Judy's Guitar Corner

This page has recordings I have made of the Jazz tunes I am learning.

Lots to learn here: guitar technique, jazz theory, recording techniques and so much more. Perfection is something we can hope for, but isn't to be found here.

And yet, we persist...

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My Recordings

I've made these recordings on an iPad using primarily Garageband, but some other software as well.

Each has a backing track, and then me comping guitar, playing the melodies (heads) and improvising.


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    Nov. 2020 -- Antonio Jobim
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    When Sunny Gets Blue

    Nov. 2020 -- Marvin Fisher
    Aebersold Play Along backing track
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    Body and Soul

    May 2020 -- Johnny Green
    Aebersold Play Along backing track
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    June. 2020 -- A. Jobim

Musical Bio

I've been playing music all my life, but it has been a long strange journey.

The first instrument I tried was alto sax - in a 4th grade school program. That went away before I could do much with it. By the time I hit 6th grade my brother got a trumpet on loan from an uncle. He had no interest in it, so I snapped it up and went looking for help. I got a few bandroom lessons and then got put into the concert band.

Trumpet was not considered an acceptable instrument for a young lady at that time, but I stuck to it all through high school, into college and graduate school. I played in concert bands (HS and Georgetown Univ.), the HS marching band, the Georgetown Symphony (director: Louis Fantasia) and GU pep band. When i went to grad school and the Univ. of Illinois, I played trumpet in various jazz band. I never learned to improvise on trumpet, but did fine as a member of the big band section.

Guitar and balalaika came into my life in high school. I taught myself enough to play chords on the guitar and sing along. The balalaika went along with my interest in Slavic Languages. At Georgetown I was studying Russian and signing in the Russian choir and playing balalaika to accompany the Georgetown Russian Dance group.

At the University of Illinois I started in the Slavics Department earning a Master's degree in Slavic Linguistics and doing another couple years towards a Ph.D.

The Univ. of Illinois had a Russian Folk Orchestra at that time directed by John Garvey. I played Prima Balalaika in that orchestra. At the same time I sang in the Russian Choir there and performed in Slava - a Balkan music (Jugoslav/ Bulgarian primarily) and dance group. In Slava I played rhythm guitar, did some of the lead vocals and for a couple years directed.

I finished at Illinois by getting a Master's degree and Ph.D. in Computer Science (another long story).

While I worked at Bell Labs in New Jersey, I still puttered around with my guitar and played trumpet from time to time when the opportunity arose, but the music eventually went dormant.

By 2010 or so I had moved to Virginia with my husband (Mike O'Dell) and had a teenage son who was interested in learning guitar. I found lessons for him, but faced with the prospect of sitting with the moms for a half hour waiting through lessons, I bought myself a used Fender Stratocaster (never had an ELECTRIC guitar!) and signed up for lessons at the same time.

My first guitar teacher was Doc Reed, a student of Danny Gatton and a master of country music and "redneck jazz". Doc was a great teacher for someone with the eclelctic musical background I had. He got me started improvising and on the road to doing much more. I also discovered that playing an electric guitar was very different from playing an acoustic one. The big ol' Takamine dreadnought I had had entirely defeated any attempt I made to learn barre chords. On an electric guitar they were easy to learn: I didn't have to have the grip of a gorilla to do them!

My next step on the road to playing Jazz came in 2017. I got brave and I got curious and I signed up for the Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshop in Louisville, KY. This was a revelation. I signed up for the Rhythm Section short course on the weekend before the main event. It was very fortunate that I did, because I knew NOTHING about comping. My first teacher there was Corey Christiansen and in 2 days (and with the patience of a saint) he got me up to speed. This was one of the most exciting musical experiences I ever had! And some one told me about a place in Northern Virginia where an amateur could play and learn more: Paul Pieper's Jazz Workshop in Falls Church.  I was back at the Aebersold Workshop in 2018 and 2019.  Sadly the 2020 edition was cancelled due to Covid-19. 

I signed up with The Jazz Workshop in August of 2017, and I've been playing with these folks ever since. The tunes posted here are ones that we have worked on in the workshop. I may add some things that I do with Vinny Roth - my current guitar teacher (sadly, Doc passed away a couple years ago). This is a work in progress.

BDAA conference orchestra 1981
1981 BDAA Concert at the U of I: Misha Sheinkman and John Garvey
Prima Balalaika
A Prima Balalaika
Jazz Workshop at the Epicure
The Jazz Workshop plays at the Epicure
Judy on Guitar
Judy on Guitar at the Epicure


Judy Grass