Jens Larsen is a Danish jazz guitarist who has become an internet celebrity for his YouTube lessons.  Aside from his incredible jazz guitar chops, he has posted over 700 YouTube videos, has acquired almost 150,000 YouTube subscribers, and recently released two books.  Joe McMurray and Aaron Sefchick sit down with Jens to talk about his journey, how to approach jazz as a player and as a teacher, musical gear, online success, practicing, composition, and recording.
In Part 1 of 2, Jens tells of his years playing on the streets of Copenhagen, followed by his studies at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague (in the Netherlands).  The guys discuss how to learn, review, and perform new jazz tunes.  Then they discuss the merits of preserving traditional musical styles vs. pursuing progressive musical styles.  Jens tells Joe and Aaron how he would approach teaching a new jazz guitar student, providing some very useful information for both teachers and players!
Next the guys move on to a look at guitar gear.  Jens talks about his guitars (notably an Ibanez AS2630), amps, and effects.
Good morning and welcome to Fret Buzz The Podcast. My name is Joe McMurray. and
I am Aaron Sefchick. Today I’m really excited to introduce Jens Larsen who is
a jazz guitarist from Denmark who has become well known for his YouTube video
lessons. That’s actually how I first discovered him and he’s written at least
one book and has put out many albums and we’re really glad to have you Jens. Well,
thanks for having me as a guest It’s a pleasure to be here. Yeah and so you’re Danish
but you’re living in the Netherlands? Correct. Yeah, so what brought you to
the Netherlands? Well, I wanted to I was studying mathematics and IT in
Denmark and then while I was doing my best where I decided that I actually I
wanted to study gasps guitar you know I could really play and that meant that I
need to find a place where I practice study that if you’re studying at the
conservatory in Denmark and it’s a usually very sort of broad thing you
have to do all sorts of styles there’s no sort of really focused Jess education
in the same way so I found out why I was so preparing to find the school I wasn’t
looking at very well that was just way too expensive so then I’ve came across
the conservatory in the hague which is Canon also in Holland as being the
be-bop school and I went there for some master classes with person who may know
Barry Harris piano player American people generally played with Charlie
Parker’s he’s really old enough but he used to come there every every year for
a week and I went to two of those and then I also when I was there I met some
other people there and and I could really feel like okay this is a great
place to study so then I applied there and I got accepted and yeah then then
it’s like when you do a study somewhere for a lot of people I think you really
build your network when you’re there and you start having all these people you’re
playing with and and in the end it meant that also because I didn’t have any
financing for my studies I was making a living not very well but
I was making our surviving on my geeks and stuff like that and I just knew that
if I went back to Denmark I can’t have to start over
so the lazy choice was just to to see another State Fair and now I have a
family I have kids and I have a girlfriend I’m going around how long
does it actually take you to get home it’s not that long I mean for the
state’s you guys drive like hours without even thinking about it and I can
drive to where my parents live in I think it’s nine now ten hours with one
or two breaks okay no I’m the same distance from my parents and I’m one
state away yeah yeah exactly but I also I mean Denmark and Holland they’re like
two of the smallest countries in the world almost sir and they’re not that
far apart there’s a little bit of Germany between linear there so so is
there a jazz guitar scene or a jazz scene in Denmark as well i guessing that
you could survive in a few chose to yeah yeah definitely I mean so many of my
colleagues we were quite a lot of Danish people who went to the Hague to study
and a lot of them who most of them went back and they’re making a living I mean
they’re not like everywhere else I think almost nobody is making a living only
playing so they’re also gonna be doing other things usually it’s teaching but
um yeah you can just definitely room for it I think actually in some ways right
now because of the the last sort of crisis we had in 2009 10 11 then the
funding that was for for culture in Europe in general but especially in
Holland was really caught so right now we have this thing that half the venue’s
are gone we could play at and in Denmark is a little bit better so so in that way
it’s maybe a more positive place to be right now
I would imagine with your online presence you’d be able to
to survive anywhere at this point yeah no I think I mean for that in terms of
where I the way I make my money right now and and yeah I could just go
anywhere as long as I have Wi-Fi Oh like or at least the Internet so that’s – but
I mean at the same time one thing is what I do online and and writing books
and making lists and stuff and which is something I mean I do it because I love
to do it but at the same time I also do still I’m still a guitar player so I
need to play with people like yesterday I was playing first everything at some
function geek with some people and after that everything a concert have a Jazz
Festival so it’s like I mean I need to do those things as well otherwise I’m
not gonna be staying motivated to keep on making all the business that’s very
true yeah yeah so you went to school and you
studied Bebop you really focused on bebop like more of a 40s like Charlie
Parker Dizzy Gillespie style no I don’t think I mean when I started because it’s
such a long time ago when I started school that was in 1998 and at that time
I think it was I think it was kind of still happening in the States as well
but in Denmark and in Holland there was sort of this bebop revival so people
were sort of growing you would also see that Wynton Marsalis and and all the
people they were really going back and and and paying homage to the tradition
in a really strong way and that was happening in Denmark as well so I came
from teachers that were really traditional and really going back into
people also like Barry Harris is so the essence of people teaching in many ways
but in school they were more and it varies a little bit but the guitar
Department was actually pretty progressive and and the first thing I
was told to do was to listen to his yard and stuff which is I mean it’s not like
