charlie parker

Mentorship and oral tradition are essential parts of jazz’s lasting vitality.

I recently had the pleasure of hearing Jazz Is Dead at the Newport Jazz Festival. Led by bassist Ali Shaheed Muhammed (A Tribe Called Quest) and composer/producer Adrian Younge, the band was formed to draw inspiration from such greats as Gary Bartz, Henry Franklin, Doug Carn, Roy Ayers, Jean Carne, Lonnie Liston Smith, and others in creating new compositions and fresh arrangements of their work. The irony behind the name and ethos of this band, though, is that jazz is certainly not dead!

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Guitarists can learn a lot by dissecting the art of articulation of the horn-playing masters.



• Develop a more fluid jazz time-feel by using hammer-ons and pull-offs.

• Create elegant jazz lead lines.

• Understand how to navigate bebop harmonic passages.

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Few figures in jazz history loom as large as Charlie Parker. His pioneering work in the 1940s remains a cornerstone of modern small-ensemble jazz and his playing still sounds fresh today. Parker’s legendary practice regimen combined with his brilliant artistic vision yielded a uniquely personal and virtuosic style. It’s a high bar, but let’s learn some Parker-style jazz language and see how well his style adapts to the fretboard.

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