February 7, 2015: Carl Orr

Many thanks to the amazing guitarist Carl Orr for an enjoyable session in which we covered:

Birk’s Works” by Dizzy Gillespie
Maiden Voyage” by Herbie Hancock

“Birk’s Works” is a minor blues in F and Carl encouraged us not to overthink it and use the F blues scale liberally.

Once the deceptively tricky backing rhythm to “Maiden Voyage” was learned Carl discussed changing the backing groove in order to create a bit more interest. At one point the backing changed to double-time, much to the chagrin of the soloist that had the rug pulled from beneath them.

Many thanks to Carl.

October 25, 2014: Carl Orr

Many thanks to amazing guitarist Carl Orr for a lively session in which we covered:

“Yardbird Suite” by Charlie Parker
“Beauty and the Beast” by Wayne Shorter

After a quick analysis of the tune, and realising that perhaps it isn’t as straight forward as first thought, Carl lead the group through the chords, first by arpeggiating triads from the root and then up to the seventh. The chords were take sequentially without regard to bar lines so that all chords were treated similarly. A good way of getting the sequence under the fingers.

We then had a couple of plays through the tune at increasing tempos. Carl talked about the use of quotes to increase audience interest in a tune after spotting a quote from one of our members (Martin).  He then suggested we go through the tune an put some quotes in. Carl was particularly tickled when a member quoted the theme tune from “Steptoe and Son.”

After the break we revisited “Beauty and the Beast” which consists of a melodic section (beauty) and a funk section (the beast) based on a dominant chord. The solos take place over the funk section.

I particularly like Carl’s sessions because he keeps the rhythm section under control with only have a single guitar or piano playing at once.

Thanks again to Carl for a great session.


February 9, 2013: Carl Orr

Many thanks to Carl Orr for one again providing an entertaining session in which we covered the following tunes:

“Afro Blue” by Mongo Santamaría
“Beautiful Love” by Victor Young

In a well attended session containing a few new faces, we started with a rendition of “Afro Blue”; Carl chose this piece because the 6/8 time signature tends to force the player to come up with fresh ideas rather than relying on tried and tested licks. In this composition, the soloing takes place either over a static F- or as in this case a minor blues in F.

Carl talked about the importance of rhythm and we clapped and played through a few exercises that should help improve our appreciation of it. In one exercise, each member clapped a short rhythm and then made a short improvisation over an Fm utilizing the same rhythm. In another exercise, Carl clapped a rhythm and got us to repeat it whilst tapping our feet; initially the rhythm started on the first beat (the one) of the bar, but then it moved to the two, three and four before changing to the “and” of the one, two, three and four.

To end the session we performed “Beautiful Love” as a Bossa Nova. In this style Carl suggests that the guitarists should consider themselves part of the rhythm section and provide straightforward simple backing to the soloists.