A Great Jazz Tutorial by FredSokolow

An In-Depth Review of Playing and Understanding Jazz Guitar by FredSokolow.


FredSokolow is a name that defines guitar instrucion. With over 80 instructional titles in print, he is a one man musical mail order university. One of the titles in his catalog is Playing & Understanding Jazz Guitar.

Sokolow has an easy, relaxed manner to his presentation. This doesn't mean that this is a video for beginners, though. This is information for players who, at the very least, have a mastery of first position chords.

The instruction begins with a demonstration of the note names on the fifth and sixth strings. This is 'must have' knowledge.

The next thing shown is moveable chords with their roots on the fifth and sixth strings. Simply put, if you don't know the names of the fifth and sixth string notes, you can't progress to the next bit of the video.

All of the chords show are derived from the CAGED guitar chord system (look here for my review of Ernie Hawkins CAGED tutorial).

From the basic information on moveable chords he goes on to show minor, dominant seventh and diminished chords. This is all great information to know and well worth the time needed to learn it.

After basic chord info, Fred Sokolow gets to the real meat of this guitar lesson DVD. The meat is chord progressions and how they work.

Sokolow decodes chord progressions so that you can identify them when you hear them. Why is this important?

It's important because it takes the disjointed memorization out of learning songs. This is a huge benefit to anyone wanting to learn songs with more than two or three chords in them.

FredSokolow talks about renaming musical notes with numbers and why this is a good idea. He then gets to the first type of progression. the 2-5-1.

Part of the description shows how to find a physical pattern on the fingerboard for playing the progression. Again, this is something that helps eliminate rote memorization.

From the 2-5-1 progression Sokolow moves to scalewise chord progressions. This is a real revelation for most players.

It makes you sound like there's a lot going on when, in reality, you're treading water musically. It's even more effective when adding the sharp 1 and sharp 3 diminished chords, as he demonstrates.

As the video progresses, Sokolow keeps building on the 2-5-1 progression. He shows 6-2-5-1 and 3-6-2-5-1 progressions and how they relate to the Circle of fifths. This is very liberating information!

With this knowledge of how chord progressions work, you'll gain the ability to play, literally, hundreds of songs.

FredSokolow applies everything that he shows on the DVD to a couple of songs: I Got Rhythm and Honeysuckle Rose.

With the chord progression aspect of jazz guitar covered, Sokolow moves on to single note, solo playing. Here he shows how to play single note solos based on three CAGED guitar chord shapes.

He then shows soloing using a mixture of single notes and chords to play a great solo on Watch What Happens.


I've tried to mention all of the material covered in this DVD guitar lesson in a factual way. Reading about it, though, seems kind of dry.

Let me say that the DVD itself is anything but dry. FredSokolow is a good teacher who conveys this information in an easy to follow fashion. There's also a booklet included that shows everything that's covered in the DVD.

If you want to begin an exploration of jazz, or just want to add a few jazz numbers to your repertoire Playing & Understanding Jazz Guitar by FredSokolow is a great way to learn to do it.

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