[Creative Fridays] #29: Sean McGowan


Welcome to the 29th instalment of Creative Fridays! This time we have an amazing fingerstyle jazz guitarist, Sean McGowan sharing his experience and insights. I really enjoyed Sean’s responses to the questions and I hope you will too.

I first encountered Sean’s work from Acoustic Guitar magazine and later on via his videos that were featured on truefire.com. His graceful playing, elegant style and fluid movements inspired me to learn more about his work. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to review his book, The Acoustic Jazz Guitarist and also enjoy more and more of his music via his updates on Facebook. I am deeply honoured that he has graciously agreed to be part of this series!

Let’s learn more about Sean:

Sean McGowan is a fingerstyle jazz guitarist who combines many diverse musical influences with unconventional techniques to create a broad palette of textures within his compositions and arrangements for solo guitar. His first recording River Coffee won the Best Independent Release of the Year Award (2002) from Acoustic Guitar magazine and music from the recording has been published in Japan’s Acoustic Guitar magazine and Mel Bay’s Master Anthology of Fingerstyle Guitar, Vol. 3 (2005). His subsequent recordings Indigo (2008) and Sphere: the Music of Thelonious Monk (2011) offer compelling portraits of classic jazz standards performed on solo electric archtop guitar. Sphere was named one of Acoustic Guitar magazine’s “Essential Albums of 2011”, and Sean was recently featured on the cover of Fingerstyle 360 magazine (Summer 2012). His most recent solo guitar recordings include Thanksgiving & Christmas Tidings (2014) a collection of seasonal hymns and carols arranged for acoustic guitar, and My Fair Lady (2015) a collection of songs from Lerner & Loewe’s masterpiece.

As a soloist, Sean has performed at several festivals including the Novi Sad International Jazz Festival in Serbia, the Healdsburg Guitar Festival in Napa Valley, Copper Mountain Guitar Town, the Newport Guitar Festival, and the Chet Atkins CAAS Convention. He has also collaborated with several dance and improv companies, as well as with jazz and acoustic musicians throughout the Rocky Mountain region.

Sean is an avid arts educator and currently serves as an Associate Professor of Music and the Guitar Program Director at the University of Colorado Denver. He earned a DMA in Guitar Performance from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and has conducted workshops at colleges throughout the country. Sean is a strong advocate for injury prevention and health education for musicians, and his workshops incorporate a holistic approach to playing. He is also a contributing editor and educational advisor for Acoustic Guitar magazine. He is the author of the String Letter book/DVD instructional projects The Acoustic Jazz Guitarist, Fingerstyle Jazz Guitar Essentials and Holiday Songs for Fingerstyle Guitar, as well as Fingerstyle Jazz Guitar Survival Guide and Walking Bass & Comping for Jazz Guitar, both available at TrueFire.com.

And let’s get into the interview:

1. What’s your latest project?
I’ve been focusing a lot of energy in the past year or so on educational materials and products to help guitarists of all levels and experience improve various facets of their playing, musicianship, and overall enjoyment of music. I have a brand new book out titled, The Acoustic Jazz Guitarist, that is essentially an applied jazz guitar method book that covers the fundamentals as well as offering new perspectives and concepts for seasoned guitarists: https://store.acousticguitar.com/products/the-acoustic-jazz-guitarist

I’ve also produced four DVDs with True Fire that cover different aspects of modern fingerstyle jazz guitar, comping, and how to incorporate various pentatonic scales in classic and modern jazz settings to create new sounds: https://truefire.com/search/?q=sean

I’m currently working on preparing and composing material for one or two recording projects. I’ll probably do another solo guitar record next year, and I’d really like to do a trio recording. I just finished an organ trio residency at a club here in Denver, and it was a ton of fun!

 

 

2. What inspires your music?
This is a great question, and one that probably has several malleable answers! I guess it depends on what I’m working on. I think first and foremost, listening to music – and experiencing it live – is a constant source of inspiration. Sometimes I think we all forget that active listening is an important part of practicing and musical development. It’s nice to be able to dedicate some time each day to really listen. Sometimes, if I’m doing a lot of driving, I’ll listen to other things such as podcasts or novels, just to kind of take a break from listening to too much. Certainly, living in Colorado is beautiful, and the beauty of the natural world is incredibly deep and inspiring. For me, inspiration comes from a place of positivity and feeling good. To that end, I try to avoid the negative aspects of news, politics, social media, etc. Reading books and checking out movies can also be very inspiring.

 


3. What’s your 5 Desert Island Albums?
This is a tough one!! But if pressed…I never get tired of the following:

Alex de Grassi – Deep at Night


Michael Hedges – Aerial Boundaries

Tuck & Patti – Tears of Joy

Wes Montgomery – A Dynamic New Sound in Jazz

Jesse van Ruller – Here and There

4. Who’s one artist/musician that you love but most people probably don’t know of?
I’m going to cheat and name two! Mostly because you and I have a shared affinity for both jazz and acoustic fingerstyle guitarists. David Qualey is a beautiful fingerstyle guitarist and composer who was part of the original Windham Hill stable of guitarists, and his music is truly poetic: http://www.david-qualey.com

Also, Maarten van der Grinten, who is one of my favorite contemporary jazz guitarists & educators. He directs the Guitar Program at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam, and I’m sure a lot more well-known in Europe than in the States. His soloing and comping sensibilities are truly unique, and he has created really inventive music with various jazz ensembles and even string quartets. His duo record with Jesse van Ruller is my favorite guitar duo record of all time:

https://www.conservatoriumvanamsterdam.nl/en/study/studying-at-the-cva/faculty/jazz/maarten-van-der-grinten/

5. What’s an advice you wish someone told you when you started in the arts?
Staying positive and focusing on your own path are very, very important things to remember, though not always easy. In other words, try not to worry about your musical progress, career, etc. in terms of comparing your trajectory and development with others. I find my students really struggle with this in the era of YouTube, social media, etc. Follow your instincts and musical intuition/vision. That will lead you to discover something really special that only you can offer, whether in the form of compositions, performances, teaching, recording – it’s different for everyone.

From a pragmatic standpoint, do your best to stay out of debt. Search thoroughly for grant opportunities where you live, and learn how to write grants and network beyond ‘traditional’ methods. Try to assess all of your musical and non-musical skills. There’s a great book called The Savvy Musician that highlights many of these concepts and exercises, and really focuses on entrepreneurial thinking and mindsets.

 

 

6. As a jazz guitarist, composer and educator, what has been your biggest challenge in your work? How did you overcome it?
I think as an independent musician in any style or genre, it’s always a challenge to get your music heard, develop opportunities outside of where you live, and ultimately finding your audience and/or fan base, without feeling like you’re compromising your musical integrity. I’m still working on it, and I think it’s important to find the right exposure that is meaningful. By that I mean, I’m not so sure if having a ton of social media followers pays off and will have a meaningful effect on your career. Perhaps in some cases it does. But, for example, many of my students deal with the concept of potential fans expecting everything – recordings, tabs, arrangements, lessons – for free. Obviously, that’s not a sustainable model, not for anyone. I think this is a big issue, right now, that all of us are trying to figure out.

I think fundraising platforms such as Kickstarter are fantastic. I think of it as pre-sales for a recording project, and it can really connect you with your audience in exciting and personal ways, and allow you all the artistic freedom that maybe a label wouldn’t. Check out Amanda Palmer’s TED talk video on the Art of Asking:

We all know the industry is constantly changing, and part of our charge as artists is figuring out how to change with it, but in a reasonable, sustainable, and hopefully enjoyable way!

7. How do we reach you?
Website: http://seanmcgowanguitar.com
Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/seanmcgowanguitar/?ref=bookmarks
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/seanmcgowanguitar/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjLfH0_B8z9h8ByeJ1EOj1g
CD Baby: https://store.cdbaby.com/Artist/SeanMcGowan

Thank you for your time Sean!

