A Quote from Rinzai ( d.866), and Jazz by Kenny Burrell

Today I want to take the time to think about the following quote:

“Today’s students of the Buddha-Dharma need to look for genuine insight. If you have genuine insight, birth and death will not affect you, and you will be free to come and go. Nor do you need to look for worthiness; it will arise of itself.

Followers of the Way, do not let yourselves be deluded by anyone; this is all I teach. If you want to make use of genuine insight, then use it right now without delay or doubt.

Students nowadays do not succeed because they suffer from lack of self reliance. Because of this lack, you run busily hither and thither, are driven by circumstance, and kept whirling by the ten thousand things.-“
Rinzai ( d.866)

I found it very empowering to read “if you want to make use of genuine insight, then use it right now without delay or doubt.”

That makes me feel like a child, who knows without doubt the value of feeling good, of wanting and then receiving a desired thing (be it material, experiential or emotional, mental)…

As an adult I often question the voracity of wanting anything – would it be good if I got it, what if I can’ t  get it…all this just keeps me from living…keeps me in fear, in a place where I am fighting to be “not – alive”….but the statement “use it right now without delay or doubt” opens it all up for me…When I watch a video (like the one I have posted below), I can see without delay or doubt how I will practice today:

…I practice in the wake of the greatness I experience in the videos of  Wes or Herb or other great guitarists.  I will flow with it …for the joy of it…like a child on fire with the delight of mastery — just for the sake of getting lost in the pursuit, not because it will lead to a gig or impress someone else.

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All Blues by Miles Davis- Guitar Version..Transcending the Pain of Life

Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue made me feel jazz and love it – the kind of blues (no pun intended) that I like that is, and I don’t like it all .. I think folks who say they don’t like it have heard a KIND that they don’t like and have yet to hear something so mellow and spiritual as tunes like All Blues, or Round Midnight ..I hope that is true.

Today is a lovely day as the birds feed out on the balcony.  I will return today to the deepest place in my heart and be fully present in all I do, guitar, washing clothes…all of it.  Anything and everything I do is a good time to feel the ecstasy of being fully present with nature, not censoring or judging anything that you feel or think, but instead letting the buddha within you address each and every thing that comes up and offer you comfort – allow you to no longer hide anything from yourself..In realeasing all that is being submerging the knack for full joy like a child returns once again and you are home, above all the pain – personal and worldwide, – breakups, death, was, Ebola, racial divides…can all be there and yet you may have joy, passion, ecstasy, even the feeling of the first time you fell in love–only better because this doesn’t rely on anther person to love you, it is within you-you are both the lover and the lovee- this sounds impossible but it is in fact very possible.

Arpeggios are coming along …Jazz Lessons

arpegI posted a few weeks back that I was just learning arpeggios and now I am pleased to report I am learning them quite sufficiently.  My teacher says that just knowing scales and arpeggios very well will automatically cause me to start improvising.  I don’t know if this is so, but I choose to believe it otherwise all I am learning is futile.

That would never happen.  Somewhere in me is a female Wes Montgomery–ha ha!

I do study his videos and the amazing thing is how it looks so easy,  and I would not claim to be able to play like him, but i can clone on his relaxed and happy demeanor, that should improve my playing instantly.

Busy life these days but will get back to writing posts soon.  (ones that actually say something besides just reporting my jazz guitar progress).

 

 

Wes Montgomery for your Saturday Jazz Medicine

For your Saturday jazz fix, the one and only Wes Montgomery.  If I am down and listen to this it is not possible to remain there.  Jazz is this thing, like love or zen, that isn’t translatable to words, really.  The feeling that it evokes, when it is good, is just magic

So I am very lucky indeed to be given a chance to learn to play and sing it.  As you watch Wes in this video, he is so happy, relaxed, yet exuding joy.  Maybe he was feeling how lucky he was to be such a great player.  He kinda reminds me of the cat that swallowed the canary, like, if you people only knew how much fun it is to play this music, you would all want to do it too!

