After tremendous efforts to make it the best book of its kind that I could possibly produce, I am happy and proud to at long last see 25 Great Jazz Guitar Solos in print! Released by Hal Leonard in November 2015, it contains, for each of 25 current and historical jazz guitarists of note, a transcription of a masterful improvised solo, a lesson with analysis and playing tips for that solo, a bio on the player, and access to a full-band sound-alike recreation of the original recording.
I do tend to give attention to detail, and that turned the project into quite a mountain to climb! If you’re looking at this book for potential purchase, I can personally assure you that the transcriptions, observations, demos, and historical fact-checks were done as meticulously as possible. Also, as regards both quality and degree of effort put in, I’ll point out that this is the sort of product for which, as I understand it, three or four different people could’ve done the work I did, separately handling the tasks of choosing the artists and solos, transcribing the solos, recreating them in the studio, and writing the text (with, I would assume, the text-writer’s name on the cover as author). Hal Leonard figured, correctly I think, that in this case the best results would come from one person handling all of these elements—this was borne out in my experience of creating the book, since the process of listening for and playing each note and phrase gave me extra insight into the work of each artist, which I could in turn share with the reader in the bios and lessons.
The demands of the current market for this kind of guitar book, which the Hal Leonard Corporation certainly understands well, dictate that guitar tablature must be included along with the standard musical notation for the solos. And another aspect of discovery for me as a guitarist, through the making of the book, is that I became a sort of “tab convert.” Together with many other literate players, I had often thought that tab was superfluous, or not the way to go in comparison to music written on the staff—for general music literacy, and especially for purposes of playing jazz, where various melodies and musical ideas might be rendered in so many different ways on the instrument. But if I was going to be responsible for showing specific fretboard locations for each note of each of these solos, I was darn well going to do that as authentically as possible too, and out of this came yet further understanding of each featured guitarist’s approach. Certainly, their improvised lines would stand on their own with or without those exact fingerings (or, for that matter, if played on a different instrument), but this particular view into diverse ways of thinking or moving on the fretboard was a rewarding one.
Anyway, I’m happy to have it done, happy to share it with any of you who are interested in the subject matter, and happy to say I can confidently recommend it in that regard. I’m grateful to the publisher for giving me the leeway to fill their 25 Great Solos format in the way I saw fit, grateful to my friends and colleagues Mark Davis (piano), Dan Trudell (keyboards), Jeff Hamann (bass), Dave Bayles (drums), Eric Schoor (tenor sax), and Ric Probst (recording engineer) for their efforts on the recorded portion of the book, and grateful to numerous other supporters and advisors along the way!