Fred Sokolow is best known as the author of a library of instructional books and DVDs for guitar, banjo, Dobro, mandolin, lap steel and ukulele. There are currently over a hundred of his books or DVDs in print, sold all over the world. Fred has long been a well-known West Coast multi-string performer and recording artist, particularly on the acoustic music scene. The diverse musical genres covered in his books and DVDs, along with several bluegrass, jazz and rock CDs he has released, demonstrate his mastery of many musical styles. Whether he's playing Delta bottleneck blues, bluegrass or old-time banjo, 30s swing guitar or screaming rock solos, he does it with authenticity and passion.
Born in Los Angeles September 14, 1945, by the early 1960s Fred was well known in the California bluegrass scene, playing with Jody Stecher, Brantley Kearns, Sandy Rothman and Eric Thompson. Relocating to Berkeley, he toured and recorded with a hippie rock band throughout most of the 60s, the Bay Area-based Notes From the Underground (Vanguard Records). In the early 70s Fred performed with R&B, rock, country and bluegrass bands. By 1975 Fred had played with bluegrass luminaries like John Herald, Frank Wakefield and Jerry Garcia, had opened for the Dead, the Doors, B.B. King, Country Joe and the Fish and countless other acts.
Hoagy Carmichael wrote some of the most popular songs of all time, and they sound great on guitar. In this DVD, Fred plays and teaches six of Hoagy's best, including guitar backup (for singing) and instrumental versions of each tune. Just for fun, Fred also includes the rarely-heard introductory verses to four of the songs, as well as ad-lib instrumental chord solos.
After playing each tune, Fred gives you a run-down on the arrangement, going over tricky spots and analyzing the chord progression and substitutions. Then he replays it, slower, on a split-screen with close-ups of both hands. Best of all, you can read all six arrangements (tablature, music and chord grids) in the booklet that comes with this DVD.
Chord soloing (playing the melody and chords at the same time) is a very complete and satisfying guitar style. This lesson will get you playing some of the classiest jazz tunes ever written: Stardust, Georgia On My Mind, Lazy River, Skylark, Rockin' Chair and Lazybones.
Bonus Interview: Fred talks about his Songbook Series
100 minutes • Level 3 • Detailed tab/music PDF file on the DVD
Review: Best Jazz Guitar Series Available. I'm usually not fond of instruction books and videos, which often seem more helpful to the writer's bank account than to the guitar player. Long on sight reading and tedious exercises, they don't get across concepts that can be applied to many pieces like Fred Sokolow does. Fred has a free and easy going manner when he explains complex material, making it very accessible for anyone. With the background of his excellent “Playing and Understanding Jazz Guitar” songs like “Stardust” and “Up a Lazy River” on this DVD are not so difficult after all. Fred also relates a little history, explains how Bix Beiderbecke's warm-up routine on coronet became the “verse” of “Stardust” and how Hoagy can be seen as Cricket in the classic film “To Have and Have Not”.
I highly recommend Fred Sokolow's DVD series to any guitarist wanting to step up to more complex music relatively quickly and easily. Fred can communicate musical ideas that relate to any number of songs, understanding “Up a Lazy River” is key to playing many jazz standards. Best of all, using Fred's methods, I can easily communicate musical ideas to other musicians. (“Up a Lazy River” is a 6-2-5-1 progression, then the scale-wise lick from the 4th, then finish 6-2-5-1.) So easy and simplified. – R.W. Hester/Amazon Customer Review
Review: Get out that Archtop and get Gigging! This is one of the four DVD series of 1930's composers, Fred show us how to put together some really nice, giggable, period standards. I can see myself basing a whole evening on these DVDs - the audience drinking cocktails and living the life of the thirties for the evening. Don't quite know what level 3 really means, but if you haven't been playing for quite a few years you will find the solos difficult - but you could use Fred's guitar accompaniment as a model - but that would really miss the point of the DVD.
Highly recommended - get a copy before they become unavailable - nobody much is doing anything like these DVDs and everything eventually goes out of production. – C.R. Downing/Amazon Customer Review