I couldn't wait to tear open the box that came in the mail. Inside was the new Jack Wilkins instructional video. I locked the door, turned the answering machine on, and fired up the VCR. The first thing I heard was Jack launching into an incredible rendering on "Confirmation" changes. I was stuck to my seat, and it wasn't chewing gum. Wilkins' playing is relentless, merciless. The ideas overwhelm you; and by the time you figure out what you just heard, he's half a chorus down the road. I sat through 80 minutes of this torture and immediately rewound it and sat through it again.
This was my first impression of the new VHS videotape from Bransong Music, Jack Wilkins Jazz Guitar Workshop. In this high quality video, Wilkins is recorded in front of a small audience accompanied with guitar and upright bass, just doing his thing and explaining what is going on. Tunes heard are contrafacts of "Confirmation", Autumn Leaves" and "I Got Rhythm", as well as a beautiful solo reading of "Here's That Rainy Day". In between tunes Jack discusses a variety of topics, including ii-V progressions, leading tones, chord solo techniques and picking styles.
Frankly, his discussion was rambling at times and he spent too little time explaining some of the advanced things he does on the guitar, but I did pick up a few gems that helped my playing. The accompanying booklet is a valuable aid, helping me figure out some of the fingerings. I do wish, though, that the transcriber had thought to include some of those amazing little licks that Jack noodled through while he talked!
The playing, however, was amazing. This is a rare opportunity to see close-up how Wilkins navigates the fretboard and to listen in detail to what he does. Accompanying guitarist Jack Pearson contributes a wonderful solo on the rhythm tune as well. Altogether, I thoroughly enjoyed this video and will continue to be inspired and instructed by it. This belongs in every jazz guitarist's video collection. Pick it up!