like I’m on Gallivan in any way and it’s still pretty traditional but it’s not
evil it’s the same I’m saying – listen Petey art O’Keefe chair yeah
so you went and you were taking all the classes just like a normal school like
ear training in piano and you had your private lessons and that sort of thing
is that how I have a master’s in Jessica sorry so so it fills those social we’d
have to do all the or pseudo subjects as well
okay was there any point in your schooling did you go in was there ever a
turning point where you felt like you really made a huge step in while you
were in school was there something that you did you ever have like an aha moment
or anything like that
not in the school actually I had that like when I was preparing to go to
school I was living in Copenhagen and at that time because we had I mean we were
in this sort of preparatory school but it wasn’t a really good school and at
the time I was a saxophone player that’s also playing in my band we were real
roommates and we we were just trying to practice and learn and we actually
couldn’t do anything almost and then I met a bass player and we decided that
the only way we could actually get anywhere was to start playing in the
streets so we learned like three for two-and-a-half standards and then we
went trade in the street and then later on I realized that actually because we
just kept on playing a lot in the street and then then when I started at the
conservatory I already had a really substantive repertoire of like 5060
standards and songs that I could play harmonized and could just perform and I
didn’t really realize it at the time but that was actually a huge advantage for
my studies also it just meant I had a ton of experience that other people just
didn’t have so the turning point for me which I think you also will hear
reflected in the way that I teach is to learn songs that’s essential for
anything you want to learn in terms of music you want to learn the songs that
are the music but it seems so obvious absolutely I get stuck I’ll I’ll find a
tune like like misty I always go back to misty but like when I learn a new a new
sort of liner concept you know misty all the things you are I have several tunes
that I always go to because I know the
progression so well that I I feel comfortable being able to use that new
concept in every possible spot and I think knowing a few Tunes incredibly
well it’s probably more useful than knowing a lot of tunes poorly definitely
I mean there’s there’s some things you need to sort of work towards knowing
really knowing at you know where it’s like when for I think for a guitar
player you get to the point where you say well if I know the melody if this
something I think the melody is the most important because like you play one
place with some people they play one set of course and the next week they’re
gonna be playing something else and you just kind of have to catch it on the fly
and that means that you really need to know a million and for instance you need
to know probably how to play the melody in all positions to the neck and stuff
like where you’re playing it actually and that doesn’t mean that you need to
know it in all places on the neck it means that you need to know it so well
that you can kind of play it by ear everywhere and not worry about it I
think that’s that sort of the thing and there are a lot of things where that
work and that’s because important and then at the same time but you say
because I had the same I also have just study tunes
just like if I’m learning something new then there’s gonna be it buries through
the years but there’s always gonna be some tune she returned to it like I need
to try this out on this one like Lady Bird is something I use all the time for
some reason yeah I actually lazy lazy bird was one
that I know hey which one’s the cultured one Lady Bird
nobody yeah that was the one when I was in school my my teacher had me do
everything over that we’ve actually had him on Shawn Percel has been on yeah I
heard the words yeah he had me do everything over lazy bird
it was great cuz it had you know several quick two five one two five one changes
so with learning standards I I find that if you have a large repertoire it can be
hard to have everything prepared all at once
how do you go about like maintaining your set list
how do you go about do just pick a new tune every day how often are you
learning new things versus reviewing old tunes that’s a good question actually I
think I think I don’t I don’t sometimes I know that I’m playing with
certain people that probably I’ll have to play this in this tune and then oh
I’ll just go through it or whatever I feel like it or maybe I was at at a geek
and then I played a song I didn’t really know and I’m like okay now I want to
practice that and then but it has to be to be completely honest like some tunes
are just kind of drifting away because if you didn’t play it for like four or
five years it’s it’s not in your system in the same way you know then you need
to play it a few times and you can take it back but I also think I started with
a teacher who knew pretty much if we saw like a thing of and the way he would
prepare for a geek would be really just to sit down and then just play through
the tomb a few times and just I had this goes here in this go there and and then
he would be prepared and that so I actually tend to kind of approach it
like that if I’m I mean if I know that I can get the tombs in advance sometimes
you don’t really know I mean there are geeks were that you don’t know what
you’re are okay and then you just have to bring the iReal or something in a in
case in an emergency like the yesterday I play like the concerts that I played
was also just like something I recall for on the same day and I only knew the
drummer I didn’t know anybody else and the first Tomb we walk up on stage and
they call us at you and I don’t know because it’s witchcraft I had played it
before where it’s like 10 years ago and I don’t know if I have scroll that was
like oh okay yeah well then hey done just put my
phone here beat the course and then hopefully I don’t have to do it so let’s
I mean that’s just the way it goes and I think it’s it’s not useful to beat
yourself up too much if that’s what you mean you don’t really have ready you
know or try to have everything ready just like the stuff you want to play you
need to have that ready and then see how much of it it is I guitar is used so you
didn’t have to play the melody of witchcraft
no ok that’s such a good thing I didn’t because I really
I still don’t know how girls yeah yes so if you would you ever bring like a real
book in sight read something like that yeah no problem I just didn’t have it
