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Fingerstyle Jazz Guitar in DADGAD

Sandy Shalk’s early musical interests include rock and roll, folk, and jazz including some of the great jazz guitarists of the 1950s and 60s: Wes Montgomery, Jim Hall, and Kenny Burrell. “A trip to see Buddy Rich perform at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia ignited what was to become a love of jazz for me.” Sandy began his professional career as a guitarist in the early 1970s with local top 40 and jazz music groups from Northern Delaware. “The lure of playing full-time was strong, and thus I left college to begin full-time career as a guitarist.” After studying with Philadelphia guitar teacher legend Dennis Sandole, Sandy toured the United States with Turning Point, playing contemporary popular music. The experience included an opportunity to play with oldies groups including Joey Dee and the Starlighters, who hit the charts in the 1960s with the Peppermint Twist.

After returning to Delaware in the late 70s, Sandy earned a B.A. in American Studies, an M.A. in English Education at the University of Delaware, and eventually his doctorate at Wilmington University. “Attempting to connect history to some of the literature I was teaching at the high school level eventually led to the publication of my book, Delaware: A Trivia Guide to the First State, (Heritage Books, Inc.).”

Sandy’s musical journey took new twist in the mid-1990s when his interests turned to fingerstyle guitar, and he was introduced to the music of El McMeen, Steve Baughman, Pierre Bensusan, and other guitarists who arrange music for the guitar in alternate tunings. “A lesson with El sparked an interest in arranging fingerstyle tunes and set me on a path with the ultimate goal of bringing jazz standards and DADGAD together.”

Along with guitarist Tim Alexander, Sandy released Giving Voice, a CD of fingerstyle guitar selections on the Piney Ridge label. Sing Out magazine referred to Giving Voice as “one of those rare albums of good guitar music, beautifully played.” Sandy’s solo CD, Newer Every Day (released in 2014) is a collection of folk, Celtic and jazz tunes played mostly in DADGAD. Minor7th noted that Sandy is “a fully realized musician who expresses rather than merely plays. His playing both sooths and swings, displaying both individual artistry and sensitivity to his listeners.”

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    Fingerstyle Jazz Guitar in DADGAD

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    Would you like to add some DADGAD jazz spice to your repertoire? In this lesson, Sandy Shalk teaches five popular jazz standards in DADGAD. Tunes by legendary jazz artists: Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Paul Desmond and David Brubeck including God Bless the Child, Blue Monk, Take Five, Round Midnight, and All Blues. These five tunes are arranged in DADGAD to enhance your performance repertoire with all-time great jazz standards.

    Each tune is performed, taught phrase by phrase, and played slowly in a split screen so you can follow the movement of each hand. Additionally, background information is added for each tune as well as a discussion of how the DADGAD tuning is very adaptable for arranging jazz voicings.

    A tab/music booklet is included as a PDF file on the DVD featuring each of the five arrangements. Many thanks to El McMeen for helping to put this together. Fingerstyle jazz guitar in DADGAD is still largely uncharted territory. This tuning has been typically associated with Celtic music. Welcome now, to the DADGAD jazz journey!

    Titles include: God Bless The Child, Blue Monk, Take Five, All Blues, Round Midnight

    120 minutes • Level 2/3 • Detailed tab/music PDF file on the DVD

    Review: I am a seasoned fingerstyle guitar player and I play in a jazz style. However, I have never tuned my guitar to DADGAD before reviewing this latest Stefan Grossman Guitar Workshop instructional DVD, "Fingerstyle Jazz Guitar in DADGAD." So, I have followed Sandy Shalk's instruction as a "competent novice." Shalk has done his historical homework and translated his huge knowledge base of this alternate tuning, and passionately so, into an instructional video featuring five jazz classics (God Bless The Child, Blue Monk, Take Five, All Blues, Round Midnight) into manageable arrangements for an intermediate level player. After an introduction to the history of classic jazz, the composers and the experiences of the pioneers in the development of DADGAD tuning, Shalk discusses chord voicings such as major 7th, flat 5th, 9th, major 9th with emphasis on the complement of open strings, and the ease of changing the character of a chord with a simple shift of a single note. Guiding the student to the thrill of a new unfolding discovery, Mr. Shalk appears almost euphoric sharing his knowledge, and never condescends the way other humility-challenged instructors are sometimes inclined. Shalk uses the same structured method of teaching for each of the five compositions broken down in three sections. First, he performs the complete piece in his own unique way. A brief story about the work follows, as does a methodical examination of the piece in very slow, multiple frames of the fingerings and explanation of what chords are being executed. The songs are broken down into manageable chunks which can be practiced separately and then combined into the final product, that is – a well arranged jazz standard piece that would be a stellar addition to any player's repertoire. The next section is a split screen version of the song with the camera focusing on each hand. Kudos go to the production team, with well – placed cameras and editing which truly enhances the learning experience. A world of exploration awaits me and my guitar after this superb presentation. I've already begun a new composition using DADGAD tuning and have assigned one guitar the tuning as standard (although it is pretty easy to change on the fly if required at a performance). Some guitar teachers charge $30 or more for a one hour lesson. For the same cost here one has a full course of instruction that can be revisited time and again. Thank you Sandy Shalk! – Mark Bayer/Minor7th

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