21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
I've been playing guitar for 40+ years and I firmly believe learning is iterative, never ends, and as we accumulate musical experience as players, listeners, and writers it can be instructive (and a lot of fun) to revisit earlier paths with new eyes.
I remember sitting in my room as a teenager in the 70's playing through the Leavitt books: Those scale positions and chord voicings seemed a world removed from the pentatonic 'boxes' and fat barre chords of my early rock and blues background.
I was already listening to jazz of various stripes and probably recognized and enjoyed about a third of the tunes in this collection back then. But I struggled to make the connection between the new technical information I was absorbing and how to apply it.
While the chord etudes and duets Leavitt sprinkles throughout his books were instructive and fun (I still play some of them by heart), I always found it odd that no actual tunes were included - not even 'sound alike' tunes with the clever jazz pun titles (to skirt licensing fees) that fill so many books since then.
I've since learned of course that the overriding goal of the Leavitt books is to teach reading and technique, not necessarily repertoire. And that anyone studying at Berklee is presumably picking up tunes in other classes, with ensembles, private lessons, etc.
But for those of us working on our own, Larry Baione's book of supplementary solos and duets fills that void nicely and provides a much-needed musical context.
Comparing Baione's Volume 1 with the corresponding Leavitt book, it looks like Baione's correctly set the bar as far as required technique. The arrangements are musical and sit well on the instrument - considering that few of them are what I think most players would regard as 'guitar tunes'.
Perhaps some of the smaller chord voicings don't appear until Leavitt's Volume 2, but serious students will already be headed there anyway.
There's no tab. There are fingerings indicated in the score as well as chord diagrams at the beginning of the arrangements (similar to what you see in guitar magazines that include transcriptions). I'm actually a little disappointed by the chord diagrams considering Leavitt's emphasis on reading (I wonder if there was perhaps editorial pressure to include them).
If you're new to the Leavitt books and or jazz, the most important bit of advice I'd humbly offer is to learn to love this music if you hope to get something from playing it.
What I mean is many players are attracted to some abstract notion of 'playing jazz': They may be impressed by harmonic or rhythmic complexity, dissonance, or whatever they hear as novelty compared to the music they spend their time listening to.
It's not so prevalent anymore but the 70's and 80's were probably the heyday of the "session guitar player as rock star" where the ideal career was thought to be a hired gun who could instantly sound authentic playing in any style. Nothing wrong with that if it's where your heart is, but it has little to do with playing jazz.
And there's also a bit of what I call "virtuoso bias" that I used to hear in the classical world. It went something like, "Learn to play classical music first, then you can play anything".
As I get older I find it doesn't work like that - we play well what we love to play and all music rewards those who give themselves honestly and fully to it.
It's hard to imagine someone approaching rock music as 'playing rock'. Most people I knew first formed a deep connection with specific songs or a band's repertoire - which they then set out to emulate as they picked up instruments. The love of the music drove their studying and technique - the latter wasn't an end in itself.
So seek out the recordings of the tunes Baione presents here - not just the CD that comes with the book. The real paradox of studying any music is you have to immerse yourself in your instrument to get going, but you ultimately have to get beyond your instrument and get into the music itself if you want to arrive anywhere worthwhile.