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Book Excerpt
On line book called 'Jazz Guitar Talk" where Chris Strandring interviewed 10 Guitarists.From 2006. Here's my segment.
Guitarist Jack Wilkins has been a part of the New York jazz scene for more than four decades.
His flawless technique and imaginative chordal approach have inspired collaborations with Chet Baker, Sarah Vaughan, Bob Brookmeyer, Buddy Rich and many others.Benedetto and DiCarlo endorser and a professional guitarist for 40 years. In recent years, Wilkins has played
at many international festivals and played with many jazz greats including Stanley Turrentine, Jimmy Heath, The Mingus Epitaph, 5 Guitars play Mingus (primary arranger) and bassist Eddie Gomez. Wilkins lives in Manhattan. He teaches at The New School and Manhattan
School of Music. He was recently invited to judge the Monk Institute Guitar Competitions in Washington. He also conducts seminars and guitar clinics, both in New York and abroad. His latest CD"S "Until It's Time"{Maxjazz} and the Video “Jazz Guitar Workshop” {Mel Bay} are all currently available

1) In your expertise, what are the main facets of jazz guitar playing that a student should
focus on more than any other in his or her developing stages?
I don't think that the focus should be 'jazz guitar playing' per say but musical development
first. A student should learn as many fundamentals as possible. Concentrate on getting a good sound, learning to read, learning theory, developing ear training. If a student learns these things first, they can advance much more quickly In simpler terms, make the guitar an

2) What is it that separates a good player from a truly great jazz guitarist? Is it a gift or can you learn it?
One can learn most anything if you put your mind to it if it's not out of your physical realm. To be a true artist is something else however. I would say don't even think about it. If you are a true artist, you may not even be aware of it.

3) How important do you think sight reading is in your area of the music profession?
Not as much as it used to be when a lot of work was live T.V. and radio or some band with different featured acts. These days you can get a chance to look over your part before you need to perform. It is important to be literate if you want to write music, play anyone else's music or play in ensembles. But the craft of reading comes from a different part of the brain than creative improvising.

4) How important is TAB in your opinion?
I don't think tab is anything one way or the other. It's not a bad thing but it really doesn't help too much either. You still have to learn the rhythms. It's a lot easier to learn how to read for
real. One thing in favor of tab is the occasional chord voicing that needs to be played in a specific place.

5) As a professional player is there any one area of your playing that you concentrated on as a student that there is never any call for?
No, everything contributes to a more professional understanding. Even if you don't play something for years, it's part of your vocabulary.

6) Is there a particular area of traditional jazz education that you have disagreed with and which you think should be avoided?
I think play along records are a little silly. I wouldn't say to be avoided but not taken too seriously as there is no interaction and you stop listening to the real players if you spend too much time with play along.
7) Is there a facet of jazz guitar education that you might be personally known for? In other words if a student came to you for musical inspiration, what might he or she get from you that they might not get from another source?
Probably chord and melody playing as I'm pretty well schooled in that area.

8) What musicians, books or educational material turned your musical world around as a developing artist?
I guess Johnny Smith, Clifford Brown, Bill Evans and many others. The one book I would pick is John Mehegan's "Jazz Improvisation" "Tonal and Rhythmic Principles" Book #1.

9) Is it dangerous to practice too much? If so what do you think happens?
If you practice the wrong things or are very tight when you practice. You can hurt your hands with too much tension. Patience is the key!

10) What advice would you give to a jazz guitar student looking to enter the music profession?
Be as experienced as possible and don't be so sure you know everything. Always room for more learning.

11) Where in your opinion is jazz guitar headed? Is there any new vocabulary to be found?
I don't know as jazz guitar has so many different areas now. There's always something or someone doing new things however.

12) What ambitions and goals do you have right now in your musical world?
Same as always and that's to play as good as possible and continue learning.

13) Any other comments?
Treat the instrument with care. Not just the guitar itself but the music. It's a glorious thing to be able to play and express yourself. It can be learned with care, patience, and understanding.

From Chris Standring