Just Jazz Guitar reviews for DiaB transcriptions
I would like to thank Ed Benson (Publisher of JJG), who noticed my work and
Dr Dave Walker for his wonderfull writing at the reviews of JJG for my project!
May 2016 (Final issue)
JJG for Django in a Box!
Django, Wes, and now Charlie-in-a Box
What a great service Stelios Panos has provided for jazz guitarists, transcribing a wealth of music from three of the all-time greats.
I have been thrilled to watch this vast project unfold, and since we always seemed pressed by deadlines I thought it best to catch up now that the project is done.
With the completion of Django Reinhardt (250 songs) and Wes Montgomery (100 songs), Stelios moved right on to the music of Charlie Christian to provide us with note-perfect transcriptions of 65 more great songs, an incredible collection.
If you have Band-in-a-Box you will find these to be an unparalleled guide to this treasure trove of jazz guitar. Even if you don’t own BiaB, you can still get a great subset of the series and still have a great learning experience with 100 videos of selected songs from all three.
In many ways the choice of guitarists could not be better.
Django Reinhardt has fans all over the world, from jazz purists to fusion and even pure rockers; he made the world take notice of jazz guitar.
Wes Montgomery is a legendary player whose appeal continues to grow, keeping jazz as a living art form by his example as well as his combination of ear appeal and deep musical understanding. And how did he reach the pinnacle of jazz? By learning the solos of Charlie Christian and playing those, and then “laying out” because he wasn’t even confident of his comping! He soon developed competence and confidence, creating a style that has started many of us on our own journey in jazz, but he maintained his love of Charlie Christian’s playing. Now we can learn the same solos thanks to Stelios Panos and his third collection devoted to Charlie Christian.
I have to say that watching this series develop has been a surprising and humbling experience. Stelios Panos has always delivered more than promised, and despite a schedule that was tighter than most people could manage, he has turned out pristine transcriptions that raise the bar for other transcribers, and interactive ones at that.
Thanks to his work you can hear the music, see it on the fretboard, in notation, in tablature: whichever you like, or all three. You can slow it down, loop passages, even record yourself playing along to gauge your progress.
I know that PG Music, makers of Band-in-a-Box were impressed enough with this project to work on issues that Mr. Panos identified with the software, and send out fixes in updates for their users. Few people have the technical skills combined with such a good musical ear and the patience and diligence to keep at a project that must have seemed impossible several times. Our unexpected final deadline was certainly one of those times, but now we have the complete set, and I am tremendously happy to share that news.
The Charlie Christian set is a must for his fans and they should include all jazz guitarists. This is our electric forebear creating a style before our ears, moving effortlessly from swing to bebop to blues. Many of his ideas have become almost clichés, but he was the original who amazed the budding bebop community while still swinging with Benny Goodman’s band and inspiring generations of guitarists to “go electric” in many different fields. One of those was Wes Montgomery, who then inspired so many more.
The three sets together form a bedrock foundation for any jazz guitar player; after all, you can’t do something original if you don’t know what came before. Never was learning so easy, yet so much fun!
Now that this landmark series is finished, what more can be expected? First, there are now several discounted bundles. “Django Complete” includes all of the Django songs plus the Real Book versions of the songs, 33 Gypsy waltzes, and the Gypsy Guitar Sampler (Maccaferri guitar library). “All the Jazz Guitar” includes Django Complete plus the Wes Montgomery and Charlie Christian songs. The “Everything Pack” includes the three guitarists plus songs by Miles Davis (76) and Charlie Parker (72).
There will also be a video series available for those who do not have Band-in-a- Box, with a selection of 33 songs by each of the jazz guitarists, complete with scrolling notation and tablature coming in June. The videos will be in MP4 format, playable on virtually any video-capable device.
Check out the richness of www.djangoinabox.us, where you will find more information, free samples, videos, demos, and more. For those who prefer pricing in euros, go to www.djangoinabox.com . Do not miss this great series!
All of Stelios Panos’ work has my highest recommendation!
Dr. Dave Walker
November 2015 JJG issue for Django in a Box (HDR)
Django Reinhardt for Band--in--a--Box
The solid infrastructure of Band--in--a--Box makes it possible for third party developers to extend your copy into specific domains.
