[Creative Fridays] #15: Dylan Lee

This week, let’s get to know about cellist Dylan Lee!

I first met Dylan via our performance together with Valtinho Anastacio at No Black Tie years ago as we played Brazilian music together. Over the years, I’ve really enjoyed watching Dylan’s musical development including his explorations into jazz harmony and improvisational music. I also love Dylan’s Facebook updates which are often funny observations on life. Here’s more info about the very cool Dylan Lee:

Dylan Lee’s engaging performances have made him a growing presence in the Malaysian and Singaporean classical music scene. He is currently a student of Professor Julius Berger at the Leopold Mozart Zentrum in Augsburg, and previously graduated from the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music in Singapore, where he studied under full scholarship with Ng Pei-Sian. He won 2nd place in the 2018 Johann Andreas Stein Wettbewerb in 2018 and won 3rd prize in the Lower Strings Category of the 2018 Yong Siew Toh Conservatory Concerto Competition. Alongside members of the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, he was a founding member of the KL String Project, a chamber orchestra based in the Dewan Filharmonik Petronas.

In the world of contemporary music, Dylan has premiered chamber music works by young composers from the Asia Pacific region, performing in Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong as a founding member of the contemporary music quintet, Ensemble GO. He has also performed in Singapore and Malaysia as part of the Asian Contemporary Ensemble. In December, he premiered six chamber works by asian composers as part of the Singapore Asian Composer’s Forum.

Dylan also has a passion for historically informed performance of baroque music. In Malaysia, he frequently plays solo basso continuo in major works by Bach and Handel. While studying in YSTCM, Dylan was chosen to play lead basso continuo in a concert of Bach cantatas under the baton of Masaaki Suzuki, founder of the Bach Collegium in Japan.
Solo  masterclasses include those with artists such as Gavriel Lipkind, Niall Brown, Norman Fischer, Natalie Clein, Johannes Moser and Sebastian Comberti. As a chamber musician, he has played in masterclasses by the Julliard String Quartet, Belcea Quartet, Shanghai String Quartet, and Fournier Piano Trio. In 2014, he was invited to and attended the Seiji Ozawa Chamber Music Academy held in Japan.

And now, here’s the interview!

1. What’s your latest project?
I’ve been practising the Ravel Sonata for Violin and Cello pretty intensely as I’ll be performing it this July in Salzburg with a Violin Professor based in Vienna, Christian Altenburger… yeah it’s a pretty big deal hahahah

2. What inspires your music?
I’m currently studying in Germany under Julius Berger who is an endless source of inspiration as a teacher and musician! Other than that…I don’t know if there’s really a direct influence on my music, but here in Germany I like to visit art galleries.. Degas, Caspar David Friedrich and Max Beckmann are some of my favourite painters. I’m also a big fan of the poetry of Yeats, Rilke and… Kerouac to a degree (Hey there’s no questioning the immediacy and doobydoo-rhythm of Kerouac!).

Then there are also the everyday things like watching anime; looking out train windows; and walking around with my headphones on all day to avoid unplanned human contact… Those things are important, too.

3. What are your 5 Desert Island Albums?

  1. Bringing it All Back Home by Bob Dylan

  1. Heinrich Schiff’s CD of the Cello Concerto and Works for Cello and Piano by Schumann

  1. Nikolaus Harnoncourt’s 2016 Recording of Beethoven 4th and 5th Symphonies

  1. GO! by Dexter Gordon

  1. The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner by Ben Folds Five

Honourable mention:  I’ve got a private playlist on Spotify for my eventual funeral that I add to and delete from every so often called the FUN(eral) playlist. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t survive on the desert island for very long and would like for it to be played at my funeral back home to make everyone cry ugly tears. It would also be nice to have that playlist on me on the desert island, I guess…

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

A non musician answer… but I bet you didn’t know that there’s a professional Violin maker in Bandar Sri Damansara! His name is Tan Chin Seng and he runs the Deciso Music Studio. He really makes wonderful instruments and pays amazing attention to detail when he services string instruments. He’s really someone worth taking note of and supporting!

If you really pushed me for a musical answer, then…I don’t know if it’s really unknown, but a piece that I wish everyone listened to more often is Schumann’s 5 Gesänge der Frühe Op. 133 for solo piano. It’s said to be Schumann’s “last coherent” work…(it’s a worn cliché in the classical world, the story that Schumann went mad, flung himself into the Rhein to try and kill himself, then checked into an asylum after surviving the ordeal). In my opinion, however, Schumann’s last few works are of such clear musical intention, and his fascination with the five movement structure as seen through some of his late works hints at an attempt toward a radical reimagination of the prevailing forms in classical music – the furthest you can get from insane! But really, Schumann doesn’t need my defending.. Andras Schiff’s recording is really beautiful… So is Eric Le Sage’s, but on Schiff’s you get to also hear a set of variations on a theme that Schumann composed which was published posthumously.

