Vintage Guitar - October 2017 - open - 70

COLUMN Fretprints
personified in his jazz comping, that was overshadowed by
his lead playing. Nonetheless,
listening to jazz and working
with numerous artists in
the studio and on the road
sharpened his harmonic
sense. Moreover, he was an
effective rhythm guitarist in
R&B settings as evidenced
by his funky chording and
counterpoint riffs in Stuff.
Similarly overshadowed was
his bebop single-note jazz improvisation approach, which
incorporated characteristic
jazz-language elements - like
lines based on horn players'
melodic content and phraseology - and conveyed a strong,
authentic sense of swing.

ESSENTIAL
LISTENING
Forecast and Ginseng Woman/Multiplication (available
as a two-album set) provide
documents of Gale's rise
as solo artist, as does The
Definitive Collection, a twodisc import package. The
Right Stuff is an important
15-song Stuff compilation.
In the Jazz Tradition offers
a rare view of Gale as jazz/
bebop performer.

ESSENTIAL
VIEWING

Gale dismissed the jazz guitar label imposed by
critics in the '70s. But he had to reassess that position
by the mid '80s, when he recorded In a Jazz Tradition,
where he returned to the bebop music he loved as a
child. Whether he had these resources in reserve or
continually improved his game through incremental efforts - he was a lifelong motivated self-guided student
- isn't important. What is important is that he held his
own with some of the jazz world's top musicians and
revealed the jazz side of his approach. This example
is based on the second chorus (1:00) of his improvisations in "Bloomdido," a swinging Bb bop blues written
by Charlie Parker. He begins with solid triplet-based

Gale's on-camera presence
and playing as a member of
Paul Simon's working band are
worth the price of admission
in One Trick Pony. Stuff: Live
at Montreux 1976 chronicles
some of the band's best concert work. Eric is in
top form on many videos online; recommended
are "Multiplication" and "Blue Horizon" from
the 1982 Montreux Jazz Festival, "Say When,"
"Maraval" and illuminating rehearsal footage
with an all-star band in 1984 backing Sadao
Watanabe, "Mr. Magic" with Grover Washington, Jr., and his blues-inflected straight-ahead
solo over "All the Things You Are" with jazz
luminaries from '86. Also worth a look is a
backstage interview from the Netherlands.

SOUND
Throughout his career, Gale played hollowbody archtop jazz boxes. He obtained his iconic

blues phraseology and Bb minor-pentatonic lines
over Bb7 and Eb9 in measures 1-6 to set the stage for
his more-involved passages of 7-10. In 7, he begins
double-timing and introduces faster, more-complex
bebop melodies that address the chord changes.
Note his specific melodic outlining of the side-slipping
(movement outside the tonal center) Dbm7-Gb7 ii-V
chord change in 8, a familiar bop device. He uses the
jazz minor (C Melodic Minor scale in 8-9) and the F7
bebop scale (identified by the characteristic F-E-Eb
chromaticism in 10), two other tenets of the modern
jazz form. The final line in 11 is a return home to Bb
emphasized by a laid-back well-resolved blues lick.

'70s sound from a sunburst Venetian-cutaway
Gibson Super 400 CES modified with a custom
pickguard that left the entire sound hole exposed.
By '79, he switched to a similar vintage sunburst
Gibson L-5 CES, then in the late '80s to the
smaller blond L-4 CES pictured on the cover
of - and played exclusively for recording - In a
Jazz Tradition. Later, he was seen with a sunburst
Heritage Super Eagle, Heritage's equivalent of a
Super 400. He also occasionally used a Heritage
555 semi-hollow and Roland GR-707 synth
controller onstage, as in his appearances with
Sadao Watanabe in '84. On his Gibson archtops,
Gale preferred ebony bridges, very high action,
and light Dean Markley strings (.010-.046).

VINTAGE GUITAR

70

October 2017

He used medium-gauge triangular picks and
often anchored his pinky on the guitar's face or
pickguard. He sought a natural guitar sound and
onstage plugged into only a volume pedal and
amp - generally a Music Man 4x10 combo. In
the studio, he occasionally processed his tone;
wah, fuzz, and phaser are heard on Forecast.
Wolf Marshall is the founder and original editor-inchief of GuitarOne magazine and a respected author
and columnist who has been influential in contemporary
music education since the early 1980s. His latest releases
include 101 Must-Know Rock Licks, B.B. King: the Definitive
Collection, and Best of Jazz Guitar. Wolf's list of credits
can be found at wolfmarshall.com.


http://www.wolfmarshall.com http://www.vintageguitar.com/

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