Posts Tagged Grant Green

Brad Williams Interview

I was contacted via Twitter by Brad and had a listen to his Youtube channel and loved what I heard; tasteful, in the tradition but not in anyway painting by numbers if that makes sense- check it out. I was glad he agreed to an interview. Thanks Brad!

What/who were your initial influences?

My very earliest influences were stacks of 45 RPM records my parents owned. Scotty Moore with Elvis Presley was a big one, Steve Cropper with Otis Redding was another. At 12 I was exposed to Hendrix, and at 15 to Wes Montgomery and Grant Green. Then I started going out as a teenager in my hometown of Memphis to hear Calvin Newborn at least one night per week— this was in the late 1990s.  But my single biggest guitarist-influence, to this day, is Charlie Christian— such an incredible sound and conception, and true, deep feeling in every note. His influence exploded out in every direction— through Wes and Benson obviously, but also through T-Bone Walker into the blues, then Junior Barnard on the country side of things, and Chuck Berry and beyond into rock. Charlie Christian is truly the electric guitar’s ‘big bang.’ More than guitarists, though, I’m most influenced by any musician who delivers real depth of feeling and real, honest individuality. There are too many to list, and fortunately there’s no reason to narrow it down.

Are you gigging much at the moment and any projects in the pipeline?

I’m doing a lot of writing and producing these days, in all sorts of idioms, and a fair amount of performing. Not all of it is improvisation-centered. Last year I worked and toured quite extensively with vocalist José James, and currently I’m playing and writing a bit with artists like Kris Bowers, Cory Henry, Samora Pinderhughes, and Sly5thAve, as well as some more song-oriented projects with lots of great artists like Adesuwa, Kimberly Nichole, and more. Really just staying busy and keeping my vision very broad. My organ trio record, which features Pat Bianchi on B3 and Tyshawn Sorey on drums, comes out 4 September. I’m very excited to see the public’s reaction to Tyshawn’s organ trio drumming, which is fantastic. So many music lovers know his work in contexts very different from this, so I think a lot of people are going to really get a thrill from hearing him like this.

It was an interesting project in that we decided to do an entirely analogue capture the whole way through— we tracked and mixed to tape, and Scott Hull cut a great-sounding lacquer master from razor-blade sequenced quarter-inch reels. The LP edition will have never touched a computer at all, and I chose this way of working with a very clear musical result in mind. Rather than having the temptation to fix and edit, I wanted to enforce being true to the feeling of the moment. What was most interesting to me were all of the little things that bothered me initially. Most of those came to be some of my favorite parts of the record once it aged a bit— there’s real humanity there, and with modern recording workflows, a lot of this humanity gets eroded through little fixes, edits, and punches. I think this is because humanity and vulnerability, while engaging to audiences, can be uncomfortable when it’s your humanity and vulnerability!

What’s your ‘desert island’ guitar or have you got it!?

I have always liked guitars— I have 20 currently. I’ve always, from the very beginning, liked to have a lot of guitars around. Amps, too! So it would be hard to pick one. At any rate, things like makes, models, and vintages are purely academic to me— I have to play a particular guitar before I know if it speaks to me or not. Another of the exact same make, model, year might not strike me the same way. There are some I own that were particularly obvious to me the first time I picked them up. I have this 1953 Epiphone Triumph Regent that someone added a pickup to in 1954. It’s a carved-top guitar—it was an acoustic originally—and the pickup was bought out of a catalog, made by Carvin in the mid-1950s. I also have a blue 1962 Fender Jazzmaster that I’d never sell, and a 1944 Gibson Southern Jumbo flat top.

Most of my guitars are old; I tend to like the ones that have been played a lot. Sometimes I feel that as with any other tool that’s worked with in the hand a lot, like they can somehow accumulate personality. That probably sounds weird. But in the end, there’s music in any guitar— it’s up to the player to find out what the guitar does and how it can be worked-with, creatively. I’m a big fan of old inexpensive guitars, for instance— there’s almost always something they do that is unique and characterful. I’d be happy with almost any guitar on a desert island, I think!

Best guitar gig you’ve ever seen?
There’s one that comes to mind for me that I’ve talked about a few times since. I was about 18 years old and went to see B.B. King in Hattiesburg, Mississippi; the hall held about 8,000 people. I was young, deep into jazz guitar studies, trying to get my hands around all the technique and my ears around all the harmony. Mr. King had a second guitarist with him— a young kid playing a big archtop— and he gave this kid the first solo of the show. The kid played great; lots of notes, some bebop-inspired language, and I remember thinking “wow, I’ve heard the B.B. King records; I know he’s not going to play more stuff than this guy!” After the younger player’s solo, which finished to polite applause, B.B. King played a single note— one of those stinging upper register notes he’s so famous for. The energy in the hall immediately elevated to this transcendent place— you could feel the electricity of the whole crowd’s emotions being stirred simultaneously. It was a transformative moment for me, because it caused me in one instant to completely re-evaluate what was important to me in music. From that point on, the question was always “is this idea in service of some kind of feeling?” Because it’s not enough, to me, to just be a clever idea or an impressive thing to demonstrate. If it’s not working toward making me feel what B.B. King made that whole hall feel that day, then it’s not what I’m after.

Which guitarist(s) would you recommend for other people to check out?

Well, there are all the usual ones— the legends. Charlie Christian gets a shout-out, again. Freddie Green was always another big hero of mine, due to his deep concept as a rhythm section player. For me, there’s a whole school of Memphis session guitarists that are just my favorite lately. The late Mabon “Teenie” Hodges, Skip Pitts, Michael Toles, Bobby Manuel, Steve Cropper, and— above them all, to me— the great Reggie Young. Most of your readers have heard these players somewhere or other; as session players they were all incredibly prolific, and on some important records. There are some others that are so worth checking out that don’t get as much talk these days— Oscar Moore, George Van Eps, Gene Bertoncini… As for current players, my friend Charlie Hunter has a fabulous new record out with Curtis Fowlkes and Bobby Previte. Isaiah Sharkey is another player I’m really impressed by, as is Tony Scherr… his slide work is so full of real feeling. There are really too many great ones to name.

 

 

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My Introduction to Jazz Guitar

We’ve all got our own story of how we came to love jazz music and specifically jazz guitar, maybe some of you came to it recently or some of you were lucky enough to have been exposed to it at a younger age. For me I was lucky enough when I was 15 to be leant an album on cassette called “The Jazz Guitar Album” and it all started there for me. As a teenager in my bedroom playing guitar, listening to The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix the jazz guitar tape give me lots of questions but sadly not very many answers -’what on earth were they playing!?’ Although I didn’t *dislike* it, I didn’t really know what to make of it either. The names on the tape sounded very exotic like the music within – Oscar Moore, Django Reinhardt, Bola Sete, Herb Ellis etc.

Here’s the track listing and my perspective from 2014 rather than what I thought at the time
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“The Jazz Guitar Album” Verve 2683065

1. Howard Roberts – Relaxin’ At Camarillo
Talk about a shot in the arm to start with! A great Parker bop track taken with incredible energy and an all round great group performance. I love the solo he takes on this; a less natural intuitive guitarist may have gone for another take to try and get it ‘perfect’ but you’d never get close to this again. For such a great natural guitarist it’s interesting to note that he’s remembered more for his involvement with education.

2. Kenny Burrell – Terrace Theme
Cool. Very cool. This track sounds like it might be a straight forward blues but then shows it’s hand with some slinky harmony over the B section. What a sound Kenny gets, I’m not sure anyone got a sound like him in jazz/blues.

3. Billy Bauer – It’s A Blue World
If you talk to any guitarist about close harmony jazz guitar they will no doubt (and quite rightly) talk about Johnny Smith BUT one of the greatest exponents was Billy Bauer. One of the (almost) forgotten greats of jazz guitar, please do search out this track as it’s such a great performance and if anyone has time to transcribe it then drop me a line!

4. Les Spann – Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams
Ah Dizzy Gillespie, one of my obsessions from a few years ago (and the name of my cat). This tune is not one that many modern jazzers have played (Bill Evans did as well as Diz) and I’m not sure why as it’s a great tune with some great movement in the chords in the B section to play off. Not content with being a great guitarist Les Spann was a flute player of great skill too.

5. Charlie Christian – AC-DC Current
One of the founding forefathers of the modern jazz guitar movement. Still can’t fathom how he imagined and played all that great music before passing away too young at only 25 years old- just think about that!

6. Barney Kessel – All The Things You Are
7. Herb Ellis – Gravy Waltz
Two more masters of jazz guitar. Such great taste and tone; performances like these makes you realise why they were such legends.

8. Jim Hall – All Across The City
This really stuck out in amongst the other tracks on this album and it’s such a sparse arrangement compared to a lot of the others just featuring Bill Evans and Jim. A lovely melody and one that sticks with you and makes you realise that sometimes less is more.

9. Bola Sete – Soul Samba
Bola was discovered by Dizzy Gillespie and went on to carve out a great career which blended together Samba and Jazz in a creative and energetic way, miles apart from the Bossa Nova movement. In recent years having seen his performances on Youtube I can say that he was the happiest guitarist in the world, so infectious! To my ears at the time this tune sounded a little odder compared to the others, less chord movement but more rhythm and percussion in the guitar playing. What a master!

10. Grant Green – That Lucky Old Sun
I could write an essay on Grant Green (maybe I will one day) and how he influenced my playing. I go through Grant Green obsessional phases every so often but I have to say that this isn’t in my favourites list. It’s not a bad performance (except maybe the slightly out of tune flute) but there’s lots more to celebrate in the Grant Green back catalogue.

11. Tal Farlow – I Remember You
Another stunning performance and one which I transcribed a few years ago. Tal really played unlike anyone else mainly because of his physical attributes; he had big hands and dwarfed any guitar he played and made big interval leaps easy and therefore they just became part of his jazz language. Everyone else was blown away including a young George Benson who has cited Tal amongst others as a big influence.

12. Laurindo Almeida – Samba Da Sahra
Very stylish track with the ever smooth tones of Stan Getz. Great chord movement in this self penned tune, deserves to be played more.

13. Django Reinhardt – Nuages
His signature tune this time performed with a big band, some lovely artificial harmonics in the solo.

14. George Benson – What’s New
I’ve listened to so much GB in my life and this track was a great introduction to start searching out his work. Worth noting the great young Herbie Hancock on this track.

15. Wes Montgomery – Four On Six
Not a lot can be said of Wes that hasn’t been said already. Every note of this is carved into our heads, what a great solo!

16. Johnny Smith – Sweet Lorraine
It turns out that this was a fairly rare track. All the amazing trademark chord work is present and correct, I literally couldn’t work out (and still can’t) how this was at all possible!

17. Oscar Moore – Oscar’s Blues
18. Jimmy Raney – Buddy’s Blues
Oscar Moore was one of the important early exponents of modern jazz guitar and Jimmy Raney was one of the bebop masters. I’m glad these tracks were on the album as I looked further into their playing in later years and found much to listen to.

19. Charlie Byrd – Samba Triste
Early on I got the Byrd/Getz albums and they are essential listening to students of jazz, such great playing and compositions.

20. John McLaughlin – Binky’s Beam
Now this one really foxed me as there seemed to be some clever odd time signature stuff happening in this track and it had a great raw sound to it. It spurred me onto discover probably one of the most influential musicians I’ve ever heard. Not traditional jazz guitar, something very new and exciting was happening here..

A year or so after that there was an offer in the Sunday paper where you had to collect some tokens to receive a free CD. There were 4 in the collection (Saxes, Groups, Piano and Guitar) and I managed to get all of them mainly because I was still intrigued and I recognised a couple of names of the players.
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“The Great Jazz Guitarists” OJCGS1 (1994)
1. Charlie Byrd Trio “Let’s Do It”
2. Joe Pass “She’s Funny That Way”
3. Barney Kessell “Easy Like”
4. Barney Kessell “Tenderly”
5. Wes Montgomery “Repetition”
6. Wes Montgomery “D Natural Blues”
7. Wes Montgomery “Four on Six”
8. Barney Kessell “My Old Flame”
9. Barney Kessell “Jeepers Creepers”
10. Kenny Burrell “I Didn’t Know About You”

There was no looking back now and the other CD’s in the collection started to broaden my appreciation especially for Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane. Joe Pass’ tune on this album was the first time I’d heard anyone deal with jazz on a guitar as a solo instrument. I loved that tune so much I tried to learn it from the album and although I thought I had it down pretty much perfect, time and wisdom showed me otherwise. Oh well I was never going to be a solo jazz guitarist!

