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Rich Arnold

 

From:
Tennessee, USA
Post  Posted 22 Jan 2023 9:15 am    
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Hi Gang,
Well, hear goes a second attempt at making this post. The first on failed apparently. Sorry if this shows up twice.
I've been thinking about the future of the dobro. It's foregone conclusion that it will have a well established place in Bluegrass, Country and other types of acoustic music. But what about Jazz and Swing?
The type of Jazz and Swing I'm talking about is bop oriented music. This conversation could easily trail off into the weeds in a discussion about so-and-so who plays lounge jazz, fusion, cross-over. Or some dude who made a record that sounds like Jerry Douglas meets the Rippingtons with guest star Kenny G. I'm specifically referring to Jazz and Swing before Miles Davis and John Coltrane on Kinda Blue
There are a number of people who are fully capable of playing Jazz and Swing melodies on the dobro but it seems to stop there. But that's not all that's involved in playing this music. This kind of music calls for (but doesn't always get) a language that allows for improvisational playing over the changes and the ability to play extended solos. That's where the dobro seems to come up short.
Ive been working on developing such a vocabulary for exactly this purpose. Keep in mind, I've only taken a baby step in that direction and I'm far from having it perfected. Very far. But I have a lingering thought and hope that somebody, some day will do it for real. Somebody with a lot more skill and capability than me.
Hear is a video of what I have been working on.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMi56jgf5IQ
Here's another:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UftGo9VdE_k
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Bill McCloskey

 

From:
Nanuet, NY
Post  Posted 22 Jan 2023 9:51 am    
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Have you Met Miss Jones is new. Wow, Rich. Literally no one plays like you. That improve was so effortless, tasty, and interesting. Much tighter overall. Just amazing.
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Howard Parker


From:
Clarksburg,MD USA
Post  Posted 22 Jan 2023 2:30 pm    
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As a guy who's been tied to the dobro business for a few decades and have witnessed the explosion of instruments and players I'll offer up an observation.

"This kind of music calls for (but doesn't always get) a language that allows for improvisational playing over the changes and the ability to play extended solos. That's where the dobro seems to come up short."

I think the issue you describe is not dobro specific. I think if you look at the genre of jazz in general, the audience is pretty stagnant as far as numbers/music sales go. I'm certainly not an expert in this but do read up on industry trends.

The dobro itself I think is in the middle of a youth movement and a lot of it is driven by new technologies available for the instrument. Those technologies are driving a LOT of interest in other genres outside of the acoustic scene. Think pop/rock/reggae/"heavy..you name it.

Get the youth more interested in jazz and the players will follow. Don't and jazz will continue to be a technical and enjoyable albeit tiny piece of the music scene.

Heck, maybe more guitar players will take up the genre and there's always been plenty of instruction available for them.

That's my view from 50,000 feet.

h
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Mike Neer


From:
NJ
Post  Posted 22 Jan 2023 7:06 pm    
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Have You Met Miss Jones (the bridge) is the source of Coltrane’s Giant Steps cycle. Check it out and compare changes.

I support anyone who wants to play jazz on this instrument or lap steel. It’s a very difficult proposition to do it in the first place and it’s even more difficult given the difficulty in finding an audience and even players to play with. Usually, if I’m not the leader hiring cats, no one calls me to play steel for a jazz gig. I figure it’s either because a) real cats play at such a high level that they don’t think I could cut it, and they are probably right, b) it’s too niche an instrument for their gig, or c) they just don’t like me. But I am fine with that because at this point in life, I kind of just want to play what I want to play and I do like to lead. Just keep doing what you love. You’re really good at it and it’s going to get better. Play with others if you can, that can’t be stated enough.

But I have a really good handle on jazz, at least as a listener, and I am always willing to share my thoughts on it. I played with some serious cats for a long time, though mostly always on guitar. I’ll admit I was always more of a post-Bop guy.
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Tim Toberer

 

From:
Nebraska, USA
Post  Posted 23 Jan 2023 8:10 am     Re: Jazz/ Swing Improv on a Dobro
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Rich Arnold wrote:
Hi Gang,
Well, hear goes a second attempt at making this post. The first on failed apparently. Sorry if this shows up twice.
I've been thinking about the future of the dobro. It's foregone conclusion that it will have a well established place in Bluegrass, Country and other types of acoustic music. But what about Jazz and Swing?

