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Ken Hatfield

Ken Hatfield

Ken Hatfield grew up playing jazz on steel-string electric guitars and the dobro, but eventually switched to the classical guitar for two reasons: “I like the sound better, and the nature of the music I began composing required it.” Hatfield has ably surmounted the difficulties of playing jazz on the classical guitar and made full use of its “sensitivity and nuance” on five albums; The Surrealist Table (Arthur Circle), a trio record with drummer Jeff Hirshfield and bassist Hans Glawischnig, is the most recent. Now he’s extending a helping hand to classical guitarists intrigued by jazz with a new textbook plus recording called Jazz and the Classical Guitar: Theory and Application.

“The publisher, Mel Bay, initially wanted a comprehensive book designed to aid classical guitarists who wanted to explore jazz improvisation,” Hatfield says. “Many of these guitarists have limited experience ‘reacting’ to other players, so I had to find a method of presentation that would address the real-world issues that one encounters on gigs and at jam sessions.” Hatfield’s solution was to present basic issues in chord changes and harmony from a guitarist’s perspective, then to make the theoretical concrete with transcriptions of his improvisations, both solo and with groups, and a CD of the improvisations themselves.

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