Wednesday, April 24, 2002

Interesting session after work, going through a tunebook by Jack Tuttle. The nice thing about these settings is that they're very bare and simple, just the core skeleton of the tune. I'm going in an unexpected place here, hearing cajun shuffles and tex-mex and contest-fiddling creeping in in different ways. Gotta keep working on it.
Some odd playing the last two days... may be pollen in the air or tight schedule. I've lost some types of concentration but seem to have gained in others.

Monday night I went to Ireland's 32 on Geary for a session, but because April has five Mondays it's next week. A few other folks made the same error and we had a nice small session. Even though the tunes were slow and a bit uncertain, it was a challenge to listen and find the best way to accompany and support the group... a positive experience overall.

I've been listening to Pedro Ayala (soulful conjunto pioneer), Andrew MacNamara, Emile Vacher, reading about Charlie Parker. I think I've been combining aspects of each in odd ways... playing Irish tunes with the detached-notes and lack-of-swing found in Norteno phrasing... trying to use bop substitutions within a three-chord tune played in a Benny Thomasson rhythm but with Norteno internote divisions... not sure what's going on, but I can see that I'm reaching for something new and trying to get past the current unreliability so I can actually use it.

Came across a CD by "The Chazz Cats", local swingsters... seems like we listened to many of the same Jim Kweskin records. ;-) I know some of these folks from the bluegrass circles, but wasn't aware they liked this music too, this might be a way to open up some of the playing sessions. (Why are things kept so separate anyway?)

Tonight I'll probably get a short session at home, then hit the Plough & Stars to catch "Cabin Fever", followed by another short session before falling out.

Monday, April 22, 2002

Caught Larry Chung, John Relph and a guitar player whose name I didn't catch at a CD shop in West Portal Sunday afternoon. Great singing, even though their bass player had to cancel. I know these guys can play a IIx chord, just wish they would more often.... ;-)

I came back home and played many of the same tunes at length, trying to focus on the melody, making clean variants each pass through. "Dark Hollow", "Blackberry Blossom"... they did different versions of "Don't Let the Deal Go Down" and "Sittin' On Top of the World" than I do.

Subsequent practice continued to focus around Irish tunes, playing for many repetitions, trying to get cleaner and more meaningful each time. I started hearing a new sound in there, something with the evenly-timed detachment of Norteno, combined with Irish accenting of call-and-response, and a tinge of bop harmony.. can't reliably invoke it yet, but I hear it in there, waiting to come out.

Also moved to long reps on the Joseph Lamb's Sensation and Bohemia rags. Previously I had played a rag through, but now I'm starting to continue to repeat each section, getting many reps during the playing of a piece... may help retention and finger reliability.