OH and there’s this one painting hanging in the art gallery in Frankfurt by Helene Schjerfbeck titled “Mädchen mit blondem Haar” (“Girl with Blonde Hair”) that is, to me at least, spontaneous and decisive yet graceful and composed as though Schjerfbeck was privy to some vantage eternal.

5. What’s an advice you wish someone told you when you started in the arts?
Increasingly I am realising that it’s okay and, moreover, important to express the dreams, emotions, and aspects of yourself that you are either afraid of or really dislike through your music….that, and don’t be afraid to invest in a good pair of headphones because you’re going to use them a LOT.

6. As a cellist, what has been your biggest challenge in your work? How did you overcome it?
The “why” was always a tough question. Then I realised that music has really been one of the big things keeping me going, and helping me up when I fall down. I guess I realised that if I kept going with the dream of making something good and something real, I might positively affect the lives more people with my music than I ever would otherwise.

7. How do we reach you?
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dylancello/
Instagram: dylslan
YouTube:https://www.youtube.com/user/aerosolinsecticide

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

Next week: [Creative Fridays] #16 with jazz saxophonist Scott Murphy!

[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]

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


This instructional book and DVD set from Hal Leonard is a great piece of work documenting the playing and thoughts of a 19-year-old Daniel Donato. Released in 2014, the version I have is a book (notated only in tablature) that comes along with a DVD. Currently you can also get e-book + online video content.

I first learned about Daniel’s playing from the Guitar Instructor website newsletter around the time the book was just released. Since then, I’ve been following his musical development and been really enjoying the music he’s been creating.

Now onto the book. Let’s get into the details!

With a total of 32 pages and 7 chapters, the book seem like a slim volume. However, do not be deceived! There’s a lot of stuff here.

The first chapter is a transcription of Train Jam, a solo over a three chord blues in A. Chapter 2 introduces his concepts of five pathways in A, a way of navigating through the fretboard in order to solo over changes.

Then, in Chapter 3: Chromatic Notes, Daniel introduces ideas to add chromatic notes to the pathways introduced in the previous chapter. Daniel also shares ways to create lines that move down and up the neck.

The next two chapters demonstrates his approach in using bending technique and then double stops. For the chapter on bending applications, examples are given in the blues style, Clapton style, Bloomfield style and country style. He also shares his own bend concepts. For the double stops chapter, he shows his take on this idiomatic sound as well as what he learned from Johnny Hiland. He also shares rhythmic concepts applied to double stops as well.

Next, in Analyzing Different Styles, Daniel shares what he learned from studying players like J.D. Simo, James Mitchell, Red Volkaert, Danny Gatton, Grady Martin, Roy Nichols and Hank Garland. It’s interesting to see how Daniel distills the elements that he’s learned over the years.

Overall, this is currently one of the best introductions to learn and understand Daniel’s playing. Daniel also has done live video workshops in the past on YouTube Live as well as StageIt. For those interested in supporting his current work, you can check out his Patreon page.

Pros: Good concise work, comes with video and transcriptions. Great for those interested in Daniel’s style or would like to develop some country/blues chops.
Cons: Might be somewhat basic for more advanced players.
TLDR: If you dig Daniel’s playing and want to understand his take on the guitar, get this.

How to Buy:
You can get it on Amazon here:
https://www.amazon.com/Daniel-Donato-Telecaster-Pathways-Dynamic/dp/1480353647

[Read more Reviews]

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

This TrueFire Foundry course by Frank Vignola is a very focused course to help jazz guitarist develop stronger II-V-I phrases that incorporate the chromatic scale. An experienced educator and performer, Frank Vignola’s approach in this course is systematic and easy to consume and digest.

The course includes:

  • 6 Charts (.pdf)
  • 1 Jam Track (.mp3)
  • 1 hr, 21 mins of Video (.mp4)

Over the course of 48 video lessons (durations range from 27 seconds to 4 minutes and 45 seconds), Frank explains a strategy to develop clearer use of the chromatic scale. After the introduction video, Frank demonstrates horizontal and vertical fingerings for the chromatic scale. Then, he explains how to use these on major and minor triads. Finally, in the main section of the course, he plays and explains 20 riffs over a II-V-I progression in C major.

