Andy Summers - Guitar

For those of you who have been living on Mars the last twenty years, I'll fill you in: Andy Summers was the guitarist for a band called The Police. It was the biggest act in the world in the '80s and revolutionized the sound of pop music. Andy's guitar playing was a signature of the power trio's sound: weird atmospheric chord pads and percussive guitar skronk that set the stage for punk rock and ska guitar that is so common now.

What few know is that Andy is an extremely creative and serious guitarist who is rooted in the Jazz tradition. The famous and not-so-famous sides of his playing some perfectly into focus in this brand new Hotlicks video/DVD release. The aptly titled 2-volume video reflects Andy's eclectic view of guitar playing and music. Footage of Andy playing live with his new trio appears liberally throughout.

The video opens with Andy discussing his favorite chord voicings. This proved fascinating to me as I once spent several years dissecting his chords from my old Police tapes without success. Here is a trasure trove of unique and unconventional voicings that give new life to the chords. He then shows the guitar parts he played on all the Police hits, such as "Message In A Bottle", "Roxanne", "Every Breath You Take" and a bunch of others. This will probably be the most popular subject on the tape, as I know few guitarists who don't like learning these parts.

Andy also discusses aspects of jazz improvisation, talking about scale choices and licks. Much of this material will be familiar to serious jazzers, and Andy wisely avoids going into too much detail here. It is surprising to watch him rip though bebop licks on the green Benedetto archtop he's playing. Andy, we hardly knew ye.

The remainder of the video is taken up largely with the discussion of the original pieces on Andy's post-Police solo albums. The idea of composing on the guitar is also covered. Andy's dark humor pops up here and there and the brooding aura of his music make the live performances enjoyable.

While I wouldn't call this a "jazz" guitar video per se, it is an excellent product with lots of useful information for jazz players presented with a fresh perspective. This will be one of the most unique videos in your collection. Recommended.

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