Hristo Vitchev is fast emerging as an important voice in contemporary jazz guitar. As a composer and performer, his eight albums as a leader are aural documents of some of his 300+ compositions. As an educator, he has released 2 books so far & an instructional video called Harmonic Expansion on the Jazz Guitar Society website.
This latest book, 8 Chordal Etudes for Jazz Guitar is a showcase of his unique outlook on the harmonic possibilities of jazz guitar for accompaniment and texture.
The premise is similar to his previous book, 8 Contrapuntal Etudes for Jazz Guitar – using 8 standard jazz chord progressions as a basis for his harmonic exploration. There’s some challenging stuff here mixing cluster type voicings, with wide stretches (we’re talking a 7 fret span here folks!) to more familiar quartal voicings as well as drop-2 chord inversion used enharmonically to imply more colorful extensions.
The beauty of Hristo’s work is in the way he combines and voiceleads these voicings. The problem with typical jazz guitar chord books is that most rehash standard voicing types like Drop-2, Drop-3 and occasionally Drop-2&4. This is not the case with Hristo’s latest book.
Hristo emphasises the use of unique voicings and the musical application of these voicings within the standard jazz canon. Even with Blue Bossa, this isn’t your standard jam session voicings here. Far from it! Each phrase demonstrates harmonic continuity and presents physical (and aural) demands for the curious jazz guitarist. As soon as you feel comfortable thinking, “I know these chord shapes”, Hristo will surprise you will some stretchy take on a dominant chord voicing.
As I tried the examples in the book, I found that there’s a lot of material to digest. My personal suggestion is to take one chord (or maybe one chord change) at a time to really examine what Hristo has presented. The cool thing is that after awhile, you do see some familiar voicings that Hristo uses in different etudes. This helped me see how he used the same movements in different situations.
At 18 pages, this book seems like a small volume to invest in. However, as you try the examples, you might start to see how these are densely packed nuggets of harmonic information compressing Hristo’s years of study. I found myself stopping at certain voicing to analyse what each note was in relation with the original chord changes. This helped a lot for me to incorporate these new ideas into my playing.
It’s one thing to learn new chord voicings but to apply them, that’s the real challenge. With Hristo’s new book, modern jazz guitarists now have a new book to check out for their practice sessions.
Pros: Great material, well presented, clearly notated.
TLDR: If you’re bored of just playing standard jazz guitar chord shapes, here’s your chance to learn some new cool voicings and combine them with your existing harmonic vocabulary.
I received a complimentary copy of the book from Hristo. Thanks Hristo!
How to Buy:
You can purchase book here from Hristo:
Please tell him you found out about the book via this post (if you do get this book).
You can view Hristo’s eBookstore here: https://gumroad.com/hristovitchev
Reviews of Hristo’s previous 2 books are here:
Book Review: 8 Contrapuntal Etudes for Jazz Guitar by Hristo Vitchev
I wrote a lot of other book, course and video reviews too.
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