Thank you for reading this week’s instalment of #AzCreativeFridays. Please do check out the past interviews (29 so far, including this one) and come back for the next one with film music composer Rendra Zawawi. Stay tuned! 🙂

Read the recent [Creative Fridays] interview:
[Creative Fridays] #14 : Taylor Roberts
7-String Solo Guitarist

[Creative Fridays] #15: Dylan Lee
Cellist

[Creative Fridays] #16: Scott Murphy
Saxophonist and Composer

[Creative Fridays] #17: Nisa Addina
Violinist

[Creative Fridays] #18: Jake Shimabukuro
Ukulele Virtuoso

[Creative Fridays] #19: Jared Sims
Jazz Saxophonist

[Creative Fridays] #20: Gabriel Lynch
Singer-Songwriter

[Creative Fridays] #21: Rizal Tony
Jazz Guitarist and Educator

[Creative Fridays] #22: Raja Farouk
Multi-Instrumentalist and Sessionist

[Creative Fridays] #23: Kho Chia Wen Sharon
Sound Designer

[Creative Fridays] #24: Josh Maxey
Jazz Guitarist & Educator

[Creative Fridays] #25: Toru Watanabe
Jazz Drummer

[Creative Fridays] #26: Jordan Klemons
Jazz Guitarist & Music Educator

[Creative Fridays] #27: Armen Movsesyan
Jazz Guitarist & Music Educator

[Creative Fridays] #28: Gwen Guo
Sound Designer

[Creative Fridays] #29: Sean McGowan
Jazz Guitarist

[Creative Fridays] #30: Rendra Zawawi
Film Music Composer

[About Creative Fridays]

The original Creative Fridays was an interview series I did back in 2012. Published on my website, www.azsamad.com, it explored the musical influences of various musicians from all over the world. Relaunching this now in 2018, there are some cool add-ons. For a super obvious one, we’ve now added Spotify and YouTube links whenever possible for the Desert Island Albums list.

This to me is amazing because you can actually immediately listen to the recommended albums. Coming from a generation that used to make trips to the record store to check out new music, it still boggles my mind that we can immediately listen to the records that is recommended here. Imagine if you listened to the 5 suggested albums – how much could you learn from it?

Also, in addition to the original questions from the series, I’ve added a new question into the mix asking about the biggest challenge each individual has faced in their work. I’ve found that we all can benefit by learning from one another. Let’s share and grow together!

If you know a musician who you think could be a good fit to be featured in Creative Fridays, please contact me with your ideas. The focus is in diversity for music, cultural background, geography, age and experience. It doesn’t matter where you are around the world, if you’re a creative making interesting music on an interesting journey and have something to share, please reach out to me. Please do note, due to this being a weekly series, the interview may be featured later in the year depending scheduling.

Thank you! 🙂

[The Original Series]
Season 1: Every week for 13 weeks, published from Feb 2012 to April 2012.

[Creative Fridays] #1  : Kevin Broken Scar
(Melbourne Singer-Songwriter/Sound Engineer)

[Creative Fridays] #2  : Deborah Crooks
(SF Bay Area Singer-Songwriter)

[Creative Fridays] #3  : Dylan Kay
(UK/Auckland Jazz Guitarist)

[Creative Fridays] #4  : Azmyl Yunor
(Malaysian Singer-Songwriter/College Lecturer)

[Creative Fridays] #5  : Gustavo Assis-Brasil
(Boston Jazz Guitarist/Educator)

[Creative Fridays] #6  : TragiComedy
(Malaysian Singer-Songwriter)

[Creative Fridays] #7  : Candelaria
(Oakland Cumbia-Dub Band)

[Creative Fridays] #8  : Pete Teo
(Malaysian Singer-Songwriter/Filmmaker)

[Creative Fridays] #9  : Lori McKinney
(West Virginia Bandleader/Festival Organizer)

[Creative Fridays] #10: Helen Sherrah-Davies
(UK/Boston Violinist-Composer & Berklee faculty)

[Creative Fridays] #11: Adam Everett
(SF Bay Area Drummer-Composer)

[Creative Fridays] #12: Julian Chan
(Malaysian Jazz Saxophonist)

[Creative Fridays] #13: Sharon Chong
(Malaysian Keyboardist and Vocalist]

[More about Az Samad]

Become a patron on my Patreon page:
https://www.patreon.com/azsamad

Get my New Cover of Radiohead’s “Karma Police“ out now!
iTunes :
https://itunes.apple.com/my/album/karma-police-single/1305517964

Get my e-book “Jazz Improvisation Uncovered” here:
http://www.azsamad.com/book

Get my e-book “Jazz Guitar Licks and Etudes” here:
http://www.azsamad.com/book2

Get lesson packs here:
http://www.azsamad.com/lessonpacks

Spotify : (Follow me on spotify!)
https://open.spotify.com/artist/0un3T4wxL3rst2M05iVH0r

And for all my albums:
https://azsamad.bandcamp.com/

Follow Az Samad for latest updates :

Facebook :
https://www.facebook.com/azsamadmusic

Instagram :
http://www.instagram.com/azsamad

Soundcloud :
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Twitter:
https://www.twitter.com/azsamad

Join my newsletter to get more guitar playing tips & lessons!

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Book Review: Exercises & Etudes – An advanced method for the fingerstyle guitarist by Itamar Erez

I recently received a copy of this book by Vancouver-based guitarist and composer Itamar Erez. Intended for fingerstyle guitarists, the book contains 17 exercises in three categories: warm-up, scales and arpeggio & tremolo and 6 Etudes. A great book with clear text descriptions of each exercise, practice suggestions and also pro tips for the reader. I feel that the care and love that Itamar has put into each exercise makes this book a collection of very high quality, focused exercises designed to help you. This is important as I sometimes find other books with very generic (almost public domain exercises) without any additional input to make it special.

With Itamar’s work, the quality shines through each page. The book is printed on high quality paper that adds an even more exquisite experience to it. My favorite part of the book is how Itamar has made the exercises bite sized allowing me to work on specific aspects of my technique. The fact that the exercises are so focused allowed me to really get the most out of my practice time.

Pros:
 Great well designed exercises in one convenient collection!
Cons: None.
TLDR: If you need to work on your fingerstyle technique, this book will be very helpful to improve your skills.

Get your copy of the book here:
https://www.itamarerez.com/guitar-book

[Read more Reviews]

Review #31

Video Review: Badass Inside Picking by Ben Higgins

Review #30

Review #29

Video Review: Triste Masterclass by Randy Johnston

Review #28

Book Review: 21 Insights for 21st Century Creatives by Mark McGuinness

Review #27

Video Review: Simplifying Jazz Guitar by Randy Johnston

Review #26

Book Review: Triad Pairs – The First Step by Tony Greaves

Review #25

Book Review: Four Etudes for the Right Hand by Gyan Riley

Review #24

Book Review: Beyond Chord Melody by Martin Taylor MBE

Review #23

Book Review: Daniel Donato – The New Master Of The Telecaster: Pathways To Dynamic Solos

Review #22

Course Review: Understanding & Applying the Chromatic Scale by Frank Vignola

Review #21

Book Review: Movable Shapes – Concepts for Reharmonizing ii-V-I’s by Sheryl Bailey

Review #20

Video Review: Accompanying A Vocalist by David Cook

Review #19

Book Review: Developing Bebop Lines by Jeff Ellwood

Review #18

Book Review: The Acoustic Jazz Guitarist by Sean McGowan

Review #17

Video Review: Essential Percussive Guitar Riffs with Jon Gomm

Review #16

Video Review: Minor Line Concepts by Jay Umble

Review #15

Video Review: 8 Sets of Jazz Blues Changes by Randy Johnston

Review #14

Book Review: The Thesaurus of Scale Tone Chords by Alex Rogowski

Review #13

Video Review: Bebop Flow – Connecting Harmonic Concepts with the Family of 4 by Sheryl Bailey

Review #12

Book Review: Improvising Without Scales – The Intervallic Guitar System of Carl Verheyen

Review #11

Course Review: Liquid Fire Legato by Nick Layton

Review #10

Video Review: Dave Hill – Motif Development (Jazz Guitar Society)

Review #09

Book Review: A Guide to Developing a Chromatic Approach to Improvisation by Tony Greaves

Review #08

Course Review: Fundamentals of Picking by Fretboard Anatomy

Review #07

Book Review: Principles of Music by Bryan Baker

Review #06

Book Review: The Tao of Badass Guitar by Ben Higgins

Review #05

Book Review: Bach Scales by Jon De Lucia

Review #04

Book Review: Extended Scale Playing for Guitar by Joe Puma

Review #03

Book Review: Between the Voicings by Hristo Vitchev

Review #02

Book Review: Voicing Modes – A Chord Voicing Approach to Hearing and Practicing Modes by Noel Johnston

Review #01

Book Review: The Outside Sounds and Substitutions of Modern Saxophonists for Jazz Guitar by Kevin Miller

[Submissions for Review Consideration]

  • Are you an author who wrote a jazz, guitar or music book?
  • Have you created a DVD or an online video course or subscription based website?
  • Would you like me to review your book/course?

Please send me a message at azsamad2 at gmail.com with:

For courses: a link to the course/video/product + access info etc.
For books: a link to the book (Dropbox) or PDF attachment (if it’s small) for review consideration.

Depending on whether I dig the book/course, I’ll let you know if I do plan to review it!

