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Jazz Guitar for the Absolute Beginner, the debut instructional tome from New York City-based musician Amanda Monaco, is a well-thought out, step-by-step guide for the jazz guitar novice.
Monaco starts out with basics that everyone needs to know, from what kind of guitar to purchase to how to properly hold your new instrument. Along the way, instruction is given in reading tablature, standard music notation and simple jazz chords. The order in which the chords are introduced is particularly clever. Before they even realize it, students are playing a I-vi-ii-V chord progression in the key of C.
Additionally, the author approaches ideas for improvisation in a very non-threatening way. Readers are presented with a typical solo showcasing certain notes and rhythms. Using the CD that accompanies the book, they are encouraged to play along to the examples and then try out their own solos during the open choruses on the recording, playing along with the recording's rhythm section.
The book is rounded out by discussions on comping and basic theory. Each concept is introduced in a clear, easy to understand manner. Monaco's book will surely ease some of the trepidation readers might feel when beginning the study of jazz.
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.