Review of Jazz Guitar Etudes by Greg Fishman

After releasing a very popular Jazz Saxophone Etudes book, Greg Fishman from Chicago has just released a guitar version with CD and tablature. I had originally purchased the sax version because I’ve always preferred the melodic lines of saxophones. With the guitar version it’s great to see where a jazz guitar master places the lines on the guitar. This jazz guitarist is Mike Allemana from Chicago. It must have been a challenge to get some of these etudes up to speed (some are blistering) because sax lines don’t always sit well on the guitar. Mike did a great job at performing these etudes.

The book has an introductory section that explains some of the concepts used in the etudes such as voice leading and sequences. This helps to understand how the lines work. The etudes use common chord progressions such as Blues and Rhythm changes, and other progressions that you will find in tunes such as Autumn Leaves, Satin Doll and Take the A Train to name a few. This is great because the lines and ideas can then be used in many common playing situations.

The cd has a guitar version, tenor saxophone version and rhythm section version. This is very important as you can match the phrasing, articulation and time feel of the guitar and sax as close as possible. Mike encourages us to play the parts in different areas of the neck and using different articulation – pick all notes, slur some and so on. You can also play over the rhythm section when you want to be the only soloist.

The lines are incredibly melodic and sensible. There is so much gold here that you will have no problem mining a huge library of ideas from the lines. For practicing the lines, I used Amazing Slow Downer to play each etude slowly and perfectly before increasing the speed.

Many teachers report much more success with students who learn etudes than when they strictly focus on theory and analysis. It is for this reason that I recommend that every guitarist pick up a copy of Jazz Guitar Etudes today!

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