with me because I didn’t it was so short notice that I just didn’t have it I
didn’t go home I was coming greatly from narky oh well so and also it was
supposed it was so but um says she thinks that I didn’t actually expect
them to call us all you know which but you don’t you never know it’s just
exciting so that can happen and then our and then I just saw okay I’ve I really
because I mean of that whole set that was the only tune that I completely
didn’t know so I had to meet it and then the rest I either solo new or or really
just new so that’s that’s okay and then you still have this thing that you know
I know it I don’t know what cheek is that cane well they but they don’t they
didn’t realize either they don’t know either everybody’s the same please so
you mentioned not wanting to take the first solo is that just so you have more
time to try to understand the chord progression while you’re playing it that
that exterior several times yeah kind of it’s just hearing the song you know you
just want to eat the cost and you just have on your back and because the first
time you’re reading a song I think you want to look at it and then understand
the form so if you haven’t given a this is like a 32 bars and it’s split like
this or it’s like a VA or its split into what’s called a BAC form and then then
you understand it from that and then you have some basic things to saw light on –
and then you increase of the level of detail along babies that’s how I work
and which witchcraft has sort of a strange form so so it’s just useful just
to have able to be able to hear it like the britches twice as long as normal and
the last a shorter so they’re like it’s a few things very like okay so if you
just heard it before it’s just easier absolutely yeah I think I think that’s
valuable just for our listeners to to hear I don’t I
doubt that I don’t know how many of them are our you know professional jazz
guitarists or even jazz guitarists at all but so I think it’s helpful for
people to hear you know to get inside the mind of a jazz guitarist and see
what’s actually going on and see that it’s not all witchcraft but ya know as
to I mean it’s also I think sometimes with with for people who don’t play jazz
it seems like it can seem kind of scary because because of the way that you’re
thinking and all the kinds of music and also because the way that you play is
kind of colored by what you need to do like if you’re playing rock music and
you’re you’re used to so thinking maybe in one scale sound one mode for a whole
song then then the whole idea of just having to change with every court and
stuff like that seems like an gigantic amount of work and actually it isn’t if
you practice like that but you need to build that skill and and that at least I
run into that one quite a lot I think it’s like the people asking like okay
how can you analyze which of the trial you have to know you have to think about
all the diatonic triads on every chord and everyone’s like yeah no no we did
that when we were practicing now we just use it we don’t think about it because
that’s how it works it’s yeah like Pat Metheny in an interview was asked well
how can you play so freely and all the things you are because you’re free on
that one as everybody else on swelled-up news and you just said well I played it
so much that for me is I guess what pubs it’s about building that skills yeah so
and which is true and you have him playing that song since I mean there are
recordings from the 70s and he still things isn’t that I think I read
somewhere that that’s that tune has been recorded more than any other jazz
standard in history by more different people that could that could very well
be I don’t know for sure which one is the most record but that will definitely
be a candidate it’s definitely it’s it’s a journey of a
tune to to improvise improvise through yeah and there’s also it seems a little
bit like none of this it’s mostly but that there was so the way I viewed jazz
history there were all these versions of it that were so that defining for a lot
of people so you have the I think first the Scofield version on flat out where
he’s where you really get Scofield playing turning the intro into some
selves or authors dominant blues jam and and also just being for the rest really
Scofield ish on it and then you have that Matheny playing it timber 350 and
then you also have like the Brad Miller version and seven with all the
motivations and stuff so you gotta have for me it’s been a song that’s also been
a part of like the different periods of Jess that I’ve been busy with really
long so that way yeah it’s and also because it’s surprising it because
current the the compose I thought it was too
complicated for it to really become an and his song and then he hated the whole
Jess versions awesome I think he just hated yes actually
sorry do you think we were corrupting his beautiful his beautiful composition
fair enough yeah even Michael Jackson sung that when he was young
there’s part of him as a kid it’s much more of an R&B; kind of kind of groove
okay I need to it’s fun I think that it’s a with my jazz too we do it kind of
like that cuz if we’re at a place you know more like a brewery or a bar
it goes over well with people yeah you guys so you cannot do it with the bass
player or with an all you talking or with a vocalist and flute player okay um
yeah it’s a really I have a looping system oh and I can that way I get the
chance to the solo a little bit and yeah it works great cool I mean there’s I
find that the dual gauge for me but I don’t use a lubricant I find those like
really hot work I do quite a lot with vocalists way
mm-hmm but three-hour movie like that then then I’m tired look I think some
some purists might might frown on the looping pedal but it it’s really fun I
just enjoy having having that and having the you know the drums and bass with me
yeah it’s creasing me up to do so much more
yeah I mean I think it’s also and there’s always gonna be some amount of
of not being willing to accept things I mean having done now that I now teach
at the conservatory where I was where I studied and they’re sometimes in the
commission we’ve also had like discussions also because this is the
bebop school where other people would be joining the Commission and then have the
idea like the anything that grows in between the guitar and the amplifier
except for a cable is wrong having that discussion in a commission is delay
sometimes a little bit yeah well you know this is no it’s not 1965 anymore
yeah and Wes Montgomery use the tremolo to take it easy so so there’s always
gonna be some of that yeah luckily music evolves I think actually I
