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Jazz Guitar Chord Solos – Robert Yelin Made It His Career!
Born September 25, 1944 in Yonkers, NY, Robert Yelling moved with his family to New Rochelle, NY when he was 9 years old. He became interested in the guitar at the age of 15 after listening to some recordings by rock guitarists Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley. Robert began taking guitar lessons from a local instructor, Gus DeGazio, who played Johnny Smith’s famous record “Moonlight in Vermont” for him ). From then on, he knew this was the type of music he wanted to play!
Yelin continued his guitar studies at DeGazio, but is now fully committed to jazz. It was at this time that Robert began to collect extensively the recordings of all the famous jazz guitarists. He studied guitar technique and harmony for three years with Augie Lamont, and by watching leading jazz guitarists of the day, including Kenny Burrell, Jim Hall Played with Chuck Wayne at jazz clubs in New York City and improved his understanding of jazz guitar.
When Robert Yelin was 18, he was playing jazz guitar solos in restaurants, and at 20, he decided to make music a career. Over the next 15 years, Yelin performed at many major New York jazz venues, such as The Village Gate and Sweet Basil’s. He combined that career with a day job at Yelling’s family clothing manufacturing company. He is also a prolific guitar arranger and writer. From 1968 to 1982, he wrote more than 30 articles for Guitar Player Magazine, as well as Downbeat and Cadence magazines. Beginning in 1982, Robert became a professor at the University of Colorado, where he taught the history of jazz and worked with the jazz guitar ensemble there.
It was also the same year that Robert Yelling was diagnosed with diabetes and muscular dystrophy. Physical problems from these illnesses ended his jazz guitar playing career. Thanks to excellent medical treatment and personal self-discipline, Ye Lin was able to start playing again in 1996. Robert Yelling is a unique figure in the world of jazz guitar. In addition to being a gifted performer, he owns one of the largest collections of jazz guitar audio and video recordings in the world. His video collection has actually become an excellent reference source for academics and jazz guitar enthusiasts alike.
When I was about 35 years old, I had the good fortune to spend a relaxing afternoon at Robert Yelling’s home in Littleton, Colorado. He played some mesmerizing jazz guitar chord solos for me on a gorgeous Gibson Kalamazoo Award model archtop he owned. I immediately understood why Robert is described as a “guitar chordologist” in jazz guitar circles! He has a fair amount of jazz guitar chords under his fingers, to say the least. For my part, I played him some Bach pieces on my Manuel Contreras classical guitar and he really enjoyed listening to them!
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