Category Archives: Bebop

Works Update: #6×5

Good afternoon, all!

I’ve been working on new music for my debut jazz ensemble. That is, one in my own name, playing all of my own compositions. With everything else going on, progress is slow but steady, not to mention home to some unexpected plot twists…

Amongst all of my recent editing & rewriting, I have revisited a piece originally intended for a very different setting: #6×5.

#6×5 is part of a larger multi movement minimalist work which is still in progress (you can read the original blog post here). However, in trying to find a suitable frantic, angular repeated motif for bass to play under a rapid drum break, a particular theme kept coming back. One which I’d heard before… And then it finally dawned on me that I’d already written the very part I was looking for!

Fast forward another week, and after several rewrites & edits, the original piece has all but vanished. What I am now left with is shaping up to be an amended version of #6×5 adapted for a small jazz ensemble.

The main elements remain – six motifs of five notes each. However, I have relaxed my own self-imposed rules regarding this composition. While I am aiming to only use notes from these six motifs, I have opted against using whole phrases in some places, meaning new lines come out of the old. Given the nature of how this piece has transformed from a minimalist piano miniture into a jazz ensemble number, I think the idea of new notes from old phrases is entirely appropriate!

Rehearsals with the new group will hopefully start soon so stay tuned for a video snipet of this new/old tune.

Why not try the same idea yourself? Go look back through your old drafts & notes for inspiration, and be prepared for the surprises which may jump out at you!

Until next time…

Tim x

How to practice effectively [video]

This is a short video from TED Talk on how to practice more effectively. It includes some useful tips & really interesting information based on what we know about the brain & how we learn tasks.

This ties-in with my previous blogs on rehearsal & my own (admittedly rather limited) research on music and the human brain [see previous posts]. Let me know what you think!

If the above video doesn’t work, here’s a link so you can access the short TED Talk video on YouTube.

Enjoy! xx

What’s your biggest guitar issue?

ATTENTION GUITAR FRIENDS!

This is a call for submissions!

One aim of my blog is to offer guitar & music-related advice and for the next few posts, I’d like to pass the power in dictating the topic of discussion to YOU. So tell me: what is the is the biggest issue you face in learning the guitar?

I’m happy to examine any relevant queries which have been bugging you. They could be technical (finger tapping, getting the right tone out of an amp), or more vague (who do you feel the best guitarists to listen to when learning Afro-Cuban jazz, etc). You might want to ask about bass guitar, ukulele or band performance/management in general. Feel free!

You can message me here, leave a comment in this post, or drop me a DM/tweet via my Twitter account: @tim_guitarist.

I look forward to hearing from you & talking your queries over the next few weeks!

Tim x

Special offer on guitar lessons (Newcastle)

Thinking of learning guitar? Or know someone who is? Here’s the ideal Christmas present for the guitar student in your life (and, crucially, are based in the North East of England)…

***SPECIAL OFFER FOR NEW STUDENTS***
I’m offering discounted rates for all new students who book lessons between the 1st of December and the 15th of January.

Whether you’re a complete beginner, or an experienced player looking for a short run of courses to focus on one specialist technique. Either way, all styles & all levels of player catered for in electric, acoustic & classical guitars. Ukulele lessons also available, also for all levels & styles.

***BLOCK BOOK TEN 1/2 HOUR LESSONS FOR ONLY £90.00***

(45 minute & one hour slots available too)

Message me on my Facebook page for details & to discuss.

Musicians needed in north east UK (new alt-folk project)

Yet another call to arms for folk musicians & singer-songwriters in the area. Here’s the gist from the ad:

Hi all, professional guitar player, composer and teacher here, looking to get a few musicians (particularly those who sing) to help me finish off a few pieces and songs I’ve started. Hoping to get them recorded this year with gigs to go with them.

This new project will cross a few genres, but be centred mostly around alt-folk and ambient rock. Part of it will be the reimagining of old folk tunes and the rest will be matching style songs written by us, including instrumentals. I’ve had this project running in the background for a while but need a few extra hands on deck to get it finished & now I have the spare time to devote to it this summer so let’s do this!

Also, if you are a singer-songwriter doing similar music already, and are looking for a collaborator or a guitarist/composer to flesh out your material, please do get in touch!

Ideally, you will be a performing, experienced and above all, talented musician somewhere between 20-40 (I’m 31). However, here a few things I will most likely not reply to:

*’Beginner Singers’ – those who can sing, but are only now looking for their first few gigs

*Covers acts

*Metal or punk bands looking for guitarists

*guitarists (unless you are lead vocalists as well)

I play guitar of all shapes, sizes & genres. I also play pretty much everything in the guitar family from ukuleles and mandolins out to banjos and sitars (if you have one!) so guitar wise, I have it covered thanks!

Exceptions to this would be if you are already in a band performing the sort of material I describe above, and are looking for an additional guitar player/instrumentalist/songwriter. If so, send me your songs and what you’re looking for.

If you have any videos of your playing/singing, even better. Happy to meet up & jam to see how we gel. I should also point out at this juncture that I have regular work in a wedding/covers band which takes up a lot of my Fri & Sat nights. Gigs, therefore, would be fitted around these, such as weeknights, etc. If we could get this band to perform one gig a month on average by the end of this year, I would be happy, then we can take it from there…

Think you fit the bill? You can reply to me via this site it click on the original advert here to reply via email. You know what to do!

I look forward to hearing from you all!

