One Guitar Players Long Saga To Finally Learn All Of

Antonio Carlos Jobim's Beautiful Tune

Back around 1962, I tuned in Charlie Byrd playing on PBS, WNET Channel 13 in New York, doing the newest sound going around, the Bossa Nova. ( new beat) I sat mesmerized in my room in front of my 1952 17" B&W Halicrafters TV set, that was now doubling as my electric guitar amp, (when my brother wasn't watching Rocky & Bullwinkle on it ) as Charlie played several great Brazilian tunes, Meditation, Girl From Ipanema and Desafinado all by composer Antonio Carlos Jobim. I said to myself , boy I'd like to learn to play some of that stuff someday.

Next time I encountered the Bossa Nova head on, was a few months down the road. I was at a custom and hot rod car show being held at the old Madison Square Garden over on 8th Ave NYC. On stage for our listening and dancing enjoyment was the great eastern Long Island band known as The Kingsmen aka Sonny Stiles and The Kingsmen. Besides great soul tunes that Sonny could sing like I Who Have Nothing. I got to hear them do Desafinado, and my eyes were glued to their guitarist Nat Marchiano, as he played all those great dissonant chords up and down the neck of his black Gretsch Duo Jet, while saxman Lou Graves, played the melody on his sax just as good as Getz did in my opinion.

Then in 1964, I happened to overhear a guitar teacher through the studio door at Irv's music store in Patchogue. His name was Gary (his last name escapes me) and he was playing some great standard jazz chord and melody stuff, while waiting for his next student to show up. When he emerged for air from the tiny cubicle, I struck up a brief conversation with him and asked him about taking lessons. It turns out that he was the guitarist for Freddy (Palisades Park) Cannon (not that counts for much in what I was looking for). But Uncle Sam was breathing down his neck (and I don't mean guitar neck ) and he didn't know how much longer he would be around town. Well I got one lesson from him ( he came to my house in Mastic Beach ) and we had us a fine time, It was only supposed to be a half hour, but Gary stayed for almost two hours. ( I figured he must of been enjoying himself, I know I sure was ) At my request he was teaching me Desafinado. I was having lots of problems with making the change to a G m +13 chord, that seemed to twist my fingers into places they had never been before. I was really looking forward to our next lesson, when he called and said he had to report for basic training right away.

There were other occasions I could have put in the time and learned the tune, but for some reason it just slipped through the cracks. I did teach my self Meditation back in the early 1980s, and that was probably because I had a master himself the late great Charlie Byrd and his trio perform it right in front of me. They played at our Clearwater Music Hall. Anne & I had a super time that evening in March of 1982, as I'm sure everyone else who was there that Sunday night.


Well time marches on, or in my case it goes sailing by, and now its 2011. This guy Vince Quinn walks into my pal Fred Koller's Rhino book store here in Nashville, where lots of guitarists seem to congregate. Probably cause Fred has an assortment of guitars hanging there just waiting to be jammed with. Turns out Vince knows Brazilian guitar inside and out and is a real nice guy to boot. I was about to ask him to show me some Bossa stuff and for some reason he becomes as scarce as hens teeth. Last I heard, he had car problems and he lives way cross town....excuses... excuses Ken.

So now its February 2013 and I start thinking about Gary the guitar teacher, and wondering how he made out with the Army ( Vietnam was just starting to get hot) and our one lesson of Desa FINITO. Don't you know I, get in touch with Freddy Cannon, asking him if he remembers Gary's last name? Freddy doesn't , not that it would of mattered that much, but you never know, you know.

I go on the internet and I run across a video of the great Joao Gilberto playing Desafinado in concert about 1962 and get all fired up again. JOAO IS INCREDIBLE (the King of Kool ) From there, I come across a very personable Brazilian guitarist named Rafael Bazano Farofa, who has a bunch of vids on You tube, where he teaches a bunch of stuff including DESAFINADO . Rafeal doesn't speak a word of English, (at least on the internet) but that doesn't stop me. Music is a universal language, and besides that he names and diagrams all the chords to it. And MAN ARE THERE A LOT . Most average pop songs may have between 3 to 7 or 8 chords to them. Take a guess how many changes you will make at just one pass through Desafinado ? Ten... Twenty .... HAH theres that many in three bars of it. There are SIXTY CHORD changes in it. That could explain why I procrastinated all these years. Thank You Rafeal !!!!

I have been working on it now for a few weeks and today ( March 1st ) I turned on my recorder and laid down the 60 plus changes on my Alvarez classical guitar, and then played the melody on my pal Jim Moran's Santa Cruz steel string for some contrast, while my Yamaha keyboard supplied a touch of bossa beat. I'm still working on the combined chord and melody version. That calls for many different voicings in order to incoroporate the melody that Jobim deliberately and ingeniously rubs up against the accompaniment to create that Slightly Out Of Tune sound . The title Desafinado, which is Portugese, means just that. Jobim's lyric further supports it with lines like Love Is Like A Melody, Slightly Out Of Tune. Talk about writing what you know!



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