Jazzin’ the Day Away

I am posting a jazz guitarist video today to start my day of practice off right.  The arpeggios are getting easier all the time and I think if I can break the sound barrier so to speak, that place at which most people would quit because they don’t see how any of the drills will make them able to play actual improvised jazz, or even to take the songs they currently know and play them in a much more enjoyable arrangement..

So, yes, in spite of all the lack of proof that it will work, I will practice on in despair, like a mountain climber that knows that even if they reach the top they will most likely not make it down again due to hazards of nature…

That sounds so drama-queen-ish but it is how it feels to work and work for hours on one song and then play it and realize it does not sound good yet…

But I will go on because part of me knows that the day will come, in a month, a year, or 2 years, or more, when I will play well, when each song will be up to par, when I will have the gigs, respect from my fellow musicians, and most importantly, when I will use my new guitar skills to compose songs that I feel will make a difference – will help one or more people to learn, gain a new insight or be free of some mental anguish, due to the message and love in the song that I sing.

I don’t mean that I will be a star or that my video  will go viral, just that the ones who do hear my music will benefit from it.

This is almost like going back to a time when live performers were everywhere, before they had computers, TV, or even radio.

The world I want to live respects  songwriters and musicians of dedication, not because they are famous or because the are “trending” on social media, but because their music is glorious, like a beautiful painting by a master painter.

So enough of my rant, here is a video to inspire and entertain you and me:

Help! Is this Hard Bop? Be Bop?

 

 

Here is Russell Malone, great player.  Hope you will give comment on my question above.

I love this style, so as I learn to play it I want to be sure I am using the term that  generally applies to this “type” of jazz .

 

Today I have had more trouble with pain as I work on the arpeggios in each key.

 

But that will not stop me.  I took 600 mg of ibuprofen and used an icy hot patch.

Here goes for 4.5 hours today.  Also breaking it into nine sessions to avoid repetitive stress on the mussels and joints.  Speaking of joints……ah…just kidding…no really.  I could use one about now.

 

On another note, there is a book I have mentioned before, but it bears repeating.  It is called “The Perfect Wrong Note”

This bear looks like the attitude I need today to get my practice done.  Damn it, I am mad as hell that I  don’t know the scale patterns yet and  I’ll be darned if anything will stop me, so watch out world!

Back the the afore mentioned book:  When I spoke about some of its concepts to a former guitar teacher, he was NOT receptive. I believe some of the approaches require one  to be a bit ZEN like.  I am all for that.Perhaps I will revisit the book where he addresses pain caused by long hours of practice.

 

…Readers, stay with me, over the coming posts I will be sharing my insights on zen and music, on making a difference in the world rather than complaining about politics and  such, and especially on my continued love affair with jazz guitar, with being an adult learner, and breaking through my life long inability to stick to something and become excellent.  To actually succeed via my own firm commitment.

 

This will entail overcoming my fear that when I do well I will be expected to keep doing well, and I will become somewhat well known at least regionally…

Which will make me feel like a phony, or too public, or, I don’t know – afraid I won’t be me anymore.  That I will try to be what or who I think the people that like my music think I am.  Or I will try to be like some other female jazz guitarist or singer.  If you have gone from obscurity to a small degree of local fame, how have you kept on your original path, avoided a swelled head, and continued to work as hard as when you were just trying to get out of the starting gate?

You see I am a very private person who likes to be soft and gentle–not all gutsy like those guitar shredders I  have read about.    Emily Remler in particular. Don’t get me wrong, she was a great player.  But whatever she was doing in her life, she ended up addicted to H and died in her 30s.

This is a big challenge for me as you can see.  But life is either a daring adventure or nothing as someone once said.

If You Don’ Know How, First Learn HOW to know HOW: Blogging Will HELP YOU LEARN

learnToday I have pain from my hours of guitar practice. But I will not let that stop me.  I can take ibuprofen, stretch my arms and hands every 30 minutes. That should do it.

