Ah, The Real Book. Get yours here. My first Real Book, bought in 1979, was stolen. This is my second, bought in 1980. The name is a bit of musician’s irony. Not a fake book, man. It’s the REAL book. Illegal, at the time. You had to buy it on the street in front of the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Now I believe you can buy them inside the school bookstore. Times change. So has the price.
The pages are almost card-stock sturdy. The coffee stains are well earned. Either from caffeinated frustration or long evenings of joyous study and relaxation with a hot cup of decaf. So an explanation of the word ‘opposite’ in the captions for those who might need one, is that the coffee cup was set down on the song pages I wasn’t, at the time, working on or playing through. So the sheet music photo accompanied by the caption, Naima – John Coltrane, for example, is NOT Naima but from the song My Ship. Anyway. And where the word doesn’t appear it’s because the coffee stain is on the page of the song I was working on, for example, Lush Life by Billy Strayhorn.
Anyway. For an actual musical example of me noodling through one of these Real Book tunes on the guitar I’m offering a cassette recorded version of Naima that I did sitting on my couch… now about 20 years ago, down at the bottom. (Naima (opposite) is the last photo.) There probably isn’t a book I’ve gotten more out of than the Real Book. It’s not much, but this is my way of saying thanks.
Naima – Donald Barnat (guitar)
Long live Horace Silver. My favorite.
I’m no great shakes as a musician. But when you’ve internalized someone’s music their loss is felt that much more. That I can tell you today.
Maybe 15 years ago I recorded a bunch of jazz standard lead sheets for a friend back home. Just a one afternoon with nothing better to do project for a friend. Here is the Horace Silver portion of that inadequate effort.
Since the 1960s there have been four names regarded as the greatest icons of jazz guitar. Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, Jim Hall and Kenny Burrell. Now only Kenny Burrell remains.
Jim Hall was certainly the most modern sounding of the four. In fact, he pretty much invented the modernist use of fourths which so many guitarists have since emulated and in the utilization of space in his playing. His most iconic collaborators were the pianist Bill Evans and the alto saxophonist Paul Desmond and his longtime partnerships with both of those immortals resulted in some of the most sublime jazz ever recorded.
And to add just some personal weird timing. Just last night I realized I needed to start reading through some music and pulled out some Jim Hall books. In them I found a color copy of a photograph of a transcribed solo of Jim Hall’s, from the song Indian Summer, off the album Walk Soft, that Eric Susoeff, a great jazz guitarist in Pittsburgh, had made for me over 30 years ago. I’d seen it maybe twice in all those years and I put it down on the table and was struggling to see the tiny notes in the dim light. Just last night. And now today I find out Jim Hall has passed.
There’s nothing on the New York Times yet it was actually Eric posting of Jim’s death on Facebook that delivered the sad news to me.
I’ll post some great musical art and enlighten anyone who hasn’t experienced this great 20th century giant of jazz. And he was a giant of jazz, the music. Not simply some guitar hero. These four musicians were jazz artists first and guitarists second. Anyway. That’s that.
Here’s a very long clip on YouTube of Jim Hall with another of my favorites, Art Farmer, from 1964.