As far as I’m concerned, this book is really a course.
Davy Mooney has managed to write a book that is both well organized and practical in nature.
In just 68 pages, 13 chapters and 10 tunes, I felt like I was brought along a 12 week college level course on jazz improvisation.
The premise is elegant with Davy doing a great job explaining how the book works. He introduces specific licks and five licks are placed within the context of a tune. In addition to giving us a context for practice, Davy also takes a solo on each tune. Every solo is transcribed and this provides a valuable resource too.
The best part of the book is that each line is explained in terms of the fingering and the function. Each chapter gives us the opportunity to combine new jazz vocabulary and improvise within the context of a jazz standard chord progression. This lifts the book from being a typical lick collection book into a systematic approach to digesting the vocabulary.
The transcription of Davy’s solo is also an invaluable resource to to get different ideas and study how he approaches the same exercise.
The first time I encountered this kind of practice method was via my improvisation teacher, jazz saxophonist Greg Lyons during my time at International College of Music (ICOM) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Recently, jazz guitarist Cecil Alexander also recommended this practice method in his 3 Week Bebop Challenge. Berklee professor Jon Finn also adopts a similar approach in his Blues Building Blocks course (recently reviewed here). This really makes me believe that this is an effective and common approach since so many guitarists I admire are recommending this practice approach.
The text explaining each lick is really useful and provides context for how these sounds work theoratically. I find that Davy’s personality comes through in his explanation of the material provided.
The backing tracks provided sound professional and are a great practice tool.
I was rather stressed by the time chapter 8 as I wanted to make sure I played as many of the examples notated and go through the book thoroughly before completing this review.
Around that time, I took a few days off before coming back to the book to work on the review.
I think going through one chapter a week would be a good pace for a college level music student who could treat this book like signing up for a college course. There are so many ways to work on this material, from learning the individual licks, working through the method as prescribed and also learning the transcription of Davy’s solos.
In conclusion, this book would be great for players who already have some jazz guitar background but would like to improve their jazz skills even more. I don’t recommend this for beginners as you’d probably need more context for the lines given to make sense. However if you already know your chord scales, have some jazz vocabulary and are familiar with some jazz repertoire at least, you can gain a lot from diligently going through this book.
Pros: Great material, well organized and very challenging.
TLDR: If you’re ready to increase your jazz vocabulary, this book can potentially help you do that. It’s basically like a jazz improvisation course in a book.
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