As part of Randy Johnston’s continuing series dissecting jazz standards, this one shares Randy’s personal approach to the Jimmy Van Heusen/Johnny Burke classic “It Could Happen To You”. Randy demonstrates both how to play a chord melody version of the piece and how to improvise on the song.
The video begins with a performance of the song over a backing track. I really like this opening performance because it gives me a chance to spot the kinds of sounds that I want to learn from Randy. This performance alone contains a lot of ideas worth transcribing! I particularly adore the blues ideas that Randy plays in between the more bebop sounding lines. There are also some tasty double time phrases as well!
Next, Randy does a breakdown of each bar for a chord melody version of the piece. The accompanying PDF includes a lead sheet with Randy’s reharmonized version of the changes. There are also chord diagrams for the voicings that he uses. This is particularly helpful as we’re going through the video with Randy.
As the videos are segmented, we have an opportunity to learn 4 bars at a time and repeat as necessary until we have the phrases under our fingers. I found it quite useful as I was working on memorizing the arrangement as I studied the video.
After digesting the chord melody version, we also learn a nice transition idea to segue into the solos. For the single note soloing portion of the masterclass, Randy demonstrates many examples and explains the concepts to navigate through the changes. Some highlights for me were the way he simplified the changes into using major scale, harmonic minor as well as diminished (arpeggio and scale) to outline the chords. Randy also demonstrates a very practical diminished scale fingering to help us play smoother diminished lines. He also shares some sequence-based ideas to navigate with good voice-leading.
In the addendum section of the video, Randy includes a cool bluesy double stop idea that he got from listening to organ trio guitar players like George Benson and Pat Martino.
See Randy Johnston’s class on It Could Happen to You here.
Pros: Beautiful solo guitar arrangement of the piece taught directly by Randy. Great sounding lines, very idiomatic and strong ideas that provide immense rewards from repeated viewings. Also, learning directly from the video, you get to hear and absorb Randy’s brilliant 8th note time feel and fluid swinging groove.
Cons: Does not include transcription for the lines and solos. This however does give the student a chance to learn from the video and learn the nuances directly from Randy’s lyrical playing.
TLDR: For intermediate and advanced players interested in developing their vocabulary and learning a song directly from a Master, this is a great class for you. Beginners may benefit from the chord melody portion more but may find some challenges following the single line section.