Clark JM Jazz Mandolin
Tips & Tricks Mel Bay Mandolin Sessions








Sage Wisdom

"Good improvisation communicates harmonic progression melodically. Effective melodies manipulate harmonic content through the use of guide tones and preparatory gravity notes, masterfully woven in systematic tension, release, and transparent harmonic definition."

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May 31, 2013 | Extra audio for you. JazzMando "Webtracks!"


Do you have a copy of "Getting Into Jazz Mandolin?" If so, we want to remind you of the extra audio material on the site. We just had a customer who found these first, and bought the book because he liked the tracks so much...

These are a terrific resource, extended accompaniment tracks for learning 'ii V7 I' patterns and turnarounds. Our good friend, talented New Orleans multi-instrumentalist, John Eubanks has recorded some terrific background tracks with bassist Jesse Boyd for working out the riffs in the "Getting Into Jazz Mandolin" book, or simply inventing your own.

Sample (guitar accompaniment only): Page 63: 2nd FFcP Bb Major 'ii V7 I'

What happened was in producing these tracks, we were unaware of the 70 minute audio capacity of the whole book project; we had produced way over the limit. In trimming the CD down to size, we made the decision to offer these as web freebies, as well as possible enticement to buy the book. Either way, these are great for you to download into your computer or favorite MP3 player and have around.


Look for these and sample audio on the page from terrific mandolinists, including Don Stiernberg, Will Patton, Jamie Masefield, and a host of others to help understand the end results of digging into these materials.

Enjoy: Webtracks Page

Posted by Ted at 5:25 AM

May 29, 2013 | Chordbot. Muse assistant.

We're on record as big fans of the iReal B app for iPhone and iPad (also Droid) because of it's jazz prowess, accompaniments for the best jazz tunes out there and the ability to create and finesse your own versions through a "Band-in-the-Box" format. For someone wanting to do more outside the jazz genre or even just start a song from scratch, we suggest taking a look at "Chordbot."


Staff technology contributor Charlie Jones weighs in:

"Every once and a while I'll spin the wheel of the App Store music section and drop $5 on something that catches my eye. Today that app is Chordbot. Think iRealb but more intuitive and less jazzy.

I really like the editing interface. You create sections and then string them together for an arrangement. Sections can have their own "style" or you can vary it on a section to section basis. There are preset styles or you can construct your own using the available samples/loops.

This won't replace iRealb but its certainly a good companion app. I'll be honest, since it looks so much better and the editor is so nice I'll probably use it more."

You can hear audio samples on the website.


Available on iTunes Purchase price $4.99. (Also available for Android)


Website: Chordbot

Posted by Ted at 5:10 AM

May 27, 2013 | Jazzbooks "Play-A-Long" sale

We love a good holiday sale and has one to take note of. Literally.


Today is the end of their four day Memorial Day "Play-A-Long" Sale. There're some pretty good resources in their, good tuneage and world class audio accompaniment. We were particularly interested in the Millennium Blues (Vol 88) book for only $5.97.

Sale ends today, though!


You may be aware if you ever want just the MP3 audio tracks for the Jamey Aebersold Play-A-Long books, you can download them inexpensively at or iTunes.

sound.gif Amazon Jamey Aebersold Play-A-Long
sound.gif iTunes Jamey Aebersold Play-A-Long

Posted by Ted at 5:47 AM

May 25, 2013 | Guide Tones with Dan Haerle

We could argue that nobody explains jazz theory better than pedagogy expert Dan Haerle. He's mentored many a student in his years with Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshops, penned a half dozen of the most important method books out there, and was a major influence in jazz education as a faculty member of the University of North Texas until retiring from full time teaching in 2002.

We've brought up the subject of "Guide Tones" in some of our own Mel Bay materials (Guides and Gravity) and the Axis of the 3rds and 7ths, but Professor Haerle does a terrific job in demonstrating them in the video below. Nothing beats hearing the concept of the way linear is expressed in the complex vertical nature of jazz.

Enjoy video: Guide Tones; Dan Haerle

Purchase Dan Haerle materials


Posted by Ted at 5:19 AM

May 23, 2013 | Clark 2-point on the Cafe

We were first exposed to the tremendous craftsmanship of Boise Idaho luthier Austin Clark in the spring of 2007. We were hooked on the 2-point mandolin he sent for review, so much so that we ended up commissioning him for a personal upgrade of the same model instrument (block inlay and built-in pickup), and we've never looked back. We employed it so much, we recently had a magnificent 5-string jazz box mando that has stolen our heart as well. That makes two Clarks in the arsenal.

It's come to our attention that the original review instrument has turned up for sale on the Mandolin Cafe Classifieds website, and while we think the asking price is a tad ambitious, it's neither unreasonable, either. Especially when you consider Clark has emerged as a world class builder.


