"Here, There and Everywhere" for solo guitar

About

Image I have been playing the guitar a long time.

But I started with the trumpet. I saw the 1959 movie "The Five Pennies" starring Danny Kaye. I had just turned nine years old. The film was about trumpeter Red Nichols, a hot jazz star of the 1920s and 30s, whose musical heroes were Louis Armstrong and Bix Beiderbecke. He leaves the music business when his daughter contracts polio. (This was a real threat to children in the 1950's and I was among the first to receive the Salk vaccine in 1955 when I was five years old. This shot in the arm reduced a lot of fear and helped to eradicate the disease. I know several people who are survivors of that epidemic). Eventually Red's wife and daughter encourage him to stage a comeback. An old friend gets him a gig in a small club. Red is nervous and disappointed that none of his old friends and musical buddies have come out to see him. He starts his set when after a few notes - out of the darkness - another trumpet is heard playing "Won't You Come Home Bill Bailey". The lights come up and it's Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong leading a crowd of Red's friends. Louis joins him on stage. Red's daughter surprises him by casting off her cane and asking him to dance with her. After dancing with his daughter (a young Tuesday Weld), Red returns to the stage and jams with Louis. They seemed to be having so much fun. Louis' off the charts charisma and great playing inspired me to take up the trumpet. I walked around our house gripping my trumpet and wiping my brow with a handkerchief like Louis. I played for a few months until my front teeth came out and I had to put down my horn.
Read more...

Stan's Stories


January 25, 2021

Guitarist Stan Ayeroff Shares His Thoughts On Arranging
By Thomas Amoriello Jr.
Reprinted from Jazz Guitar Today

Standards make up a significant part of Stan Ayeroff's repertoire. In this exclusive interview, Stan shares his thoughts on arranging.

The California native created popular arrangements published by Warner Brothers that have occupied the shelves of many public and personal music libraries thus inspiring countless guitarists to study jazz, boss nova, classical and other hybrid fingerstyles.

JGT: You are known among guitarists for your fingerstyle arrangements of standards. These books were quite popular in the community. Looking back, what was that time of your life like when you were organizing and editing this work for publication?

I was on the road as the guitarist in singer Vikki Carr's rhythm section. We picked up an orchestra with strings and horns wherever we performed. We went from Santiago, Chile to Vienna, Austria. It was a good way to see the world. I contacted Warner Bros. Publications and offered to create books for them from songs in their catalog. The first was Play It Again, Stan - As Time Goes By and 24 Great Standards for Solo Guitar. It was published in 1983. I had also started my first steady solo guitar gig at Bullock's Wilshire Tea Room at the top of a historical art deco building. That's when I really developed my solo guitar repertoire. I wrote a book or two a year for Warner Bros. over the next five years. I was teaching, arranging and composing for my band "Dr. Jazz", playing gigs and some sessions as well as occasionally going out on the road. Amongst all that I wrote the books.

JGT: Were these arrangements a part of your repertoire as a gigging solo guitarist?

When I wrote the books for Warner Bros. Publications it was with the understanding that all the songs would be from the Warner Bros. Music catalog. I got to choose the songs from their catalog but I couldn't use anything that was outside it. Only a few of the songs from the books were in my repertoire. I did the arrangements for the books and then incorporated them into my repertoire. Eventually, I knew a lot of songs in many styles and played tons of solo guitar gigs, 5-7 gigs a week for many years. There was a lot of work at the time for a solo guitarist and only a handful of musicians who could do the job. We all knew each other and would sub out our steady gigs when we were double-booked. I've had several interesting moments playing for the composers of songs in my repertoire. I love Randy Newman and my favorite song of his is "Marie". I played it and his head shot up in disbelief that someone would be playing his song on a solo guitar. He came up to me and said "So you know how to play "You Go to My Head". Paul Simon and I just spent an afternoon trying to figure out how to play it". A man introduced himself after I had played "Killing Me Softly" and said, "I'm Charles Fox, I wrote the song you just played". I had an Aunt Bea who had hung out with Duke Ellington's band in her younger days. A guy came up to me and said he was a friend of my Aunt Bea and that he wrote the words to "Prelude to A Kiss" which I had just played. It was Irving Gordon. The next year Irving's song "Unforgettable" became a huge hit when it was recorded by Natalie Cole as a duet with her late father, Nat "King" Cole. I played "Moon River" for Henry Mancini who came up to me afterward to tell me he liked my interpretation. I had a brunch gig at The Hotel Bel-Air for many years. After playing "Cavatina" from the movie The Deer Hunter a man approached me. I'd seen the movie in England, which was emotional as a yank in a foreign country and had done an arrangement of it for Warner Bros. He said his name was Michael Cimino and he was the director of The Deer Hunter. He thanked me for playing the song. An amusing incident occurred after I had played "Suicide Is Painless", the theme from Mash. I saw someone acknowledging a crowd as if people were looking at him. Nobody was and I hadn't noticed him. It was Alan Alda who thought I was playing the theme for him, I wasn't. More recently an elderly woman asked me if I knew "When You Wish Upon A Star". I said I could probably give it a shot. She said great, my father wrote it. She went on to tell me she used to lay on the floor under her father's piano when Cole Porter would come over and play his songs. You never know who might be listening.

JGT: Two of your books are dedicated to the works of early jazz guitar pioneers Charlie Christian and Django Reinhardt. Please tell Jazz Guitar Today readers how you came to know their music and your thoughts on the contributions of these icons to the jazz guitar and the genre overall.

I was aware of Charlie Christian pretty early on as a teenager. I had read that Wes Montgomery started out by memorizing Charlie Christian solos. There was one album available, the one on Columbia records. I liked him a lot. I read the liner notes and had an awareness of his importance as the first great electric guitarist. I was introduced to Django later on. I went to the California Institute of the Arts (Cal Arts) as a composition major in the initial class of 1970. The dean of the music school was Mel Powell. Mel had been Benny Goodman's boy wonder pianist and arranger in the 1940's. He gave up the jazz world and became a classical composer and educator. There was a record in the Cal Arts music library entitled Paris 1945 - Django Reinhardt and The American All Stars. It was Django accompanied by a number of musicians who were over in Europe as members of Glenn Miller's Army Airforce Band. Mel was the pianist. When I listened to the record I thought this is the stuff I'm hearing in my head, but he's doing it. The next year I joined The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo. The leader of the group was Rick Elfman, Danny's older brother. Rick gave me a reel to reel tape of Django and The Hot Club of France. I think the first song I heard was "Georgia On My Mind". Rick asked me to arrange "After You've Gone", the version with Freddy Taylor as the vocalist. It has a great solo and I started really diving deep into Django's music. I had a student who was a fine acoustic guitarist but wanted to learn some theory. His name was Peter Lang and he was a recording artist on Takoma Records, John Fahey's label. Peter suggested me to do the lead sheets that Takoma used for copyright purposes. Guitar Player Magazine was starting a publishing wing and their first book was on John Fahey. I was hired to do the transcriptions for the book. By then I had done a number of Django transcriptions and thought they would make a good book with transcriptions and an analysis of the music. I sold the book to Guitar Player. Unfortunately, their publishing venture went bust and the book, though completed, never saw publication. I sent the manuscript to the Music Sales Corporation in New York and they agreed to publish it as is for their Jazz Masters series. It was first published in 1978. I believe it was the first serious book on Django in the US at the time. I went on to write books on Charlie Christian and Benny Goodman for Music Sales. Many years later I was contacted by Bill Bay of Mel Bay Publications to write even more in-depth books on Django and Charlie which I did.

Read more...