My Senior Recital.
I realized this morning that it has been about five months since I’ve written a blog post or a lesson. In my final year of school (I’m working on a Bachelors of Music Degree in Jazz Performance) I’ve just been overwhelmed with school work, gigs, teaching, family and life in general and have had to put the blog on pause. I have about 6-8 weeks of school left and then I should have the time to dedicate to producing new content for you fine folks here but I figured that it would be nice to share a major guitar milestone that just happened this past week.
As a performance major, I am required to do two recitals. The one I did last year was not captured on video, although I do have an mp3 of it. It was a more straightforward deal with guitar, sax, bass, and drums and I played all jazz standards. I looked at that one as more of a chance to demonstrate that I understood the “classic” jazz style.
This year, even though there is absolutely no emphasis on contemporary music in the curriculum at my school I decided to try and put together a program that reflected more of where I am at as a musician as well as a few tunes played in a more “traditional” vein.
Weapons of (Jazz) War:
While we were playing I was kinda stressed out and nervous and couldn’t really relax and have a good time with the music. Listening back to it yesterday morning before I edited the video I felt a lot better about the whole thing.
A Cães Dançantes (The Dancing Dogs) – this is one of my originals. I actually wrote it at the beginning of the semester and was happy enough that it kicked another “Latin” tune off the set list. The “Dancing dogs” part comes from my dogs playing in the back yard and really sounding like they are trying to kill each other. Hopefully, Google Translate didn’t turn my attempt at naming a song in Portuguese into something horrible or offensive.
Waltz for the Louises – I wrote this one last semester and played it in the fall small groups concert. The “Louises” in the title refers to the fact that my step-mom, her daughter, my wife, her grandmother, our daughter and even one of our dogs has the middle name “Louise” and they are all strong women.
Beautiful Love – Of the “required repertoire” at the school, this has always been one of my favorite tunes. In the video, I made the mistake of taking my glasses off before starting this song and my vision completely blurred out. I’ve only been wearing glasses for a few months and sometimes they bother me onstage. My mistake this time was taking them off and then having a minor freakout when my vision went away in the dim light of the hall.
In Your Own Sweet Way – another “old favorite” although there is more story with this song. When I was 21, I had the plan of going to the USC Studio Guitar program and even went as far as auditioning and getting accepted into the school. Life had other plans for me and I wasn’t able to finish college beyond the Associates Degree in Commercial Music that I had earned at Fullerton College. In preparing for the audition a friend of mine who was a recent graduate told me that I should learn “In Your Own Sweet Way” for the audition since that was a favorite song of Richard Smith, who was running the program (and the auditions). Even though it ended up being an unredeemed ticket for an education at one of the premier guitar programs of the time I wanted to bring it full circle and play it a quarter-century later when I finally was able to get my degree.
Nardis – Another late addition to the program which kicked another tune that I had been preparing off the list after I was introduced to it in a combo class this semester. Even though the recording of this song that I consider the most “classic” is from 1958 and performed by pianist Bill Evans there were musical elements that I wanted to explore in my own aesthetic. This is the result, complete with drone strings, harmonics, Phase 90 and other “stuff”.
Displacemonk – the first song I wrote on arrival to the program. It was my take on what I thought a Thelonious Monk tune would sound like if he played guitar. It turns out that I didn’t really understand Monk enough at that point but it’s still a fun song to play. It was performed at a combo concert in a more straightforward fashion, then I arranged it for three harmonized guitars for the Jazz Guitar Ensemble last semester. After struggling with a different way of arranging it for this group I ended up coming up with a version that sounded similar to how I play contemporary blues with a country guitar vibe. In the recording, I screwed up the intro but still made it through and didn’t really execute the head as I wanted to. I think it turned out pretty good but it’s not really what I would consider a good document of how I play in this style.
Blue Savi – another of my takes on a “blues” with a bit stolen from a Charles Mingus song (the clapping part in “Better git it in your Soul”). Savi is one of our dogs. When I get home from a gig at 3am, she is invariably waiting for me at the front door while the rest of the house (and the other dog) are all asleep. I can usually get about two steps in the door with my guitars before she rolls on her back for a belly rub.
In Walked Bud – another nod to Thelonious Monk, although filtered through my bluesy and rock and roll aesthetic. Watch for a jam on “Cissy Strut” by the Meters after the drum solo.
A note on the gear and sounds:
I was originally going to play everything through my Deluxe Reverb and the large pedalboard but the sound wasn’t really working for the Guild archtop so I opted to bring the DV Jazz amp that I usually despise. The smaller pedalboard is there to provide me with a tuner and there is some light tape delay going on that you can’t really hear but smooths out my sound. There is also a small amount of reverb on the amp, as well. Even though the room we were playing in was designed for orchestra rehearsals and is pretty live guitars can sometimes sound “plinky” so all of this was just to make things sound more normal to my ears.
I played the Les Paul through the big board and the Deluxe. Since my Strymon Mobius decided that this was a good week to die I ended up downloading a chorus algorithm for the Eventide H9 to use on the song “Waltz for the Louises”. The phaser on “Nardis” is a Phase 90 and all of the overdrives are an Analogman King of Tone. Sometimes I boosted the front of the amp with a TC Electronics Mini Spark pedal for cleaner lead lines or a distorted solo when the melody was also distorted. I was also running a light tape delay for all of these sounds as well. The room seems to have eaten the repeats but it helped the sound “feel good” while I was playing.
The entire thing was recorded on my iPad Pro, sound and video and edited in iMovie.
You can also join the forum discussion on this post here: https://markweinguitarlessons.com/forums/threads/my-senior-recital-video-is-here.93019/