I cannot guarantee a review for every submission & if I’m not too into it, I may opt not to review it. I mean, it’s better to get a good review that for me to write a bad review just because it’s not a match for the kind of stuff I dig right? :p

NOTE: All reviews reflect my honest personal opinion so be aware that I will point out both cool Pros and Cons that I see in the work. You dig? 🙂

Join my newsletter to get more guitar playing tips & lessons!

* indicates required


[Creative Fridays] #28: Gwen Guo

I first met Gwen Guo at LEVEL UP KL 2017. She was a speaker and conducted an awesome workshop on Game Audio Implementation with Falk Au Yeong. After talking & hanging out with the very cool game audio folks including her & Sharon from IMBA Interactive and the amazing soundtrec folks, I learned so much more about the audio implementation side of game audio. Very interesting stuff. Looking forward to catch up with everyone this year at LEVEL UP KL 2018.

Let’s hear more about Gwen from herself:

I’m one of 3 co-founders of Imba Interactive, a small Singapore-based studio that provides end-to-end audio solutions for video games and other media. Our goal at Imba is to contribute high quality audio to the evolving games industry in Asia, promote good game audio practices in development teams/cycles and educate game developers/students on the value of sound. We also actively promote mutual support, diversity and synergy within local game development communities.

Now let’s go into the interview!

1. What’s your latest project?
We’re working on a couple of really cool projects:
No Straight Roads by Metronomik! This made-in-Malaysia game is all about music without being a rhythm game. The team is led by Wan Hazmer, lead designer of FFXV and its music director is none other than Falk, sound engineer for FFXV! It’s a privilege to be working alongside such a diverse team of talents. For my team (Imba Interactive), we’re working on the sound design & assisting in the audio implementation using the audio middleware Wwise. Read more about it here: https://vulcanpost.com/640032/wan-hazmer-metronomik-malaysia-game/

We’re also working on Devotion by Red Candle Games. Their previous title Detention, a horror game based off Taiwanese culture and mythology, was a huge hit internationally. Our role is also to provide the sound design and implement audio using Wwise. While there is not a lot being revealed about the game at the moment, you can read up more about Devotion here: http://redcandlegames.com/devotion/ and breathe in the hype!

Last but not least, Imba Interactive is co-developing Oslo’s Big Day Out, a narrative puzzle adventure title with Rustbucket Interactive (also a Singapore-based studio) where an inquisitive baby polar bear gets lost and goes on a fairytale journey to find his way home. Needless to say, it’s going to be audio-heavy game and we’re also trying out roles fresh to us such as game design, bizdev and producing. It’s still at the very early stage – the journey is also going to be an epic one for us!

2. What inspires your music/sound?
I can’t really pinpoint what exactly inspires me – there’s too many! Nature definitely; recently watched this video of thin ice skating and the sound blew me away. Also, the sound of breaking off a piece of thin ice (~1 cm thickness) from a frozen lake, throwing it on the rest of the frozen surface and hearing it shatter as it slides across the distance.

So many games/movies/TV out there – I love it when the line between sound and music are cleverly blurred. For example, in the movie Hanna underground fight scene (https://youtu.be/QWN82OqAyts?t=1m24s), the loop of the escalator forms the backing of the music track, and throughout the track, everyday sounds like the subway train forms part of the track, extending to the walk-talkie and punching in rhythm. Subtle but stuff like that is pretty cathartic for me.

3. What’s your 5 Desert Island Albums?
The Flashbulb – Soundtrack To A Vacant Life

Chance Thomas – LOTRO OST

Floating Points – Elaenia

Gareth Coker – Ori and the Blind Forest OST

Lena Raine – Celeste OST

4. Who’s one artist/musician or in your case, sound designer that you love but most people probably don’t know of?
Again, there’s really too many to list! But there’s this OST which I’m surprised not many people talk about (maybe because it’s 5 years old but still..) – Remember Me OST by Olivier Deriviere (https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/remember-me-feat.-philharmonia/id655683287). The insane use of filters and glitch/hard gating with live orchestra recordings really blew me away.

5. What’s an advice you wish someone told you when you started in the arts?
I wish someone told me this in secondary school: Don’t trivialise language and math classes just because you’re in the arts!

6. As a audio professional in the video game industry, what has been your biggest challenge in your work? How did you overcome it?
Balancing being everything = anxiety. I speak as a founder of a game audio outsource studio, also applicable to freelancers. Being competent at our craft is merely the baseline (efficiency, experimentation, mastery of tech, creativity) – we need to be also well-versed in bizdev, project management, admin, finance, networking, on top of keeping up with tech/game/game audio trends. Being a collaborator/founder would also have added mental labour of being fair, kind, just, open and inclusive.

At some point, the creator’s guilt of not spending enough time practicing your craft because you have to do all these other essential things like networking/getting gigs will start to build up into a horrible chicken and egg situation. The added complexity is that I’ll feel guilty for having all these issues when I should just be creating and not worrying.

I have not managed to overcome this. HAHA. But a huge part of me coping is accepting that this is ongoing, part of who I am and it’s not something to “solve”. My co-founders have helped me immensely in forming a safe space for me to share if we spot early warning signs of a panic attack! Also, don’t feel ashamed to delegate work and acknowledge that many things are out of your control. Seek a therapist/counsellor if you feel it’s necessary (THIS IS V. IMPORTANT)

7. How do we reach you?
Website: www.imbainteractive.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gy.guo
Twitter: https://twitter.com/gy_gwen

Thank you for your time Gwen!

Thank you for reading this week’s instalment of #AzCreativeFridays. Please do check out the past interviews (28 so far, including this one) and come back next week for the next one with jazz guitarist Sean McGowan! Stay tuned! 🙂

Read the recent [Creative Fridays] interview:
[Creative Fridays] #14 : Taylor Roberts
7-String Solo Guitarist

[Creative Fridays] #15: Dylan Lee
Cellist

[Creative Fridays] #16: Scott Murphy
Saxophonist and Composer

[Creative Fridays] #17: Nisa Addina
Violinist

[Creative Fridays] #18: Jake Shimabukuro
Ukulele Virtuoso

[Creative Fridays] #19: Jared Sims
Jazz Saxophonist

[Creative Fridays] #20: Gabriel Lynch
Singer-Songwriter

[Creative Fridays] #21: Rizal Tony
Jazz Guitarist and Educator

[Creative Fridays] #22: Raja Farouk
Multi-Instrumentalist and Sessionist

[Creative Fridays] #23: Kho Chia Wen Sharon
Sound Designer

[Creative Fridays] #24: Josh Maxey
Jazz Guitarist & Educator

[Creative Fridays] #25: Toru Watanabe
Jazz Drummer

[Creative Fridays] #26: Jordan Klemons
Jazz Guitarist & Music Educator

[Creative Fridays] #27: Armen Movsesyan
Jazz Guitarist & Music Educator

[Creative Fridays] #28: Gwen Guo
Sound Designer

Next Friday:
[Creative Fridays] #29: Sean McGowan
Jazz Guitarist
Coming up October 26 2018

[About Creative Fridays]

The original Creative Fridays was an interview series I did back in 2012. Published on my website, www.azsamad.com, it explored the musical influences of various musicians from all over the world. Relaunching this now in 2018, there are some cool add-ons. For a super obvious one, we’ve now added Spotify and YouTube links whenever possible for the Desert Island Albums list.

This to me is amazing because you can actually immediately listen to the recommended albums. Coming from a generation that used to make trips to the record store to check out new music, it still boggles my mind that we can immediately listen to the records that is recommended here. Imagine if you listened to the 5 suggested albums – how much could you learn from it?

Also, in addition to the original questions from the series, I’ve added a new question into the mix asking about the biggest challenge each individual has faced in their work. I’ve found that we all can benefit by learning from one another. Let’s share and grow together!

If you know a musician who you think could be a good fit to be featured in Creative Fridays, please contact me with your ideas. The focus is in diversity for music, cultural background, geography, age and experience. It doesn’t matter where you are around the world, if you’re a creative making interesting music on an interesting journey and have something to share, please reach out to me. Please do note, due to this being a weekly series, the interview may be featured later in the year depending scheduling.

Thank you! 🙂

[The Original Series]
Season 1: Every week for 13 weeks, published from Feb 2012 to April 2012.

