Gigbag: August 2008

Cheaper Than Tuition

New from NYU Steinhardt and the Artists House Foundation are eight Master Class DVDs featuring Toots Thielemans, Phil Woods, Jimmy and Percy Heath, Hank Jones, Clark Terry, Cecil Taylor, Benny Golson (recorded at Loyola U. in NOLA) and Barry Harris. The very long programs, some of which are packaged as two-disc sets, feature artist performances, student performances with artist commentary and, save for the Golson volume, interviews conducted by our own Gary Giddins. The celebrated critic also turns up in documentary-style conversation segments included as special features, wherein he reaffirms his status as jazz’s most insightful talking head. $19.95.

Six-Stringin’ Made Simple

Dave Frackenpohl’s new Mel Bay book, A Practical Guide to Jazz Band Guitar, is just that-a no-frills compendium of the skills every ax-slinger should master before his or her lab-band audition. The lessons begin super-simple-reading notes in open and second positions, basic rhythm-guitar chord shapes-and progress toward blues improvisation, reading in fifth position, triads and inversions and those indispensable Freddie Green voicings. You’ll be chugging along behind the horns in no time. A CD with recorded examples is included. $19.95.

Wailing at a Whisper

Get your Jean-Luc Ponty on with Yamaha’s new SV-150K silent violin, a must-have practice tool for all apartment-bound jazz fiddlers. Part of the company’s progressive Silent Strings line, the SV-150K affords the user a completely self-contained practice space, with an integrated tuner, a metronome and a host of onboard effects. $1,295 list.