Keep it up Rich! I love the videos keep them coming. I am sort of in the same lane only I have no skills! I personally feel like music in general is moving in a direction where specific genres no longer exist. In the industry it seems like its all about how to make money. Jazz for the most part is a music made by musicians, for musicians, with the general population having no real insight into what's actually going on. I see the steel guitar as having a sort of identity problem with 90% of the people I tell about it saying "oh that's SpongeBob music" There is something really addictive about it for me and I didn't realize it until I gave the instrument a chance. I will be in the front row!

Lately I like to imagine a parallel universe where Vance Terry and Bob Dunn were somehow in New York in the early 1940's. The'd be hanging out at Minton's Playhouse with Bird, Diz and Monk jamming right along creating a whole thang. The steel guitar would probably look a whole lot different right now! One can dream at least.
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Rich Arnold

 

From:
Tennessee, USA
Post  Posted 23 Jan 2023 4:12 pm    
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Bill McCloskey wrote:
Have you Met Miss Jones is new. Wow, Rich. Literally no one plays like you. That improve was so effortless, tasty, and interesting. Much tighter overall. Just amazing.

Thanks Bill, I really appreciate it. I recorded that last fall I think. Since I'm the only soloists is often challenging to keep things interesting all the way through. But I do the best I can.
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Rich Arnold

 

From:
Tennessee, USA
Post  Posted 23 Jan 2023 4:16 pm    
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Howard Parker wrote:
As a guy who's been tied to the dobro business for a few decades and have witnessed the explosion of instruments and players I'll offer up an observation.

"This kind of music calls for (but doesn't always get) a language that allows for improvisational playing over the changes and the ability to play extended solos. That's where the dobro seems to come up short."

I think the issue you describe is not dobro specific. I think if you look at the genre of jazz in general, the audience is pretty stagnant as far as numbers/music sales go. I'm certainly not an expert in this but do read up on industry trends.

The dobro itself I think is in the middle of a youth movement and a lot of it is driven by new technologies available for the instrument. Those technologies are driving a LOT of interest in other genres outside of the acoustic scene. Think pop/rock/reggae/"heavy..you name it.

Get the youth more interested in jazz and the players will follow. Don't and jazz will continue to be a technical and enjoyable albeit tiny piece of the music scene.

Heck, maybe more guitar players will take up the genre and there's always been plenty of instruction available for them.

That's my view from 50,000 feet.

h

Thanks Howard,
I appreciate your insight. I often remain oblivious to what else is going on in terms of today's date I'm happy to hear that people are interested in the dobro.
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Rich Arnold

 

From:
Tennessee, USA
Post  Posted 23 Jan 2023 4:23 pm    
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Mike Neer wrote:
Have You Met Miss Jones (the bridge) is the source of Coltrane’s Giant Steps cycle. Check it out and compare changes.

I support anyone who wants to play jazz on this instrument or lap steel. It’s a very difficult proposition to do it in the first place and it’s even more difficult given the difficulty in finding an audience and even players to play with. Usually, if I’m not the leader hiring cats, no one calls me to play steel for a jazz gig. I figure it’s either because a) real cats play at such a high level that they don’t think I could cut it, and they are probably right, b) it’s too niche an instrument for their gig, or c) they just don’t like me. But I am fine with that because at this point in life, I kind of just want to play what I want to play and I do like to lead. Just keep doing what you love. You’re really good at it and it’s going to get better. Play with others if you can, that can’t be stated enough.

But I have a really good handle on jazz, at least as a listener, and I am always willing to share my thoughts on it. I played with some serious cats for a long time, though mostly always on guitar. I’ll admit I was always more of a post-Bop guy.


Hi Mike,
I hope all is well with you in the big city.
I've heard about the comparison between Giant Steps and Miss. Jones. This is strange because I don't seem to struggle with Miss Jones like I do Steps. I suppose that could be a whole topic by itself.
I don't get calls for jazz gigs either. Occasionally a jam but, they don't seem to be looking for a dobro player.
I often listen and play music that came after the Bop era myself. Cal Tjader. Tom Jobim.
Thanks for your comments!
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Rich Arnold

 

From:
Tennessee, USA
Post  Posted 23 Jan 2023 4:29 pm     Re: Jazz/ Swing Improv on a Dobro
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Tim Toberer wrote:
Rich Arnold wrote:
Hi Gang,
Well, hear goes a second attempt at making this post. The first on failed apparently. Sorry if this shows up twice.
I've been thinking about the future of the dobro. It's foregone conclusion that it will have a well established place in Bluegrass, Country and other types of acoustic music. But what about Jazz and Swing?