think jess is supposed to change jess is changed it has to evolve otherwise it’s
just gonna be we see you music it’s just gonna be something where we were like
paying how much through a tradition and of course tradition is important but
it’s not the only thing and the things that at least for me we’re always
exciting were the things that were changing tradition that’s also why
somebody like haven’t seen me is interesting somebody like Scofield or
Crito stinkle always montgomery because they are taking his enumeration yes
agreed all all great points I mean like you said I think that jazz is is an
ever-evolving thing i I am NOT a purist and though I do understand the the
meaning and the idea behind it but I do I am of the thought that jazz is is an
ever-evolving thing I mean just look at it 50 years ago to what it is today and
guys like Matheny and Scofield and one like that and what they’ve done for the
sound now it’s it’s pretty amazing it really
is yeah I think and I think that was always the case with yes that was what
made it what’s kept it alive I think I think the whole idea was that quote
tradition is peer pressure from deaf people so that’s I mean you know that
it’s it’s important that the music keeps moving to stay even if it’s still
becoming more and more more and more of a niche and I’m not even sure that’s
really a problem for the music itself actually it’s just it’s mostly a problem
for for how you how you manage to make a living working with it yeah yeah I mean
music changes so much throughout the years I mean I think you’re sometimes
forced to try to kind of reinvent yourself as a musician within your genre
I know we’ve talked about Herbie Hancock quite it quite a few times and and how
he’s gone through many different changes I mean I just look at something like
headhunters but then you look at something like rocket yeah him and also
Schofield and also like like like they’re their employer miles were the
Masters of doing this and that was the key to to their career and also in many
ways the key to their creativity I think yeah so in one way you can say well it’s
something you do because you need to make money but at the same time it’s
also something you need to do to not just get bored with your own tjs you
know even if they’re you played great things at some point you’re going to get
bored with them that’s this is how it goes so yeah with this development of
you know you think about Miles Davis going from playing with Charlie Parker
and playing bebop to playing you know what was it as kind of blue album that
came out that really changes of course it seems silly to for anybody to really
think that it shouldn’t progress when the people they’re looking up to where’s
you know some of the greatest innovators yeah but I mean at the same time I guess
if you start making elements of music that you don’t like the reason
why we for us is so easy to understand maybe why hit hunters is great because
we understand Herbie Hancock and we wrote him a miles but we maybe also
understand a lot of R&B; a lot of James Brown and a lot of those things that
they borrow from and that means that we’re just mixing stuff together we like
and then that’s really easy now if you’re coming from another period where
you’re like I don’t like James Brown or in any way and you don’t have that mix
then of course that’s going to get difficult and that I do see that I mean
I see discussions like this in in saw in the comment section of my videos very
often also and that’s yeah that’s of course also a power of the game but I
think it has to do with that if you for for a lot of those things that works
well it has to do with whether we’re mixing things that we are kind of
accepting all of it and then that’s yeah that can be tricky it’s actually a
really interesting point what I live in Virginia Beach Virginia and last night I
went out to the oceanfront and they they’re having this big I think they
called it the American Music Festival but it’s just there’s a free there are
free concerts on the beach on several stages but one stage had has a big 90s
rock band there were the 311 is the name of the band and you know I grew up
listening to them as a teenager and they’ve I think they’re all about 50 now
but their early music was more pure rock and last night they had a rapper and
it’s just interesting he said that night I remembered that I didn’t really like
the rapper it felt like it just didn’t fit with the I felt like it took away
from the rock music so I that’s exactly what you’re saying about the jazz music
and blending blending newer styles I guess I just didn’t grow up loving rap
so I don’t like the mixture yeah I think that could be I mean but of course
there’s also just a chance that that sometimes when you’re trying something
new then some of it will work and some it doesn’t work and that’s that’s true
for anything if girls let us be that that combination actually doesn’t work
that well
it doesn’t have to be that but that is only in how you experience it obviously
but yeah it’s true it you need to need to have Cal like both things I think I
think to be open to it at the same time I don’t know for me one
thing that I kind of discovered through Jess and that I came to relate it was
bluegrass hmm because I mean in Europe until I don’t know until 10 15 years ago
I don’t think I’ve ever really heard about it it’s like it didn’t exist over
here and then there was only like country and wrestling and
country-western was we never really I never really got that somehow and there
was also that was also just because the European version of it is is very cozy
and very very sort of middle of the road and there are no sharp edges and stuff
no I think that’s necessarily true for all country but that was just the stuff
that I was exposed to and their heart didn’t like it and and and then later
like the whole all this acoustic music which actually fits so well with with
more sort of traditional jesting because bluegrass is such a great acoustic
acoustic music also that’s been for me that’s really been something that I can
say that really has had an impact on my music but it’s something I’ve been
listening to really a lot and enjoyment which is really great
where it’s like the mix is taking me out and getting me into a new genre and this
I think that really came from especially Bill Frisell
from his natural mo gopher cell did it he did an actual bluegrass album he did
them album with only bluegrass musicians I think he did it was more like worse at
panco it’s called Union Station I think I think was most of those guys and and
also his his bass player in the trio for a long time was also doing both yes and
