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Welcome to the April-May 2011 issue of Fiddle Sessions®!

April 2011 No Comment

Stacy PhillipsWith this issue Fiddle Sessions introduces an exciting series of articles featuring solos by some of the best of the current crop of jazz violin improvisers.

In recognition of The Fiddle Session Jazz Violin Project there will be some outstanding discounts offered exclusively to readers of this on line magazine.  Check back to this page occasionally for specifics.

The Project takes a simple folk tune with the most bare bones chord progression, the hoary Go Tell Aunt Rhody, and turns these great improvisers loose.  Some use the melody as a basis more than others, but there are no restrictions except for chord progression.

For the players that send in recordings of themselves soloing, pay special attention to the aspects of their playing that are un-notatable, like the speed and length of slides, the sound of the bow attack (which can be so different from what is taught in conservatories), shades of rhythmic manipulation, mini-dynamics, etc.

First up, I have excerpted a page from my “Complete Country Fiddler”.  It is specifically a teaching exercise and so is pretty wordy.  First I lay out the basic melody then illustrate a couple of moves that turn it into a solo in country swing style.

The Project really gets rolling with Tim Kliphuis, a gifted jazz violinist who has published both a book and dvd about swing violin styles.  Tim has also arranged his solos as teaching aids, demonstrating some of the basic aspects of swing playing.  Enjoy.

Future issues will present many more examples of violin jazz.  I trust that any readers interested in improvisation will be treated to a short course in the art.  If there are any jazz violinists out there who want to contribute to The Fiddle Session Jazz Violin Project, please contact me.

We complete our examination of High Level Hornpipe, begun last month with Tim Woodbridge’s article on Don Messer.  Here are two more transcriptions of Jehile Kirkhuff’s version of High Level.  He played it in the key of A! You can compare how two transcribers hear the same recording differently.  Ed Berbaum has brought the music of this undeservedly obscure fiddler to a greater public.  Check out past issues of Fiddle Sessions for other Kirkhuff performances as well as a biography of this Pennsylvania native.

My version is from the Mel Bay book “Favorite American Hornpipes for Fiddle”.

Finally, Michael Mendleson continues the reprint of his 1974 article about Benny Thommason.  After a third part, he will contribute a careful transcription of Benny’s great version of Cripple Creek with all those Texas style variations.

Lois Siegel’s series on learning to play as an adult takes a short hiatus.  Keep a lookout for the next installment in Fiddle Sessions.

                                    Stacy Phillips

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