[Creative Fridays] #1  : Kevin Broken Scar
(Melbourne Singer-Songwriter/Sound Engineer)

[Creative Fridays] #2  : Deborah Crooks
(SF Bay Area Singer-Songwriter)

[Creative Fridays] #3  : Dylan Kay
(UK/Auckland Jazz Guitarist)

[Creative Fridays] #4  : Azmyl Yunor
(Malaysian Singer-Songwriter/College Lecturer)

[Creative Fridays] #5  : Gustavo Assis-Brasil
(Boston Jazz Guitarist/Educator)

[Creative Fridays] #6  : TragiComedy
(Malaysian Singer-Songwriter)

[Creative Fridays] #7  : Candelaria
(Oakland Cumbia-Dub Band)

[Creative Fridays] #8  : Pete Teo
(Malaysian Singer-Songwriter/Filmmaker)

[Creative Fridays] #9  : Lori McKinney
(West Virginia Bandleader/Festival Organizer)

[Creative Fridays] #10: Helen Sherrah-Davies
(UK/Boston Violinist-Composer & Berklee faculty)

[Creative Fridays] #11: Adam Everett
(SF Bay Area Drummer-Composer)

[Creative Fridays] #12: Julian Chan
(Malaysian Jazz Saxophonist)

[Creative Fridays] #13: Sharon Chong
(Malaysian Keyboardist and Vocalist]

[More about Az Samad]

Become a patron on my Patreon page:
https://www.patreon.com/azsamad

Get my New Cover of Radiohead’s “Karma Police“ out now!
iTunes :
https://itunes.apple.com/my/album/karma-police-single/1305517964

Get my e-book “Jazz Improvisation Uncovered” here:
http://www.azsamad.com/book

Get my e-book “Jazz Guitar Licks and Etudes” here:
http://www.azsamad.com/book2

Get lesson packs here:
http://www.azsamad.com/lessonpacks

Spotify : (Follow me on spotify!)
https://open.spotify.com/artist/0un3T4wxL3rst2M05iVH0r

And for all my albums:
https://azsamad.bandcamp.com/

Follow Az Samad for latest updates :

Facebook :
https://www.facebook.com/azsamadmusic

Instagram :
http://www.instagram.com/azsamad

Soundcloud :
https://www.soundcloud.com/azsamad

Twitter:
https://www.twitter.com/azsamad

Join my newsletter to get more guitar playing tips & lessons!

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[Creative Fridays] #27: Armen Movsesyan

The first time I watched a video of Armen on Facebook, I was blown away. This was back in 2016 and his picking technique and sheer fluidity blew my mind. Soon thereafter, I bought one of his etude transcriptions and then took a Skype guitar lesson with him. Since then, I’ve been following his work closely and have been studying his exercises, transcriptions and work. He has released transcriptions, video lessons on DC Music School, TAGA and Jazz Guitar Society. I’ve also been fascinated with his explorations in the cryptocurrency world,  his viral video friendly content translating vocal speech excerpts onto the guitar and most recently his mentorship program.

I kinda dread making that 5 hour drive from Houston to Denton. But I was still feeling gracious and made a quick lesson before I drive. Here's a neat way to navigate a basic ii – V progression with only minor and major tonalities :)🎸

Posted by Armen Movsesyan on Friday, August 10, 2018

Feeling ridiculously silly/bored today..So here's my Power Rangers cover 😂🎸Edit: Got to work on my tapping though, so that's good 😛

Posted by Armen Movsesyan on Saturday, July 28, 2018

Let’s learn more about Armen!

Armen-Gurgen Movsesyan was born in Sochi, Russia after his mother and father emigrated from Georgia during a war between Abkhazia. Raised in a musical Armenian family, Movsesyan was exposed at an early age to traditional folk music. Movsesyan decided to pick up the guitar later in his teens after over 10 years of classical piano education. Watching his father sing older popular standards from around the globe while playing the guitar inspired Movsesyan to start writing songs at 15. Later at the University of Southern California, Movsesyan got into jazz and hasn’t looked back. The music that Movsesyan writes now is a combination of jazz, metal and other fusion styles. Movsesyan graduated from the University of North Texas in 2018 and hopes to continue to make make awesome music.

And now to the interview:

1.What’s your latest project?
I’m planning on remastering and rereleasing my first EP from 2015, “Ararat.” This self-titled album is an example of my goal to combine traditional Armenian folk music with jazz elements.  Once that is done, my goal is to tour the music with an excellent band of Armenian musicians. Armenia just had the world’s first ever peaceful political revolution, and I feel like it’s time for my country to grow. I want to be part of that growth and evolution!

2. What inspires your music?
People inspire me. Every day I am awed by human feats and our thirst for challenges and the unknown. It can be easy to watch a typical news story and feel like there’s nothing but fear and evil, but the truth is, if you look past the noise, there is mostly beauty and magic and humanity.

 

3. What’s your 5 Desert Island Albums?
This is a tough one. Here are some that never get old to me.

  1. Peter Bernstein – Monk
  2. Radiohead – Kid A
  3. Queen – Greatest Hits
  4. Django Reinhardt et Ses Rythmes
  5. Herbie Hancock – Maiden Voyage

     

4. Who’s one artist/musician that you love but most people probably don’t know of?

Joe Cohn is an incredible jazz guitarist that is relatively unknown compared to some others. His work with Harry Allen is extraordinary, extremely melodic, and super swinging!

 

5. What’s an advice you wish someone told you when you started in the arts?
I wish someone had told me to just be patient and enjoy myself a little more. Would have saved me a lot of stress.

6. As a jazz guitarist, composer and educator, what has been your biggest challenge in your work? How did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge has been inspiring people to play and enjoy music the way I do. Explaining concepts is the easy part, truly inspiring your student to work hard and love it all at the same time is the tough part, but also most rewarding.

 

7. How do we reach you?
Here’s a few ways you can reach me

  1. https://www.instagram.com/armovmusic/
  2. http://youtube.com/armov
  3. http://armenmovsesyan.com
  4. https://www.facebook.com/Armen.Gurgen.Movsesyan

Thank you for your time Armen!

Thank you for reading this week’s instalment of #AzCreativeFridays. Please do check out the past interviews (27 so far, including this one) and come back next week for the next one with Sound Designer Gwen Guo! Stay tuned! 🙂

Read the recent [Creative Fridays] interview:
[Creative Fridays] #14 : Taylor Roberts
7-String Solo Guitarist

[Creative Fridays] #15: Dylan Lee
Cellist

[Creative Fridays] #16: Scott Murphy
Saxophonist and Composer

[Creative Fridays] #17: Nisa Addina
Violinist

[Creative Fridays] #18: Jake Shimabukuro
Ukulele Virtuoso

[Creative Fridays] #19: Jared Sims
Jazz Saxophonist

[Creative Fridays] #20: Gabriel Lynch
Singer-Songwriter

[Creative Fridays] #21: Rizal Tony
Jazz Guitarist and Educator

[Creative Fridays] #22: Raja Farouk
Multi-Instrumentalist and Sessionist

[Creative Fridays] #23: Kho Chia Wen Sharon
Sound Designer

[Creative Fridays] #24: Josh Maxey
Jazz Guitarist & Educator

[Creative Fridays] #25: Toru Watanabe
Jazz Drummer

[Creative Fridays] #26: Jordan Klemons
Jazz Guitarist & Music Educator

[Creative Fridays] #27: Armen Movsesyan
Jazz Guitarist & Music Educator

Next Friday:
[Creative Fridays] #28: Gwen Guo
Sound Designer
Coming up October 19 2018

[About Creative Fridays]

The original Creative Fridays was an interview series I did back in 2012. Published on my website, www.azsamad.com, it explored the musical influences of various musicians from all over the world. Relaunching this now in 2018, there are some cool add-ons. For a super obvious one, we’ve now added Spotify and YouTube links whenever possible for the Desert Island Albums list.

This to me is amazing because you can actually immediately listen to the recommended albums. Coming from a generation that used to make trips to the record store to check out new music, it still boggles my mind that we can immediately listen to the records that is recommended here. Imagine if you listened to the 5 suggested albums – how much could you learn from it?

Also, in addition to the original questions from the series, I’ve added a new question into the mix asking about the biggest challenge each individual has faced in their work. I’ve found that we all can benefit by learning from one another. Let’s share and grow together!

If you know a musician who you think could be a good fit to be featured in Creative Fridays, please contact me with your ideas. The focus is in diversity for music, cultural background, geography, age and experience. It doesn’t matter where you are around the world, if you’re a creative making interesting music on an interesting journey and have something to share, please reach out to me. Please do note, due to this being a weekly series, the interview may be featured later in the year depending scheduling.

Thank you! 🙂

[The Original Series]
Season 1: Every week for 13 weeks, published from Feb 2012 to April 2012.

