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Apr 12, 2024 - 5:13:22 PM
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648 posts since 11/2/2009

Hoping y’all can point me in the right direction for jazzing up my playing. I paid for a month of Alison Brown on Artistworks and was disappointed that it was basically same-old rolls and Cumberland Gap stuff. I mean, seriously, isn’t jazz what she brings to the table? I saw her with her jazz quintet about two months ago and thoroughly enjoyed it.
And then, there is Béla Fleck. He is kind of over-the-top for me.

So I’d like some direction on where I can find some learning materials, on theory, chord substitutions, that kind of thing, for banjo. I am not a complete stranger to jazz theory (e.g. I am familiar with scales and modes and standard progressions from guitar days, but its application to banjo is unclear, and I want to keep it in the bluegrass genre and typical bluegrass chord progressions.

Thanks - sorry for boring post.

Edited by - gcpicken on 04/12/2024 17:17:49

Apr 12, 2024 - 7:02:44 PM
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15228 posts since 6/2/2008

Yes, Alison Brown's school on ArtistWorks is geared mostly to beginners. There's some stuff of value to intermediate players and almost nothing for advanced players. I looked at the full list of lessons when her school launched and decided not to add it to my membership -- which already includes Tony and Noam. I resubscribe every year during the December 50%-off sale and get two schools for $279. Worth it to me in my retirement. I'm not taking as many lessons as I should but I visit and watch enough to get something out of it.

But to your question:

Pat Cloud (banjola1) is a great practitioner and teacher of jazz banjo. He has some free instructional material on his website, patcloud.com. He's written two books on advanced concepts in banjo: Key to Five String Banjo/Home Improvisation Workshop and Straight-Ahead Jazz for Banjo, both available for order on the Books page of his website and elsewhere. Plus he offers private lessons via Skype.

My daughter bought me two lessons with Pat for my birthday two years ago. First lesson was great. Went for more than the scheduled time and some of what he shared has made its way into my playing. None of the jazz concepts -- because I haven't practiced them. That's on me.

With today being my birthday, I'm reminded I'm years overdue to contact Pat for my second lesson! I think I'll write to him and try to get that in the works for next week.

-  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -

On ArtistWorks, Noam Pikelny's school might be better for preparing you for jazz. But while he teaches single-string in depth, it's pretty much major scales and modes of them. He has several lessons on melodic style, of course. And he teaches closed position movable melodic "cells" which enable you to play melodic stuff up and down the neck.

He also teaches the widespread triads shapes or technique that is so important to today's advanced highly musical playing. This is in one of his welcome messages. Related to this, he has lessons on sixths, which are used a lot in rolling melodic playing.

But I don't think any of lessons get into jazz stylings or concepts. Nothing I can remember seeing on blues scales or the extended chords/harmonies that are a big part of jazz. -- Well, in teaching diatonic scales, I think he teaches how the 7diminished chord can substitute for a 5dominant7.

Now -- since you're on ArtistWorks, you're familiar with Video Exchanges. In Noam's video exchanges with some of the more advanced players, he gets into working out and offering them interesting single-string alternatives to tunes the students submit. It's neat to watch him developing ideas. But in most of these that I've watched, he doesn't turn what he's doing into a lesson on the "why" of what he's doing. So there's value in copying what he's showing and maybe figuring out for yourself how to modify it for other applications. But not much on the thinking in what he's doing.

The formal curriculum, structured lessons, are quite explanatory. . . . I just now went there and looked at the lists of lessons. Nothing jazz-oriented.

Pat Cloud is going to be your go-to guy.

-  -  -  -  -  -  -  -

I just remembered Hangout member Doub Pearce (pearcemusic) who I haven't seen post in years. He's a friend of Pat Cloud's. His profile page is full of jazz banjo performance videos and lessons. For most of his lessons, you need some prior understanding, so they've always been above me. I never found what would be a beginning. He wasn't really posting a planned method or series. He was sharing concepts.

His photos section includes lots of images of tab -- scales, exercises and songs. There's one separate photo album for minor scale studies but other tab images are dispersed throughout the pages of his other photos. All free.

-  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -

And finally . . .

I almost forgot Alan Munde's Great American Banjo Songbook (available from Alan here). It has tab to 70 songs --  pop, jazz and show tunes that were part of the musical standards called the Great American Songbook. You might not like them all. I don't. But there are some classics in here, and countless ideas for how to achieve jazz harmonies often in a rolling three-finger style. You will find individual measures that can be lifted as licks for their respective chords. Be prepared for lots of middle finger on second string.