The PDF files included also are very helpful as they help recap the fingerings, concepts and riffs that Frank demonstrate. For anyone who may have a hard time learning the riffs from the video directly (some may be hard to learn even after Frank slows then down), the PDF files are very helpful. For those new to the fingering concepts and jazz phrases, the PDFs will assist to see Frank’s concepts. As with most Truefire products, the PDFs are notated in both standard notation and tablature. For those who may like to analyse the riffs further, printing out the examples to mark and analyse the examples may prove to be helpful.

After completing the course, I feel that I have a stronger grasp of how to use chromaticism in a clear and simple way. I love how Frank manages to distill a topic that is often demonstrated in either a haphazard or overcomplicated manner. I’ve seen many videos on YouTube that attempt to teach chromaticism on guitar but only cover the surface of the topic. Frank makes the material accessible. The riffs that he’s composed for the course are also very playable. For more advanced guitarists, watching Frank play the lines on the video will reveal some alternate fingerings as he repeats the same phrases differently at times.

For me, with this course – the most important thing is to really get the basic concepts together. Also, a fun way to internalise the concepts (as with many of these kinds of courses) is to write your own riffs after learning Frank’s example. Playing the riffs in different keys will also be useful as Frank’s examples are all in the key of C major.

Pros: Great topic explained in a simple to understand way. Good video and handouts.
Cons: Playing 20 II-V-I riffs in one key may be tiring on the ear for some but this can be remedied by transposing the riffs and also writing your own riffs using the concepts in other keys.
TLDR: Recommended for jazz guitarists who want to understand and utilise the chromatic scale in a systematic clear manner.

How to Buy:
You can buy the course here:
https://truefire.com/foundry-guitar-lessons/understanding-applying-chromatic-scale/c1235

[Read more Reviews]

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


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

Sheryl Bailey is an extremely prolific musician as a performer, recording artist and also educator. In this post, we look at one of her earlier works. This 2009 book published by Mel Bay is a very practical 40-page book that focuses on helping jazz improvisors develop their ideas to improvise on the common II-V-I chord progression. A staple of jazz, gaining control and fluency over this progression is key for the improvisor to create interesting ideas on jazz standards.

In the first 5 chapters, Sheryl begins with a text introduction explaining the theory concepts of what she uses for the chapter’s examples. Next, she gives 5 voiceled II-V-I chord voicing examples to introduce the sound behind the melodic lines. Finally, the chapters conclude with 20 different II-V-I lines that illustrate how Sheryl weaves interesting phrases using the concepts. This is such an elegant and clear way to teaching the concepts. I feel that it’s very practical and clear.

The final chapter is different than the first five. Chapter 6 concludes with a 6 chorus etude over the changes of ‘Tune Up’ using specific substitutions that she has taught throughout the book. The 6th chorus combines the substitutions for a very colorful ending to the book.

All in all, this deceptively small book provides a lot of great practice material for jazz guitarists interested in developing their II-V-I chops. In addition to playing the written voicings and lines, I definitely feel that the reader would benefit by writing their own lines after assimilating Sheryl’s phrases. This book is very deceptive in terms of the page numbers – it seems like someone could possibly finish the book quickly but I feel that for most readers (myself included), this is probably a book that I would dip in, learn a line or two and then come back to it again and again for new ideas.

Pros:
 Very systematic and compact. A lot of content in a small volume!
Cons: No left hand fingering suggestion may make it difficult to initially play some of the lines. No CD or audio included.
TLDR: Recommended for guitarists who want to create more colorful II-V-I lines.

How to Buy:
You can buy the book and e-book here:
https://www.melbay.com/Products/21420EB/mbgu-jazz-moveable-shapes-concepts-for-reharmonizing-iivis.aspx

[Read more Reviews]

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] #14 : Taylor Roberts


I can’t remember when exactly I first encountered Taylor Roberts. It was definitely online, very likely on Facebook – where all of us (or most of us) live now. What I do remember is how obviously connected to the music and the business he was. Taylor is a dedicated musician who combines social media savvy and musicality in a hardworking bundle. Over the years, I’ve been learning a lot about music by following his work and musical journey. It’s interesting that although we’ve never met in person, I feel that his creative spirit really resonates with me.

So, I’m really happy to restart [Creative Fridays] via this interview with Taylor Roberts. Here’s some background about him for context:

Taylor Roberts has earned a reputation as one of the Southeast’s top calls for Jazz Guitar.  Years of intensive study with world-renowned educators such as Barry Greene, Keith Javors, and Bunky Green have proven to continually pay off as his career expands. Multiple appearances at the Jacksonville Jazz Festival, an international tour with the Christian Tamburr Quintet, and collaborations with some of the biggest names in Jazz today have put him on the map as one of the great rising stars in the Jazz guitar world.

Maintaining a full studio of students at the Morris Music Academy in Jacksonville Beach, Taylor is regularly passing things on that he’s picked up over the years to the next generation of guitar players.  Since switching to 7-string, he has become a favorite among local and regional vocalists for duo work, and can be seen frequently playing solo guitar at events in Jacksonville and the surrounding areas.  While his playing style and heart are firmly steeped in tradition, he feels it’s just as important to remain relevant with his repertoire, always learning new material that will become the standards of today.  Taylor currently resides in Keystone Heights, FL with his family and continues to tour, teach, and record regularly.

“…Guitarist Taylor Roberts comfortably joins [the] top tier group with his own unique and stylized approach to the art of jazz guitar. I have had the great pleasure of sharing the stage around the world with Taylor and always look forward to the musical story that unfolds.” Christian Tamburr, Internationally touring jazz vibraphonist

Now, let’s get into what he’s been up to!

1. What’s your latest project?
My latest project has been a bit of a slow crawl. The concept is a solo guitar album. I’ve been getting more into composing lately, and want the album to be at least halfway comprised of original material. The rest will be tunes that I love to play and tunes people know.

2. What inspires your music? 
Other than musical heroes of mine like Charlie Hunter, Russell Malone, Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, Martin Taylor, Julian Lage (this list can go on for miles!), I’d have to say my circle of close friends is a big part of what inspires me. Some of them are musicians, but most aren’t. In my own personal spiritual path, I’ve learned so much about myself and the world around me. Being of service is a big part of my life, and sharing my experiences to inspire and help others is a driving factor in how I approach my music.

3. What’s your 5 Desert Island Albums? 

John Coltrane – A Love Supreme

D’Angelo – Voodoo

Wes Montgomery – Smokin at the Half Note

Kenny Garrett – Songbook

Tuck Andress – Reckless Precision

4. Who’s one artist/musician that you love but most people probably don’t know of?
Kevin Bales. He’s relatively well-known in jazz circles, especially in the Jacksonville and Atlanta areas, but as is the case with many players, it’s a crime that he’s not in league with Herbie/Chick etc in terms of recognition. On top of being one of the best piano players around, he’s and incredibly inspiring and warm-hearted human being. Can’t say enough good things about him.

5. What’s an advice you wish someone told you when you started in the arts?
Be easy to get along with. And have a good attitude. Many concepts that I try to apply to my profession also apply to everyday life. Be open-minded. Just because you don’t like a song, you’re not powerful enough to judge how a song might affect someone else. So learn it and play it. Even if it’s laborious at first, I’ve always discovered elements of songs that are enjoyable even if I didn’t initially like them. It’s not about you. It’s about the music.

6. As a 7-string solo guitarist, what has been your biggest challenge in your work? How did you overcome it?
Maintaining friendships with bass players. Kidding! Mostly….

Honestly the biggest challenge has been switching back to 6 string! I don’t play 6 that often, unless it’s a pop or party band gig. When that comes up, I take Jimmy Bruno’s advice and “don’t look down.”

The learning curve wasn’t nearly as steep as I was afraid of. I tune the low string to an A, George Van Eps style, so it’s relatively easy to convert. I’d challenge any guitarist to spend a week or two with a 7-string and not wind up wanting one.

7. How do we reach you?
Website: http://taylorroberts.info
Facebook: http://facebook.com/taylorrobertsguitar
Instagram: tr7guitar
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrbAQ_QUNoPuaKGQtu1BcRA

Next week: [Creative Fridays] #15 with cellist Dylan Lee!

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

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http://www.azsamad.com/book

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http://www.azsamad.com/book2

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Video Review: Accompanying A Vocalist by David Cook

This is a 16 minute 19 second video lesson by David Cook that addresses the dynamics of a pianist accompanying a vocalist. This 2014 release comes from the awesome My Music Masterclass website which has a really impressive catalog of instructional videos. In this video, David Cook shares his experience working with vocalists and the considerations for the accompanist. David has an impressive resume working with vocalists like Taylor Swift, Lizz Wright, Natasha Bedingfield, Jennifer Hudson, Marianne Faithful so we’re definitely in good hands.

It begins with a performance of Amazing Grace with vocalist, Shayna Steele. Then, he shares some possible ways of accompanying depending on the demands of the vocalist. The video essentially is a very conversational honest document of what to think about working in a vocalist-pianist duo situation. Although I’m a guitarist, I find that the concepts are definitely transferable for vocalist-guitarist duo settings. There’s a mix of psychology, musicality and overall logical thought process that goes along this specific musical situation. As I’ve worked with vocalists in duo settings for many years, I could definitely relate to what David’s advice. A lot of it reaffirmed what I’ve intuitively learned over the years and some of the tips have given me good food for thought.

Pros: Covers a very specific topic. Lots of good tips from a very experienced musician!
Cons: May feel like a short video to some people. Could benefit from some additional transcriptions and examples but then again, if you’re interested in this video, I feel that you might be quite experienced.
TLDR: Recommended for pianists and guitarists who work with vocalists or plan to work with vocalists as an accompanist.

How to Buy:
You can rent or buy the course here:
https://www.mymusicmasterclass.com/premiumvideos/piano-masterclass-david-cook

[Read more Reviews]

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!

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Book Review: Developing Bebop Lines by Jeff Ellwood


This is such a great book.

If you want to learn how you can create your own bebop lines, Jeff Ellwood has distilled the most important things in this book. This 58 page book is divided to 8 topics:

  • Developing Bebop Lines
  • Major Bebop Scales
  • Resolving V7 to I
  • Altered Bebop Scales
  • Bebop Scales From Non-Primary Chord Tones
  • Combining Diatonic 7ths with Bebop Scales
  • Bebop using 4ths
  • Etudes

Jeff Ellwood shares techniques and lesson that he created for his students in this book. With a combination of text explanations and extremely a lot of written musical examples, the book demystifies the basics of bebop lines.

For the serious student, there’s a lot of suggestions of how to learn the lines and create you own. This is very refreshing than some books that I’ve encountered where the material is too dry and academic. Also, rather than just giving many musical examples, Jeff Ellwood breaks down the elements so that the topics are easily digestible.

As I practice the material, I ended up working on a page for a long time. I particularly love the variety and detail that he goes into. So many of the lines open up new ways of varying and spicing up what I would typically do.

There’s so much value and Jeff Ellwood makes it even easier to see by writing the dominant examples all over G7 and the Major Bebop lines over Cmajor7 in the first 3 chapters. I love the fact that instead of making the book bigger by transposing all the examples in all 12 keys, Jeff Ellwood keeps it compact in this book in one key for entire chapters.

The 6 etudes included are a great part addition to the book as well since it gives more context for combining the different concepts in the book. To close the book, there’s also a great appendix with additional bebop scale exercises, octave displacements of the bebop scales and some bebop lines for fast tempos.

All in all, for USD$15, Jeff gives tremendous value and knowledge for aspiring jazz students interested in the bebop language.

Pros: Lots of examples, clear explanations on how to practice, how the lines and exercises are created and etudes for context
Cons: None.
TLDR: For any instrumentalist, if you want to learn to play bebop and are looking for some practical structure and exercises to augment your transcribing and jams, this is a good book to get.

How to Buy:
You can get the book here:
https://www.jeffellwood.net/developing-bebop-lines.html

[Read more Reviews]

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!

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Book Review: The Acoustic Jazz Guitarist by Sean McGowan

There’s a lot of method books for learning jazz guitar. The problems I’ve encountered are a lot of books present the material in a dry manner or far removed from the actual practice of playing and performing jazz.

Personal approaches are what I love nowadays as I look for how an artist approaches learning a style. In this new book by Sean McGowan, he presents an interesting take on learning acoustic jazz guitar.

It’s a big book! Not only is it a 152 page book but it also includes audio examples (mp3 files) and nearly six hours of video! Just that alone blew my mind since it’s arguably more than most DVD and video courses I’ve studied.

The official page describes the book:

Delve deep into the world of jazz guitar with this book of 10 extended lessons from master guitarist Sean McGowan. You’ll learn vocabulary for soloing over essential jazz forms like the 12-bar blues and rhythm changes, as well as virtually any chord progression you encounter. You’ll acquire a broad palette of chord voicings, along with the rhythmic ideas for smart comping. And you’ll absorb techniques for playing everything cleanly and efficiently—not just for jazz but any style.

Lessons include audio and video downloads, as well as standard notation and tablature, for all examples.

This comprehensive guide is available in two different formats:

  • Book and audio/video package. 152 pages with notation and tab, plus free audio downloads—and nearly six hours of accompanying video instruction—for all music examples, performed by Sean McGowan.
  • PDF and audio/video package. Downloadable version featuring the complete written instruction (including standard notation and tablature) from the book, free audio downloads, and nearly six hours of accompanying video instruction, performed by Sean McGowan.

There are 10 chapters which are:

  • Getting Started
  • The Toolbox
  • Thinking Vertically
  • Jazz Guitar Technique
  • Chord Voicings and Comping
  • Modal Improvisation
  • The Chromatic Palette
  • Improvisation: Engineering a Great Solo
  • Rhythm Changes
  • The Blues in Jazz

The book begins with two sections, Gearing Up and Notation Guide. Gearing Up gives an introduction to equipment that a jazz guitarist may need. In the Notation Guide, Sean McGowan gives a primer for sight reading basics and tablature notation.

A nice touch to the book are 5 Preludes which are beautiful miniature compositions that McGowan wrote incorporating various jazz sounds. The 5 Preludes could easily be a small volume by itself. It’s a great example of how you could assemble the material that is covered in the book. No real explanation or breakdown is given for the preludes but I find them a charming addition to the book. They are definitely worth playing and could be great for a solo guitarist’s set or even as etudes for those who might want to find a way to internalise the jazz sounds taught in the book. They also remind me of the solo guitar pieces that are included in the classic Berklee Modern Method for Guitar series by William Leavitt. McGowan’s harmonic sensibility is more modern though which is great.

In the first chapter, Getting Started – McGowan introduces the fundamentals from intervals, triads, seventh chords, major scales, modes and diatonic seventh chords. These are the bread and butter of understanding jazz harmony! There’s enough material here for the newbie to dig into and for the intermediate player to get a good refresher before going into heavier material.

In the second chapter, The Toolbox – McGowan introduces horizontal, symmetrical, vertical – position playing or ‘regions’ as he shares various fingering for scales and arpeggios. This is an extension of the previous chapter as we get away from just the theoretical framework and into a player’s perspective of looking at the guitar fretboard.

For chapter three, Thinking Vertically, McGowan introduces playing through changes with arpeggios. Approach notes, phrasing, space and arpeggio substitutions are introduced in this chapter as we start getting into the real application of what he covered in the previous chapters.

Chapter four, Jazz Guitar Technique presents warm-ups, technical picking exercises, synchronisation exercises, a Bach Invention, an introduction to various picking techniques and exercises/etudes for playing through chord changes. This is a huge topic that I’ve personally studied via many videos and books. It’s good to see how McGowan manages to distill the main technical elements here.

Chapter five, Chord Voicings and Comping is an examination of voicing types, chord voicings including quartal voicings, a summary of common rhythm guitar approaches including some examples for basic bossa nova rhythms too. Closing the chapter is a cool etude over the changes of Body and Soul that provide a harmonic workout using many of the voicing types covered in the chapter.

In the chapter for modal improvisation, McGowan demonstrates 5 etudes including over landmark modal jazz compositions such as ‘So What’, the A section of ‘Green Dolphin Street’, ‘Inner Urge’ and Wayne Shorter’s ‘Fall’. These etudes are a good way to have a feel for the overall vibe of modal music. The serious aspiring jazz musician will benefit from listening and studying to the tunes referenced as they study the material from this chapter. The etudes from this chapter are not my favourite from the book but they do give good ideas to work on.

The Chromatic Palette goes into many practical strategies for navigating through chord changes and including chromaticism in your lines. Common strategies like guide tones are covered and guitaristic ones like ‘Shape Shifting’ and pentatonic superimpositions are discussed as well.

In ‘Improvisation: Engineering a Great Solo‘, McGowan shares ideas for different textures for soloing including using octaves, double stops and block chords. In discussing phrasing, he include concepts like space, density, question and answer, comping, expansion and repetition. In closing the chapter, he shares 2 solo etudes demonstrating his concept of being the architect of a great solo.

Rhythm Changes is covered with an explanation of the chord progression, comping and soloing strategies as well as an etude to demonstrate possible soloing ideas.

In the closing chapter called ‘The Blues in Jazz‘, McGowan shares idiomatic voicings for jazz blues, the chord progressions and how the chord progression becomes a jazz blues via the added chords. He shares both comping and soloing strategies with written examples. The 4 examples from the soloing strategies alone could be the basis of many improvised solo ideas. There’s a lot of deceptively simple looking ideas shared but for the intrepid melodic explorer, you can gain a lot from closely analysing and studying the examples. Closing the chapter and the book are four etudes over different jazz blues progressions.

There’s definitely a blurring of content now with books being accompanied by audio and video. Sometimes in cases like book, it could have been a video course with an accompanying book. I guess it depends on who is selling the product.

All in all though, this is an awesome investment for the aspiring jazz guitarist to get an  overview of the different aspects of developing your acoustic jazz guitar skills.

For jazz guitar teachers, this is a worthwhile addition to your reference library and might even be a good choice for a main textbook for a college level jazz guitar course. There’s more than enough material here for students to work on and the audio/video elements provide tremendous value and help for the student.

Pros: Massive amount of content: 10 chapters of instruction in 152 pages with notation and tab, audio downloads—and nearly six hours of video.
Cons: Downloading the audio and video content was slightly time consuming since the download failed a few times for some files. It was about 6 GB total, 10 video files and a zipped file with all the audio examples.
TLDR: If you’ve been looking for a good and friendly guide to learning jazz guitar, this might be a worthwhile investment. At USD$24.99, you will be getting A LOT of quality material to work with!

How to Buy:
You can get the book here:
https://store.acousticguitar.com/products/the-acoustic-jazz-guitarist

[Read more Reviews]

Video Review: Essential Percussive Guitar Riffs with Jon Gomm

Video Review: Minor Line Concepts by Jay Umble

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

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

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

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

Course Review: Liquid Fire Legato by Nick Layton

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

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

Course Review: Fundamentals of Picking by Fretboard Anatomy

Book Review: Principles of Music by Bryan Baker

Book Review: The Tao of Badass Guitar by Ben Higgins

Book Review: Bach Scales by Jon De Lucia

Book Review: Extended Scale Playing for Guitar by Joe Puma

Book Review: Between the Voicings by Hristo Vitchev

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

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


 

Video Review: Essential Percussive Guitar Riffs with Jon Gomm

The world needs Jon Gomm’s video.

As I watched Jon Gomm’s new instructional video, I began to realise that this may be the best percussive guitar instructional video I’ve ever watched (and that was only at 17 mins of the 2 hour and 25 minutes).

At that point, he already broke down the best practices for percussive guitar sounds, actual movement, posture, tone production, effective practice techniques, practice philosophy – so many details to get the dynamics and musicality of contemporary percussive guitar playing.

As I progressed through the first riff, so many of the common mistakes I’ve heard myself (and many aspiring percussive guitarists) are addressed and remedies are prescribed. Yes folks, Dr. Gomm is in the house and you are in good (fingerstyle) hands.

The third riff brings me back to memories of studying with Eric Roche in the UK back in 2003. Hearing Jon explain percussive thumb slaps is very refreshing as he explains how he uses them and how the sound came into common practice. Jon also explains the various kick drum sounds that he gets, his personal preferences and why he favours some sounds.

In the fourth riff, Jon addresses the common mistakes of many percussive guitarists (I won’t share it here, you gotta watch the video to learn about those).

As I continued to watch the video, (over several sessions to experience the entire 2 hours and 25 minutes of insights), I learned so much about Jon’s approach to percussive guitar. I learned about the fine details of many different percussive sounds available on the guitar (bongo, kick, snare, rimshot, sidestick), tapping, slapping, bending, groove, harmonics, posture, fingerstyle strumming, two hand coordination, movement details and most importantly the thought process behind all this.

The special thing about this video is that Jon has essentially created 10 riffs that allow us to learn the techniques that he used in his own compositions. These compact riffs summarise the techniques he uses. The format of the video is very well thought out as well. This is the mark of an experienced performer and educator. I’m very happy that more guitarists can now experience Jon’s teaching. I still remember practice tips he shared at Thomas Leeb’s Acoustic Guitar Bootcamp years ago. I also remember fondly having the opportunity to jam with Jon and being absolutely inspired by his playing and kindness. Now, even if you haven’t met Jon in person, you can have a glimpse of him as a person beyond the amazing YouTube videos and concert footage that you may have seen.

There are so many good things about the video – the immense depth and detail that Jon goes into as he teaches the techniques, the beautifulmusical riffs he composed for the video and his charming personality with his sense of humour.

This is truly a labour of love.

