What's Hot With Jazz Guitar: Ralph Patt

by Doc Dosco

This week's article features my jazz guitar friend from the Yahoo Jazz Guitar Group, Ralph Patt. Ralph is a one of kind musician, generous with his knowledge and time, and a treasure-trove of history on the jazz guitar. He is forever gracing the world wide jazz guitar community with bits and pieces of his vast library of vintage jazz guitar players and his boundless insight. He plays pretty darn good too.

Ralph's website has a wealth of interesting things to check out:

* The Vanilla Book

(according to Ralph) This book attempts to uncover the basic ("Vanilla") chord changes to over 400 of the most commonly played jazz "standards".

There are many good books that show how to use chord substitutions, but if the basic chord changes are not known, substitutions and embellishments often confuse the improviser and the listener.

Embellishments to basic chords such as added 6ths, 9ths, 13ths, flat 5ths etc. are usually determined by the melody notes and the style of music being played.

Chord substitutions are influenced by the style of jazz being played and the individual preference of the musicians.

The purpose of this book is to help the jazz player learn the basic "changes" and allow the player to add embellishments and substitutions on a solid framework.

Basic chord progressions are somewhat subjective. This book reflects the way I hear these tunes and is meant to be a starting point in the never ending quest for the "right" chord changes. I'm open to different opinions. I hope this can be used as a forum to discuss basic chord progressions to jazz standards.

* Backing tracks (in MP3 format):

The backing track section is for jazz musicians to practice songs that are in the Vanilla Book.

* The Tonal Centers Page:

This web page contains a list of songs that have similar chord progressions and tonal shifts (modulations) and then links them to the "Vanilla Book.

He also has a section on Major 3rd Tuning and several Audio Clips. All good fun.

Online Bio

Ralph Patt, was born in 1929 in Kittanning, Pennsylvania. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1952 with a degree in geology. In Pittsburgh, he studied with guitarist Joe Negri.

After military service in the First Army Band, Governors Island, New York City, he toured as guitarist with numerous bands, including Neal Hefti (1955), Frankie Carle (1956), Les Elgart (1956), Benny Goodman (1957), Richard Maltby (1958), The Glenn Miller Orchestra led by Ray McKinley (1958) and Larry Elgart (1959).

Ralph worked in New York in the 1960's as a studio musician, Broadway theatre shows with Elliot Lawrence and as a staff musician at ABC. He attended the Manhattan School of Music studying with Gunther Schuller.

He studied guitar with Barry Galbraith, Jimmy Raney, Jim Hall and Chuck Wayne and co-authored a book with Wayne in 1965, "The Guitar Appreggio Dictionary". He also studied with George Russell and contributed to "The Lydian Concept of Tonal Organization".

Ralph stopped playing full time in 1975 and changed careers. He continues to play jazz as often as possible. He now lives near Portland, Oregon, where he is a consultant in hydrogeology advising the U.S.Department of Energy on nuclear waste ground water contamination issues.

Ralph Patt's website:

Doc Dosco is a jazz guitarist, composer and audio consultant living in Los Angeles, CA. His website is located at http://www.docdosco.com, where you can find more information on the 'What's Hot with Jazz Guitar' columns, audio clips of Doc's playing, and many additional features. Doc now endorses Peerless Guitars and has the website Jazz Guitar Zone to help promote Peerless jazz guitars in the US. He also endorses the new Pignose Valve Tube Amps -- great for jazz (and anything else!)

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