated melodic invention.

N.B. In the seminars I attended today, Django’s Castle barely got a mention. It seems it is not a tune people jam on much either.

Here are a few pics from the evening jam sessions.

d2 jam 1

d2 jam2

d2 jam3

d2 jam4

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