Sheryl Bailey Bebop Flow Video Lesson Review

By: Matt Warnock

Learning to play jazz guitar, especially Bebop jazz guitar, often seems like a daunting task to say the least. Many books exist on the subject, but many times these books just further to complicate the matter, providing pages and pages of theory and exercises without ever fully explaining how to take all of this information and turn it into an improvised solo. As well, it is often best to study one on one with an accomplished jazz guitarist to get the most out of one’s Bebop learning experience, but many of us don’t live in a city with such a performer and can’t travel to New York or Chicago to take a guitar lesson.

Mike Gellar and his website Mike’s Masterclasses aims to alleviate these problems by providing in-depth, easy to understand video masterclasses with some of the best performers in the business, all at a reasonable price and with new classes on a wide variety of subjects being added to the site on a regular basis. One of the latest classes to appear at MMC was conducted by New York jazz guitar virtuoso Sheryl Bailey. Titled “Bebop Flow: Connecting Harmonic Concepts with the Family of 4,” the class presents an important concept, one that every bebop guitarist should know, in an easy to understand and fun to practice approach, two reasons that this video lesson rises above the crowded jazz education marketplace to stand on its own two feet.

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The video takes a look at what seems, at least on paper, to be an advanced concept, applying diatonic substitutions over Dominant 7th chords to maximize one’s knowledge and application of the Dominant Bebop scale. I know, this already sounds complex and mathematical, but, don’t let the title or your initial exposure to the subject matter defer you from digging into this video. Bailey, an experienced educator, does a great job of breaking down the topic into small, easy to practice and digestible chunks of information.

Centering around one scale, the Dominant Bebop scale, and four arpeggios in the key of F7, F7-Am7b5-Cm7-Ebmaj7, Bailey is able to demonstrate in both exercises and practice applications just how easy it can be to create long, flowing and interesting Bebop sounding lines in your solos without learning a ton of theory. By taking simple ideas, such as arpeggios and a scale most of you already know, and combining them in a new fashion, Bailey teaches you how to make a Bebop mountain out of a theoretical molehill.

This class not only presents material that is important to the development of any Bebop guitarist, it lays out each phrase, exercise and theoretical concept in a fun and manageable manner, something that is often lacking from other jazz guitar pedagogical material. If you can’t take a flight to New York to study with Bailey, this video lesson is the next best thing. Accompanied with pdf’s of each example, in standard notation, guitarists of any level can walk away having learned something new and having obtained a new perspective on Bebop and their own playing in the process. Check out Bailey’s lesson, as well as the other lessons on Mike’s Masterclasses, you won’t be disappointed.