Video Review: 8 Christmas Tunes Improvised by Sid Jacobs

Review by Az Samad

8 Christmas Tunes Improvised by Sid | by Sid Jacobs

The more I watch Sid Jacob’s videos, the more I understand where he’s coming from. Let me come clean, I’m a huge fan of Sid Jacob’s books. To me, his book Mel Bay’s Complete Book of Jazz Guitar Lines and Phrases should be a required text for anyone remotely interested to learn single note soloing in a bebop or contemporary jazz context.

Now, when we go into his videos – it gets really interesting because we get to see Sid’s train of thought as he shares his decades of experience distilled into the hour or longer. In this new 2-hour master class, we are greeted with beautiful high quality video that captures details of Sid’s playing. I really felt like a fly on the wall getting to see Sid share his knowledge.

The choice of repertoire is appropriately seasonal as Sid dissects his improvised arrangements of Christmas classics. At face value, you already get a chance to learn how to play beautiful arrangements of these songs from Sid but it’s not just that. That, is just the tip of the iceberg!

What I discovered as I watched the video was that this was really a lesson in two-part playing, counterpoint, arranging, harmony and more. This was really a master class in the elements that make high level solo guitar playing possible. Sid shares his thought process, the connection between different tunes, harmony as color, melody-chord (as opposed to chord-melody) and many ideas on approaching solo guitar.

I love his understated sense of humor throughout the video with seasonal references related to the harmony and also the resulting voicings in the arrangements. For any harmony or music geek, these are an added treat!

In a lot of guitar lesson videos, it’s easy to find the same material. Someone explaining a drop-2 voicing or close triads or basic arpeggios – those are common. What makes a video have personality is when the instructor injects and embraces their entire being into the lesson. It’s a direct and real reflection of who they are and all their influences over the years.

In this video, I can see glimpses of Jimmy Wyble, Bill Evans and J.S. Bach – all of which have really melded together into this unique Sid Jacobs sound. If you’ve gotten any of the previous Sid Jacob videos from Mike’s Master Classes, this one will provide you a lot of ideas. There’s so much stuff here. Even one arrangement would provide hours of potential study and we get about 10 songs (and Happy Birthday as a related example too) – what a blast!

Pros: Amazing amount of examples, ideas and content. This is arrangement gold right here if you’re interested in contrapuntal and solo guitar playing.
Cons: No notated examples. This is basically like getting a chance to hang out with Sid Jacobs in his home.
TLDR: More suited for intermediate and advanced students who are interested in solo guitar, counterpoint, harmony and arrangement ideas. If this sounds like you, get this master class.

8 Christmas Tunes Improvised by Sid | by Sid Jacobs

December 8, 2018

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