bluegrass awesome so there was that there really was that the connection
very strong yeah and also if you hear him do if you hear him do solo concerts
I think he still usually does like a few bluegrass terms okay
so I think yeah it’s incredibly fun music
yeah I grew up in my hometown what’s the same Earl Scruggs is from the town that
I grew up in so we have a museum dedicated to Earl Scruggs and bluegrass
music now it’s in downtown Shelby North Carolina yeah my mom used to volunteer
up there right yeah so there’s always lots of bluegrass music when I go home
and you know actually Victor Wooten he was uh he was one of those guys that
hated bluegrass music and then somebody had him actually play bluegrass and now
he plays with uh bela Fleck bela Fleck yeah yeah okay I
didn’t know that that’s that’s really strange actually he seems like such an
open guy when it in his book the music lesson he talks about like he he looked
down on it originally and then he actually played it and learned how much
nuance there was and how much improvisation and ya know I don’t know
how early on in his career he realized that but originally he wasn’t a fan ya
know I mean I can imagine this so it has to do with what you feel very exposed to
know like I said the country-and-western I was exposed to was not not really
worth checking out and I still think it’s not worth checking out and I also
still then later found out that there is IQ stuff that’s worth checking out and I
think I found that was a actually with any kind of shower for me having done
like an education that was like really sort of hardcore yes and then when I was
done actually the last year of studying I started teaching and a music school
and then that meant that I had to learn a lot of Metallica songs and a lot of
HDC and which was which was really okay I love music I wasn’t actually that
familiar with because that was that was not what I grew up on right so so first
I asked there’s the thing you all okay this may be nothing to you but but then
as you start to dig into it then I found that I really loved it actually so now
then I again you can get like okay now I’ve checked out a lot of thrash metal
and a lot of hard work that I didn’t really have as much connect
– because I kind of skip that I went from from so the in English indie stuff
to – Hendrix and blues and then I was into groups and then I went to Jessica
that was what happened so so instead of coming back to that and just really
discovering like how ac/dc is actually a fantastic band in many ways and also how
Metallica and then also just all the other stuff because I’ve been playing
with one of the drummers I played with was from Sweden here in ink and he was
actually the drummer of and I forget what the Kim been one of the first death
metal bands so from Sweden so would be what I wonder what that band was then
the people in that band went on to become famous and all events but they
were like he was in there when he was like 17 or something and actually they
didn’t know anything of what they were doing it was just like loud and fast and
in flames no no no no it’s way before that it’s really a lot earlier so like
from the period where like when you made a demo it was only on tape and stuff for
that we did on family but he was then he was saying because I was talking about
how I was shaking out all the all the master of puppets and trying to figure
out like which Metallica albums were the better ones to give to people and which
make it it was interesting to teach the kids and then then I actually had like
whole lectures from him with the history of methyls really all about that and I
was a god-like Opeth and naughty enemy and I was thought maybe he’s Swedish so
he gives me all the Swedish bands of course
yeah so that’s how I got into I know learn something about I think this like
I mean I I guess I have threading in me that I also just like checking out new
stuff and learning something about it and then you also have the other thing
because it’s very often you can frown upon showers that you don’t know
Bharath I keep my point that I was forgot to get to but there but you will
have that in the beginning if you don’t understand Metallica or if you don’t
understand metal at all you’re just gonna say well that’s it’s just people
playing power chords really fast oran but if you if you start really
digging into it then you understand what makes it great and what is good about in
that challenge you do need to know a showers really realize if something is
going on good or not and I think that goes really from for any kind of music
it doesn’t matter if it’s paper or EDM or country or bluegrass or whatever yeah
I always have fun whenever I started getting into stuff I get amazed at
things new details and and that’s that’s always been a nice with this just in in
as far as I can open my mind to it I guess it’s also a personal thing if you
can get to get to do that and you don’t always get to do that with everything
but if you do then it’s really rewarding but that’s been my experience at least I
think it’s important periods throughout your life that you do expose yourself to
I mean I’ll say it on a personal level I always have gone through life pushing
myself to listen to things that I may not enjoy I know for me and jazz when I
was 17 18 years old I had definitely my vision was very you know focused in
terms of what I was listening to but I’d I’d heard it all before I definitely
listened to the album’s over and over again I knew all the words all the
chords although in all the progressions and at that point in my life I was
brought up more with smooth jazz than anything else not so much her standards
or all the greats so I went out of my way at that age to force myself even
though I wasn’t really into it at the time but I at least wanted to have that
background that foundation of what jazz was and start to tune my ear in terms of
what was going on I may not have understood what
exactly what was going on but at least I could start getting in my ear and
starting to understand it on a you know on an oral level and I’m glad I did I’m
that’s one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made is is kind of going
through that process of exposing myself to something that I may not have been
used to and now obviously many many many many many years later it’s one of my
favorite genres and I just I love the sound of it so I think it’s important
for all people I mean I had this discussion with a few of my students
this past week where you know even with you were talking about like a metal he
was talking about how he’s you know in in his life he’s really interested in
kind of expanding his metal sound he’s very you know he’s got the sound that he