[Creative Fridays] #1  : Kevin Broken Scar
(Melbourne Singer-Songwriter/Sound Engineer)

[Creative Fridays] #2  : Deborah Crooks
(SF Bay Area Singer-Songwriter)

[Creative Fridays] #3  : Dylan Kay
(UK/Auckland Jazz Guitarist)

[Creative Fridays] #4  : Azmyl Yunor
(Malaysian Singer-Songwriter/College Lecturer)

[Creative Fridays] #5  : Gustavo Assis-Brasil
(Boston Jazz Guitarist/Educator)

[Creative Fridays] #6  : TragiComedy
(Malaysian Singer-Songwriter)

[Creative Fridays] #7  : Candelaria
(Oakland Cumbia-Dub Band)

[Creative Fridays] #8  : Pete Teo
(Malaysian Singer-Songwriter/Filmmaker)

[Creative Fridays] #9  : Lori McKinney
(West Virginia Bandleader/Festival Organizer)

[Creative Fridays] #10: Helen Sherrah-Davies
(UK/Boston Violinist-Composer & Berklee faculty)

[Creative Fridays] #11: Adam Everett
(SF Bay Area Drummer-Composer)

[Creative Fridays] #12: Julian Chan
(Malaysian Jazz Saxophonist)

[Creative Fridays] #13: Sharon Chong
(Malaysian Keyboardist and Vocalist]

[More about Az Samad]

Become a patron on my Patreon page:
https://www.patreon.com/azsamad

Get my New Cover of Radiohead’s “Karma Police“ out now!
iTunes :
https://itunes.apple.com/my/album/karma-police-single/1305517964

Get my e-book “Jazz Improvisation Uncovered” here:
http://www.azsamad.com/book

Get my e-book “Jazz Guitar Licks and Etudes” here:
http://www.azsamad.com/book2

Get lesson packs here:
http://www.azsamad.com/lessonpacks

Spotify : (Follow me on spotify!)
https://open.spotify.com/artist/0un3T4wxL3rst2M05iVH0r

And for all my albums:
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[Creative Fridays] #26: Jordan Klemons

On June 21 2016, I sent an e-mail to Jordan Klemons asking him advice on 4 things:

1) playing over changes smoothly flowingly with longer lines (2-5 bars of 8th notes at medium tempo) – clearly making the changes and sounding good, idiomatic
2) playing at up tempo swing or bop (180-220 and beyond) and sounding good
3) developing a strong improvisational jazz vocabulary

4) playing in time, swinging very strongly

I responded to his e-mail where he said:

Hit reply to this email and tell me, what would you like to learn? What are you struggling with? What questions would you have wanted to ask the masters?

In reply to my e-mail, he sent me a very cool blues etude and he told me he was inspired by old website, A Chord A Day where I shared pretty chord voicings. Since then, he’s been extremely kind to mention how that website inspired him to explore his own teaching and outreach online. We’re two people, him in New York City and at point, I was in Berkeley, California. Jordan also shared some great advice and thoughts he had on the subject. He also mentioned he was working on two books at that point too.

I’m a fan of Jordan’s immense dedication, artistry, honesty to himself and the craft and his sheer freaking hard work. This is a guy that you simply must follow if you dig jazz guitar & jazz guitar education. I personally wish I can make more time to check out his FB group and the great work he does there. Very, very inspiring stuff.

So let’s learn more about Jordan:

Lover of all things beautiful. Explorer of sound and meaning. Composer, soon-to-again-be performer, and avid music educator. Adjunct instructor and guest lecturer, international masterclass teacher and one-on-one lesson provider, and organizer of an amazing online study group. Student of life, beauty, and self… and John Scofield, Peter Bernstein, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Brad Shepik, and Stefon Harris as well.

And now to the interview:

1.What’s your latest project? 

My latest project, in reality, is an ongoing process of relearning the instrument. After moving to NYC and graduating from a masters program, I suffered some pretty intense medical issues that forced me to step away from the instrument for a couple years. I’m currently reacquainting myself with music and the guitar and putting a lot of focus on relearning the repertoire. I’m also using this experience as an excuse to begin focusing more on education, refining a solid practice method for myself and to offer to others through my online Melodic Triads Study Group that I run through my website https://www.NYCJazzGuitarMasterclasses.com

Besides that, my last real musical project was an album titled This City. It’s a concept album that can be listened to simply as music, but in its entirety is meant to be a non-verbal telling of the hero’s journey. Every track is a chapter of the story of “the hero” being called to action, leaving home, coming upon danger, engaging in different ways with the world around him. I hired a visual artist to help me create a unique piece of surrealistic artwork that accompanies each track to help bring the instrumental music to life by offering a visual component to that chapter. It’s almost like a story book with pictures, but instead of words it’s told with music.

I fortunately finished writing and recording the music before I got sick. However much of the album itself was created while I was sick. I couldn’t play music, so working on the other parts of it became a therapy for me. I would take pictures of my favorite parts of NYC on my way to and from the hospital and send them to my visual artist. And then he would take those photos, drop them into photoshop, and create these amazing surrealist collages to help pull the listener into a dream-like world with the hero.

You can check it out at https://jordanklemons.bandcamp.com

2. What inspires your music?

Everything. Life. Joy. Heartbreak. Suffering. Experiences. Falling in love. Having it ripped apart. Walking near rivers or in the woods. Looking at paintings in museums. The innate urge to offer something to the world and make it a more beautiful place. Getting sick and experiencing some very close calls at the edge of the cliff of my life and somehow finding my way back from there was huge. Perspective is an amazing motivator. Sometimes other music, but that’s less of an influence than other things for me.

3. What’s your 5 Desert Island Albums?

Chet Baker & Paul Bley – Diane

The Complete Tony Bennett/Bill Evans Recordings

John Scofield – A Go Go

Kurt Rosenwinkel – The Remedy: Live at the Village Vanguard

Some type of classical music compilation spanning the centuries… including works from Bach, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Ravel, Dvorak, and other miscellaneous composers. I know this is a bit of a cheat answer. But classical is a favorite genre and tradition of mine, and I can’t pick one musician from that lineage. I need them all.

4. Who’s one artist/musician that you love but most people probably don’t know of?

Stefon Harris. Many people in the jazz world know of him. But not enough people. He’s just a mad scientist. He love how he approaches music first and foremost. Getting to study and play with him completely changed my life and my understanding of music, listening, and how to come at things I want to grow with. His unique method allows him to fit in in almost every situation and still sound like himself. He just knows how to sing with his vibraphone and has one of the deepest understandings of harmony of anyone out there.

 

5. What’s an advice you wish someone told you when you started in the arts?
Work your ass off. Hard. Constantly. Music gives you back what you give to it. If you don’t put everything into it, there will always be things missing in your playing. BUT… be patient, have fun, enjoy every step, and remember that it doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s about being human. Find your balance.

6. As a jazz guitarist, composer and educator, what has been your biggest challenge in your work? How did you overcome it?

Almost dying and having to relearn how to play. Having to go through the journey two times can be extremely disappointing and frustrating. I can’t comment on how I overcame it, because I’m still working through the journey at this moment. What helps me continue striving is remembering that none of it is about me anyways. It’s about the music. I feel compelled to make the world a better place by trying to be a vehicle for beautiful music to be here. The problems in my tiny little life ultimately mean nothing in the grand scheme of the universe. So I remain grateful to have a second chance to relearn and continue playing, and I approach it as an amazing opportunity (and struggle) to build my music from the ground up with the intention and control available to me as a 35 year old educated musician, and not as a 10 year old who had no idea what kind of fire he was playing with when he first picked up that guitar he found in a trash can on his way home from school.

7. How do we reach you?
Websites:
https://www.NYCJazzGuitarMasterclasses.com 
https://www.JordanKlemons.com

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/NYCJazzGuitarMasterclasses/
https://www.facebook.com/groups/MelodicTriadsStudyGroup/

Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/nycjazzguitarmasterclasses/
https://www.instagram.com/jordanklemons/

YouTube:
NYC Jazz Guitar Masterclasses https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpbYtPOzNWUP0kRUSsAJH9g
Personal https://www.youtube.com/user/jordanklemons

Twitter:
@nycjgm
personal @jordanklemons

Thank you for your time Jordan!