Apr 12, 2024 - 7:21:41 PM

15228 posts since 6/2/2008

Sorry not to have read your message carefully enough.

Since you want to "keep it in the bluegrass genre and typical bluegrass chord progressions" I think you should look first to the thing I mentioned last: Get Alan Munde's "Great American Banjo Songbook." Jazz concepts and sounds are mostly applied in a banjoistic rolling style.

Alan played a great version of How High the Moon on the album The Banjo Kid Picks Again. He sells the CD with tab book on his site. The song has a very straightforward rendering of the melody for the first verse -- using a lot of the technique repeated years later in the Great American book. Then it has an amazing free flowing jazz/blues/melodic style "improvised" solo (that I think was highly composed, but sounds improvised).

This tab on the Hangout sounds like a very accurate transcription of what Alan played.

Next I would suggest the Pat Cloud books.

Maybe skip Noam's school for now.

Apr 12, 2024 - 9:26:47 PM

3501 posts since 4/19/2008

Standard procedure for bluegrass banjo is to use the 2,4,6 and 7 intervals of the scale as quick lead ins to home base 1,3,5. Jazz does the opposite. Analyze the greats in each genre using the Nashville system and nuggets will come to the surface, at least they did for me laugh


Apr 12, 2024 - 9:43:24 PM
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MickeyReeves

Canada

421 posts since 3/17/2005

There's lots of jazz styles and none of them are bluegrass. Whats jazz to you? A quartet that includes a walking bass line and piano? Or is it a clarinet and Django guitar? That point of clarification matters in order to give you better advice. The way I learned jazz is by transcribing my favourite players and emulating them.
My favourites are John Coltrane, Bireli Lagrene, Allan Holdsworth, Django. You can see I like guitarists ( and coltrane LOL). So, naturally, my jazz style developed largely into single string / guitar-thinking style.

One of the best books on jazz is Mark Levines 'jazz theory book'. How to apply the theory is up to you, thats what makes jazz 'jazz' my friend, there are no rules really.

In the Bill Keith banjo book it says that jazz is like seasoning, a little goes a long way in bluegrass styles.. if you're going to play jazz, play jazz; if you're going to play bluegrass, play bluegrass.

Apr 12, 2024 - 9:51:18 PM

MickeyReeves

Canada

421 posts since 3/17/2005

quote:
Originally posted by mmuussiiccaall

Standard procedure for bluegrass banjo is to use the 2,4,6 and 7 intervals of the scale as quick lead ins to home base 1,3,5. Jazz does the opposite. Analyze the greats in each genre using the Nashville system and nuggets will come to the surface, at least they did for me laugh


If you spell out 2-4-6-7 You get (in G) A, C, E, F# -- a rootless D9 voicing, which naturally resolves to Gmaj G-B-D (1-3-5). 

It's very often the case that those intervals are resolved that way in jazz as well. 

I guess we could go on about this though LOL

Apr 12, 2024 - 10:53:20 PM

3501 posts since 4/19/2008

quote:
Originally posted by MickeyReeves
quote:
Originally posted by mmuussiiccaall

Standard procedure for bluegrass banjo is to use the 2,4,6 and 7 intervals of the scale as quick lead ins to home base 1,3,5. Jazz does the opposite. Analyze the greats in each genre using the Nashville system and nuggets will come to the surface, at least they did for me laugh


If you spell out 2-4-6-7 You get (in G) A, C, E, F# -- a rootless D9 voicing, which naturally resolves to Gmaj G-B-D (1-3-5). 

It's very often the case that those intervals are resolved that way in jazz as well. 

I guess we could go on about this though LOL


Hello Mickey, my post is meant to say to incorporate more of the non triad tones for any chord played. If talking about leading to other chords I would suggest accidentals be added to the scale. Regards, Rick

Apr 12, 2024 - 11:40:12 PM
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6055 posts since 3/6/2006

Yes, I suppose it depends on what you call jazz. Some people would call Don Reno jazz. On the other end of the spectrum you have someone like Ryan Cavanaugh who is just flat out amazing. If you are playing bluegrass style with rolls you could take a deep dive into chord theory. If you are going with single-string, then learning how to play scales over changes is what you want. I agree that Alan Munde is a good source for tasteful, bluegrass style standards.

