Friday, January 27, 2006
Jody Fisher and "The Art of Solo Guitar"
On my to-buy list is Jody Fisher's "Impromptu," samples of which are available here. Jody has quite a career writing instruction books for Alfred Publishing, and his jazz methods are some of the best around (and I make that claim about very few of the books I see).
While Jody is a prolific teacher and author, he also sounds fantastic. He lives somewhere in Southern California's desert and gigs a lot in the Palm Springs and Lake Arrowhead area. He's the closest player out there to the sound of Ted Greene in terms of great chordal voice leading, strong melody and use of artificial harmonics (which Ted took from Chet Atkins, Tal Farlow and Lenny Breau and refined).
I've never worked out of Jody's books before, but he has a new two-volume series, available from his Web site as well as Jamey Aebersold's site, called "The Art of Solo Guitar," which aims to teach the skills to IMPROVISE as solo guitarist, creating arrangements and playing over changes on the fly (as opposed to performing a previously written-out, unchanging version).
While there are hundreds of books devoted to teaching single-line improvisation, both specific to the guitar and for other (or all) instruments and perhaps a dozen on how to play solo guitar, there are very few that bring solo guitar and improvisation together. It's like the old analogy about giving a man a fish and he'll eat for a day, but give him a fishing pole (and a supply of hooks, bait and fishing line) and he'll eat for a lifetime. I think there's value in both the fish and the pole. You can still get a lot out of an arrangement of a standard tune and derive ideas and approaches that will work with other songs, and that way at least you have something to play for people.
But building the nuts and bolts of a technique that can be applied to every tune you see, man that is one hell of a fishing pole.