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Tag: janek gwizdala

Janek Gwizdala Masterclass 2007 Part 3: Gear, Tradition and Finding Your Voice

Here’s the third and final instalment of Janek Gwizdala’s bass clinic at ACM Guildford in 2007. For those who missed the first two episodes, you can find them here: –…

Here’s the third and final instalment of Janek Gwizdala’s bass clinic at ACM Guildford in 2007. For those who missed the first two episodes, you can find them here:

Part 1 focuses on transcription, including things he stole from George Benson and Allan Holdsworth
Part 2 deals with Janek’s early days playing the bass and how he developed his prodigious technique

Part 3 covers a range of topics, including:

Janek’s philosophy on equipment

Regular viewers of his ‘coffee with Janek’ blog might find it interesting to hear how his views on being a gear head have shifted over the last decade – this masterclass happened before he started hanging out with Juan Alderete and stockpiling Meatboxes and OC-2 pedals.

The value of understanding tradition

While talking about his time playing with the late Hiram Bullock, Janek reveals that he didn’t begin his journey with jazz and started on a solid diet of pop music before moving on to the likes of Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock.

One of the most important points that Janek makes on this topic is that it’s essential to have a comprehensive knowledge of your chosen musical genre(s) before you can forge your own musical path – if you don’t know what has come before you, then how can know when you’re being original?

(and yes, I was that guy who knew everything about Anthony Jackson. I’m pretty handy at a pub quiz…)

finding your ‘voice’ on your instrument

Closely linked to the idea of understanding your ‘place’ in musical history is the importance of not simply regurgitating things that have happened before – but how do you work out which direction you should go in? Janek discusses some of his own ‘self talk’ that he uses in musical decision making.

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Janek Gwizdala Masterclass 2007, Part 2: Early Days/Practice Methods

Here’s part 2 of Janek Gwizdala’s masterclass at ACM Guildford in March 2007 (in case you missed Part 1, you can find the video and the pdf transcription here). In…

Here’s part 2 of Janek Gwizdala’s masterclass at ACM Guildford in March 2007 (in case you missed Part 1, you can find the video and the pdf transcription here). In this video, Janek discusses how he came to playing the bass, his early mentorship with Laurence Cottle*, how he got his ferocious level of technique together and how he practices (or, at least, how he practiced circa 2007).

*If you’re not familiar with who Laurence Cottle is or just how insane his playing is then stop right now. Laurence is, for my money, the finest electric bass player in the UK today by a significant margin and, in my opinion, doesn’t get nearly enough recognition in the mainstream bass world. Check out this live album, his big band arrangements of classic Jaco tunes, and him casually keeping up with Jeff Berlin at a trade show.

Back on topic. It took a while to write out what Janek played in this section of the clinic, mainly because he has a habit of casually reeling off 16th notes at 150bpm; I’ve recently put on my Big Girl Pants and transcribe everything at tempo, rather than using slow-down software to ‘cheat’.

As noted in part 1, Janek favours a 5-string bass tuned E-C, so many of the examples are notated one or two octaves lower than played to save using hundreds of ledger lines or resorting to the dreaded treble clef.

All of the words and most of the notes can be seen here: Janek Gwizdala Clinic 2007 Part 2

What’s especially revealing in this clinic is that it shows ‘how the leopard got his spots’, so to speak. Janek’s skills have been forged through an incredible number of hours spent on just two things:

▪ Hanon exercises for technique
▪ Transcribing and learning solos from other instruments

In other words, using exercises derived from scales and arpeggios in different permutations to cover many musical possibilities and develop fluency on your instrument and then using that technical facility to help assimilate language taken from masters of improvisation.

Or, put it another way… Use music to get better at music.

Simple, right?

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Janek Gwizdala Masterclass 2007, Part 1: Transcription

I recently dug out my (now prehistoric) dictaphone that I used when I was a student at the Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford between 2005 and 2008 and set…

I recently dug out my (now prehistoric) dictaphone that I used when I was a student at the Academy of Contemporary Music in Guildford between 2005 and 2008 and set about reviewing all of the lessons, concerts and masterclasses that I had bootlegged over the course of my degree.

One of the highlights was Janek Gwizdala’s clinic that I attended in March 2007. I’d actually met Janek the year before when I’d turned up to a sight reading lecture and found him as an unannounced guest lecturer for the class – I’d never heard of him before and was immediately inspired by both his playing and his outlook on music. So, when I heard that he was returning to give a more ‘officical’ masterclass the following year I made a point of attending with my trusty dictaphone at the ready.

Of course, it took me a decade to get round to doing anything with the recording, but better late than never…right?

The audio quality of the original file was absolutely vile, so I’ve done my best to clean it up and EQ it to provide some semblance of clarity. I’ve fully transcribed the speech (notice how almost everything he mentions is ‘super important’) and wrote down the playing excerpts that I thought might be most relevant – I don’t own a bass with a C string (I share Gary Willis’ opinion that they ‘sound like a cat, and not in a good way’) so I skipped much of the high-register chordal stuff. You can, however, steal all of his George Benson licks.

Part 1 of the clinic deals with Janek’s thoughts on transcription, including things that he ‘ripped off’ from great players including Pat Metheny, Allan Holdsworth and George Benson:

 

The pdf of the transcription can be found RIGHT HERE

 

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