~ Acknowledgements ~

'with a little help from my friends ...'


'... energize your own learning in life by stepping boldly into new journeys, challenges and discoveries.'



Dr. James B. Miller. When you get to brush elbows with greatness, there's hopefully a few 'greats' that transfer in the 'brushing' that stick. Dr. Miller was this greatness for so many musicians who attended S.U.N.Y. at Plattsburgh, in N.Y. during the 1970's and 80's. A doctorate level in music education, reed player and arranger, and a self taught guitarist who had heard and seen the pioneering 'electric' guitarist Charlie Christian at the 1939 World's Fair in N.Y. in 1939 with Benny Goodman, Doc Miller was at the center of a faculty of Dr.'s that looked to guide up and coming players. Here's a couple of the principles that 'stuck.'

wiki ~ State University of New York at Plattsburgh

"Think from the root of the chord ol'e boy and you'll never get lost ... " Perhaps Doc's most repeated idea to me, this one maxim becoming a sort of mantra for improvising through the changes. As a budding 'theorist', a mercurial mind raced through possibilities of connectedness. thus Doc's quip to ground me explorations. This coupled with spelling chords became the key that unlocked door after door as my own understanding of music evolved. True then, true today, it's just a super solid way to think of the components that make up our music. A way to get to the core of it, to shed some light on the foundation stones of the inner magics, bringing our ideas to life as music.

Play the melody. Dr. Miller taught 'jazz improv', a class that met every Friday. Set up like a big ol' jam session, when one of us 'newby soloists' would get a bit to far off the 'academic radar' for whatever reason and Doc would stop the music to discuss possibilities, he might quip ..., ya know ol' boy, if ya get on thin ice the melody of the song will get ya through.'

Accurate arpeggios. 'Accurate arpeggios will always win the day old boy.' I heard that alot while in Doc's teaching studio, as Doc taylored my lessons to learning songs and working through the changes. I was not schooled enough at this level to be a true music major, so I had some curriculum flexibility. Doc took advantage of this and he taught me songs and how to work the arpeggiation of their harmony. I spelled out the letters of a lot of chords :)

... Put in a Hollywood chord there ol'e boy :) Doc had a big handful of fancy chords that magically he could quickly grab and sound out, to light up the music and the room with Hollywood level coolness and its bright lights. Here's the ones I recall. Example 1.

Nice huh? Doc knew them all. Say a 'bless his soul' as I pass his wisdom along to you. Oh, and the last disaster chord, the #15 is all mine :) Yet, the theory of it comes from one of Doc's collegues Dr. Alan Frank.

Kirk Lamberti. In this next idea, we create a basic montuno vamp that utilizes the tonic to flat Two motion we find within the Latin styles. We not only readily find this motion within the literature but often improvise such vamps as intro's and outro's in performance. Example 5.

intro / outro
jam vamps

Dr. George Belden. In this next idea, we create a basic montuno vamp that utilizes the tonic to flat Two motion we find within the Latin styles. We not only readily find this motion within the literature but often improvise such vamps as intro's and outro's in performance. Example 5.

intro / outro
jam vamps

Larry Tutt / 'coffee' chord spelling chart. A very special thanks here to Larry Tutt from my college days at P.S.U.C. Nicknamed 'King Tut' back then, surely an amazing cat all around, Larry is a true king of what is often termed here in Essentials as 'playing through the chord changes.' Larry showed me his chord spelling chart which is passed along here with you. Used all throughout the text, it illustrates the basis of so much good theory. Recent communications with Larry find him polishing to publish his saxophone method while performing regulary with various musical groups on the Eastern Seaboard of the USA. Google Larry Tutt at the 'vtjazz.org to see what he's up to these days.

wiki ~ Plattsburgh State University College

Stu Schulman. Stu Schulman is a working musician's musician and the real deal. Coming off the road after a couple of decades, he became our music community budda guru of knowledge during his couple of decades up here in Anchrage, Alaska. Well known as a masterful pedal steel guitarist, surely among the toughest axes' to handle in all our Americana sounds, he's a Tele nut who can make that thing talk some blues and beyond.

Stu brought to our Alaska community musical abilities and professional knowledge of hanging at the 'A' list level with many stars of the 70's and forward while in the lower 48. Having grown up in Queens, NYC, he also has the grit to tell it like it is. So for a couple of decades here, Stu helped to keep all the AK fish; the big fish and the regular fish, and up and coming fish, all swimming together, consistently making and helping others create memorable music for themselves and the locals, throughout all of the Alaska communities. Blessed with 'other wordly level aural apparatus' (ears), Stu helped many many artists in the studio here in Alaska and beyond to achieve some of their finest recorded moments.

The 'diatonic three and three', a link at the top of the index menu, is really a part of Stu's philosophy of understanding our music he shared with me, just presented mostly in my own words. This one idea, fully understood in a couple of keys, easily becomes the foundation for a career's worth of creative endeavors and performance, opening a window of understanding into a solid array of our Americana styles, that can lead to a fruitful 'musical life' in our Americana musics.

So many who read here can sincerely thank Stu for this contribution and others within these discussions, all learned by his lifelong commitment to making friends and memorable music, by unselfishly sharing his wisdom, insights, histories and 'New Yawk' styled humor with all of us along the way :) (Stu's still working the music, questions at sturoomers@gmail.com)

index menu
diatonic 3 and 3

Randy Sutton. A very special thanks to Randy Sutton, who first showed me the magic of making the 'clicks go away.' Standing behind his vibes armed with four mallets, with Franz clicking merrily away, Randy played some blues ideas that were so well placed with the clicks, that that characteristic' snap' simply vanished. To reappear ... between his phrases. That is good time and still is a standard for today.

a metronome

Gary Sloan. Decades ago Mr. Sloan; a master blues harp, band leader, gig booker and entreprenuerial marketing wizard, Sloan came up to me while on the bandstand while I searched in vain for something to say over 12 bars and quipped; 'play primitive man.' Took a while but finally did. The two licks I mastered really really help to start this rebuild process off. I've got some dates coming up with Gary playing bass. I'll post on some of the sessions on Facebook

'Muddy' blues lick
'Elmore James' blues lick
#2 / b3




(1)Mauleon-Santana, Rebeca. 101Montunos, p. iv. USA Sher Music Co.,Ca. 1999

(1) Isacoff, Stuart. Temperament ... The Idea That Solved Music's Greatest Riddle, p. 40-42. USA Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 2001

(2)Aebersold, Jamey and Slone, Ken. The Charlie Parker Omnibook. New York: Atlantic Music Corp., 1978.

( start here :)