Thank you for reading this week’s instalment of #AzCreativeFridays. Please do check out the past interviews (26 so far, including this one) and come back next week for the next one… perhaps another jazz guitarist? Stay tuned! 🙂

Read the recent [Creative Fridays] interview:
[Creative Fridays] #14 : Taylor Roberts
7-String Solo Guitarist

[Creative Fridays] #15: Dylan Lee
Cellist

[Creative Fridays] #16: Scott Murphy
Saxophonist and Composer

[Creative Fridays] #17: Nisa Addina
Violinist

[Creative Fridays] #18: Jake Shimabukuro
Ukulele Virtuoso

[Creative Fridays] #19: Jared Sims
Jazz Saxophonist

[Creative Fridays] #20: Gabriel Lynch
Singer-Songwriter

[Creative Fridays] #21: Rizal Tony
Jazz Guitarist and Educator

[Creative Fridays] #22: Raja Farouk
Multi-Instrumentalist and Sessionist

[Creative Fridays] #23: Kho Chia Wen Sharon
Sound Designer

[Creative Fridays] #24: Josh Maxey
Jazz Guitarist & Educator

[Creative Fridays] #25: Toru Watanabe
Jazz Drummer

[Creative Fridays] #26: Jordan Klemons
Jazz Guitarist & Music Educator

Next Friday:
[Creative Fridays] #27: ???
???
Coming up October 5 2018

[About Creative Fridays]

The original Creative Fridays was an interview series I did back in 2012. Published on my website, www.azsamad.com, it explored the musical influences of various musicians from all over the world. Relaunching this now in 2018, there are some cool add-ons. For a super obvious one, we’ve now added Spotify and YouTube links whenever possible for the Desert Island Albums list.

This to me is amazing because you can actually immediately listen to the recommended albums. Coming from a generation that used to make trips to the record store to check out new music, it still boggles my mind that we can immediately listen to the records that is recommended here. Imagine if you listened to the 5 suggested albums – how much could you learn from it?

Also, in addition to the original questions from the series, I’ve added a new question into the mix asking about the biggest challenge each individual has faced in their work. I’ve found that we all can benefit by learning from one another. Let’s share and grow together!

If you know a musician who you think could be a good fit to be featured in Creative Fridays, please contact me with your ideas. The focus is in diversity for music, cultural background, geography, age and experience. It doesn’t matter where you are around the world, if you’re a creative making interesting music on an interesting journey and have something to share, please reach out to me. Please do note, due to this being a weekly series, the interview may be featured later in the year depending scheduling.

Thank you! 🙂

[The Original Series]
Season 1: Every week for 13 weeks, published from Feb 2012 to April 2012.

[Creative Fridays] #1  : Kevin Broken Scar
(Melbourne Singer-Songwriter/Sound Engineer)

[Creative Fridays] #2  : Deborah Crooks
(SF Bay Area Singer-Songwriter)

[Creative Fridays] #3  : Dylan Kay
(UK/Auckland Jazz Guitarist)

[Creative Fridays] #4  : Azmyl Yunor
(Malaysian Singer-Songwriter/College Lecturer)

[Creative Fridays] #5  : Gustavo Assis-Brasil
(Boston Jazz Guitarist/Educator)

[Creative Fridays] #6  : TragiComedy
(Malaysian Singer-Songwriter)

[Creative Fridays] #7  : Candelaria
(Oakland Cumbia-Dub Band)

[Creative Fridays] #8  : Pete Teo
(Malaysian Singer-Songwriter/Filmmaker)

[Creative Fridays] #9  : Lori McKinney
(West Virginia Bandleader/Festival Organizer)

[Creative Fridays] #10: Helen Sherrah-Davies
(UK/Boston Violinist-Composer & Berklee faculty)

[Creative Fridays] #11: Adam Everett
(SF Bay Area Drummer-Composer)

[Creative Fridays] #12: Julian Chan
(Malaysian Jazz Saxophonist)

[Creative Fridays] #13: Sharon Chong
(Malaysian Keyboardist and Vocalist]

[More about Az Samad]

Become a patron on my Patreon page:
https://www.patreon.com/azsamad

Get my New Cover of Radiohead’s “Karma Police“ out now!
iTunes :
https://itunes.apple.com/my/album/karma-police-single/1305517964

Get my e-book “Jazz Improvisation Uncovered” here:
http://www.azsamad.com/book

Get my e-book “Jazz Guitar Licks and Etudes” here:
http://www.azsamad.com/book2

Get lesson packs here:
http://www.azsamad.com/lessonpacks

Spotify : (Follow me on spotify!)
https://open.spotify.com/artist/0un3T4wxL3rst2M05iVH0r

And for all my albums:
https://azsamad.bandcamp.com/

Follow Az Samad for latest updates :

Facebook :
https://www.facebook.com/azsamadmusic

Instagram :
http://www.instagram.com/azsamad

Soundcloud :
https://www.soundcloud.com/azsamad

Twitter:
https://www.twitter.com/azsamad

Join my newsletter to get more guitar playing tips & lessons!

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Video Review: Badass Inside Picking by Ben Higgins

Badass Inside Picking by Ben Higgins is epic awesome!

The course demonstrates two technical points and two exercises. He shows his wrist technique and thumb technique for inside picking. All this is within 3 videos! It’s short (at 12 mins and 30 seconds) but even with that, Ben actually solves the problems I’ve encountered. For me, this makes this video worthwhile! I can review the content and practice it again even if I haven’t watched it in awhile.

In the past, I’ve bought longer videos that were hard to digest because of the duration. In this course, I don’t have this problem. Ben manages to simplify and help focus your practice sessions.

I know some people (including myself before buying my first Ben Higgins video), may feel reluctant to buy something with such little video content. But, let me reassure you that if you’re looking for a way to improve your inside picking, this video is worth considering. Thanks Ben!

Pros: Great focused, targeted material!
Cons: None.
TLDR: If you need to level up your inside picking skills, buy this and practice the exercises!

Get your copy of this here:
https://www.benhigginsofficial.com/badass-courses.php

[Read more Reviews]

Review #30

Review #29

Video Review: Triste Masterclass by Randy Johnston

Review #28

Book Review: 21 Insights for 21st Century Creatives by Mark McGuinness

Review #27

Video Review: Simplifying Jazz Guitar by Randy Johnston

Review #26

Book Review: Triad Pairs – The First Step by Tony Greaves

Review #25

Book Review: Four Etudes for the Right Hand by Gyan Riley

Review #24

Book Review: Beyond Chord Melody by Martin Taylor MBE

Review #23

Book Review: Daniel Donato – The New Master Of The Telecaster: Pathways To Dynamic Solos

Review #22

Course Review: Understanding & Applying the Chromatic Scale by Frank Vignola

Review #21

Book Review: Movable Shapes – Concepts for Reharmonizing ii-V-I’s by Sheryl Bailey

Review #20

Video Review: Accompanying A Vocalist by David Cook

Review #19

Book Review: Developing Bebop Lines by Jeff Ellwood

Review #18

Book Review: The Acoustic Jazz Guitarist by Sean McGowan

Review #17

Video Review: Essential Percussive Guitar Riffs with Jon Gomm

Review #16

Video Review: Minor Line Concepts by Jay Umble

Review #15

Video Review: 8 Sets of Jazz Blues Changes by Randy Johnston

Review #14

Book Review: The Thesaurus of Scale Tone Chords by Alex Rogowski

Review #13

Video Review: Bebop Flow – Connecting Harmonic Concepts with the Family of 4 by Sheryl Bailey

Review #12

Book Review: Improvising Without Scales – The Intervallic Guitar System of Carl Verheyen

Review #11

Course Review: Liquid Fire Legato by Nick Layton

Review #10

Video Review: Dave Hill – Motif Development (Jazz Guitar Society)

Review #09

Book Review: A Guide to Developing a Chromatic Approach to Improvisation by Tony Greaves

Review #08

Course Review: Fundamentals of Picking by Fretboard Anatomy

Review #07

Book Review: Principles of Music by Bryan Baker

Review #06

Book Review: The Tao of Badass Guitar by Ben Higgins

Review #05

Book Review: Bach Scales by Jon De Lucia

Review #04

Book Review: Extended Scale Playing for Guitar by Joe Puma

Review #03

Book Review: Between the Voicings by Hristo Vitchev

Review #02

Book Review: Voicing Modes – A Chord Voicing Approach to Hearing and Practicing Modes by Noel Johnston

Review #01

Book Review: The Outside Sounds and Substitutions of Modern Saxophonists for Jazz Guitar by Kevin Miller

[Submissions for Review Consideration]

  • Are you an author who wrote a jazz, guitar or music book?
  • Have you created a DVD or an online video course or subscription based website?
  • Would you like me to review your book/course?

Please send me a message at azsamad2 at gmail.com with:

For courses: a link to the course/video/product + access info etc.
For books: a link to the book (Dropbox) or PDF attachment (if it’s small) for review consideration.

Depending on whether I dig the book/course, I’ll let you know if I do plan to review it!

