I first heard of guitarist Christopher Woitach via his Truefire course, Jazz Textures. Later I also studied with him in 2016 via Skype when I wanted to develop my solo guitar playing. Christopher is a very generous and supportive educator and his advice helped me a lot.
So, when I heard from him that he was working on a new course for Mike’s Master Classes, I was very excited. Soon after it was released, I got it and am happy to say that this is a great masterclass for anyone interested in expanding their solo guitar playing.
The masterclass is divided into five sections:
- 1: Intro
- 2: Playing what you know
- 3: Emulating
- 4: Changing the Feel
- 5: Putting it all Together
Christopher talks about different kinds of playing styles from Peter, Paul and Mary to the whole Jimi Hendrix rock ballad playing (with diads and all) to even the alternating bass Chet Atkins style. He shows how you can take these different approaches as a way to play more creative solo jazz guitar arrangements.
As the video progresses, he also demonstrates how you can use big band shout chorus as inspiration, adding a bass solo into the arrangement & also different kinds of Latin-based styles.
He discusses how changing the feel can also be a great way to develop the arrangement. Examples include the stride style playing of pianists like Fats Waller, the shuffle sound of Louis Prima and various straight eight feels (bossa nova, son clave, cha cha and tango).
We also get a taste of funk, swing, straight 8ths and even some classical-inspired approaches with a Vivaldi Feel & Bach like textures.
I love how he organized the different concepts/environment. The bass with high register voicings is my favorite (and most immediate applicable one for me).
I have done “bass solos” when I play solo guitar, but I’ve been too aggressive with my touch. It was inspiring to see how he did it (with nice touch and tone) – that was the most helpful part so far, especially in context of your explanation of shout choruses. Will be rewatching to transcribe some ideas too.
All in all, this is a great masterclass for anyone who feels like they’re stuck in a standard chord melody solo jazz guitar approach or if you feel like you’ve been arranging every solo jazz guitar piece the same way again & again. I for one feel grateful that Christopher has taken time to share his thinking behind his solo guitar arrangements. I hope that he will make more videos that explain in more depth what he introduced in this video.
Pros: Great masterclass from an experienced musician. Wonderful playing and examples throughout. Well presented and planned.
Cons: No accompanying written materials might be a con to some. Personally I find that it’s fine without any additional PDF files, although it would be cool to have some!
TLDR: For jazz guitarists who want to expand their approach for solo guitar arrangements/improvisations, get this now so that it powers up your playing even more.
You can get this video from Mike’s Master Classes here: https://mikesmasterclasses.com/course/environments-for-jazz-guitar/
I wrote a lot of other book, course and video reviews too. Check out the rest here:
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