Cory Seznec is a Franco-American musician who focuses on fingerstyle guitar and clawhammer banjo. He has released two solo albums and appears on numerous other recordings. Extensive travels, music tours with several different bands, musical encounters with amazing musicians from around the world and a passion for music history have helped him to develop his own distinct style that reflects his broad interests. After a 3.5 year stint in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Cory is now based in Paris, France.
Some time ago Cory began delving fairly deeply into the rich repertoire that is African-American Spirituals. Listening to the jubilee singers of yore, and some of the terrific recordings by Alan Lomax of vocal groups spurred him to find old hymnals and songbooks in order to arrange tunes for the guitar. Give Me Jesus is a soulful number that ended up being somewhat inspired by the playing of John Fahey, with down tempo strumming followed by more classic alternate bass picking. Roll De Chariot has a rollicking, syncopated feel that never really stays in one place, bouncing up and down the neck à la Revered Gary Davis. Lift Every Voice and Sing, aka the Black National Anthem, has a beautiful, harmonically rich feel and the 6/8 tempo allows the guitarist a fair amount of room in which to maneuver. Also included is a spirited version of This Train, originally inspired by Big Bill Broonzy's walking bass line, an arrangement of A Closer Walk With Thee that taps into the feel of a New Orleans brass band funeral procession, and a heavily swung and syncopated take on Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey's heart-wrenching piece Precious Lord, Take My Hand.
Titles include: Give Me Jesus, Precious Lord, Take My Hand, LIft Every Voice And Sing, Roll De Ol' Chariot Along, A Closer Walk With Thee, This Train Is Bound For Glory
100 minutes - Level 2/3 - Detailed tab/music PDF file on the DVD
Review: Cory Seznec is a skilled multi-instrumentalist living in Paris, France. He created this lesson soon after releasing the tutorial, New Orleans Fingerstyle Blues Guitar, this time covering six African American spirituals. The lesson is appropriate for intermediate and advanced fingerstyle players who already use some chord fingerings beyond the first position. For each piece, Seznec teaches accompaniments and instrumental breaks arranged for steel-string acoustic guitar. He used piano scores in several early black hymnals as sources, although New Orleans piano is another strong point of reference. The lesson follows Stefan Grossman's established format: Seznec performs each tune in its entirety, then teaches it section by section, including split screen examples showing his left and right hands as he plays at a slow tempo. A pdf file with each piece in standard notation and tablature accompanies the video. Introducing the first tune, "Give Me Jesus," Seznec cites John Fahey's arrangement of "Christ There is No East or West" as an influence, although, unlike Fahey, he incorporates both syncopation and melodic ornamentation. "Precious Lord, Take My Hand" may be the most familiar song in the lesson, and he teaches a pleasing arrangement with a chord melody-style break. Seznec also teaches a nice variation In "Lift Every Voice and Sing", in which he alternates between a chord melody approach and more traditional fingerpicking. "Roll De Old Chariot Along", "Just a Closer Walk With Thee", and "This Train is Bound For Glory" round out the lesson, and he closes with a short performance of "Death Don't Have No Mercy". Throughout, Seznec names and explains most chord voicings, an approach that should help guitarists develop effective voice leading in their accompaniments and instrumental breaks. Seznec's varied rhythms are no less important, as they lend liveliness to the music - think of Professor Longhair and James Booker for comparisons. He teaches these elements quite well while providing an in-depth look at his individual style. To sum up, this is a high-quality lesson that addresses some common needs of fingerstyle guitarists who sing or accompany others and want to spice up their playing. I recommend focusing at first on one or two of the pieces he teaches, then integrating the techniques into one's existing repertoire. – Patrick Ragains/Minor 7th
Review: Rousted from tattered, old hymnals and echoes still lodged in the rafters of clapboard chapels, a bounty of “Spirituals For Fingerstyle Guitar” gets enlisted back into soul-soothing service. Cory Seznec’s harvest zeroes in on six gospel melodies with staying power across the ages. “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” for instance, is quickly closing in on its 100th birthday.
Seznec, who last taught us “New Orleans Fingerstyle Blues Guitar”, switches gears, settling into an often-softened grace that’s rich with diminished chords. “A Closer Walk With Thee” (New Orleans brass band-styled, right down to a string-simulated tuba solo) and “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” are heavenly staples, gentle giants that have fed every musical denomination from Mahalia and Aretha to Dylan and Jorma to Patsy and Willie. Seznec’s arrangement of “Give Me Jesus” would hook John Fahey’s ear in its means of seamlessly evolving from a strum to a pick. “Roll De Ol’ Chariot Along” sports a wee bit of the devil in its step-it-up-and-go whoosh, out from which spin funky little breakouts and the kind of neck excursions that made Rev. Gary Davis a believer.
This Train Is Bound For Glory,” of course, chugs. Over the years, Big Bill Broonzy to Mumford & Sons have ridden its liberating spirit. And with Seznec’s patient section-by-section guidance, you will, too. Because these “Spirituals” uplift any set of six strings. – Dennis Rozanski/Blues Rag