Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Ed Bickert on "Pure Desmond"

"Pure Desmond," Ed Bickert's first album with the great alto saxophonist, is one of my Holy Grail discs. I think it has Bickert's best recorded sound ever, and I've heard all sorts of explanation as to why it sounds like it does (both pro and con).

One of the best sources is Canadian guitarist and teacher Joey Goldstein, who's very active on rec.music.makers.guitar.jazz. He's answered my questions on this before, but I believe this is the first time he says that Ed Bickert's Telecaster, on "Pure Desmond," could be equipped with the original single-coil neck pickup and not a Gibson humbucker (as seen in the 1980s at left). And Joey also thinks that Ed might have played at his bar mitzvah (whoa!) Also -- Ed had an ES-175:

Joey Goldstein
Date: Sun, Aug 20 2006 12:20 pm
Email: Joey Goldstein ...@nowhere.net>
Groups: rec.music.makers.guitar.jazz

Dave M wrote:

> I recently got The Paul Desmond Quartet Live (from Toronto) album (the
> one w/ Desmond on the cover looking like Larry King). Bickert's tone is
> warm and clear, and sustaining, and there's something about it--a
> certain openness in the freq range that reminds me a hollowbody. This
> album was recorded in '75. Wasn't he playing the Tele by then? Anyone
> know for sure?

Yes. He was playing the Tele on Pure Desmond as well but I think he may have had the single coil pickup still on it.

I think he switched to the humbucker right after Pure Desmond, but I could be wrong.

Most of the recordings of Ed in existence will have him on the Tele. But I've got a jazz calendar with a pic of the CBC Orchestra, circa 1964 (or possibly earlier), and he's holding a 175.

I think, but I'm not sure, that Ed was in the band that my Dad hired to play at my bar mitzvah. He hired some CBC musicians and I think Moe Koffman was the leader. My friends were all..."That guy plays slow!"....But I said "Yeah, but look at those chords!". I was more into fast playing myself but at least I had the sense to recognize the chords.

-- Joey Goldstein http://www.joeygoldstein.com joegold AT sympatico DOT ca

Keith Murch said Ed's favorite amp was a Standel. (But was it a solid state or tube model?) I have heard good things about the old solid-state Standels. Ed used a Roland Cube-60 for many years, but that amp was first made in the 1980s. For all we know, Ed could've used whatever amp the studio already had. Along the same thread (but not really), rumor is that Rudy Van Gelder's Englewood Cliffs, N.J., studio had a Fender Deluxe amp that all the guitar players used on his sessions. Even today, many guitarists just don't travel with amps. On the road, they use what the venue provides, usually a Fender Twin or Roland JC-120. When he toured as a solo artist, Joe Pass neither brought nor even used a guitar amplifier. He just went through a direct box straight to the board.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Get the box out

We've been furiously getting ready for Lulu's 3rd birthday party, and we did windows on Sunday. Not Windows (as in XP) but windows (as in glass). By the afternoon, we decided to have lunch outside since it's finally bearable under the trees in the back yard. After we ate, the girl went directly to playing in the dirt, and I pulled out the box -- the Goya classical -- to noodle around a bit. Nothing too heavy (although I did work on easy tunes just a bit), just tuning it up and playing around a bit -- right-hand fingers, no pick.

It reminds me just how much I love the sound of nylon strings.

Anyhow, the girl -- after hand-washing -- strummed a bit as I fingered some chords, and then we put the guitar away and both played in the dirt for awhile.

But I did get the box out. I've got to get my weekdays together and spend lunch at least a few of those days playing. That's my new goal.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

I have a confession to make

I haven't picked up the guitar for a couple of months now. Aside from things at the Daily News getting more and more hectic all the time (I'm blogging over there a ton, too), and the summer's searing heat screwing with my lunchtime practices, I find myself drawn to other pursuits, mostly all the computer-related stuff (as chronicled in This Old Mac and This Old PC).

I've been planning, in my mind, where I want to go with the guitar, and I've been collecting music that I want to incorporate into my solo repertoire. I can imagine, in my mind, how I want it to sound, the approach I want to take (it becomes more rock, less jazz), but none of this involves picking up the box and playing it. I lug around a laptop computer, not a guitar bag.

I think part of this is that I have some long-standing barriers in my playing that I have to break through, and while planning and collecting music for the tunes I want to play, actually getting one of those tunes under my fingers, the whole way through, is what I have to do. Even if it's one tune. I get frustrated: I can't sit down and play a half-hour set of tunes. But I've got to build them up, one at a time. And at this point, I can't really expect to come up with the arrangements on the fly. I'll have to either use a pre-written arrangement or (preferably) come up with my own and stick to it. And even knowing just one tune all the way through in some kind of solo rendition would be huge at this point. Of course that means really knowing that tune. The whole melody and all the chords, along with a good idea theoretically what's going on so I can take it into other keys. Hell, at this point one tune, one key is enough.

I'm thinking that if I make the goals small enough, they won't be so insurmountable that I never even try to achieve them.

Hell, if I can write 200 blog posts, I can learn a couple of tunes. (See, I'm already up to two.)