There are a lot of books on jazz guitar chords. Some are very theory dense, some are simpler. Some sound like academic exercises and are dry.
There’s the stuff like Mick Goodrick’s massive 3-volume Almanac of Guitar Voice Leading or Bret Willmott’s books that explore Drop-2 voicings. Those can be a lifetime of work to study & get under your fingers. There are also chord dictionary type book such as Berklee Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary by Rick Peckham. Those are great reference books or to be used in conjunction with repertoire study.
Adam Levy’s book is something in the middle path. It’s focused by using shell chords (chords with the root, 3rd & 7th (or 6th) as the basis for the book. After introducing shell voicings & giving us preparatory exercises, Adam goes into the meat of the book. This is an exploration of eight jazz standards with three versions each:
- Shell voicing
- Shell voicings + Extensions
- Shell voicings + Extensions + Action
This gives us a chance to learn basic shell voicings and then a more colorful version with extensions and finally a version that embellishes it with rhythmic hits and great sounding passing chords.
This is the kind of approach that I wished I learned this systematically when I first starting exploring jazz guitar! It’s not just about the etudes (which are great) but also the additional recommended listening that Adam suggests throughout the book. This book is written from the perspective of an experienced educator and performer.
All in all, after reading through all the etudes in the book, I am even more inspired to work on my repertoire and take it through Adam’s process. For any book, the real test is whether it leaves an impression for the person studying it. In this regard, I believe this book will reward any guitarist who studies it.
Pros: Great book with great sounding etudes, well organized from a pedagogical point of view.
Cons: No audio or video examples. However, everything is clearly notated in standard notation, tablature and chord diagrams too!
TLDR: If you’re an intermediate guitarist interested to learn how to play jazz chords, this is a good book to learn the chords in context.
You can get this book from Adam’s Bandcamp page here.
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[Submissions for Review Consideration]
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