Soloing Over Bebop Blues is a three-part video instructional package by Rich Severson and the good folks over at the Guitar College. There are fifteen different one-chorus solos presented over the three volumes, which are available in DVD or digital download format, and every volume is accompanied by a PDF download of the solos, in tab and notation, along with an audio jam track. Severson, a former G.I.T. guitar instructor, does a solid job of covering as much material as possible in these fifteen lessons, without ever rushing through things or trying to cram in too much information at one time. These DVD’s will be a welcomed instructional aid for the upper-level beginner or intermediate jazz guitarist.

Each solo is presented in real time, with Severson performing the solo himself, before it’s broken down riff by riff, and when necessary, note by note. By demonstrating each lick one at a time, Severson is letting the student see the ‘building blocks” of his solos, the meat and potatoes of how he thinks about soloing over a bebop blues. Each riff is thoroughly explained in regards to fingerings, right and left hand, theoretical concepts, further application and the chords, scales and arpeggios used to build that line. This allows students to not only apply this material to these fifteen solos, but they can take these building blocks and create memorable Bebop blues solos of their own, something that will be beneficial to guitarists of all levels and backgrounds.

While many students will enjoy working through the solos, and each line as they pick out their favorites for further study, what they might not know on a conscious level is that they are learning about time, feel and swing at the same time as they are learning about licks, theory and phrasing. Severson has a well-developed sense of swing that he uses when playing all of the solos and examples on each DVD.

Review of Bebop Blues Comping Volumes 1-2:  His time is right in the pocket, his tone is fat and his articulation is dead on, all things that beginning to intermediate jazz guitarists should be working on top of their technical and theoretical studies. It is this added bonus, hearing solid feel, phrasing and articulation, which makes this series so beneficial. These are not things one can learn from a book, and playing along with Severson will do wonders to lift ones playing several levels, even if they don’t memorize or adapt any of his licks or runs.

These first five solos, in the key of Bb as are all of the solos in the series, are based on the improvisational styles of Charlie Parker and jazz-guitar legend Joe Pass. Some of the topics that Severson covers are side stepping, half-step approach to bar four, enclosures around chord tones, adding the IVm7 chord in bar six, augmented triads, some chord voicings and double-stops, blues scales and chord scales and the importance of using space in a solo.

All of these are important aspects in any successful performance and with his detailed descriptions, ones that can be easily applied to anyone’s practice routine without much difficulty.

The second volume in the series contains four different Bb blues solos that were inspired by the playing of jazz saxophonist Sonny Stitt, with a little bit of Bud Powell thrown in for good measure. Here, Severson continues to develop the ideas he discussed in Volume one, but he also brings into the discussion idiomatic trills and triplet phrases, developing eighth note feel, transferring sax lines to the guitar, approach chords, guide-tone based melodic ideas, target notes ideas, harmonic displacement and much more.

Though many viewers will want to watch all three volumes, and work out the solos, in chronological order, they are not written in a way that would prevent anyone from doing one solo from Volume one, then one from Volume two, then back to one etc. Each solo has a different focus and different benefits to offer students as they work through the series.

The final volume starts with two idiomatic bebop solos, followed by three Wes Montgomery octave-style solos, before finishing with a solo that combines both chord voicings and single lines. Fans of Montgomery will want to jump right in and start tackling these solos as they are filled with vocabulary from the late great jazz guitarist, including those tricky sixteenth note octave strumming patterns that he became known for.

This Volume contains more harmonic ideas, octaves, thirds and chords, than the previous volumes and is a nice addition for those students who are looking to expand their playing beyond single lines.

Overall these three DVD’s contain a plethora of information for those guitarists who are looking to expand their Bebop vocabulary and further develop their ability to solo over a Bebop style blues. The solos are presented in a clear and easy to understand fashion, each lick is carefully demonstrated and the accompanying documents and jam tracks only add another level of enjoyment to the package.