Jazz Musicians Needed ASAP

My Jazz outfit, JazzBaby, are looking for new members.

Our existing bass player has had to bow out following personal commitments, leaving room for a talented and experienced jazz player. Ideally, you will be a double bassist as well, with decent sight reading ability and good compositional/improvisational skills.

JazzBaby are a new exciting Jazz project in the North East of England. Already gigging as a guitar/vocals duo, we wish to add double bass to this setup for greater depth. We are also a four/five peice function act, mixing standards with more contemporary covers, with or without vocals. We are also getting an increasinly number of requests for our Lindy Hop/Swing Dance sets (20’s to 40’s), typically providing music for vintage dance nights or retro-themed weddings.
In addition to this, we hope to be writing anf recording our own material during the summer and taking this into the live arena at the end of this year. I have contacts in a popular chain of venues and am finalising slots in Jazz festivals in 2015.

If you’d like to be part of this, playing an active role in composition of new material, or if you would like to know more, get in touch with me via email: tim_guitar@hotmail.com
If you know someone who might be interested in this position, please refer my details on and ask them to get in touch with ‘JazzBaby’ in the subject line of their email.

Tim

Jack of all trades?

Is that old adage true – “Jack of all trades, master of none”?

To a limited degree – and certinly within a musical sense – I don’t think so.

Fair enough, if you have a formula that works (think the Rolling Stones in the last 30 years) and you’re happy to carry on with that particular idiom, then go for it. However, even the most enthusiastic performer must grow tired of the, well, sameness of it all.I can’t imagine their fans are that far behind (though some do seem to live drenched in nostalgis. Again, I reference the Rolling Stones in the last 30 years).

Why do I bring this up? Well, my new project, JazzBaby (Twitter handle – @jazzbabyband) has already recieved bookings in a wide variety of formats and guises. Some may feel sticking to one style is best in order to hone a tighter sound, not to mention a stronger reputation, but I beleive otherwise. Where jazz is concerned, surely ‘mixing it up’ is the name of the game?

JazzBaby started out as an acoustic duo, Em on vocals with myself on guitar, and not strictly 100% jazz. Stripped down covers of contemporary tunes, such as Todd Rundgren’s ‘Can We Still Be Friends?’ still make frequent appearences into our sets at these gigs. The joy here is in the interpretation.

Now we have grown into a 4/5 peice band (vocals, guitar, bass, kit and sometimes keys) which perform different music to suit the gig. For example, restaurants get standards, performed both with vocals & instrumentally, along with the more tame jazz instrumentals and limited – gentle – improvisation. Weddings get the same, with more uptempo numbers and a fair bit more soul/funk thrown in (such as ‘Streetlife’ and ‘Young Hearts Run Free’).

At our Lindy Hop nights, we perform straight Lindy/Balboa/charlston (think swing and very early rock’n’roll from the 1940’s). We go out with a small horn section and perform all dancable tunes, as these events are usually put together by local dance societies, and in some cases, are competitions. Do you see the common thread here? We are giving the client what they want.

We also have straight Jazz gigs booked up at specialist venues – again, both with and without vocals – and here we are free to let loose. The only standards we play are usually heavily distorted into new creations and we perform a lot more of our own compositions, which include extended jamming and improvisation in them when flexed live. It looks like we are going to get invited to play some Jazz festivals in the UK this year so – depending on the mood and prefered style/theme of the festival – we will perform a mix of all of the above, but with more fpcus on improv and original material, or at least our own unique take on other people’s work.

The final ‘hat’ we have to wear is a markedly different beast: Electro-Swing. A lot of retro jazz and lindy fans HATE this style, but personally, I love it. For those of you unfamiliar with the genre, they take elements (usually old recordings) from the swing era (1920’s-1940’s) and add modern dance beats. Esseentially, this is music to be danced to. At the time,Charlston was looked at as cutting edge, and even a little naughty, so why not carry that tradion on with hip hop?

(I will post examples of the Electro-Swing genre in the near future simply because I think this music needs to be heard & shared) 

As a five peice live band (and sometimes even larger), gigging this sort of material can be impractical, but we plan to record more uptempo, original, retro-styled tunes and pass the tapes over to well-known Electro-Swing DJs and mixers to see what they come up with. If the collaberations go as well as hoped, there may be specialist live dates in the future.

So how does performing all of these styles affect the band? Especially when switching from one gig to the next?

As the year goes on, I’ll let you know if any issues (or humorous imcidents) ossur, but personally, I beleive it will make the band sharper, tighter, better when dealing with new music and above all, more exiting for an audience to listen to. As a player, it’ll certainly hold my interest, not to mention my concentration! It will also bring us out to a far larger mix of audiences, some of whom may enjoy the crossover. They’ll always be purists to upset, but I’m sorry to say that can’t always be helped.

That’s not to say that doing once thing is a bad thing. My other band, covers outfit Grace Under Pressure (Twiiter – @GUPband) perform rock/soul covers primarily for weddings and functions. The set changes very little and the emphasis is on creating a great party atmosphere for the guests (something I beleive we do very well). Our bookings are mostly on word of mouth, or by people who’ve seen us play and want the same thing for their event, which leaves little room for wild experimentation or an unusual meshing of styles but as working musicians, you do what the client wants. The tip, as always, is to know your audience!

Finally, the expression ‘jack of all trades’ is hardly genre-specific. MUSIC is my trade. The more of it I play, in all of it’s inumerous styles and forms, the better.