Book Excerpt: Bucky Pizzarelli - A Life In Music

Author: Terrence M. Ripmaster
Publisher: Mel Bay Publications
Copyright: 1998
ISBN: 0-7866-3315-8

"My first professional job was playing rhythm guitar with the Vaughn Monroe dance band. I used an Epiphone Deluxe carved-top acoustic guitar with a De Armond pickup to play a few amplified single string solos. My job was mostly unamplified rhythm guitar, blending with the rhythm section. The string bass would play the proper bass note; the guitar plays the after-beats. Together, they provide a throb that gives a uniform sound to a dance band rhythm section."

"My big desire was to play every chord symbol in the book on all six strings of my guitar. After experimenting with the bassist, I discovered that three note chord formations, when properly voiced, could be more functional and musical. All my rhythm guitar playing is based on these simple formations; only 13 chord forms are needed to play any chord, in all keys, in any dance band. For example, a C7 formation will cover the written chord name: C7-9, C9+9, C13, C13-9, and others. When C7-5 is written, omit the flatted 5th of the chord. This may leave you with a two-note chord. Don't worry, it will sound OK."

Many jazz guitarists played with the big bands and one of the most famous was Freddie Green. His fantastic rhythm playing was the backbone of the Count Basie band for 50 years. Playing a custom-built Gretsch Eldorado archtop guitar (from 1956 until 1987), he used the middle strings, the D and G, to set up harmonic intervals with the bass. "Freddie Green's playing was outstanding, " said Bucky.

Drummer Joe Cocuzzo, said, "Bucky is no doubt in the tradition of Freddie Green, the greatest rhythm guitarist in the world. Rhythm guitar is an art form understood by so few, but is alive and well with Bucky."

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