Learning Django

The following is a post I wrote last February, but got too sick to polish and publish.  Here it is now:

I’ve got a week’s relief from chemo, so neuropathy side effects, particularly in my hands, have all but disappeared, a good thing since I can now resume my guitar playing.  I’ve been wanting to get back to practicing the Django Reinhardt tune I’ve been working on for the past year—”Minor Blues.”  I’ve managed to get down the first 33 bars (out of 45) of an arrangement by David Blacker, a superb swing guitarist and instructor for TrueFire.com.  Blacker classifies his arrangement as “beginner,” but because of the timing and rhythm of this piece, which is swing time and relies heavily on flurries of 1/8th note triplets throughout the tune, I would place it in the “intermediate” level category.

There’s two versions of Django playing “Minor Blues” that I know of.  Blacker’s arrangement is one of them:

Hubert Rostaing (1918-1990) plays clarinet solo.  Rostaing is probably best known for his clarinet playing on Django’s “Nuages.”


“Dizzying Heights”

Sometimes being “chemo sick” robs a person of their creative connections, not always, but often enough so that when those cool, lucid, and inspired moments do occur, I have to take advantage of them.  Hence, a post containing original music.  A first for me here, but after all, it’s all about “call and response.”

The solo was written, recorded, and mixed, using a my 2001 Fender Texas Strat (Humbucker pick up)  played live through my little red Fender 25 R amp, recorded through an Olympus DM-20 digital recorder, HD, and and a omni-directional mic suspended and balanced between live amp and computer backing track.  Reggae style backing track composed using Chord Pulse 2.4 software in the key of Am.  Sound was mixed using Audacity.  All photos edited in Windows Movie Maker, using Google images from “public domain.”

Jacky Terrasson with his trio at the Iridium jazz club, New York City, June 25, 2009

Jacky Terrasson with his trio at the Iridium jazz club, New York City, June 25, 2009

It’s jazz pianist Jacky Terrasson’s birthday today.  He is an enormously talented and gifted musician.

Born in Berlin in 1965, his mother was African-American and his father French.  Terrasson grew up in France, starting to learn the piano when he was five, studying, initially, classical piano, then jazz.  He studied music formally at the Berklee College of Music.  He won the prestigious Thelonious Monk Piano Competition in 1993 and started touring with Betty Carter.

Since then, Terrasson has toured widely and often in Europe as well as here in the states.  He makes his home in New York and his newest release, Mother, just came out this year on Impulse! with his long-time partner and friend, the trumpet player Stephane Belmondo.

I first heard of Jacky Terrasson because of my interest in the young and talented vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant.  I happened to come across some wonderful videos of Terrasson’s band accompanying Salvant in concert on youtube.  Here’s one in particular I like: “Gouache,” performed in 2012 at the Saint Emilion Jazz Festival—Jacky Terrasson, piano; Cécile McLorin, vocal; Minino Garay, percussion; Burniss Travis, bass; Justin Faulkner, drums: