Archive | April, 2014

Nuages-ish

7 Apr

I remember the first time I heard Django Reinhardt.

It was love at first listen.

And suddenly, Willie Nelson made more sense.

It wouldn’t be until many years later that I ran into a fellow who explained the connection.

Willie had recorded one of the best versions of Reinhardt’s “Nuages” – possibly the best, outside of Django’s 14 variations.

Of course, Willie is known as a country artist.

But what makes him so virtuosic, in my view, is how he has seamlessly sewn jazz into the fabric of his American country quilt.

There’s nothing in music quite as thrilling, to me, as hearing a perfectly executed jazz run in the middle of an otherwise pure country tune.

Suddenly, you’ve gone from a provincial Southern sound to a truly global sound… something entirely new and sophisticated in its simple way.

I’ve always dreamed of being able to fuse country and jazz.

Still haven’t gotten there yet. Mainly because I know very little about jazz (or as Ron Burgundy calls it, “yazz.”)

But I’m hoping to change that.

Fate has put an amazing guy in my life all of a sudden. He’s one of the best jazz guitarists on the East Coast, if not the country.

And he’s a great guide, as well.

As Michael made coffee in his kitchen last week, I joked: “I’m hoping to learn Nuages before I leave today.”

It was my first lesson. I was joking.

“Oh yeah. That’s actually a good one to start with. We can do that.”

“I was joking,” I said.

“Oh, well, let’s sit down and take a look at it.”

Which we did… For about 15 minutes…

But it was enough to get me started. So I went home and started fiddling around with what he showed me.

I recorded one guitar track on Dad’s old Dobro, and a second one – also on the Dobro.

Then I added a very simple percussion line, and voila.

Instant Django.

Yeah. Right. Not quite.

I call this Nuage-ish, because it’s kind of like Nuages… but it’s not… well… Nuages.

But this is just the first foray. There will be more.

Till then, I hope you enjoy it.