This book by the late jazz guitar great Joe Diorio was first released in 1978. It’s a 40-page book with an accompanying CD. Although the book seems short at 40 pages, it’s actually full of really difficult musical exercises & ideas.
Joe explains it best in the introduction stating that. “All the designs in this book were conceived at this point of departure from diatonic music. They came out of my intuitive sense and not from a mechanical formula.”
This is a very important statement because it defines why the book is different than other books. There are many books that take a formula and then derives exercises from the said formula. One book that comes to mind is Jerry Coker’s Patterns for Jazz, which is one of the earliest books I worked on to develop my jazz language. The problem was that I didn’t really understand the context & function of that book at that time. As such, I ended up like someone playing mechanical formulas, and I didn’t sound jazz at all.
Looking back, it wasn’t Jerry Coker’s fault, but was my lack of knowledge and experience at that time. Books and exercises have a time and place. The most important job of a good music instructor is probably to diagnose when that time is for their private students.
Joe Diorio’s book is first and foremost a book for intermediate and advanced guitarists, or at least VERY SERIOUS guitar players. There’s nothing easy about this book. If it were Lego bricks, there’s no instruction on how to make all these lines into music. They come unassembled and it’s the responsibility of the musician to make sense of all this.
What Joe gives are the keys into this world that he explored. What you do after that is up to you. Over the years, I’ve played phrases from this book. Some made sense, most did not. My experience playing through parts of the book when I was younger is very different than it is when I check out the book now.
Some things pop out more, like Joe’s advice to “Practice these lines very slowly, at least a dozen times or more.”
Now when I read that, I really see the importance of that. For me, the only way to make sense of these lines is in fact to do exactly that.
Essentially, the book is kind of like a resource of melodic ideas (what Joe calls Designs, since they are not really licks, but more like melodic shapes that can be manipulated into licks or lines). This is an important distinction to make because some book are literal “lick books” and have phrases with good rhythms, rests & phrasing that make them ready to be “plugged” into your solo. This isn’t the case with Joe’s book.
If anything, consider this like getting Joe’s personal notes of things he’s explored, and you get a chance to check it out too.
All in all, the book is an important part of jazz guitar education history AND has influenced many guitarists since then.
Is it a book that is for everyone?
Is it a book that is easy to apply into your playing?
I don’t think so.
Is a book that is worthwhile if you like Joe’s playing or any kind of chromatic, intervallic or outside playing?
Should you buy it? If you’re the kind of person who must get every benefit from a book & would be upset if you can’t apply everything in a book… don’t buy this. But, if you’re the kind who is ok with checking out a few ideas, jamming it out & then enjoy making your own exercises and etudes from the resulting ideas, then this book might be a good one to study.
Pros: Good lines, very Joe Diorio, ahead of its time & helpful to develop chops.
Cons: Applications depends on you, some assembly required.
TLDR: If you’re a jazz guitar geek, buy this.
You can buy this book from a lot of places online, Amazon link here:
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