Apr 13, 2024 - 12:50:48 AM
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716 posts since 5/21/2020

quote:
Originally posted by gcpicken

Hoping y’all can point me in the right direction for jazzing up my playing. I paid for a month of Alison Brown on Artistworks and was disappointed that it was basically same-old rolls and Cumberland Gap stuff. I mean, seriously, isn’t jazz what she brings to the table? I saw her with her jazz quintet about two months ago and thoroughly enjoyed it.
And then, there is Béla Fleck. He is kind of over-the-top for me.

So I’d like some direction on where I can find some learning materials, on theory, chord substitutions, that kind of thing, for banjo. I am not a complete stranger to jazz theory (e.g. I am familiar with scales and modes and standard progressions from guitar days, but its application to banjo is unclear, and I want to keep it in the bluegrass genre and typical bluegrass chord progressions.

Thanks - sorry for boring post.


To my knowledge there is not a lot of Jazz instruction for the 5 String

Check out these guy's they might be able to advise you on sources of instructional material.

 

Apr 13, 2024 - 6:08:46 AM
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3365 posts since 5/2/2012

Doub Pearce has been mentioned...he did a youtube series on Harmony and Improvisation

Apr 13, 2024 - 10:00:50 AM
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15228 posts since 6/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by FenderFred

Check out these guy's they might be able to advise you on sources of instructional material.


Some great jazz banjo playing in there.

The first one -- Ryan Cavanaugh -- learned his jazz from saxophonist Bill Evans. He had to figure out for himself how to put it onto banjo. As part of that, I believe he developed his own approach to single-string that combines it with rolls. Ryan occasionally teaches at camps. 

Here's a page of lessons from Ryan at BanjoStudio. Not sure if there's much jazz here.

The player in the last video is Jody Hughes, who used to be active here but is gone now. Jody teaches. Really good. Worth tracking down his YouTube videos. Too bad his account is locked. He had videos here, some with basics of jazz concepts.

Apr 13, 2024 - 10:45:53 AM
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15228 posts since 6/2/2008

gcpicken

No instruction here, but insight into how Ryan Cavanaugh developed his jazz technique. Since you also play guitar, you may be able to relate to the transfer of musical ideas from one instrument to another.

Banjo Newsletter interview with Ryan Cavanaugh. Article by Ned Luberecki. 

Here's another BNL interview with Ryan!

Also, make the time to listen to the Ryan Cavanaugh episode of Picky FIngers Banjo Podcast.

Apr 13, 2024 - 11:06:14 AM
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254 posts since 9/6/2016

quote:
Originally posted by gcpicken

Hoping y’all can point me in the right direction for jazzing up my playing. I paid for a month of Alison Brown on Artistworks and was disappointed that it was basically same-old rolls and Cumberland Gap stuff. I mean, seriously, isn’t jazz what she brings to the table? I saw her with her jazz quintet about two months ago and thoroughly enjoyed it.
And then, there is Béla Fleck. He is kind of over-the-top for me.

So I’d like some direction on where I can find some learning materials, on theory, chord substitutions, that kind of thing, for banjo. I am not a complete stranger to jazz theory (e.g. I am familiar with scales and modes and standard progressions from guitar days, but its application to banjo is unclear, and I want to keep it in the bluegrass genre and typical bluegrass chord progressions.

Thanks - sorry for boring post.


I know you said Bela is kind of over the top, but I was wondering if you had heard his work with the Marcus Roberts Trio. More straightforward than his work with the Flecktones:

https://youtu.be/YF14rbLp3Oc?si=7ngc6SAB12Gpa2ka

Sounds like he's alternating rolling with single string here.

Jazz sounds great on ANY banjo, but aside from the players mentioned in this thread (add Eli Gilbert to that list), it seems that very few players bother with jazz on the five string. Most players come to the instrument through bluegrass or old time, and, at times, there's resistance to straying outside of those styles. In fact, there is an old thread here arguing that the five should only be used for bluegrass (and seeing that thread is one reason I switched to tenor).

Eli Gilbert blows my mind:

https://youtu.be/4z0EP_5dYlQ?si=okfxXwE1sm2AtINV

Good luck in your quest!

 

Apr 13, 2024 - 11:10:45 AM

254 posts since 9/6/2016

quote:
Originally posted by Old Hickory

gcpicken

No instruction here, but insight into how Ryan Cavanaugh developed his jazz technique. Since you also play guitar, you may be able to relate to the transfer of musical ideas from one instrument to another.