Do search out these artist and tunes if they are unfamiliar to you and hopefully they will inspire you like they did (and do) to me.

Dan J.

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John Clarke Interview

John Clarke from the Southern Jazz Guitar Society contacted me and very kindly answered our interview questions. I will do a feature on UK jazz guitar societies soon.

What/who were your initial influences?

Jim Hall (‘Jazz Guitar’ with Carl Perkins and Red Mitchell), Barney Kessel (‘Four’ with Hamptom Hawes), Wes Montgomery (all the Riverside recordings)

Are you gigging much at the moment and any projects in the pipeline?

I only average half a dozen gigs a year, and this year it’s less than that, but I play in public twice a month at jam sessions. Last year, one of the bands I play in supported the Clark Tracy Quintet at the Reading Jazz Cafe, and another band I play in has played at The Marlborough Jazz Festival, the Brighton Jazz Club, the Reading Jazz Club and the Southampton Jazz Club in the past. The close proximity of London, and the dearth of gigs there for pro musicians means that, now, these local gigs can attract London jazz musicians for modest fees, so there are fewer opportunities left for local semi-pros and good amateurs.

What’s your ‘desert island’ guitar or have you got it!?

My ’59 Gibson L7 with Kent Armstrong custom archtop pick-up, but a similar vintage L5CES would be even better. I also have an Ibanez AS200 bought c. 1990, which is an exceptionally nice guitar.

Best (jazz guitar) gig you’ve ever seen?

Wes at Ronnie Scotts, I guess, but Pat Metheny at The Shaw Theatre c. 1980, and Mike Stern at the Bracknell Jazz Festival c, 1987 also stand out

Which guitarist(s) would you recommend for other people to check out?

Depends on the era (my taste covers all from fifties to the present). Pre 1980 – Wes Montgomery, Jim Hall, Kenny Burrell, Grant Green, Pat Martino, and Jimmy Raney are my favourites. Post 1980 – Pat Metheny, John Scofield, and Mike Stern, or for a more conventional sound, Peter Bernstein and Jesse Van Ruller.

John Clarke
Basingstoke

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David Angus interview

INITIAL INFLUENCES

In the mid 60’s I played rhythm guitar in a fairly regulation type r ‘n b
group in the Lancaster area having made fair copies of a Fender Jazz Bass and a Stratocaster for a ‘name’ guitarist who later became a top London session player. I imagine that Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry were the sounds that first caught my ear and of course the first Elvis album ( Blue Moon, Mystery Train etc., ). Bizaarly, I then heard Monty Sunshine play Petite Fleur (jazz!) in Chris Barber’s band and later the music of Sydney
Bechet and so took up clarinet for three or so years learning to reading in
the process.

After a career in design, teaching and retail management which left little
free time, I returnedto the guitar when my wife and I moved to Derbsyhire in the mid-1990s and for some time focussed on BB King and in particular Chicago Blues. My first lessons were with Andy Gatford in a back room at Foulds and I still have his excellent notes to crib from now when
I give the odd lesson! The instrument itself brought me to jazz and although
Wes had caught my ear in the 60’s it was not until we retired here to South -West France that I really became aware of the diversity of jazz guitar. Additionally, every town in this part of France has a music college and all French youngsters are taught Solfège. There is tremendous enthusiasm for music ‘en direct’ ie live and the span of genres is mind boggling but even here
( 1 1/2 hours north of Toulouse ) there are many pro and semi-pro jazz trios and quartets playing bebop and standards although not surprisingly the predominant style is manouche or gypsy jazz.

