[Dixielandjazz] Guitarist who read music - was pessimism etc.

Stephen G Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Wed Jun 2 14:04:42 PDT 2010

No doubt a lot of musicians still do not read music well. However, let  
me defend some guitarists.

The 'Session Guitarists" as a generalization, all read very well. Not  
only the chord charts, but single note lead sheets as well, putting  
chords that work where there are no chord signatures. Just about all  
session musicians have to read well in order to survive in that niche.  
Yes, there are one or two who can't read, however they are that rare  
exception, and like Bechet or Bix, or Chet Baker, not your usual muso.  
I'm lucky enough to have a session musician as the guitarist in my  
band. He reads both chord charts and lead sheets, in any key, and  
transposes into any key on the fly. (Of course he's an old guy)

I once looked on in amazement, when we were playing at a wedding,  
while he read the piano music from Cinema Paradiso and along with our  
bass player, backed an opera singer who sang several of the songs for  
the happy couple.  He was sight reading the music that the singer had  
brought for a pianist, who never showed up.

And occasionally I sub for a 22 year old clarinetist in a 20s -30s  
band. We did two gigs together and he sight read Fats Waller music on  
tunes he didn't know. Plus, after a chorus, he could improvise with  
the best of them.

Lots of great young musicians out there. All they need is gigs.

Steve Barbone

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