Today I am breaking through on how to play improvised jazz. It is all in the scale patterns. Memorizing them in each key…then, when I am playing a song, based on what key it is in, I can improvise all up and down the fretboard using scale patterns one through seven.

Never thought I would be able to – and I still don’t know how YET.  But I think I know HOW to know HOW. When it is a more complex goal, this step – how to know how – could make all the difference. I will let you know how it works.

If you are wondering will I ever post music of my own, this blog is for me to say things that I don’t have to worry about anyone judging.  Since I work in music, a potential client reading about me doubting my skills could be detrimental to me getting gigs.

I love WordPress and this community.  It has helped me to start each day taking the ZEN attitude – by writing what I know and feel spiritually. Without this blog it was hard for me to stay positive.

This blog/writing a “journal”, is life changing. IF YOU DON’T HAVE A BLOG – GET ONE!  Or at least start journaling.

Blogging brings about huge personal growth for people like me–people wishing to get beyond their baggage and to realize their dream. I have dreamed all my life of success in music.  I am on my way now,  BY GEORGE!

Jazz Guitar: Play Every Day, that is “The Way”

This is a good/great concert. Please enjoy.  Upped my hours a day on my jazz guitar adventure to 4 to 5…yesterday made it to 3.5 staying up late as the day was full of to dos…better late then never..

I endorsed the 3.5 hours as success.  Being a stickler for exact time will only make it harder for me to keep my firm commitment.  Yes, I want to be my own “guitar coach”, keeping things on the side of a firm and strong work ethic, like an athlete, while also being kind and gentle with myself.

Today I will follow the advice from my teacher at Monday’s  lesson.  He says, get your coffee and water and do your 3 or more hours of practice, write down what you do, where you left off, and if not all done today, continue where you left off tomorrow.  And the BIG thing he said is, it is not just playing many hours every day that makes you good, it is playing with FOCUS.  Put on blinders, and just focus on one thing at a time, finish it and go to the next thing.  Avoid jumping around.  If you think of a tune while doing a drill, record it so as not to loose it.  But don’t stop the drill to spend hours composing a new tune.

I found another blog called something like “my jazz guitar adventure” (not on word press), and was about to follow it when, oh no, he posted that he had not been playing in a long while and thus had not been posting.

That is a cautionary tale:  At my age, playing every day without stop gaps is the way to bliss.  This is a way of life or nothing.  Seeing the afore mentioneds photo, he was much younger then I, so he doesn’t take it as seriously perhaps,  Not to judge… for the minute I make it into a “have to practice every day or else” kinda thing, it can lead to disaster.

Instead I am making it, “I get to do this..play this amazing music, this beautiful instrument”.

My guitar looks just like the one John Scofield is playing.  Wish me jazzy guitar power for today I begin the triad arpeggios in all 12 keys.

 

 

 

Can A Waitress Play Jazz Guitar (good if not great?)

Today I have a nice dog to keep me happy and I begin another day on my jazz guitar adventure.  Yesterday I was thinking how I previously believed (and often still do) you have to be a genius to play jazz guitar, and  have a super sharp memory, lightening quick reflexes and tons of musical talent.  Then, thanks to a book called Zen Guitar (not exact title, will add later) I thought more productively, and less judgmentally, about the odds that I will ever get good at this.   And this term came to me:  memory stacking.  As a waitress one must remember all the orders, personalities, condiments, and so on.  One needs a good memory for detail.  So is jazz guitar harder than that?  Yes…and no.  If broken down, one skill within the jazz training foundation may tax the memory as much as what a food server has to do within a given working day.  So, if it is like one day, I thought, I don’t have to be smarter than a waitress to play jazz guitar, I just have to only learn and attempt to reproduce ONE thing at a time…

Kind of like, stacking the jazz guitar skills one atop another within my mental circuitry: Memory Stacking.

…Until I have a giant multi-story building…or jazz mansion so to speak.   Will see how that works as I continue on my jazz adventure.

One more thing…before I start daily practice I often find a good jazz guitar video.  Today I will go for 5 hours, with this good example: