Hallmarks of Wyble’s Style: "Jigsaw"
By David Oakes
“Jigsaw” is another great composition
by Jimmy Wyble. As with many
of his etudes, Jimmy recorded this work
several different times. The first recording
was in 1977, as you hear it here in this
transcription, as a trio. The second recording
came shortly thereafter from the Etudes
record where Jimmy made a solo work out
of this piece. He then added the number 23
to the title as in “Etude 21 and 22” as well
as moving the title “Jigsaw” down to a subtitle.
That version is published in the book
The Art of Two-Line Improvisation. When
Jimmy recorded the solo version, he added
a rubato introduction and filled it in a bit
more because he didn’t have the rhythm
section. He also recorded it slightly slower
and added a different melody on the bridge.
This version is recorded at a burning tempo
and has several improvised choruses.
Right- and Left-Hand Fingerings
The head to the song is very challenging
to play at the tempo of the recording. The
secret is in the right-hand fingerings. If you
are unsure of the right-hand fingerings,
they are spelled out in The Art of Two-Line
Improvisation, published by Mel Bay. If you
are familiar with that version, take some
time to study those fingerings. However,
my fingerings have evolved as I have been
editing other transcriptions and also had the
chance to learn directly from Jimmy. I like
the way the left-hand fingerings are laid out
in this transcription better than the version
in the book. This version also adds a few
more notes in the low register that gives the
song a fuller sound. Jimmy would probably
have said that he likes both versions. He did
explain that “Jigsaw” was an effort to use
the Van Eps right-hand fingering “team”
concept. He was referring to the team concept
of alternating p and m and then i and a
on any double-stop lines. If you look at measures
1, 3, and 5, he is alternating his fingers
this way in the right hand on those two-note
lines. Most guitarists would use their thumb
exclusively on the bass line but that is not
the way this was intended or recorded.
The Improvised Solo
Even though the solos sound like they are
being played with a pick, Jimmy assured
me that this record was recorded entirely
fingerstyle. Jimmy alternated the thumb and
index finger all the way through this solo.
One exception would be the picked triplets.
Jimmy often use a right-hand fingering of
p–m–i for those kinds of figures. I would use
that fingering on the triplets in measures
38 in the solo section. It will take some
practice to get the tempo of the recording.
Take advantage of any and all places to add
legatos and slides to keep it swinging. Jimmy
would never want you to copy this as much
as he would want you to improve on it.
Jimmy went old-school on this solo,
playing more in a tonal center than on the
changes. He primarily used a C Mixolydian
mode with an added %3 to get a bluesy
sound on the A sections. He also used some
chromatic approaches to strong chord tones.
On the bridge, he tended to play more on the
changes. This solo takes me back to Charlie
Christian and Lester Young, where we would
hear bebop musicians of that period improvise
in a very similar way over fast rhythm
changes. This solo really swings as well.
I spoke to Jimmy several months before his
passing about this tune and he remembered
several things about the solo. First he said
that he was scared to death when he recorded
this song and he remembers wanting to play
something in the last bridge, but in his words
“I chickened out!” I told him that if it was
any consolation, the space that he left sounded
good as well. I remember that same idea
from the recording “Two Lines For Barney.”