With the amazing audio and video production quality courtesy of Tom Quayle, Jon Gomm has indeed opened up the door to his sonic universe for us to learn. If you’re at all interested to play percussive guitar but never tried the style, this will keep you busy for awhile. For more experienced players in the style, you may discover details that you may have overlooked especially if you’re self taught. Along with the slowed down examples, close up, detailed explanations and accompanying tab PDF, the serious percussive guitarist will have many tools to improve their playing.

All I have to say after checking out the video is that I need to learn these riffs. Thanks Jon!

Pros: Great riffs composed by Jon for this course. Great video and audio production by Tom Quayle, extremely good and clear instruction from Jon, and accompanying PDF notation with tab provides an amazing instructional experience.
Cons: None.
TLDR: I think this is the single best introductory percussive guitar course ever created (that I’ve personally experienced). If you are into this style, buy it now and start practicing.

How to Buy:
Get it from Jon himself here:
https://jongomm.com/lessons
If you get the course, please say hi to Jon for me.

I received a review copy of the course from Jon. Thank you Jon!

[Read more Reviews]

Video Review: Minor Line Concepts by Jay Umble

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

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

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

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

Course Review: Liquid Fire Legato by Nick Layton

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

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

Course Review: Fundamentals of Picking by Fretboard Anatomy

Book Review: Principles of Music by Bryan Baker

Book Review: The Tao of Badass Guitar by Ben Higgins

Book Review: Bach Scales by Jon De Lucia

Book Review: Extended Scale Playing for Guitar by Joe Puma

Book Review: Between the Voicings by Hristo Vitchev

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

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


 

Video Review: Minor Line Concepts by Jay Umble

This is the first video from Jay Umble that I’ve studied and it’s a gem. In this video, Jay explores his personal approach to creating strong minor lines. Over the 83 minutes of video and 10 pages of PDF examples, many ideas are explored.

On the website, the video description says:

In this class Jay not only demonstrates many minor 7th line ideas but goes beyond the typical lick format by sharing his personal approach to improvisation as it relates to the minor 7th tonality.  In addition to the licks, Jay discusses and demonstrates concepts such as:

  • set-ups
  • substitutions
  • arpeggios
  • random start points
  • inside/outside playing
  • chromaticism
  • symmetrical forms
  • directing the line form
  • connecting the positions
  • playing with intent and more

I particularly like how Jay presents his ideas in a very conversational way. The video is so rich with content that it made me feel I needed to watch the segments multiple times to get the full benefit.

His approach thinking about each position as a space for different line possibilities reminds me of Pat Martino’s work. This makes sense since I read that Jay had studied with Pat Martino and Joe Diorio. The Joe Diorio side of things reveals itself when Jay chooses to play more intervallic ideas within the same position. I can sense the lineage of his playing but Jay also has his own strong sense of identity. As with all the players I usually like, his strong melodic sense shines and attracted me to this video. In addition to the strong melodic ideas, Jay also demonstrated some sweep picking ideas via different one note per string lines.

With the use of chromaticism, he talks about lines gravitating towards somewhere and not having a clear idea of ‘correct notes’. To him, all notes are possible choices in creating lines over the chords. All in all it’s very interesting ideas as he demonstrates combining intervallic ideas along with more scalar chromatic tinged lines. He also discuss how to get to the point of resolving ideas even if you start on a ‘wrong note’.

In the 3rd section, he talks about ‘set-ups’ – different strategies to lead into a target note creating interesting chromaticism as the lines moves. In the 4th section, Jay shares some ideas to connect the areas of the neck while still being in the G minor tonality.

This is my first Jay Umble master class purchase and I’m extremely impressed and inspired. There’s a lot of good stuff here and I particularly like how Jay gives so many musical examples throughout the entire video. There’s a lot of interesting concepts that he introduces in between the main points including ‘setups’ and various ways to add chromatic ideas into the lines.

There are also 40 different lines (within funk and swing rhythmic context) that is included in the 10 pages of PDFs that I’ll be checking out to understand more about his approach as well.

Thank Jay & Mike’s Masterclasses for making such an awesome video.

Pros: Great solid lines and concepts with A LOT of examples played in the video. Written examples complement the video too.
Cons: Jay explains in a free form manner at times so you have to catch the points or examples as it occurs.
TLDR: If you’re an intermediate or advanced player looking to get more involved minor lines with chromaticism, check out this video!

How to Buy:
This course is available here on the Mike’s Master Classes website, one of a series of Jay Umble videos currently available. There is a rent option (limited time streaming only access) as well as a download version. The video is full of so much content so I recommend buying the download version for long term practice.

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[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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