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Mel Bay

The Music of Louis Armstrong DVD

The Music of Louis Armstrong DVD


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This DVD lesson could be titled The Music of Louis Armstrong for Finger-picking Guitar or Gary Davis Meets Louis Armstrong. Born in 1896, the brilliant Piedmont guitarist Gary Davis came of age in the teens and the twenties. He was in his prime during the Jazz Age and his playing shows it. His guitar style and techniques came out of the twenties. It enabled him to play like a band. His thumb played the rhytmic sections of the band while his index finger soloed over this. Rev. Davis only used his thumb and index fingers to pick. When asked why, he replied with a smile: "That's all I need!"

In Rev. Davis's playing you can hear the drive of Louis Armstrong as well as Louis's bugle call riffs. Rev. Gary Davis's style is made to order to play Louis Armstong tunes on guitar. As I learned most of what I know and do on the guitar from Rev. Gary Davis, this is how I see it and how I have approached arranging the tunes on this DVD lesson.

Once you find the right key on the guitar, these early jazz masterpieces seem to fall right into place. Putting "Cornet Chop Suey" into the key of C, for instance, enables you to play the patented "Gary Davis Slow Drag G form C run" throughout as the statement of the initial melody.

This lesson is over two hours and forty minutes. The arrangements are for the intermediate to advanced players. They are multi-section compositions with lots of fingerpicking challenges. But all your hard work will be very worthwhile as these tunes are some of the greatest in the early jazz repertoire. Ernie teaches phrase by phrase and then uses the split screen so you can carefully study what each hand is doing. Detailed tab/music booklets are included as PDF files on both DVDs. Tunes include: "Potato Head Blues," "Basin Street Blues," "Cornet Chop Suey," "Weather Bird," and "It's A Wonderful World."

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