Banjo Newsletter interview with Ryan Cavanaugh. Article by Ned Luberecki. 

Here's another BNL interview with Ryan!

Also, make the time to listen to the Ryan Cavanaugh episode of Picky FIngers Banjo Podcast.


Here's an old clip of Ryan in performance. I downloaded this album; this song is the opening cut. On the album, it sounds like he's playing an acoustic instrument:

https://youtu.be/j5ZEd7LPtn4?si=62vDmn8S8zXTotH4

Apr 13, 2024 - 11:39:45 AM
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15228 posts since 6/2/2008

Years ago, Bennett Sullivan posted this video that demos a basic melody and then Django Reinhardt's improvised solo to the standard "All of Me" -- transposed from guitar to banjo. Key of C.

He doesn't run this instructional program any more, so I don't believe the site from which tab could be downloaded still exists. But he plays a slow version from which people may be able to pick up what he's doing. Or you could write to Bennett to see if any of this old stuff is still available.

Tried to embed the video here, but it's blocked from being shared on this site. Must be watched on YouTube.

Apr 13, 2024 - 12:20:19 PM
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3501 posts since 4/19/2008

If you read the OP comments, he’s trying to play bluegrass with jazz elements included not trying to play straight jazz

Apr 13, 2024 - 12:48:26 PM

716 posts since 5/21/2020

You might also care to check out Pat Cloud's Book on Mel Bay

https://www.melbay.com/Products/99480BCDEB/straightahead-jazz-for-banjo.aspx

Apr 13, 2024 - 1:17:08 PM

254 posts since 9/6/2016

quote:
Originally posted by mmuussiiccaall

If you read the OP comments, he’s trying to play bluegrass with jazz elements included not trying to play straight jazz


Quite so, and I don't mean to lead the OP astray with too much jazz as such. Maybe the best model would be Don Reno's work.

Apr 13, 2024 - 2:18:02 PM
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15228 posts since 6/2/2008

quote:
Originally posted by mmuussiiccaall

If you read the OP comments, he’s trying to play bluegrass with jazz elements included not trying to play straight jazz


I get that.

But very few, if any, books on bluegrass banjo (including books of licks) go into jazz.

So . . . in my opinion . . . the two best ways to go about bringing jazz elements into your bluegrass playing are to:

1 - Work it out for yourself on banjo (the way Ryan Cavanaugh and Bela Fleck did) by listening to the jazz that sounds like what you want to work into your banjo playing and read a lot about jazz theory to help it make sense.

or

2 - Find the few books of jazz on banjo and take from them what you need. Treat the jazz books as "hot licks" books and lift phrases instead of learning whole songs. Nothing wrong with that.

I suppose option 3 is watch videos such as those already shared, alo with the purpose of picking up elements to add to your playing.

 

Pat Cloud's Straight-Ahead Jazz for Banjo -- mentioned twice already in previous comments -- is an excellent guide for adding touches of jazz to your banjo toolbox. It is full of tab of jazz phrases that you can lift or pick apart. In particular, it has examples of ii-V-I in every key, without capo. Over the range of those examples, you can find ideas to play over almost any chord. There's more, but I can't describe it all.

Apr 13, 2024 - 6:05:06 PM

6055 posts since 3/6/2006

quote:
Originally posted by Old Hickory
quote:
Originally posted by FenderFred

Check out these guy's they might be able to advise you on sources of instructional material.


Some great jazz banjo playing in there.

The first one -- Ryan Cavanaugh -- learned his jazz from saxophonist Bill Evans. He had to figure out for himself how to put it onto banjo. As part of that, I believe he developed his own approach to single-string that combines it with rolls. Ryan occasionally teaches at camps. 

Here's a page of lessons from Ryan at BanjoStudio. Not sure if there's much jazz here.

The player in the last video is Jody Hughes, who used to be active here but is gone now. Jody teaches. Really good. Worth tracking down his YouTube videos. Too bad his account is locked. He had videos here, some with basics of jazz concepts.

 


What kind of banjo is Jody playing there?

