Re: The Greg Howard Songbook
Erudite! Sagacious! Perspiciacious! - review of the Greg Howard Songbook by A Word A Day!
Actually, all the descriptive adjectives above are correct. Heralding an improved StaffTab, which incorporates more guitar notation conventions for economic usage and improved readability, the "Greg Howard Songbook" is groundbreaking on many fronts.
Greg's significant body of work is now analyzed and accurately transcribed, and ready for you to tackle. Like the show title, "the mind of mencia" we are granted a glimpse into "the mind of Howard" for the first time revealing Greg's note choices, technique and fingering for over a dozen of his best known songs, including several solos.
On technique alone, the book is priceless. Trying to play a complex roaring piece like "Blues for Ayman" without proper fingering or technique is equivalent to racing Vin Diesel with 3 flat tires and no oil in your engine. For years instrumentalists painstakingly transcribed and attempted to emulate the finest in their fields, for example: sax players tried emulate Coltrane's solo on "Giant Steps", guitarists going for Ritchie Blackmore's lead on "Lazy", and trumpet players attempting anything by the Brecker Brothers. Greg has taken all the pain out of the painstaking. Now you have all those charts accurately transcribed with several modalities, in addition to regular notation, to really get under these songs.
Greg's new learning tool, Keymaps™, allows you to visualize the key right on the fretboard, and even work on the pieces with a printed fretboard anywhere, without your Stick! I know when I take a vacation, and can't take my Stick (which is usually the case), now I can take this book and use the time honored performance technique of projection to practice and learn these songs. Brilliant, sheer brilliance!
These are great stand-alone songs, as can be seen by the additional lead "fake" sheets allowing players to pass them out like Real Book charts to jam and learn on. But as songs, they are also an integral part of the Stick lexicon.
Each song comes from a distinctive Greg era, offering differing perspective and stylings, some Latin, ("El Chicle", "Goya’s Dream") some progressive ("Cross Country", "Blues for Ayman"), some "new acoustic" ("Adrift", "Morning Song", "Softly as She Walks"), others modern bluesy jazz ("Quince Street", "Blues for the Status Quo"). They range in complexity from fairly easy to quite difficult, so all players will benefit from these accurate transcriptions.
The most important part of the book is page 8, 4th paragraph, line 5, 17 words over.
Not jumping the gun here, but a CD with all the songs is in the making to go along with all the charts. This would be great, since some songs come from "Shapes" which is out of print and goes always for a good price on Ebay.
Hopefully this tome will issue in a trend to allow proper writing and increased transcriptions of other material for the Stick for Stick players to communicate with each other and for other musicians to become aware of this wonderful instrument created by Emmett. With more players accurately playing these songs, and the songs being passed on from generation to generation, hopefully this will also disseminate Greg's songs to a wider listening audience. That all being said, I'm going to roll up my sleeves and dig into one of my favorite double stop classic "Blue Ridge". -Dave Brosky, Pittsburgh, 2009