Jazz Banjo Books

Progressive Banjo

An Interview with Ryan Cavanaugh - page 3

Let's talk about the technical aspects of your playing. How often do you practice?

I practice a good amount depending on if I'm inspired or not. By no means do I ever force myself to practice though. I've taken a couple days off this week just to listen to music, but last week I played quite a bit. Maybe 5-6 hours a day.

What's your practice routine like?

I have 3 main practice modes:

  1. If I am learning material for a particular show or band that I'm playing with, lets say Bill Evans; I will ingest the entire set list from the sheet music, and after reading it so many times, I will practice nothing but that. Often I will play nothing but that for the days or week leading up to a tour or a show.
  2. I also like to get in some improvising. Impromptu of course. I might just improvise for a half hour without stopping. Moving through major scale modes, modulating through the pentatonic scale, or working on my diminished phrases. Whatever is fun at the time.
  3. If I am real intent that day, I will play with some Jamey Abersold tracks: Rhythm Changes, Donna Lee, Giant Steps, blues of any kind, Cherokee, ESP, Satin Doll..etc I first concentrate on playing authentic bop lines over them; maybe some Parker or Coltrane licks that I picked up along the way. Then I run through them and try to sound modern like John McLaughlin or Kurt Rosenwinkel.

Do you use Band in a Box or other backup tracks in addition to the
Aebersold CD's?

I use Dr. Betotte and Garage Band if I want to make original backing material.

What books have you studied from and got the most out of?

Jerry Coker's "Improvising Jazz," Jamey Abersold's "Gettin' It Together," and Andrew Greene's "Jazz Guitar Comping." Also, John McLaughlin's "This Is the Way I do It." I have some others that were given to me by my Soulgrass band mates, but I cant remember the authors at the moment; The Lydian Chromatic Approach and so on...

Do you transcribe guitar solos?

I used to transcribe guitar solos. The latest was Steve morse's "Pride Of the Farm." Rex McGee helped me with that one a while back. For the most part, I just transcribe parts of solos I like. Not so much the whole thing. I still want to sound original I guess. I will try to understand what the improvisor is thinking rather than copy his licks, so I can capture his vibe if I want, without quoting him note for note.

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