I’ve always been mesmerized by world class solo guitar playing. From the first time I heard Andres Segovia playing classical guitar to the first time I listened to a Joe Pass recording – masters like them have inspired me to keep working on my craft. So, when I found out that Howard Alden was showing one of his personal approaches to solo guitar, I was really excited!
This is a special one – it seems like a simple concept on paper but the depth and artistry that Howard has taken this to is really unique. He manages to strum 4/4 rhythm guitar and still bring out the melody of the song out lyrically. It’s one thing to play a chord at the same time as a melody note but to keep both independent is something else.
My favorite part of the master class are the slowed down sections. These were really helpful for me. I loved being able to actually see how Howard plays the parts, especially the subtle nuances in the right hand technique. It’s not just playing the melody on top of the chords but also discovering how Howard plays the melody in the bottom voice. I can really see the possibilities of how this can add so much to my solo guitar sets.
The technique is not easy but with Howard’s examples, I started to get a better handle of how to practice this with the right tone, touch and feel. I have the feeling that this is one master class that I’ll keep referring to again and again.
Pros: Slowed down examples, beautifully notated transcription with fingerings and tons of demonstration for repeated study.
TLDR: If you like chord melody, beautiful voicings or solo guitar playing – this is the master class for you. In addition to learning a wonderful arrangement, you’ll get to discover a technique that you can apply to your favorite jazz standards.