From our original review:

"Sweet. There's dainty sweet, like the bow-haired, lacy-dressed Kindergartner skipping her way to school. There's syrupy sweet, like the overloaded grape snow cone at the state fair. Then there's the natural, fruity sweet, a Yakima in-season strawberry, or Grandma's freshly baked apple pie. The latter are a healthy sweetness of nature, organic, carefully nurtured over time.

It's hard to put descriptions of sound into words; it's like portraying emotions with color. Some adjective commonalities work, but ultimately, the individual experiences of the reader will predispose personal interpretation of these words. When we say the Clark Two-point mandolin under review is "sweet," we want to be clear that this instrument packs a wide spectrum of the positives of sweet. Clean and never cloying, rich in harmonics without being harsh, subtle without being shallow, the Clark meets the demand for full, powerful linear sustain, devoid of smoky growl."

Read more: Austin Clark 2-point
Used Clark 2-point in Classified Ad
(No financial interest)

View website: Clark Mandolins

Posted by Ted at 5:10 AM

May 21, 2013 | JazzMando V-picks are back in stock

We've reloaded with an order of our proprietary clear V-picks. A highly successful joint venture with V-picks in 2011, we've since offered a custom variation of an international favorite, the JazzMando V-pick.


"Similar to the shape and durable rigidity of the acetate cut JazzMando Signature 346 ProPlec, this profile lends a clean, pure attack because of a polished bevel found on more expensive custom-made boutique picks, yet at a fraction of their cost! The 1.5 mm. gauge thickness gives you power and fluid control over rich, meaty tone. Custom etching artwork on both sides gives the added bonus of secure grip and the exclusive geometrically placed 3-point backside reference dots help maintain an intuitive awareness of pick position while playing. The pattern lands on the thumb in a perfect, sensitive fleshy spot, and even though the acrylic packs its own tack stability; the etches yield a confidence the rounded triangle's wider real estate is gripped in the right place. Additionally, the hands of most players warm the acrylic material up in time, for additional tack a few minutes into activity. The JazzMando V-pick grows even more comfortable playing, like a pair of well-worn denim jeans."

The clear picks $9.95 (two for $14.95) and we also have them in blue ($14.95 each).


Order information: JazzMando V-pick.

Try one today!

Posted by Ted at 5:41 AM

May 19, 2013 | Why music moves us.


Music is "cheesecake?"

The following video makes the case for that, and activity that isn't something that drives our evolutionary advancement or need for sustenance. Still, it makes our live better and more enjoyable. And uniquely human.

It is an intriguing question posited. How is it that patterns of simple vibration (sound waves) can stir and move us emotionally?

Check out the following PBS Digital Studios video. Link: Why Music Moves Us

Posted by Ted at 6:42 AM

May 17, 2013 | Introducing 5-string chord pairs: 'm7b5 V7'

The 'IV V7' part of the 'IV V7 I' is pretty easy for any folk or blues musician to pick up. It's a major part of the DNA of western European music. Even the jazz version of this in the major key 'ii V7 I' is an easy segue, but once you tackle the minor version of this basic musical sentence, the 'ii7b5' lays down a bit of a speed bump for musicians.

We're introducing some 5-string chord strategies this summer, and our first stop is tackling the challenging part of the 'ii7mb5 V7 I' and showing how you can master it in all 12 keys, in the context of pairing with its V7 chord. Check out our latest Tips and Tricks article with a 1-page PDF download where we explain a little bit of the theory.

As always, even if theory isn't your thing, these 3-note voicings are good to get into your fingers and ears. Also, though a 5-string may not be in your arsenal, these chords are terrific for mandola and tenor banjo, and because of their transposable nature, you can ignore chord labels and just learn the blocks.

Enjoy article: 5-string chord pairs: 'm7b5 V7'
5-stringChord Pairs _iim7b5V7.jpg

Posted by Ted at 6:13 AM

May 15, 2013 | Traveling in space... with an instrument?

Premier jazz mandolinist Don Stiernberg likes to jest in his clinics one of the best features about playing mandolin is its ease of storing in the overhead compartment of an airplane. So we ask, how easy is it to take into outer space?


Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield resident of the International Space Station the last five months could tell you about traveling with his Larivee guitar, of course a bit larger than a mandolin. Most musicians spending an inordinate amount of time in isolation would probably want to pack their favorite instrument, the mandolin no exception.

One of his many amazing space "experiments," he recorded in space a magnificent cover of the 1969 David Bowie classic "Space Oddity," inarguably one of the greatest covers of the song.


Enjoy his out-of-this-world version. Link: Space Oddity

Posted by Ted at 5:25 AM

May 13, 2013 | The latest from Don Julin

It's common knowledge now our friend and former JazzMando staff contributor Don Julin and his popular "Mandolin for Dummies" has been an international hit. The 378 page book is a comprehensive approach to the instrument, covering its history, instrument physiology, playing techniques, music styles, and a heaping boatload of references and external resources. There's enough range to encourage the beginner, but also nudge the advance player. It's a definite must-have in any mandolinist's library.


