Archive for October, 2008

The Evolution of Jazz Guitar

October 10, 2008

Nicolai Foss has posted a nice large set of small instructional videos on YouTube, called Evolution of Jazz Guitar . There seems to be 29 videos.

Each video shows the tabs of a typical lick, in the style of (or directly taken from) the jazz guitar greats, beginning with Eddie Lang. Each video has a little bio and a brief analysis of the lick. I am now at #9 which is a cool Joe Pass lick.

Jimmy Gourley

October 8, 2008

Nicolai Foss

James Pasco Gourley (b. 1926) has often been taken to be a Jimmy Raney copy. This may explain why Gourley is clearly underrated, and little known outside of France, where he has lived since, I believe, the beginning of the 1950s. While Gourley was a childhood acquaince of Lee Konitz, the Raney of the alto, succeeded Raney in the guitar chair of the Jay Burkhart combo in the mid-1940s, and indeed was influenced by him, Gourley’s style is more direct and hard swinging than Raney’s, more hard-boppish, sometimes even gutsy.

For example, check this great clip of “Montagne Madness,” probably from around 1980. (There is quite a lot of Gourley on YouTube). Like Raney in the beginning of his career, Gourley played the ES-150 with the Charlie Christian Pickup, but, unlike Raney, Gourley continued working with this instrument, playing it to this day (Raney played many different archtops, among them the Guild Artist Award).

Here is a French “Retrospective” (check the photo with a very distinguished looking Raney, and the less serious Gourley, RenĂ© Thomas, and Sascha Distel).

The Gibson ES-775

October 8, 2008

Nicolai Foss

As the number suggests, the ES-775 is an upgraded version of the ES-175(e.g., gold hardware, split block inlays, pickup moved closer to the neck, ebony knobs, etc.) perhaps somewhat akin to the L4, but with a laminated maple top (whereas the L4 has a solid spruce top). It was produced either 1990-1992 or 1990-1994 (sources differ somewhat). has a very pretty specimen on offer at the moment for the price of 4,115 USD. And here is a very different one; different headstock, different tailpiece, and, of course, sunburst rather than natural. The price is also very different: 2,400 USD. And here are the user reviews.