really likes but opening it up to more that he not may not necessarily like but
at least he wants to expose himself enough I love when I hear a students say
something along those lines say okay I want to kind of force myself to to take
on something new and and something fresh I even though I may not be used to or
maybe even like I may not even like it but kinda want to take that in and
that’s that’s exciting for me to hear a student say that kind of thing that’s
that’s it’s nice I think if you if you’re also know but also just the fact
that you’re looking but you’re really looking to discover new things for a
student is also something I figured the other way around is also some of the
worst things were and that’s also within a genre that sometimes you have people
just cut off you’re like I don’t like this I don’t wanna learn it and that can
be especially if you come across it like if you’re teaching it at a higher level
school that can be dangerous first off that’s very very being your attitude
together I agree yeah I agree I mean no matter what level you’re at that’s one
of the main things I you know one of my students were we will do a collaboration
and we’ll talk about maybe a song that we want to cover and we’ll talk about
you know whatever song it is I like to have all my students kind of give a list
and we go through that list of songs and here’s all it’s inevitable that where
there’s always once too I don’t want to play that and I don’t
like it and I’m like yeah you can learn so you may not enjoy it now but going
through the process you may or may not like it but you will definitely learn
something from that process and you’ll grow as a musician and to
have that kind of attitude of I just don’t want to and I don’t like it yeah
that’s just not good I found in my own studies I mean I was much more of a rock
player and then when I started learning jazz I felt like it
it made my rock playing so so much better I mean I don’t need to play it’s
sometimes fun to have a little overdrive on the guitar and play a bebop line
somewhere in the middle of a rock solo but just like targeting the right notes
is and knowing the fretboard jazz gives you an enormous edge if you can you can
really bring out the best of a chord progression that’s – but at the same
time you have to wonder if it’s really necessary to learn just to be able to do
that probably not but I think that having learned jazz I think it’s
invaluable to my do it so then you then it’s easy to do it but at the same time
you would imagine but yeah I guess they’re less examples of it in a way but
because it’s less clear in that way I actually found that was a revelation for
me with with with the country that when I then started to just listen to it and
check different things out then I realized that that actually they were
playing the changes really clearly in a way that I was not used to because like
Clapton doesn’t really play changes neither does Pink Floyd or Hendrix
doesn’t he they’re really you know so it’s like I wasn’t in the same way aware
of it you could sometimes hue and blues most of time you don’t you don’t really
hear it it’s like there’ll be a few places in the no phone calls and then
the rest of the server they don’t so so in that way that I thought that was
there was really like oh actually this sounds like ebook with try ass
that’s where did this come from they really play like the
this code with this code and and also when you then start checking out lists
and songs you really hear them thinking like that also thinking in corpse and
actually it’s just parallel this is completely the same they have their own
number system and so you can tell I don’t really know anything about it I
just checked out some YouTube lessons and stuff but it is so similar in so
many ways and that I would say like a good place to learn to learn a similar
skill would actually be to check out some country I want to I want to jump
back to jazz and getting into it if that’s alright I would like to so I have
one student in particular that I’m he’s a high schooler and he’s been learning
rock guitar mostly from me some acoustic fingerstyle but he’s gaint he’s
developed an interest in jazz and he is I mean he’s he’s a really talented kid
and I’ve got him playing misty and we’ve started he’s got his his full voice and
his low voicing chords and he’s started to play arpeggios over the the changes
I’m I’m curious as to how you would approach I mean I’ve seen you have lots
of videos about getting started playing over the changes but taking a young
student say is that the progression you’d go like learning the chords and
learning the the arpeggios and maybe learning bebop scales after that or you
have your pentatonix lessons using pen I don’t I mean stuff like this really
depends on where the student is that right the students really at home and
pentatonix then that’s something warrant use also but in most cases where and
what I do with the conservatory is at each of the young talent Department so
that means I have like the 11 12 13 year-olds who don’t really make the car
notes and how to play a little bit of guitar and they’re interested in playing
yes and maybe they learn like one gesture but they usually don’t come from
playing all those genres that much that will happen as well but mostly they’re
just they’re just really styling and then usually what I start with exactly
that I try to take I would take a piece that simple and Misty
and the reason for that is just because it’s changing a lot of difference
against you you really do need to follow a lot of changes and in the beginning I
think it’s better if the student learns to just open their ears and that means
that I’ll take songs that that they can sort of survive on even if they’re just
running up and down a sea media scale I’ll take the a train
mm-hmm because that’s gonna work for most of what is happening and then you
can point to one node and go okay can you try and hit that note at this place
and then when they do that they will hear and they will experience how it is
to actually hit the changes so in that way your because I don’t want to give
them and especially with with with younger kids you don’t want to give them
too much to think about I mean the whole analysis thing and then thinking about
how how you do something and figuring it out that works really great if they’re
like adults but if they’re this young even then and I think it makes much more
sense to really trying and I mean they are young so they have more time so just
be patient and just give them the chance to really hear it and then they don’t
have to think about it and you can teach them to think about it later but if you