Keep it up Rich! I love the videos keep them coming. I am sort of in the same lane only I have no skills! I personally feel like music in general is moving in a direction where specific genres no longer exist. In the industry it seems like its all about how to make money. Jazz for the most part is a music made by musicians, for musicians, with the general population having no real insight into what's actually going on. I see the steel guitar as having a sort of identity problem with 90% of the people I tell about it saying "oh that's SpongeBob music" There is something really addictive about it for me and I didn't realize it until I gave the instrument a chance. I will be in the front row!

Lately I like to imagine a parallel universe where Vance Terry and Bob Dunn were somehow in New York in the early 1940's. The'd be hanging out at Minton's Playhouse with Bird, Diz and Monk jamming right along creating a whole thang. The steel guitar would probably look a whole lot different right now! One can dream at least.


Thanks for your comments Tim.

I agree that the jazz audience is a lot smaller. As I type this my neighbor is blasting Hip-hop. They don't know any better. Sad Often times musicians are tempted to dumb down their music. Like using worms for fishing. Almost any fish will bite a worm.
Instead of lowering the music, I'd rather try to play music that lifts the people up.
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Tim Toberer

 

From:
Nebraska, USA
Post  Posted 24 Jan 2023 7:04 am     Re: Jazz/ Swing Improv on a Dobro
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Rich Arnold wrote:


I agree that the jazz audience is a lot smaller. As I type this my neighbor is blasting Hip-hop. They don't know any better. Sad Often times musicians are tempted to dumb down their music. Like using worms for fishing. Almost any fish will bite a worm.
Instead of lowering the music, I'd rather try to play music that lifts the people up.

I agree, although there is some really great Hip Hop. Jazz has also found a home in Hip Hop. Check out the early Roots or Tribe Called Quest.


Last edited by Tim Toberer on 24 Jan 2023 7:07 am; edited 1 time in total
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Mike Neer


From:
NJ
Post  Posted 24 Jan 2023 7:19 am     Re: Jazz/ Swing Improv on a Dobro
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Tim Toberer wrote:
Rich Arnold wrote:


I agree that the jazz audience is a lot smaller. As I type this my neighbor is blasting Hip-hop. They don't know any better. Sad Often times musicians are tempted to dumb down their music. Like using worms for fishing. Almost any fish will bite a worm.
Instead of lowering the music, I'd rather try to play music that lifts the people up.

I agree, although there is some really great Hip Hop. Jazz has also found a home in Hip Hop. Check out the early Roots or Tribe Called Quest.


Or Aceyalone, whose Book of Human Language is a masterpiece. There was a time (the 90s) when I dug it much more than I dug rock and considered some of it on equal footing with any other music. But that’s probably a debate for a different space.
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Brian McGaughey


From:
Seattle, WA USA
Post  Posted 24 Jan 2023 8:44 pm     Re: Jazz/ Swing Improv on a Dobro
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Rich Arnold wrote:

There are a number of people who are fully capable of playing Jazz and Swing melodies on the dobro but it seems to stop there. But that's not all that's involved in playing this music. This kind of music calls for (but doesn't always get) a language that allows for improvisational playing over the changes and the ability to play extended solos. That's where the dobro seems to come up short.


Rich, great music making!

“ a language that allows for improvisational playing over the changes and the ability to play extended solos. That's where the dobro seems to come up short.”

The dobro may not come up short IMO. You’re doing it. It’s that people who choose to learn dobro don’t listen to the style you’re doing to learn the vocabulary. I’m guessing that you listened to free form jazz extended soloing long before you picked up a dobro.

Anyway, I’d love to be able to express myself musically the way you do and in that style. I think it’s not just learning the vocabulary but being able to express it through yourself. I’m guessing you’ve “practiced” that as much as the instrument itself.
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Jim Kaznosky

 

From:
New Jersey, USA
Post  Posted 25 Jan 2023 9:13 am    
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I love what you are doing, Rich. I was playing jazz and swing style on the lap steel while I was recuperating from an accident that stopped my guitar playing. Mike set me up on a very path for how he sees the neck and I was able to develop a few tricks to get by on the gigs and learn tunes on the fly. I had a good stretch goal of trying to apply the Barry Harris stuff to the lap steel, as I felt the sixth tuning and the way diminished chords where laid out would benefit. Sadly, I didn't get far as I was always learning tunes for a gig and not so sadly, I healed up well enough to play guitar/.

