YOU MENTIONED "TRIADIC MOTION OVER UNLIKELY ROOTS"? Yeah, that's one of the things that guitar harmonic vocabulary seems to do well. Often there were things that guitar isn't capable of — in particular a lot of very tight voicings, voicings with minor seconds next to each other, which keyboard players were doing a lot in the post-Bill Evans world. In particular the kind of left-hand voicings that piano players use to accompany themselves just weren't possible on guitar where you're generally limited to one very close interval per voicing unless you want to really hurt your left hand! Which many people did in those days reaching for some improbable voicing, but the guitar had a tradition that all of the guys we were playing with were aware of that encompassed a so-called classical repertoire, and then the line from Charlie Christian through to Jim Hall and beyond. But then, notably and differently, the kind of tradition that was arriving in the '60s in the pop-rock idiom. And of course the blues tradition on the guitar as well has always been a presence in all the really good players.
DO YOU THINK IT WAS MORE THAT IN THE PAST THE GUITAR FIT INTO THE JAZZ VOCABULARY, AND YOU WERE SORT OF SHIFTING THE JAZZ VOCABULARY TO SOME OF THE THINGS GUITARISTS WERE COMING UP WITH? Yeah I think so. I think the jazz players of that time were — as Gary and I were doing — were beginning to look beyond the confines of the jazz tradition. And I don't mean to denigrate that tradition at all — I think my playing wouldn't exist as it is if it weren't for Charlie Christian; I owe him a tremendous debt. But guys were becoming aware of a diverse cast of guitar players. Gary had as a teenager played with Hank Garland and did a bunch of stuff with Chet Atkins, so there was that whole wing of guitar vocabulary, with which Gary was very familiar and which I was discovering in part because he instigated the process.
People were discovering the sitar. I'm sure it had a lot to do with just the huge expansion of recording technology and the huge expansion of the availability of an extraordinarily diverse spectrum of all kinds of music. I remember when I first started collecting Blue Note and Prestige records, about the only other sources for music that interested me were Folkways records.
I remember hearing Ravi Shankar in I would guess '56 or '57 on his first visit to the United States and being just astonished that this entire genre of music existed halfway around the world. I had been utterly unaware of it. Of the instruments, let alone the scales and the rhythmic procedures and all of that. I said "Holy shit. I wonder what kind of music they've got in China!" Nobody knew. What very few recordings of that kind of music existed were really just kind of library pieces. They weren't being listened to in living rooms, and they weren't being listened to by young jazz musicians.
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