I cannot guarantee a review for every submission & if I’m not too into it, I may opt not to review it. I mean, it’s better to get a good review that for me to write a bad review just because it’s not a match for the kind of stuff I dig right? :p

NOTE: All reviews reflect my honest personal opinion so be aware that I will point out both cool Pros and Cons that I see in the work. You dig? 🙂

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12 Lessons on Arpeggios For Jazz Guitar & Jazz Blues Soloing

Do arpeggios confuse you?
Do you want to know how to use arpeggios in a musical way?
Check out these 12 videos to level up your arpeggio game!

1. How to Combine Arpeggios with Pentatonic Ideas in Blues Guitar

2. How to Add Jazzy Arpeggios in Jazz Blues Soloing

3. How to Solo Over a II V I Progression Using Arpeggios for Jazz Guitar

4. E Major 7 Lydian Lick using Arpeggios and Intervallic Ideas

5. How to Combine Harmonic Minor and Arpeggios for Acoustic Guitar Soloing

6. How to Learn Triad Arpeggios On Guitar

7. How to Sound Jazzy Over F7 (Altered Scale Arpeggio Sub)

8. How To Create A Bebop Sound on a D7 Chord

9. How To Solo On Autumn Leaves (Or Any Turnaround Section)

10. How to Create An Altered Dominant Sound Using Jazz Arpeggios

11. How to Get a Tal Farlow/Pat Martino inspired sound:

12. How to Get a Nice Major 7th sound:


Wanna learn jazz licks including jazz blues licks?


Get my new book: Jazz Guitar Licks and Etudes 2 now! 


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[Creative Fridays] #25: Toru Watanabe

Kuala Lumpur,Jan 20,2011. Toru Watanabe . Pix Mohd Izwan Mohd Nazam

Today’s #AzCreativeFridays is with the amazing Toru Watanabe. I remember my performing with him at No Black Tie with the awesome vocalist-guitarist Xiong and other shows with Brazilian musical maestro Valtinho Anastacio. Later on, I had the pleasure of performing regular gigs with Mr. Toru Watanabe at Star Cafe with various vocalists. He also invited me to play guitar on his album! I am grateful to have the opportunity to play so much music with him when he was in Kuala Lumpur.

But enough from my side, let’s learn more about him!

Toninho (Toru Watanabe), a drummer/ percussionist/ composer/ lyricist/ producer, was born in Tokyo. He started to play drums in a rock/pops band when he was a high school student.

When he entered Tokyo University he started to play jazz drums.

After his graduation from the university, he started working at an ad agency and meanwhile continued playing music.

Between 1990 and 1993 he stayed in New York, USA, learnt to play jazz piano and theories, then moved to São Paulo, Brazil and learnt Brazilian percussion.

He issued his first original CD titled “Wish” in 2000.

In 2008 he has moved to Kuala Lumpur, and for 10 years until he left KL in the end of 2017, he has been actively playing music there.

He played Brazilian music with Xiong, played standard jazz with “MJQ” and “Yagi-Fuse Quartet” and Japanese pops with “J.J.B.”.

Meanwhile he issued his 2nd original CD “Multilingual” in 2010, and has just released his 3rd CD “MY Kawan MY Music” in 2018.

Now he stays in Tokyo, Japan.

Now let’s find out what he’s been up to!

1. What’s your latest project? 

Just released my 3rd CD, titled “MY Kawan MY Music”, featuring singers and musicians with whom I have played in recent years, such as Az Samad, Xiong, Kirana Kay, Mazlina A Manan, Sharon Chong, Tay Cher Siang, Julian Chan, Aina Abdul, etc.

With participation of rich lineup of talented musicians, I think that the I could have created a fun album.

BTW, at the end of last year I have moved back to Tokyo.

Now I am starting to find opportunities of performing and creating music in Japan. Even though this is my home country/town, after 10 years of my stay in Malaysia, every day I feel fresh and enjoy my life in Tokyo!

2. What inspires your music?

I have been living in 5 countries (USA, Brazil, China, Malaysia & Japan) and travelled to many cities/countries. Knowing new places with different culture, language, people, and of course music, always makes me stimulated and gives me inspirations.

For example, before living in Brazil, I knew only a few names of rhythms of Brazilian music, such as samba and bossa nova. Actually exists thousands of different rhythms there. Knowing such things was every time eye-opening experience for me.

3. What’s your 5 Desert Island Albums?

– Sergio Mendes: Brasileiro

– Simone: Biana Da Gema

– Michael Franks: Sleeping Gypsy

– Leila Pinheiro: Isso É Bossa Nova

– Toko Furuuchi: Strength

Available here: https://itunes.apple.com/jp/album/strength/1030262820

4. Who’s one artist/musician that you love but most people probably don’t know of?

– Ms. Yurie Kokubu. She is a Japanese pop/R&B/gospel singer with approx. 30 years of carrier and more than 10 CD albums. Although she has a incredible talent and technique, she normally performs only in the church and seldom plays with a full set of the band. Last month (June 2018) luckily I could see her show at “Blues Alley Japan” which she made only once a year, and her performance was really great! I think that she should expose herself much more, for more people (not only in Japan but also in other countries such as Malaysia) could know her!

Ref: Yurie Kokubu/Relief 72 hours

5. What’s an advice you wish someone told you when you started in the arts?

Believe in yourself and keep on creating.

6. As a jazz drummer and percussionist, what has been your biggest challenge in your work? How did you overcome it?

When I moved from China to Malaysia (in 2008), I tried to find out opportunities to play music, yet I knew nobody, nor nobody knew me… It was a biggest challenge for me to find somebody to play with me. I started going to music places such as No Black Tie and “Bangkok Jazz” (where every Thursday jam session was held at that time), etc. Fortunately I could have made many friends soon! Then I could have great opportunities to play music. One of the unforgettable projects was a collaboration with Az Samad at “Star Café”. Playing with Az was very exciting and, every time I could have played with amazing guest singer, whom Az invited, such as Sharon Chong, Cass Chong, Irena Taib, Cheryl Tan, etc. The project continued for almost one year, meanwhile I have enjoyed a lot.

7. How do we reach you?

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/toruwjapan
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/toruwjapan/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmSG46qriMJm_y4L6h83o_A?view_as=subscriber
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/toru-watanabe-12

Thank you for your time maestro!

Thank you for reading this week’s instalment of #AzCreativeFridays. Please do check out the past interviews (25 so far, including this one) and come back next week for the next one with jazz guitarist Jordan Klemons. Till next time! 🙂

Read the recent [Creative Fridays] interview:
[Creative Fridays] #14 : Taylor Roberts
7-String Solo Guitarist

[Creative Fridays] #15: Dylan Lee
Cellist

[Creative Fridays] #16: Scott Murphy
Saxophonist and Composer

[Creative Fridays] #17: Nisa Addina
Violinist

[Creative Fridays] #18: Jake Shimabukuro
Ukulele Virtuoso

[Creative Fridays] #19: Jared Sims
Jazz Saxophonist

[Creative Fridays] #20: Gabriel Lynch
Singer-Songwriter

[Creative Fridays] #21: Rizal Tony
Jazz Guitarist and Educator

[Creative Fridays] #22: Raja Farouk
Multi-Instrumentalist and Sessionist

[Creative Fridays] #23: Kho Chia Wen Sharon
Sound Designer

[Creative Fridays] #24: Josh Maxey
Jazz Guitarist & Educator

[Creative Fridays] #25: Toru Watanabe
Jazz Drummer

Next Friday:
[Creative Fridays] #26: Jordan Klemons
Jazz Guitarist & Music Educator
Coming up September 28 2018

[About Creative Fridays]

The original Creative Fridays was an interview series I did back in 2012. Published on my website, www.azsamad.com, it explored the musical influences of various musicians from all over the world. Relaunching this now in 2018, there are some cool add-ons. For a super obvious one, we’ve now added Spotify and YouTube links whenever possible for the Desert Island Albums list.

This to me is amazing because you can actually immediately listen to the recommended albums. Coming from a generation that used to make trips to the record store to check out new music, it still boggles my mind that we can immediately listen to the records that is recommended here. Imagine if you listened to the 5 suggested albums – how much could you learn from it?

Also, in addition to the original questions from the series, I’ve added a new question into the mix asking about the biggest challenge each individual has faced in their work. I’ve found that we all can benefit by learning from one another. Let’s share and grow together!

If you know a musician who you think could be a good fit to be featured in Creative Fridays, please contact me with your ideas. The focus is in diversity for music, cultural background, geography, age and experience. It doesn’t matter where you are around the world, if you’re a creative making interesting music on an interesting journey and have something to share, please reach out to me. Please do note, due to this being a weekly series, the interview may be featured later in the year depending scheduling.