Now, I'm trying to find a schedule that allows me to continue my Barry studies on guitar and figure out what tunes might fit on lap steel on my current gig. This job gets in the way a little. I've subscribed to your video channel and am really digging what I'm seeing.

With regards to folks not playing jazz, I say do what makes you happy.

Mike - Glassman says hello.
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Rich Arnold

 

From:
Tennessee, USA
Post  Posted 26 Jan 2023 5:52 am     Re: Jazz/ Swing Improv on a Dobro
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Tim Toberer wrote:
Rich Arnold wrote:



I agree, although there is some really great Hip Hop. Jazz has also found a home in Hip Hop. Check out the early Roots or Tribe Called Quest.


I've never been able to get interested in Hip hop.
It's monotonal....(doesn't have notes or melody) And the kick drum or what ever machine they use for that is very irritating to me. The lyrics? Sounds like angry people.
I often wonder if maybe Hip hop reinforces negative stereotypes of African Americans. N9nebof my Black friends act like that.
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Rich Arnold

 

From:
Tennessee, USA
Post  Posted 26 Jan 2023 6:01 am     Re: Jazz/ Swing Improv on a Dobro
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Brian McGaughey wrote:
Rich Arnold wrote:

There are a number of people who are fully capable of playing Jazz and Swing melodies on the dobro but it seems to stop there. But that's not all that's involved in playing this music. This kind of music calls for (but doesn't always get) a language that allows for improvisational playing over the changes and the ability to play extended solos. That's where the dobro seems to come up short.


Rich, great music making!

“ a language that allows for improvisational playing over the changes and the ability to play extended solos. That's where the dobro seems to come up short.”


The dobro may not come up short IMO. You’re doing it. It’s that people who choose to learn dobro don’t listen to the style you’re doing to learn the vocabulary. I’m guessing that you listened to free form jazz extended soloing long before you picked up a dobro.

Anyway, I’d love to be able to express myself musically the way you do and in that style. I think it’s not just learning the vocabulary but being able to express it through yourself. I’m guessing you’ve “practiced” that as much as the instrument itself.


Thanks Brian,
I've listened to a lot of Jazz over the years. I suppose I've just picked up the accent.
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Tim Toberer

 

From:
Nebraska, USA
Post  Posted 26 Jan 2023 8:09 am     Re: Jazz/ Swing Improv on a Dobro
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Rich Arnold wrote:



I've never been able to get interested in Hip hop.
It's monotonal....(doesn't have notes or melody) And the kick drum or what ever machine they use for that is very irritating to me. The lyrics? Sounds like angry people.
I often wonder if maybe Hip hop reinforces negative stereotypes of African Americans. N9nebof my Black friends act like that.

These are shark infested waters really not worth wading into, but I will say that every genre of music has its stereotypes, which in no way represent the genre as a whole. Any kind of music blasted through a neighbors window is bound to provoke a negative response, especially if we are trying to concentrate on something else. I would argue that good Hip Hop is far from monotonal. The rise and fall of the cadences create a whole new type of melody IMHO. A lot of rap these days use real instruments, a trend started by the Roots in the 90's who are basically a modern jazz band in some ways at least. The shift from lyrics to LYRICS allows the music to tell stories not possible in more traditional forms of music. In good Hip Hop I do hear anger.... As well as well as every other emotion possible. Some of the most cutting political commentary and best humor I have ever heard also.
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Howard Parker


From:
Clarksburg,MD USA
Post  Posted 26 Jan 2023 12:14 pm     Re: Jazz/ Swing Improv on a Dobro
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[quote="Tim Toberer"]
Rich Arnold wrote:


These are shark infested waters really not worth wading into, but I will say that every genre of music has its stereotypes


Thanks for this Tim. In my mind, musical exploration often takes a new "set of ears" and a willingness to step outside of one's comfort zone and explore.

It also helps to have a guide to help you along the way.

Sorta like, well... jazz.

h
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Rich Arnold

 

From:
Tennessee, USA
Post  Posted 28 Jan 2023 8:50 pm     Re: Jazz/ Swing Improv on a Dobro
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[quote="Howard Parker"]
Tim Toberer wrote:
Rich Arnold wrote:


These are shark infested waters really not worth wading into, but I will say that every genre of music has its stereotypes


Thanks for this Tim. In my mind, musical exploration often takes a new "set of ears" and a willingness to step outside of one's comfort zone and explore.

It also helps to have a guide to help you along the way.

Sorta like, well... jazz

h

Well said Howard,
" If something sounds good, it is good"....let the critics pound salt!
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