can start hearing it then they also will start responding to the music in in a
much more natural way because what you have and we will see that if you’re
teaching it also so with yes that you can teach them to understand it and then
they know what they play is right but it doesn’t really sound like melodies they
can’t really make millions because they don’t hear it and and they don’t really
hear if the phrasing sounds right either because it’s it’s it’s coming from
thinking it’s not coming from feeling it’s not something that they’re really
in that way aware of and when I’m when I’m teaching kids I try to get that in
there so so very often I will do I saw them like take the a train or you go and
then it’s gonna maybe start with a pentatonic scale you know concern skill
otherwise this is going to be like one one meter scale and then gradually go
okay so the second call there’s an F sharp that’s that’s that fret that’s
like that’s their hit that you’re okay you know and then let me just do that
for a few weeks as well and also just give them small phrases placed on
keeping this just open their ears get used to heat to really taking stuff in
by ear but it’s a it’s also a question of how old he or she is because already
if they’re like 15 it’s very different than if they’re 11 12
so then already with a lot of the older ones you need to explain more and that’s
just they’re already used to thinking and working learning like that but the
young ones you really you can you can really approach this differently and I
think also know much more that’s what I really have students were and also have
had students where they don’t they don’t really know how to analyze songs and
they don’t always play the right notes but always sounds like chance you know I
mean it’s like because there’s multi-gesture and playing the right
notes it’s also just that you can play something and the phrase just sounds
like a jazz phrase and they can they can do that in a way where it’s it’s
actually quite incredible and then of course they need to fix the other stuff
as well but otherwise it’s not gonna it’s not gonna work out but it’s I think
that was for me that was really surprising to see that that actually
also really existed because I never I don’t think I ever really came across
that when I was I mean I was just older so I didn’t see you only I’m telling
thing so yeah they’re actually actually playing good phrases but kind of over
the wrong changes or yeah usually just not any changes so they will play good
phrases and they don’t they don’t really nail the changes or they don’t really
fit with the changes so if it’s an e-flat and there’s an f7 and IRI hit
they okay but it’s still gonna sound like a yes phrase it’s just still gonna
have that right swing feel and the accents and all that that’s all we’re
all gonna be there because they already pick that up by ear by just playing a
few bebop themes and stuff and that’s another thing that’s also so that can
also be a good thing to teach somebody and to teach them some simple solos
maybe also solos that they can learn by ear for instance if they play if they
are really used to playing and some time scales then a solo like chitlins can
come from ya can control all pentatonic pretty much and it’s actually so
see that you can with a few I mean you can also kind of feed it into like Fox
one minor pentatonic so you can you can pick up some stuff there and then just
get people started listening and trying to learn by ear and that’s I mean you’re
doing them a huge favor if you can get them super early age because they can
develop so much without I love that tune does one of the tunes that made me want
to start learning jazz yeah that hold midnight blue album it’s fun but you
didn’t I heard that from Steve really want I didn’t hear it from Kenny girl
yeah his is awesome to you and then their own place in that solo and then he
plays like a a G seven flat nine for me was just like this magical moment where
he played something really mysterious and it sounded great and I figured out
what it was and I could never use it anywhere
Kenny Burrell is apparently pretty sick he’s been on on a leave from UCLA for
quite some time no there’s a big article in the
newspaper but there’s also been this thing that there was a crowdfunding
campaign and now they’re not sure if it’s if it’s really true
or there were some doubts about it yes I actually don’t hand it to that campaign
but I know yeah I mean how old is he now he must be like close to 90 yeah I mean
he’s playing with back in the 50s wasn’t he and I think even did Ellen times well
also at some point I think but he at least us he was really he was in the
Benny Goodman success so sort of close to a few like a few guitar players
between him and child Christian almost it says he’s 88 on Google oh yeah yeah
that’s incredible biddies he’s been around that long but he’s I love his
blues the way he can play even over a you know normal jazz tune not a blues
tune and he buddy he puts this it’s it’s very bluesy whatever he does and I think
it makes it a good for people who are looking to get into jazz or have
listened to jazz before and didn’t like it I think it’s a good stepping stone to
developing a taste for it now I think is ooh especially if you’re coming from
styles that are at least close useful it is definitely that’s that’s and I think
for a lot I mean I know if they’re still like this but that was where where
everybody came from when I started anything but I mean I’m also I’m from a
small town and from a longer so in Denmark where there was I couldn’t have
electric guitar lessons when I was a kid that was not electric utilities so I
didn’t have that in the beginning and I didn’t we didn’t have electric guitar
books in the library and stuff like that sided what we just did stuff over
records in radio you just said an acoustic guitar yeah and then I worked
like when I was 17 I worked all summer to to afford like a really cheap Ibanez
guitar it was stupid that I pulled that one because it was like a heavy metal
guitar and I actually want to do it out but ever yeah the it was like I could
choose between two colors and I didn’t know anything anyway we’ll have light
Rose rose is horrible for just like guitars is cheap they were at the the
level of my that’s my impression I love the level of of guitar of what a guitar
welcome are the quality of guitars as well eventually the level of the quality
of guitars for what you get for your money not always liked so much higher
now if you buy like my youngest son plays guitar so would I have bought
actually this well you can see it in the podcast but there’s like a black eye
