Thursday 12 April 2012

Guitarist Ted Dunbar

I first came across the name Ted Dunbar  (January 17, 1937 in Port Arthur, Texas – May 29, 1998) as a teacher of Peter Bernstein. There's not many recordings available of the guitarist, but recently a few videos have appeared on Youtube - playing with Tony Williams' Lifetime and a wonderful duo performance from 1972 with Richard Davis (below).

Ted studied as a pharmacist and was a pupil of Wes Montgomery. As well as being an influential teacher, Ted worked with many great modern jazz musician (including McCoy Tyner, Sam Rivers and Gil Evans) and wrote a number of interesting books (here's his Wikipedia entry). I have tracked down one of them "A System of Tonal Convergence for Improvisers Composers and Arrangers". This is a system involving 24 scales that can be used to "converge" on the overall key centre. It's a fascinating book and I like is style. For example:
A tonal gravity law is created once you start to play music (in a key). The key of the music exerts a gravity pull on all other chords no matter what they be. The energy amassed in a jazz improvisor's solo has to be climatically released by arrival "home" to the overall key centre. The weight of this released energy causes a last moment of furious groping for approachment to finality through various formulas created under pressure.
Many airplanes approach New York from many convergent cities in the world. A king walks down the aisle and converges on his throne. Wine is a convergent pre-dinner beverage. Calisthenics are pre-game convergent exercises to football players. Bb7 is a standard V chord to Eb minor & major tonalities as well as many other chords and their parent scales in this convergent system.
The book has a home made quality - hand typed and self published, but it is a rich and fascinating resource and one that should be re-published and made widely available.

This diagram illustrates in the approach as the 24 scales "bombard" the F major key centre:

Ted Dunbar's Circle of Gravities
Ted Dunbar's Circle of Gravities [click to enlarge]

Ted's pupils Rick Stone and Amanda Monaco published versions of the list that Ted gave all his students that they had to practice every day. If you ever nailed all of these tunes you would have developed some serious chops.
  1. Confirmation
  2. Donna Lee
  3. Four
  4. Little Willie Leaps
  5. Freedom Jazz Dance (Evolution Of The Groove)
  6. Sippin' at Bell's
  7. Scrapple From The Apple
  8. Vierd Blues
  9. Cookin' at the Continental
  10. Gingerbread Boy
  11. Jordu
  12. Airegin
  13. Yardbird Suite
  14. Au Privave
  15. Budo
  16. Ornithology
  17. Parisian Thoroughfare
  18. Groovin' High
  19. Moment's Notice
  20. Dat Dere
  21. Daahoud
  22. Bebop
  23. Ceora
  24. Anthropology
  25. Tricotism
  26. Joy Spring
  27. Half Nelson
  28. Oleo
  29. Room 608
  30. Milestones
  31. Cheryl
  32. Opus De Funk
  33. Dig
  34. Quicksilver
  35. Impressions
  36. Prince Albert
  37. Giant Steps
  38. Song for My Father
  39. The Theme
  40. Con Alma
It's quite a list! One that's I've been meaning to put on an iTunes playlist for a while.

Here's a great video of Ted in action with bass player Richard Davis on Gershwin's Summertime.

Here's a profile of Ted Dunbar by his teaching colleague Dr Larry Ridley from All About Jazz.


Anonymous said...

A nice gentleman (*not me*) has scanned in the whole book at this url:

seems that it would be beneficial for anyone interested in serious study.

Philippe said...

... I presume Milestones is the 'old' version. Not an easy tune.

Philippe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Patrick J. Sparrow said...

I reduced the first 12 down to only 6: