Vintage Guitar - October 2017 - open - 66

COLUMN Fretprints
bassist/producer Ron Carter,
saxophonist Houston Person,
organist Lonnie Smith, and
drummer Grady Tate. The
repertory featured standards
like Charlie Parker's bop blues
"Bloomdido," Tad Dameron's
ballad "If You Could See me
Now," Duke Jordan's swinging
"Jordu," as well as originals by
Carter and Gale, and revealed
the extent of Eric's harmonic
depth and expertise in the
bebop style. Previously, he'd
bristle when critics called
him a "jazz guitarist," as he
felt jazz was bebop and the
music on his earlier recordings epitomized his R&B
approach. On this album, he
redeemed the misnomer with
an authenticity and pedigree
that was unmistakably jazz.
His last two albums, Let's Stay
Together ('88, Artful Balance)
and Utopia (recorded in '91
and released posthumously
in '98 on the Japanese label
Rooms), provided closure
to his sonic legacy with an
emphasis on acoustic guitar
in the latter.
Gale died of lung cancer on
May 25, 1994, but his spirit
lives in every well-turned
bluesy lick played over slick
chord changes.

INFLUENCES
Gale's earliest influences
included Charlie Parker,
Sonny Rollins, Thelonious
Monk, Lester Young, Dexter
Gordon, Hank Mobley, and
Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers.
He also cited guitarists Charlie Christian, Kenny Burrell,
Phil Upchurch, Pat Martino,
and Wes Montgomery.

STYLE
On June 4, 1994, The New
York Times ran an obituary
with the simple headline
"Eric Gale, 55, Dies; Versatile
Guitarist." It was the ultimate
understatement and raised
the connotation of versatile
from descriptor to superlative. And, while you're at it,

Gale was a master of the fill. In his arrangements,
fills transcended the customary sideman's application
of decorating a vocal or instrumental melody and
became musical events in and of themselves. That's
the case in the intro (second part) of "De Rabbit" from
Ginseng Woman, recorded at the height of his powers
and often cited as his finest album. In this instance,
he plays funky blues-oriented fills around a cycling
D-minor band figure (0:18-0:51). He sticks largely to
pentatonic/blues-scale sounds; forming a master-

VINTAGE GUITAR

66

October 2017

ful statement with tight, catchy licks emphasizing
rhythmic placement, syncopation, and subtle melodic
embellishment. Note his simpler, punchy licks in the
first two phrases, measures 1-4, contrasted by flurries
and his patented trill riffs in 5-6. He adds blues-based
string bends in 8-12, and tasty octave imitations
and slurred (Ab-G) references to the blues scale. His
closing thoughts exploit a funky hemiola riff - here
a repeated two-against-three pattern (two-note
figure in steady triplet rhythm) - and third dyads.


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vintage Guitar - October 2017 - open

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Vintage Guitar - October 2017 - open - IFC
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