March is here, so I’ve had the regular guitar magazine suspects in hand for at least a week or so. Physically and digitally in hand, in the case of app-based reading/viewing.
March brings us Brian May of Queen as cover feature here in the U.S. (Guitar Player) and across the pond (Guitar & Bass).
Brian May and his Red Special
Detailed interview with Brian May on Queen’s enduring legacy. Interesting guitar tidbits abound: ‘…the “guitar jazz band” in the song “Good Company” is an astounding bit of guitar orchestration. You…nail the sounds of trumpets and trombones.’ Mr. May goes on to elaborate that he did not use a slide, playing the parts ‘…just used bending and the tremolo.’
This month also features the popular Hey Jazz Guy column from Jake Hertzog. Of course, I’m slightly prejudiced. Jake’s my guitar teacher, and I never trouble him about being less than half my age!
Hey Jazz Guy column in Guitar Player March 2012
His March monthly column answers the question ‘How can I turn my cool rock chords into some sweet jazz changes?’ Submitted by ‘Rockstar from Reno.’ Jake’s easy to follow column takes four good rock chords and takes them through seven different ‘reharmonization’ steps, adding and subtracting to show the progress of chords from rock form to jazz progression.
Each month Jake posts video online, making available the lesson, practice examples, and live cuts.
Strong issue, packed with good monthly columns. Who knew that Paul Gilbert, rockin’ shredder extraordinaire, was such a good writer. His columns are suffused with intelligent instruction and advice but also with a great sense of humor and writing style.
This month he starts by asking the reader if we have “heard” about his significant hearing loss and tinnitus, pun intended. Goes on with a list of Do and Don’t advice. Peppered with asides like this: “Don’t…try to figure out key of unfamiliar song during the chaos of a multi-guitar NAMM jam. Just mute your strings and go chicka-chicka. That works in any key.” Spot on.
Other worthy features include an overview of the new toys and guitars from Winter NAMM 2012, and a thoroughly intriguing and satisfying article that goes into depth on 10 Pro Pedalboard rig rundowns, including those of John Petrucci, Joe Satriani, Nels Cline, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Walter Becker.
Kenny Wayne Shepherd's Pedalboard
Zakk Wylde at The Grove, NAMM 2012
A humorous lead news feature this month as they review the comedy ‘roast’ of shredder Zakk Wylde during the NAMM winter show at The Grove. Here are some worthy one-liners:
Zakk’s guitar playing is way less diatonic and way more gin and tonic – Scott Ian
Zakk, I grew up learning all of your riffs and solos. Then I learned how to play real music. – Gus G.
Nice features on Dave Davies of The Kinks, blueser Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and tab and backing tracks for six songs including Foo Fighters, The Smiths, and Metallica.
Guitar & Bass
This month they feature a younger Brian May on the cover with the enticing but unrealistic tag line – PLAY LIKE BRIAN MAY in a week! The editor’s note discusses this feature as not an attempt to get a player to play like May in seven days, but to help focus the mind on specific techniques. Of course, this feature is no different than what all of the mags publish: Steal This Style, Ten Things to Play Like…, etc.
Jack Bruce and Spectrum Road
Nice interview with iconic bassist Jack Bruce. He notes that Mingus was his biggest influence, and not so much electric bassists! And of course, he reminisces a bit about Cream, sometime considered the first great supergroups. Interesting sidebar in this piece, Bruce has a new band, Spectrum Road, a Tony Williams Lifetime tribute band featuring John Medeski on piano, Vernon Reid on guitar and Cindy Blackman-Santana on drums, first release dropping in May.