When I heard that his new book by Davy Mooney was out, I was excited.
I’m a fan of his instructional YouTube videos and his previous book, Personalizing Jazz Vocabulary which I described as a “jazz improvisation course in a book”.
Continuing Davy’s process of documenting his approach to jazz guitar, we get this new book entitled “Into The Labyrinth: An Anatomy of Position Playing for Jazz Guitar”. The book comes with audio recordings of Davy performing every etude & improvised solo in the book. Davy explains in the first chapter:
There are downloadable recordings of me performing each etude and improvisation, along with backing tracks of both solo guitar (for you to practice your own all-8th note playing), and guitar, bass, and drums (for you to practice improvising in positions). There are 60 recordings in all. Joining me in the rhythm section are the fabulous Dallas-Fort Worth-based musicians drummer Matt Young (who also engineered the recording) and bassist Mike Luzecky.
Davy attempts to reverse-engineer the process that led to his understanding of the guitar fretboard in his books & in this book we get a breakdown of how Davy views position playing.
The core of the material builds on scale fingerings that Davy learned from the classic Barry Galbraith books (a modified CAGED stystem, which I like) & arpeggio fingerings from his teacher Hank Mackie, who Davy calls the guru of New Orleans jazz guitar.
After introducing the fingerings, Davy takes this material and applies them on five tunes with chord progressions in the style of Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane.
If you have been playing jazz for awhile, these chord progressions might already be familiar to you. If you’re like me and were not familiar with some of the chord progression, it will take a bit a googling to find out. (Hint: Visit Davy’s YouTube channel to see if you can spot him playing and/or explaining the tunes in older videos.
A huge part of this book are the etudes & improvised solos in position.
In addition to giving us an etude & transcribed improvised solo for each of the five positions for each tune, you also get explanation of the fingerings and arpeggios used. There’s immense detail for every choice that Davy makes. In short, this is serious material for serious students. And the thing is… all the solos sound great and idiomatic!
Do note that although all the solos include detailed left hand fingering & string indications, there is no tablature included. However, the arpeggio & scale shapes he uses are notated in chord/scale diagrams.
This book by Davy Mooney made me reminded me of what Pat Martino taught in his Giant Step studies. That was a series of lesson that he posted on his website back in the mid 2000s, which I can’t find anymore in full, though some elements of it are in his Truefire course. It got me digging out that course to revisit as well. On a related note, I would say that Pat Martino’s The Nature of Guitar course is a good course to supplement this book, especially if you try out Pat’s lines that stay in position.
In conclusion, I strongly recommend serious jazz guitar students to get this book alongside Davy’s previous book, Personalizing Jazz Vocabulary (reviewed here) as worthwhile long term textbooks to develop linear jazz guitar vocabulary. I’m sure will reward anyone who patiently works through them.
Pros: Really high quality well thought out material for the serious jazz guitarist.
TLDR: If you want to master modern jazz improvisation systematically, to understand the fingering and harmonic choices, get this and Davy’s previous book. Both will work well together.
You can buy both the physical book or eBook from Mel Bay here:
[Submissions for Review Consideration]
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