bonus driving and it’s that’s from my son and we bought that for 300 bucks and
and that’s actually a really solid instrument and it sounds pretty good so
the home borrows could maybe be a little better but I mean it’s 300 euros
is that why you because you use your Ibanez there’s an a s 700 or something
some a s 26 30 26 30 what does that what’s different about that compared to
the lower models just have better pickups and pops and stuff no well I
mean the way I got into that was I was I did my whole school um first I got
accepted on a Stratocaster on my a sorry Stratocaster mhm and because it’s a view
of school they told me right away like your acceptance and you can borrow money
to buy a really time so and then later that year I found it keeps on years 175
so I mean it doesn’t get more sort of politically correct people and that was
that so I did my whole school on that and then I realized when I when I was my
last year I started trying to get that to sound like a semi-hollow I just
didn’t realize that that was what I was trying to do so that they started the
whole search too and then the first thing I did because I was kind of
cautious about it was that I bought an Epiphone for 300 bucks shaking the die
somewhat like an Epiphone diet no here comes your phone okay yeah I have one
yeah yeah I mean it’s a great instrument it’s basically for the price it was like
it’s crazy and then I had some other pickups put into that and actually that
was my main guitar I did quite a few albums on that also and then when I
decided that now I played on this 300 euro guitar for a long time that maybe
maybe there something that maybe actually something is better than this
so I needed to try that out and then a colleague of mine was selling the Ibanez
and it’s so random but then I just try and was like nah this is a good guitar
and he didn’t want that much money for a river flight over 1200 and then then I
bought that and now now that’s what I’m playing and I said but it has to be said
that that is a that’s an incredible instance I think everything so I also
heard from other people and I now again I later actually
years ago I thought maybe that something better I have to check it out so I got a
gift something yes you 35 from from 69 I think it is and that’s also a great
instrument it has a little viable stuff but it’s not better than a bonus yeah
I’ve got I’ve got my Gibson es-335 that oh I love this thing but uh it’s a I’ve
played die Vanessa’s and I I do really like them as well they’ve got a little
different the neck feels different on the Ibanez is it seems like the Ibanez
is are a little little faster like the radius is bigger yeah I think you do but
that’s also a difference between my mind guitars from the 70s and it’s it’s a
closer it’s closer to like a 60s es-335 so I’ve also had students who had the
the a is 200 like the Schofield fan and they are more so in between the the
Gibson thing and the Ibanez flatter neck and more restrictive thing and so yeah
for me it’s also I like the older next styles as well thank you very good the
Gibson yeah I think on the Ibanez you’re the wings are a little bit they’re cut a
little bit farther out I know when I try to get up in here sometimes I get my
hand gets stuck in the I know the year or the wing of the guitar yeah
I’m know step 2 with with the – be very kind but axis is not as good yeah I mean
you don’t play turn out there anyway it’s cows out just thin and tinny yeah I
tend to use mine and that’s what I love so much about the semi hollow body most
of my performances I’m performing a variety of genres and I they’re not jazz
gigs per se but that way I can go back and forth and I can play I can get any
sound I need over out of a semi hollow body I can go over driven rock and roll
to country twang to to a nice warm jazz tune
through but then you also have to have but then you have really heavy strings
like this no I use I use lighter strings no I also find that it when I switch to
lower strings my hands felt so much better
alright I’m playing for hours I can’t go back yeah I came from I came from always
having this because I had this huge Steve a long period so I was always
trying to figure out how to get heavier strings because I was convinced that
that was just there so that was really used to that when I went to the best I
never really went went anywhere down so the 13 spur just easy to roll it and
then the difference between a post like a Stratocaster with with heavy strings
because I had 13 S on it when I when I went to Jessica
it is of course different but I keep some with Thirteen’s there are a lot of
easy to play but now I am saved like when I can’t handle 13s for for bending
stuff yeah that’s so funny 11th probably feels so stabby do you where’s the
lemons now it’s pretty close I mean I think that I found was its it also
really matters how the set is made because it’s very often when you buy
heavy strings it’s kind of made and geared towards being tuned down and that
means that the lower strings the thicker strings are gonna be like really heavy
and actually if you have so the strings that I use from Sonoco and also if you
have to mastic strings then the cities it’s made differently so that the the
lighter strings are heavier and thicker strings are lighter and that means that
the overall tension of the guitar is different and that makes a huge
different difference in how it weighs I find ya
I put some heavy heavy gauge strings on my acoustic guitar for two things like
dadgad tuning and I hated it I took him right I left him on I played
for about an hour and then I was like nope it was awesome
you know it pulled my neck it was starting to been in my neck and I was
like I don’t want to deal with both us set up nicely
good strings well how I found out because I was trying out different salsa
strings and I was using the domestic at the time and then I was just like
ordering stuff like art there’s got a lot of five different sources strings
and you just have to be 13 and it’s gonna be fine and then I put on the
first set of 13 is not thinking about the back of the temesta cases where I
set off different view and we’re in so I put them on and then immediately my neck
was to start depending oh no but now this.
And there you have it. Another
episode in the bag. Join us next Thursday morning as we get into part two with
Jen’s Larsen on Fret Buzz The Podcast. As always, if you liked the show,
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yeah, thank you and with that we’ll sign off and we’ll
meet up again next Thursday for part two with Jens Larsson on Fret Buzz The Podcast
Thanks guys for listening.

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