In 2009, I took a guitar & bass lesson with Carol Kaye in her home in Los Angeles, California.
I remember that lesson fondly and enjoyed learning directly from Carol Kaye in person. Her energy was infectious and she was inspiring.
In this instructional DVD, Carol shares many of the things that I remember from that lesson and more.
What comes with the DVD? Well firstly you get a 76-minute video divided into 6 lessons:
- Lesson 1. Tuning, Fingerings, Chordal Arpeggios, Solo Licks
- Lesson 2. C Chordal Scale, Dim. – Aug, Patterns, Major-Minor, Cycle
- Lesson 3. More Patterns, Jazz Blues, Pairing of Chords, b5
- Lesson 4. Stacking Triads, Working Chord Charts
- Lesson 5. Comping, More Chord Movements, i-V7s
- Lesson 6. Composing Solos, 3 Chord Charts
Carol distills the most important aspects of jazz guitar playing in each lesson. The material is organized in bite sized segments and she presents it clearly with the fingerings and technique that she uses. The video is well shot and you can clearly see what she does.
I personally found that working on this material helped both my ears and fingers develop a stronger connection. It helped me learn & create jazz lines faster too since it’s really a simpler approach to it. So much of these are classic sounds that you probably have heard if you’re familiar with jazz recordings from the 1950s.
Sometimes, some books or methods teach you TOO MUCH material in one go or give too much theory that you get obsessed about the theory part more than actually being able to play.
With Carol you get none of that BS. She keeps it simple.
I like how Carol makes it easy to work on these things. Basically, play what she teaches and work on that daily… and you’ll probably start sounding good sooner than you expect.
Some of the examples that Carol shows might seem too easy or seemingly too logical for more advanced players. But. the fact is these exercises and concept are what I like to call “player-centric teaching”.
This is the kind of stuff that an actual performer would do because it simplifies how they approach music. The whole idea is to get you to be able to play and sound good as soon as possible instead of learning way too many things at once.
I particularly liked the way Carol taught the “Major-Minor” portion of Lesson 2 and how she explained the diminished and augmented patterns. As the video progresses to Lesson 4, there’s even more examples of how these patterns and ideas are applied to jazz standards.
To be honest it will take some time to get these examples together into your playing. The good thing is that it’s easy to rewatch certain parts over and over so that you internalize these ideas.
Lesson 6 closes the DVD with Carol demonstrating how to apply the concepts, patterns & phrases to three jazz standards. This puts in context how everything she taughts fits together into actual solos. This lesson in particular is one that I would recommend extensive study in order to be able to catch everything that Carol shares here. She gives suggestions of what to play on each chord. The examples sound great can help navigate through the chord changes with more confidence.
In conclusion, with this DVD, Carol Kaye presents a valuable educational resource for students of jazz guitar. Alongside a teacher and good listening habits, this DVD can help the dedicated jazz gutar student sound even better. Strongly recommended!
Pros: Really practical material for learning jazz guitar. Straight to the point, no filler.
TLDR: If you want to learn as “the way it was done in the creative easy 50s” as session musician great Carol Kaye says it, this DVD is an insightful guide to the most important aspects to jazz guitar.
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