GIGGING

Jazz jam sessions hereabouts ( we are in a rural area ) are fairly thin on
the ground and in spite of my earlier comment re-pro level gigs the scope for ‘advanced beginner/intermediate’ players is fairly limited. Jamming with friends is very much the order of the day and I meet regularly with an English friend here who writes jingles and film music and has a profesional studio. He tends to lay down piano tracks and then we work on standards for fun. I have until recently been one of three ‘programmateurs’ who choose the headline acts for the Cahors Blues Festival ( oldest in France: www.cahorsbluesfestival.com ) and have played from time to time with committee members. I have also co-organised one or two charity
concerts here ie Tsunami, Haiti (Gary Brooker et al )etc. and this has
resulted in useful 1:1 jamming situations.
Of course, at my age ( a young 65ans! ) I just need the extra 10,000 hours
to get together my chops!!

GUITARS

When I left the UK ( almost 8 years ago now ) Dan was just getting together
his jazz guitar stock and archtops seemed much less interesting at that time. I seem to recall purchasing one acoustic flattop and one Strat from the
shop and a Laney amp ( or maybe the Fender DeLuxe 90 ). However, almost as soon as we arrived here I bought an Ibanez Artcore jobbie and loved the feel and tone although I now realise how humble it was. Shortly after, I was
in touch with the guy who established Peerless Guitars in the UK having
ordered a Jazz City direct from Korea. This resulted in my establishing numerous retail accounts from Toulouse to Bordeaux for Peerless. I also found a number of endorsees including Big Jim Sullivan and Bill Nelson for the marque and set up the link with Matt Otten who has had 1000,000s of hits on You Tube with the 2 models I sent him. I later on somehow ( quite legitimately! ) acquired a Peerless Monarch and a Renaissance Custom for my troubles. I love both guitars ( both all-solid )but find the mini- humbucker on the Monarch a little thin sounding and routinely play the guitar through a Boss EQ and the Renaissance Custom ( 330 clone ) now
has a Benedetto A6 in the neck – love it. They keep company with a Baja Tele
( SD Alnico II in the neck ) and French Lag Tramontane acoustic for ‘grab
and go’.

My ‘Desert Island’ choice is probably an Eastman depending upon my pension ‘lump sum’ when it arrives!

BEST (JAZZ GUITAR) GIG

Not sure how to quantify this one. I feel I ought to include John McLaughlin – Mahavishnu Orchestra in 1974 . However in recent years we have seen excellent concerts ( mostly at the fantastic Marciac Jazz Festival in
the Gers ) Al de Meola and Stanley Clarke and twice now, the incredible
Bireli Lagrene ( bebop as well as the manouche material.) Off to see him in
Nerac with Sylvan Luc in a couple of weeks. Last October we also saw John
Scofield with his trio at the Jazz Sur 31 festival ( 60 concerts in and
around Toulouse each autumn. Spoilt for choice! Best thing here too is the
average age of the audience at these gigs – mostly around 30ans.

GUITARISTS TO CHECK OUT

For me, BIRELI LAGRENE is probably one of the greatest living guitarists –
forget all the magazine surveys! Just catch him if you can. This is the guy
who had the entire repertoire of Django down by the time he appeared at the
Montreux Festival aged 14ans! Beyond that, I rate highly, Anthony Wilson (
who plays with Diana Krall ), Ted Greene, Pat Martino, Wes Montgomery, MIMI FOX, Bobby Broom, Grant Green, John Scofield, Russell Malone, Joe Pass and of course the vastly underrated Jimmy Bruno.

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Joe Giglio interview

Joe’s a great guy and great player who I had the privilege of  hanging out with and playing a few gigs when he came over to the UK in Sept last year. He’s got some great CD’s available via CD Baby and iTunes, check them out.
1/What/who were your initial influences?
John Coltrane, Grant Green, Jim Hall, Sonny Rollins, Bill Evans, Lee Konitz, Wes Montgomery, Maynard Ferguson, Ricky Nelson & James Burton on the ‘Ozzie & Harriet’ TV show.

