This 113-page book is from Seattle, Washington based guitarist and educator Jan Jakut. I first encountered his work via his various postings on Facebook and later via his Patreon page. Most recently I’ve also been following his transcription work on the pickupmusic website.
In this book, Jan has collected his various studies and transcriptions into a strong piece of work that addresses contemporary elements of solo guitar performance, particularly in jazz.
In the 7 chapters, Jan examines important musical examples to help guitarists develop creative ways of arranging, improvising and performing solo guitar music.
The 7 chapters are:
1. Analyzing Harmonic and Tonal Groups
2. Analyzing Musical Forms
3. Means of Harmonic Organization
4. Melodic Devices - Guitar Techniques of Jim Hall and Bill Frisell
5. (Re)Harmonization Techniques
6. Creating Arrangements and Improvisations
7. Selected Transcriptions & Arrangements
One of the best parts of the book are the hyperlinked video links for specific musical examples. It’s great to be able to refer to the videos on YouTube for the transcriptions and exercises that Jan includes the book. Jan also focuses more on contemporary solo guitar performances – very current videos of guitarists I personally love. This makes the book more relevant for musicians who are interested beyond standard chord melody approaches covered in other books and courses.
Jan’s work is very detailed and he puts a lot of care in notating everything beautifully. For anyone interested in the music theory side of things, there is an abundance of explanations breaking apart specific phrases and sections for each musical example. Jan is great at clearly labelling the tonal functions of each phrase, identifying the chordal structures, chord functions as well as guitaristic elements like use of open strings and fretted notes, harmonics and unconventional scale fingering choices.
The selected transcriptions & arrangements chapter that closes the book is full of great pieces for study. Highlights for me are the Study for Electric Guitar by Julian Lage & the two arrangements by Bill Frisell (Shenandoah and St. Louis Blues).
All in all, this book is great for anyone deeply interested in contemporary solo guitar performance from a jazz guitar perspective. If you love detailed explanation from both a theory and guitar perspective, Jan’s work will give you a lot of food for thought.
Pros: A lot of great musical examples, transcriptions and detailed analysis. Geeky and musical. Standard notation, TAB and beautifully designed volume.
Cons: Material could be overwhelming for folks not used to this level of analysis (read: academic, college level jazz analysis)
TLDR: If you’re looking for more traditional chord melody solo jazz guitar, other books might be a better choice. If you like the solo guitar playing of players like Julian Lage, Jim Hall and Bill Frisell – this book will be a good fit for you.
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