Don recently weighed in with us on some good news. "I have just signed a second book deal with Wiley & Sons 'Mandolin Exercises For Dummies'" he reports, "with an expected release date sometime in 2014." No doubt a concentrated attack will be an excellent follow up to the success of his first tome.

We also hope you didn't miss the fall release of his most recent CD, "Vibe." We reviewed this in November.

Add this to your list of significant acquisitions, too.
Purchase: Don Julin; Vibe


Posted by Ted at 4:33 AM

May 11, 2013 | Sorensen Sprite mandola

We're big fans of Santa Clarita (California) builder Steve Sorensen. Introduced to his craft in the spring of last year, we even commissioned him to create a personal custom Sprite JM Blueburst asymmetrical 2-point mandolin that gets regular stage rotation. He's very much a rising star, top shelf builder on an international level (customers in Europe, lately).

He's recently upped the ante with a mandola version of the Sprite, currently on sale in the showroom of Dennis Vance's Mandolin Store in Arizona. Check out the recent Mandolin Cafe Classified ad, or contact the store directly.


Read builder review: Sorensen "Sprite" Asymmetrical 2-point mandolin


More about the Sorensen Sprite JM Blueburst mandolin

Thumbnail image for SpriteJMwStand.jpg

Posted by Ted at 5:51 AM

May 9, 2013 | Last Call! River of the West 2013

We're down to rhyme time for the June River of the West Mandolin Camp (less than a month away) and we want to put in a personal pitch for JazzMando staff writer and camp coordinator Brian Oberlin's little slice of Oregon forest paradise. Several of our readers have weighed in about what a great experience it was. Now in its 5th year, the workshops and educational experiences only get better.


The June 6-9 event is nigh--get your registration in this week!

Camp Details: River of the West Mandolin Camp June 6 - 9, 2013

River of the West 2012 participants

Archive Video link: River of the West Mandolin Camp

River of the West Facebook Page

Posted by Ted at 6:17 AM

May 7, 2013 | JazzMando Tote Bag

Featured in the JazzMando Logo Store

The JazzMando 100% cotton canvas tote bag has plenty of room to carry everything you need when you are on the go. It includes a bottom gusset and extra long handles for easy carrying, made of 10 oz heavyweight natural canvas fabric.

We keep one in the car for groceries, and most of the local grocers give a nominal discount off your total each time you use this instead of plastic or paper. It paid for itself in a couple short months.

They're also great for starting conversations about mandolins!

Full side and bottom gusset
22" reinforced self-fabric handles
Machine washable
Measures 15" x 18" x 6"

Purchase information: JazzMando Tote Bag


Posted by Ted at 5:15 AM

May 5, 2013 | When Bouzouki Shares Spirit


Mandolin, bandolim, mandola, octave, mandocello, emando--we love the mandolin family. That includes our double course brethren across the Atlantic (and Mediterranean), a fabulous Greek Bouzouki ensemble. The orchestration is festive, the mood celebratory. Greet musicianship and fellowship.



Video Link: When Bouzouki Shares Spirit

Check out our previous eBay score: : Eko electric bowlback bouzouki

Click for closeup

Posted by Ted at 6:01 AM

May 3, 2013 | Mischievous Swing Newsletter

We mentioned Oklahoma based acoustic string jazz ensemble "The Eichers" in February, the release of a fabulous video. Their song now has fans in over 20 countries. The patriarch of the group, Shelby Eicher is a long time veteran of the southwestern US Texas Swing scene, himself a National Hall of Fame fiddler (as well as a virtuoso swing mandolinist) joined by three sons, Nathan, Paul, and equally talented mandolinist, Isaac.

Isaac Eicher

The've just announced the creation of a semi-monthly newsletter and you need to check it out. The inaugural issue includes an interview with mandolinist Isacc, an update on their most recent recording Mischievous Swing and a free sheet music transcription from the new CD.

Visit Mischievous Swing Blog: Mischievous Swing Newsletter

Purchase or Download CD: Dance of the Gyspies


Posted by Ted at 5:10 AM

May 1, 2013 | Static Changes: V7 chords

Our popular four part series on static chord changes at the website offered a revolutionary approach to supercharging long, stagnant chord progressions. Even 12 bar blues is a whole different ball game when you can play a 7th chord four different ways up the neck. We showed you how!


If you haven't seen this or just want a refresher, take the time to dig these up. Don't worry about the names of the inversions, just learn the blocks. Eventually you'll be able to replay them in your own jamming fretboard reality show!

Read archive article: Static Changes: V7 chords


Posted by Ted at 5:08 AM

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