Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Shaking off the rust

Sunday night was the first jam session in over a week between myself, Justin and James. We all took our typical instruments, Justin and I played guitar with James on drums. Overall I think we sounded pretty good. It was a healthy mix of just straight improvisation and practicing of songs we are working on. Next time we jam I plan on bringing my condenser mic and recording software so I can record the session and hopefully pull some good parts from it for you all to hear. The song I mentioned briefly in my podcast is starting to shape up a bit, and Justin and I have pretty much nailed the intro. We duel with each other in clean mode before eventually switching to distortion as the melody builds in heaviness. It's a pretty simple E-D-C-B chord progression that has been heard before; we're trying to do different things with it so as not to sound watered-down or cliched.

Before that, Mike and I did a little jam with Mike on piano and myself on guitar. It was more like Mike playing his latest original piece while I tried to find a way to solo over it. By ear, I was able to decipher an F-sharp minor scale, so I ripped up and down that scale while he played on. It will work better with guitar if I can find a nice chord scheme to go with it, then I can worry about the solo. Mike has uploaded a few good videos of himself playing piano on Youtube, one of which is right here:

He's only been playing piano for a little over a year and a half, so he's accelerated his skill level pretty well I'd say. That's a variation of the piece he played for me Saturday night, and he really wants me to find a guitar part to go with it. It's harder than he thinks to mix piano with guitar, not many popular music groups have been able to do it, let alone do it well. Queen and Lynyrd Skynyrd are two groups that quickly come to mind.

That's all for now. Hopefully within the next couple days I'll have something to give you on guitar to go with Mike's piano licks. Also, look for this week's guitar spotlight to shine on the late great Stevie Ray Vaughan, the last true blues master.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Ready for the big game! Plus a movie review

It's 1:04 p.m. Sunday, November 4, 2007, which means we are only three hours away from the biggest regular season game the NFL has ever seen. I am ecstatic just to be a part of it, let alone a big fan of the favored team. My beloved Patriots are rolling over their competition, yet are also the victims of double standards the last few weeks, in an attempt by the media to create controversy and make a good guy-bad guy matchup out of this game. With all the firepower the Pats have on offense, I doubt the Indianapolis Colts will be able to stop them entirely. They won't get blown out, but I can see the Patriots winning by almost 2 touchdowns. My predicted score all week has been Patriots 44, Colts 31, so I'm going to stick with that.

I digress a little more...I was able to catch the 1 p.m. showing of Ridley Scott's American Gangster yesterday amidst the group of college students who entered the downpour-protected Regal Cinema with the same idea I had. This film had me engaged for the entirety of its 150 minute-plus running time, and it is mostly because of excellent performances by Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe. Denzel has always had a persona all his own, and when he's on his A-game, that persona can take over an entire movie. If not for a great turn as a physically and mentally battered NYPD narc by Crowe, Denzel would make this movie all his own. His performance as Frank Lucas oozes of confidence, as well as frightfulness. The way Lucas, a real-life figure on which the film is based, did business was ingenious when compared to other illegal enterprises. The most interesting aspect of the film was the contrasts between the two main characters. Richie Roberts is played by Crowe and, although he plays an honorable police officer (so honorable that he turned in almost $1 million in unmarked bills to his department, much to the surprise of, well, everyone there), is caught up in a tumultuous relationship with his estranged wife, with whom he becomes entangled in a messy divorce case stemming from several cases of adultery and neglect from Roberts. Lucas, on the other hand, honors his heritage and his family more than anything in the world, and, despite his sketchy business practice, keeps them intact. This film is a clever cat-and-mouse game with the investigators and Lucas' drug trafficking empire, beautifully shot by Scott as usual and a good script by Steven Zaillian. I expect gold for someone in the future from this film. ****/*****

That's all for today, with me watching the game at Justin's house we might be able to get some jam time in. Tomorrow, I'll talk more about some work I'm doing on collaborating with Mike T. on a guitar/piano piece. Until next time!