Thank you! 🙂

[The Original Series]
Season 1: Every week for 13 weeks, published from Feb 2012 to April 2012.

[Creative Fridays] #1  : Kevin Broken Scar
(Melbourne Singer-Songwriter/Sound Engineer)

[Creative Fridays] #2  : Deborah Crooks
(SF Bay Area Singer-Songwriter)

[Creative Fridays] #3  : Dylan Kay
(UK/Auckland Jazz Guitarist)

[Creative Fridays] #4  : Azmyl Yunor
(Malaysian Singer-Songwriter/College Lecturer)

[Creative Fridays] #5  : Gustavo Assis-Brasil
(Boston Jazz Guitarist/Educator)

[Creative Fridays] #6  : TragiComedy
(Malaysian Singer-Songwriter)

[Creative Fridays] #7  : Candelaria
(Oakland Cumbia-Dub Band)

[Creative Fridays] #8  : Pete Teo
(Malaysian Singer-Songwriter/Filmmaker)

[Creative Fridays] #9  : Lori McKinney
(West Virginia Bandleader/Festival Organizer)

[Creative Fridays] #10: Helen Sherrah-Davies
(UK/Boston Violinist-Composer & Berklee faculty)

[Creative Fridays] #11: Adam Everett
(SF Bay Area Drummer-Composer)

[Creative Fridays] #12: Julian Chan
(Malaysian Jazz Saxophonist)

[Creative Fridays] #13: Sharon Chong
(Malaysian Keyboardist and Vocalist]

[More about Az Samad]

Become a patron on my Patreon page:
https://www.patreon.com/azsamad

Get my New Cover of Radiohead’s “Karma Police“ out now!
iTunes :
https://itunes.apple.com/my/album/karma-police-single/1305517964

Get my e-book “Jazz Improvisation Uncovered” here:
http://www.azsamad.com/book

Get my e-book “Jazz Guitar Licks and Etudes” here:
http://www.azsamad.com/book2

Get lesson packs here:
http://www.azsamad.com/lessonpacks

Spotify : (Follow me on spotify!)
https://open.spotify.com/artist/0un3T4wxL3rst2M05iVH0r

And for all my albums:
https://azsamad.bandcamp.com/

Follow Az Samad for latest updates :

Facebook :
https://www.facebook.com/azsamadmusic

Instagram :
http://www.instagram.com/azsamad

Soundcloud :
https://www.soundcloud.com/azsamad

Twitter:
https://www.twitter.com/azsamad

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8 Blues Jams with 12 Amazing Guitarists: Blues & Jazz Blues Licks Galore!

The Blues is an amazing and rich tradition. Especially for guitarists, this is an essential part of developing our skills. For most improvising guitarists, you gotta have those blues licks in order to play and jam with anyone. So many times, the blues is what enabled me to play with musicians from different countries from USA, Europe, Britain, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand and Malaysia. If you want to be able to TALK and JAM, you gotta have the blues. To learn the blues language, nothing beats learning it directly by ear, any licks that you LOVE and you LIKE.

Here are 8 jams I did with 12 amazing guitarists. Check them out and steal any guitar licks that catches your ear. Enjoy!

BONUS: Here’s something non-guitar from the Penang Island Jazz Festival, jamming with jazz saxophonist Nicole Johänntgen!

Wanna learn jazz licks including jazz blues licks?

Get my new book: Jazz Guitar Licks and Etudes 2 now! 

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Book Review: Leveraged Learning by Danny Iny

I finished this book in one sitting, experiencing it via the official website. The hardback is slated for a October 2nd release date but at the moment, Danny Iny is offering readers a chance to real the entire book via their website at https://leveragedlearningbook.com.

As a music educator and strong advocate for lifelong learning, I was really curious about Danny’s new book. Danny is the founder and CEO of Mirasee and best-selling author of nine published books. Previously, I was familiar with Danny’s work from his earlier work when the company was called Firepole Marketing.

Danny’s book is a really amazing work that distills a lot of current research and viewpoints on the failure of the modern education system. The biggest issue that I’ve really resonated with is how getting a degree doesn’t really guarantee a secure job. Danny goes through many different angles and perspectives to help the general reader gain a better take of the entire issue. The cool thing about the various chapters are the suggested books that allow serious readers to learn even more about each issue. The self assessments that close each chapter also blur the line between a book that is just read and a course. I could definitely see how Danny includes elements from his company’s work teaching course development.

My favorite parts of the book include the discussions on the changing landscape of learning. I really like the idea of transitioning to lifelong learning instead of the degree or college education as the endpoint. This was also the first time I learned about Foundational education, “Last mile” education and Continuing education as terms to describe different kinds of education. The idea of transformation instead of just information also resonated with me since that is a huge part of my own work as an educator.

In the end, I feel that it’s pretty cool what Danny and Mirasee have done by making this book available for free online via the website. Of course, for those interested to dive deeper, you can check out different ways to work & learn from Danny’s online courses that look awesome. I wouldn’t mind having a chance to study, experience and review those too if I got a chance!

Danny & Mirasee are you reading this? 🙂

Pros: A lot of material, ideas and distilled concepts from other books & thinkers collected in one book. This is a good starting point for anyone curious about the state of modern education.
Cons: None.
TLDR: It’s a good book that is easy to read through and worth getting as a reference for further study.

Read Leveraged Learning online & get your hardback copy here:
https://leveragedlearningbook.com

[Read more Reviews]

Review #29

Video Review: Triste Masterclass by Randy Johnston

Review #28

Book Review: 21 Insights for 21st Century Creatives by Mark McGuinness

Review #27

Video Review: Simplifying Jazz Guitar by Randy Johnston

Review #26

Book Review: Triad Pairs – The First Step by Tony Greaves

Review #25

Book Review: Four Etudes for the Right Hand by Gyan Riley

Review #24

Book Review: Beyond Chord Melody by Martin Taylor MBE

Review #23

Book Review: Daniel Donato – The New Master Of The Telecaster: Pathways To Dynamic Solos

Review #22

Course Review: Understanding & Applying the Chromatic Scale by Frank Vignola

Review #21

Book Review: Movable Shapes – Concepts for Reharmonizing ii-V-I’s by Sheryl Bailey

Review #20

Video Review: Accompanying A Vocalist by David Cook

Review #19

Book Review: Developing Bebop Lines by Jeff Ellwood

Review #18

Book Review: The Acoustic Jazz Guitarist by Sean McGowan

Review #17

Video Review: Essential Percussive Guitar Riffs with Jon Gomm

Review #16

Video Review: Minor Line Concepts by Jay Umble

Review #15

Video Review: 8 Sets of Jazz Blues Changes by Randy Johnston

Review #14

Book Review: The Thesaurus of Scale Tone Chords by Alex Rogowski

Review #13

Video Review: Bebop Flow – Connecting Harmonic Concepts with the Family of 4 by Sheryl Bailey

Review #12

Book Review: Improvising Without Scales – The Intervallic Guitar System of Carl Verheyen

Review #11

Course Review: Liquid Fire Legato by Nick Layton

Review #10

Video Review: Dave Hill – Motif Development (Jazz Guitar Society)

Review #09

Book Review: A Guide to Developing a Chromatic Approach to Improvisation by Tony Greaves

Review #08

Course Review: Fundamentals of Picking by Fretboard Anatomy

Review #07

Book Review: Principles of Music by Bryan Baker

Review #06

Book Review: The Tao of Badass Guitar by Ben Higgins

Review #05

Book Review: Bach Scales by Jon De Lucia

Review #04

Book Review: Extended Scale Playing for Guitar by Joe Puma

Review #03

Book Review: Between the Voicings by Hristo Vitchev

Review #02

Book Review: Voicing Modes – A Chord Voicing Approach to Hearing and Practicing Modes by Noel Johnston

Review #01

Book Review: The Outside Sounds and Substitutions of Modern Saxophonists for Jazz Guitar by Kevin Miller

[Submissions for Review Consideration]

  • Are you an author who wrote a jazz, guitar or music book?
  • Have you created a DVD or an online video course or subscription based website?
  • Would you like me to review your book/course?

Please send me a message at azsamad2 at gmail.com with:

For courses: a link to the course/video/product + access info etc.
For books: a link to the book (Dropbox) or PDF attachment (if it’s small) for review consideration.

Depending on whether I dig the book/course, I’ll let you know if I do plan to review it!

I cannot guarantee a review for every submission & if I’m not too into it, I may opt not to review it. I mean, it’s better to get a good review that for me to write a bad review just because it’s not a match for the kind of stuff I dig right? :p

NOTE: All reviews reflect my honest personal opinion so be aware that I will point out both cool Pros and Cons that I see in the work. You dig? 🙂

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