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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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December 30, 2010 | 2010 JazzMando best stories

Last week, we took a look at some of the "Best Of" in our weekly Tips and Tricks column, and we thought we'd also take a crack at some of the 2010 JazzMando News Highlights this week. You probably already know we update this every other day, and of course, with your RSS reader, you can get a direct feed of these. We also post them on our Facebook and Twitter accounts.


We started off January with our first ever Winter NAMM Mandolin Cafe gathering. It's always great to associate faces with forum handles. We even had the site administrator Scott Tichenor there to meet and greet, as well for the first time in the flesh, guest JazzMando staff writer, Mark Wilson. Many of us were especially happy to escape a rather harsh midwestern winter in exchange for the milder southern California climate.

lizard.jpg MandologyLogo.jpg

Not too long after that, we introduced another James Condino "One-Off" in a review of third stunningly good example of his terrific creations. In our semi-monthly Mandolin Sessions we kicked of one of our most popular series, "Chord Combinations for the Lizard Ear," a twist on the "Lizard Brain" concept of thinking. We had some fun throughout the series with chord contributions from some mando royalty, including John McGann, Evan Marshall, Jamie Masefield, Paul Glasse, Will Patton, and others.

Jobs.jpg2010 was the year of the iPad, and of course we were immediately smitten by the portable wonder. We remain enthusiastic about the potential for the musician, not only as a practice tool but for performance. We've been able to go virtually paperless ever since. Fellow staff writer Charlie Jones continues to dig deeper, and bring us more developments as the IOS evolve. Who knows what the iPad2 will bring this year.

We also consider '10 the Year of the 10-string, with a review of a Lawrence Smart fanned fret A-body and later the Gypsy's Music nylon. We also presented a personal dream machine, our Rigel R-200 fanned fret mandola conversion from pioneer builder Pete Langdell later in the year.

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Thirty strings

It was a great year for new mandolin CD releases, including JazzMando mentor, Chicago-based mandolinist, Don Stiernberg with his June release Swing 220 JazzMando field reporter, Levy Lettvay, weighed in with a personal visit and pictorial Weber factory tour, which eventually opened some doors for a close working relationship with Bruce and Mary Weber, founders of the internationally sought line of instruments. It's been interesting to see how in the age of diminishing US builders, Weber continues to grow and import into the heart of the very countries that threaten to dominate our own American industrial base.


Also encouraging on the domestic front, Kenny Bohling of successful Lakota Leathers hooked up with us at Summer NAMM in July, with his quality quality elk and bison hide straps. These are a premier product hand-crafted in the hands of the "orignal" Americans in the South Dakota Lakota reservations. Soon after, we introduced New Mexico builder Brain Lock and with a review of one of his delicious signature two-point mandolins.


Thumbnail image for DonJulin.jpgLate in the fall we added the knowledge and street smart expertise of mandolin veteran, Don Julin to the JazzMando writing staff. With his assistance along with theory guru Craig Schmoller, our team focused on fretboard geometry in November with a series of articles on the spatial consistencies of the 5ths tuning.

We finished the year with the introduction of a couple intriguingly adept and upcoming young artists, Chris Acquavella and Jason Anick We hope 2011 brings us more excellent mandolin recordings, including a couple in the oven we know of from Vermont fret-specialist Will Patton, and Texas swingmeister, Paul Glasse.

Looking forward to another good year!

We trust yours will be happy too...

Posted by Ted at December 30, 2010 10:04 AM

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