Monday, January 12, 2009

Jazz and Promotion

This is a copy of an E mail that I sent to Ben Ratliff, jazz critic for The New York Times It's in response to a question concerning the market for jazz.


I am a veteran jazz guitarist, born in Chicago but based in suburban Philadelphia.

I appreciate how you handle sensitive topics related to the Art of Jazz.

Being in this business for a long time as a musician, educator, author and lecturer, I have a somewhat different take on the subject of jazz musicians and audiences. Though it's easy to blame the media and they deserve some of the blame, I think the biggest problem lies squarely on the shoulders of jazz musicians and the jazz community.

This community has never promoted or marketed their art and craft at the level or with the same intensity as other musical idioms. This is not to comment one way or another on the musical significance of jazz versus rock - country vs pop etc.

As an example, country music has an enormously popular and important tradition called Fan Day. This is basically a big convention for the fans to meet, up close and personal, their country music idols. Autographs are given, merchandise is sold, pictures are taken. I have never seen a country artist resist this tradition or complain about it. They recognize that without the fans, they would have no career.

Country music plays to the fans and seems to show a genuine interest in them. I understand the differences between country and jazz but jazz still must be marketed with consistency and enthusiasm. The musicians have to do their part in promoting and marketing their art and craft. I am talking about traditional forms of jazz not "smooth jazz".

Jazz shares many of the same issues with classical music. There is too often a distance and certain type of elitism that prevents audiences from getting "close".

I hold out great hope for the future because of the "new" music business - the "cyber marketing" and all the tools that are available to jazz musicians across the world.

Chuck Anderson
"Audience Friendly, Progressive Jazz Guitar"

If interested, I'd love to send you copies of two of my CDs as well as one of my books. It deals with the subject of development within the music business, the individual and within the artistic community. The book is titled "Music Pursuing the Horizon"
Chuck Anderson


The issue of picking has been debated for years with opinions on all sides. Picking gets down to pairs: 2 downs, 2 ups, 1 down and 1 up and 1 up and 1 down.

Alternate picking is typically used for 2 notes on 1 string. Consecutive picking is used to transition from string to string when the direction of the phrase permits it.

The term "sweep" implies an effect as much as it implies a technique. Regardless of how the picking motion occurs (which is a different subject), you can't avoid the concept of the picking pairs.

If you think of phrasing, consecutive picking gives you a legato, flowing effect, no matter what the speed. On the other hand, alternate picking gives you a more articulate sound.

Ultimately, virtually all jazz guitar players use a combination of alternate and consecutive picking.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Does Jazz Blues Exist?

This question was posed on The Jazz Network. This was my response.

Blues can be typically described as a 12 bar song structure based on the I, IV and V chords. These fundamental chords appear at specific locations within the 12 bar format. The function of the I chord occupies bars 1 through 4. Bars 5 and 6 introduce the IV chord. The I chord is again brought back to cover bars 7 and 8. The V chord makes its first appearance in bars 9 and 10. Bars 11 and 12 reintroduce the I chord and function as a turnback or turnaround.

Jazz Blues follows this same format but introduces substitutions and links between the critical chord functions. This discussion is based on the harmonic structures within Blues not the melodic or rhythmic aspects of it.

As Wes Montgomery said - "Blues is responsible for the fire in jazz" I couldn't agree more!!!

Examples of this style of jazz blues can be found in my "Blues for Chris" from The Vintage Tracks CD and "Aqua Blue" from the Angel Blue - A Tour of Jazz CD.