Django Reinhardt fans will be thrilled to find an entire app dedicated to Django’s playing: 250 solos lovingly and accurately transcribed and synced with the score, tablature, fretboard, and backing tracks.
So dedicated is this project to Django that you don’t even need BIAB – you can buy 100 of the solos with Django’s original sound sync’d with score, tab, and fretboard as well, but I’d say it’s well worth your while to go with BIAB and get all 250!
Stelios Panos worked hard to make sure that all TAB and bends were accurate, and that the correct positions were shown on the fretboard.
The result is an incredible opportunity to study Django’s style up close in amazing detail. The Maccaferri guitar samples included in the set complete the feeling of having the maestro in the room giving you his playing secrets first--hand.
Check out djangoinabox.com for the whole story plus access to the free Sforzando player and the Maccaferri guitar samples to go with it.
You will also find a very useful video showing how to use the software along with several demos of the transcriptions as well as the different sounds the Maccaferri guitar is capable of.
As we go to press, there are still a few issues to be sorted out for this app to work flawlessly with Band--in--a--Box 2015 for Mac, but I expect that these will be corrected by the time this issue comes off the press. I am told that there are problems with sync when the app is paused and then resumed in a different bar. This worked fine for me, so it may be a problem on a different Mac and OS X version.
My advice is to visit djangoinabox.com to check out the history of this project, and download some free samples that will definitely leave you wanting more.
The free DiaB videos demonstrate the accuracy of the transcription as well as their presentation on both the staff and guitar fretboard. (NB: You may have to add a .zip extension to the file for it to unzip, as I did.).
After you have seen all of the Django material, you can peruse the transcriptions of West Montgomery and Charlie Christian, along with others by Miles Davis and Charlie Parker.
I will be writing more on the Wes Montgomery and Charlie Christian apps next time, but don’t wait for me. Besides the free video demos of Django, you will find songs by all of the aforementioned artists in BIAB format, as well as a folder of Styles for that authenticfeel.
Dr Dave Walker
February 2016 JJG issue for Wes in a Box (HWR)
Wes Montgomery for Band--in--a--Box
In this second installment of great jazz guitarists for Band--in--a--Box, Stelios Panos brings us 100 great transcriptions from Wes’s repertoire.
Once again the ones I checked were note perfect, and the backing tracks add authenticity to hearing them as well as background for your own playing when learning them.
As with the earlier set of Django Reinhardt tunes, you can view notation and real--time fingerboard notes, both at the same time if you like. This is an ideal learning environment for some of the greatest jazz to come from a guitar.
There could never be enough video footage of Wes for many of us, and so some of the fingerings are bound to be the subject of debate for Wes’s fans, but the suggested positions and fingers make good sense and many are likely authentic. In other cases, if you don’t like the fingerings given you should let your ear guide you. After all, not everyone is going to play with their thumb either, and that is a much more crucial element of the man’s unique tone than the individual string.
It’s also a very good practice to learn songs in multiple positions to know the neck better and not lock your hands into the same old positions you tend to use automatically.
Once again the deadline has not been our friend with this review. A few very odd problems popped up for me during testing on the Mac version, but I was unable to replicate them. This simply means that when I ran into a problem, I either reloaded the song, or restarted the program, depending on the severity of the glitch; I advise you to do the same.
I noticed that all of the glitches I encountered occurred when using RealTracks, which are not necessary for this collection. You should also be keeping up to date with the updates from PG Music. For some reason my automatic update checker was not working, but I did update to build 106 for this review, which is the current version of BIAB. (One caution, which is noted in the notes with the update, is that if you are running BIAB from its own hard disk, be sure to choose that hard disk to install the update to.)
I would not be put off with a few minor glitches at this stage. Stelios has a sound
track record of fixing problems quickly, as he did with his (much larger) set of Django transcriptions. I have little doubt that all of Wes will be up and running glitch--free before this issue ships. So for all fans of Wes Montgomery and just great jazz guitar, this collection is a must!
By Dr. Dave Walker