Apr 13, 2024 - 7:49:04 PM

chuckv97

Canada

72046 posts since 10/5/2013
Online Now

Another shameless plug… here’s one, an old swing tune, from Alan Munde and Beth Mead’s book “The Great American Banjo Songbook”.
youtu.be/lBh9LptM0hQ?si=eb6UNrZd41lcE8ci

and a bunch more ... https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLBZlXiS761I0qcxsipZmeaaYK2HUYkGer&si=HwbvIjsqOLC889-M


 

Edited by - chuckv97 on 04/13/2024 20:01:05

Apr 14, 2024 - 12:26:11 AM
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716 posts since 5/21/2020

quote:
Originally posted by Laurence Diehl
quote:
Originally posted by Old Hickory
quote:
Originally posted by FenderFred

Check out these guy's they might be able to advise you on sources of instructional material.


Some great jazz banjo playing in there.

The first one -- Ryan Cavanaugh -- learned his jazz from saxophonist Bill Evans. He had to figure out for himself how to put it onto banjo. As part of that, I believe he developed his own approach to single-string that combines it with rolls. Ryan occasionally teaches at camps. 

Here's a page of lessons from Ryan at BanjoStudio. Not sure if there's much jazz here.

The player in the last video is Jody Hughes, who used to be active here but is gone now. Jody teaches. Really good. Worth tracking down his YouTube videos. Too bad his account is locked. He had videos here, some with basics of jazz concepts.

 


What kind of banjo is Jody playing there?


Hi Laurence Diehl

The maker of Jody's custom built banjo.  Jason Romero:

https://www.romerobanjos.com/

Apr 15, 2024 - 5:29:09 PM
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648 posts since 11/2/2009

Hello All - I thank you all for your thoughtful responses. I do appreciate the time it took to respond, and give links and helpful direction.

I was a little disappointed that no fights broke out and that we are all still on speaking terms.

What I have decided to do, is to find parts from Bela's piece Bouderdash that sound KrAZee and steal them. I think Luberecki said in a Truefire video that he "borrowed" a lick from Aland Munde(?), but he never asked for it back, so technically, wasn't stealing.

I have the tab from Bela's book Bluegrass Heart, so I can see what he (or Pikelny or Trischka as the case may be they all join on this piece)  is playing over a particular chord and see if it is even in my wheelhouse to grab a few licks. To do that, I don't need to spend 5 years to realize the Phrygian Dominant is the 5th Mode of the Harmonic Minor.

Here is audio from the Bluegrass Heart Album: http://youtu.be/H84Ast4cZMo?si=JkmxNhjmcdHrd4mU

Here you can see him play it with Billy Strings.

http://youtu.be/qWeStQtBl0o?si=HZZoNRcgSVqRS7Ab

Edited by - gcpicken on 04/15/2024 17:30:35

Apr 15, 2024 - 7:13:13 PM

254 posts since 9/6/2016

Came across a great video with Alison Brown that might be helpful;

youtube.com/live/w7JLzAx8FgM?s...AYTLLprH6

Apr 15, 2024 - 9:23:15 PM

MickeyReeves

Canada

421 posts since 3/17/2005

quote:
Originally posted by gcpicken

Hello All - I thank you all for your thoughtful responses. I do appreciate the time it took to respond, and give links and helpful direction.

I was a little disappointed that no fights broke out and that we are all still on speaking terms.

What I have decided to do, is to find parts from Bela's piece Bouderdash that sound KrAZee and steal them. I think Luberecki said in a Truefire video that he "borrowed" a lick from Aland Munde(?), but he never asked for it back, so technically, wasn't stealing.

I have the tab from Bela's book Bluegrass Heart, so I can see what he (or Pikelny or Trischka as the case may be they all join on this piece)  is playing over a particular chord and see if it is even in my wheelhouse to grab a few licks. To do that, I don't need to spend 5 years to realize the Phrygian Dominant is the 5th Mode of the Harmonic Minor.

Here is audio from the Bluegrass Heart Album: http://youtu.be/H84Ast4cZMo?si=JkmxNhjmcdHrd4mU

Here you can see him play it with Billy Strings.

http://youtu.be/qWeStQtBl0o?si=HZZoNRcgSVqRS7Ab

 

 


LOL too funny about the borrowing licks thing. "Good artists borrow, great artists steal." - Picasso (and i think he qualifies as like the visual equivalent of jazz haha)

Apr 17, 2024 - 9:33:36 AM

648 posts since 11/2/2009

To those who referenced Noam Pikelny’s Artistworks course, I have gotten into it and it is remarkably well laid out and thorough, particularly the music theory in the intermediate section.

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