2/Are you gigging much at the moment and any projects in the pipeline?
I am gigging, but not *much*. The scene in NYC is pretty pitiful! I’ll sum it up in a slightly tongue in cheek comment (it is only slightly tongue in cheek):
‘The jazz gig scene in NYC is currently so bad that players are stabbing each other in the back for the best free (no pay-not ‘free jazz’) gigs…’

3/What’s your ‘desert island’ guitar or have you got it!?
If I had to pick one I would pick my Forshage ‘Ergo’ guitar-assuming I would have access to an amplifier.
Of course I would not prefer to pick only one guitar, so I will also mention my cherry red Epiphone ‘Sorrento’ w/P-90 pickups; my Gibson ES-330 ‘Longneck’; my ‘WD’ semi-hollow ‘Tele’; my cranberry red Epiphone ‘Riviera’; an early 1950s ‘Black Guard’ Fender Telecaster with neck pickup capacitor removed (I don’t own one, but if anyone wants to give me one, or the funds to purchase one, I assure them it will employ it to produce much inspired music!); a Lloyd Loar signed Gibson L5 ( again, awaiting the great generosity of a patron), & that should do it…

4/Best (jazz guitar) gig you’ve ever seen?
Pat Martino at the ‘Bottom Line’ in NYC, with the ‘Catalyst’ rhythm section circa 1974.

5/Which guitarist(s) would you recommend for other people to check out?
Let’s start with Joe Giglio, who is always trying to expand his musical palette by playing in many different contexts ranging from: ‘Guitar Trio playing standards in a fresh & modern way’; ‘Solo Guitar’ both traditional & modern; ‘Free/Avant Garde Jazz’ with small & large ensembles; ‘Hard Edged Blues/R & B/Rock’ in the NYC style; Traditional ‘Americana’ style music played with a modern consciousness, …
Also: Grant Green, Jim Hall, Kenny Burrell, Ed Bickert, Ted Greene, Lenny Breau, Joe Pass, Wes Montgomery, Ben Monder, All the ‘Kings’; Robert Johnson, Julian Bream, Eddie Lang, Dennis Budimir, Joe Diorio, Jack Wilkins, Carl Barry, Dan Johnson, Dan Martin, Sonny Greenwich, Derrick Bailey, Bern Nix, Pat Martino, Joe Puma, Sonny Sharrock, Chuck Wayne, …

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Dan Johnson interview

What/who were your initial influences?

I originally got into jazz through the Jazz/Funk scene and the resurgence of jazz/funk/soul compilations in the 90’s. A lot of that music had become cheap for people to put out on albums as it wasn’t popular at the time so there was loads of one hit wonders and vaults of stuff that was available for release. I was (and still am) a massive James Brown fan and found very quickly that a lot could be learnt about phrasing from the Godfather of soul and Grant Green. Those two shaped my early woeful attempts at playing jazz, least I had some idea of phrasing if not any idea what was going on harmonically! I used to (and still do!) see Phil Robson play loads of gigs in Derby and he’s always playing great, encouraging and sets a high standard to try and get to! These days I seem to listen to lots of  sax players.

Are you gigging much at the moment and any projects in the pipeline?

I am gigging as much as I have time and creative energy for which is usually 2 or 3 a month or so depending on whats happening. It’s not a great deal but I do have a full time job as well. Currently I play with a modal, slightly odd, Hammond jazz quartet as well as guesting with various duos and trios. I would like to try and get a gtr/upright bass/drums combo together, I’ve got a plan of who to use and ideas for tunes are coming together slowly…!
What’s your ‘desert island’ guitar or have you got it!?

Well guitarwise I think I’ve got it with my Eastman T146SMD, it’s light responsive and got a great sound. Weirdly (working where I do) I’m not a great gear head when it comes to chopping and changing guitars all the time, I try to get something good and stick with it. I occasionally think I’d like a Benedetto Bravo, but they’re very expensive and might not give me the sound I want, I prefer having a bit of lightness to the sound rather than the traditional Joe Pass type of 175 sound. Don’t get me wrong, I love that sound but it just doesn’t work for me.

Best (jazz guitar) gig you’ve ever seen?

Difficult one….for out and out jazz guitar I think the Pat Martino at Ronnies was great, but I equally enjoyed the 2 times I’ve seen John McLaughlin with Shakti. Special mention to a set I saw George Benson do in California, wow!

Which guitarist(s) would you recommend for other people to check out?

I recently stumbled upon Adam Rogers who is great, I see him as a guitarist who is taking on the Brecker torch. He covers the whole spectrum of modern jazz and has got such facility on the instrument that he can seemingly just think aloud spontaneously through his instrument.

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