Early Masters of American Blues Guitar Series – Review

Music transcription is indeed a difficult task, as one must capture the essence of the original performance not only with exactitude, but with feel to allow the new performer to express the piece as originally intended by the artist. The passage of time and cover versions of the songs also make this more difficult.

The Early Masters of American Blues Guitar series of books brings together this requirement, with expert notation by Stefan Grossman together with original performances captured on CD to orientate the player on the style and voicing of each piece. This gives the discerning player an insight into the past and an opportunity to learn the true origins of modern blues.

The roots of modern day blues are explored in detail by studying past masters, each notable for their particular musical style which is usual linked to their geographical location and time period.

Each book is beautifully presented with carefully selected pieces representative of each artist, with lyrics, chord charts, tab and musical notation in a hand written format which adds to the authenticity of the product.

A short biography of each artist is also provided, together with illustrations and photographs from the era.

Text Box:

The series includes:

  • Blind Boy Fuller
  • Lonnie Johnson
  • Mississippi John Hurt
  • Rev. Gary Davis
  • Country Blues Guitar
  • The Anthology of Country Blues Guitar
  • Delta Blues Guitar

Indeed a worthwhile and complete collection, for those wanting to learn music from the true origins of the blues.

By Ernest H Slade

Thanks to Alfred Publishing for the Review Product. Please Visit them on www.alfred.com


Details on each book from Alfred Publishing.

Stefan Grossman’s Early Masters of American Blues Guitar: Blind Blake
Blind Blake was the greatest ragtime blues guitarist to record during the 1920s. His guitar styles and techniques were unique, capturing the pulsating rhythms of the blues, ragtime, and jazz music of the period. His records sold well and were greatly influential on generations of guitarists. This collection presents sixteen tunes that will keep your fingers very busy. Sound, feel, and control over right-hand thumb are the elements of Blind Blake’s playing that will demand all your attention and patience. Enjoy the wonderful songs, and good luck developing your “sportin’ right hand!”

Stefan Grossman’s Early Masters of American Blues Guitar: Blind Boy Fuller
Blind Boy Fuller was one of the most popular “Piedmont Blues” guitarists, recording most of his work during the late 1930s. Close friends with Sonny Terry and Rev. Gary Davis, his “country blues” music and fingerpicking playing style influenced thousands of blues players. This book and CD package features 19 of his songs, transcribed exactly as he performed them.

Stefan Grossman’s Early Masters of American Blues Guitar: Lonnie Johnson
One of the most influential blues artists of the 20th century, Lonnie Johnson began his 50-year music career in the early 1920s, and continued to perform and record until he passed away in 1970. Recording both as a soloist and with legends like Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Eddie Lang, Lonnie Johnson’s influence can still be heard today, from the work of blues guitar greats like T-Bone Walker and B.B. King, to a whole new generation of blues players. This book and CD package features 16 of his songs, transcribed exactly as they were performed.

Stefan Grossman’s Early Masters of American Blues Guitar: Mississippi John Hurt
Mississippi John Hurt had a fascinating career, originally recording a handful of songs in the late 1920s, and, after disappearing for nearly 30 years, being rediscovered by a new group of musicians that included Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and Stephen Sills. Found in 1963 living in a small town in Mississippi, by an admirer who tracked him down through the lyrics of his 1928 single “Avalon Blues,” Mississippi John Hurt was persuaded to go to Washington, D.C. and start a new career. He spent the next three years performing and recording for a whole new generation of fans. This collection of 26 songs, transcribed by Stefan Grossman, who was also a student of John Hurt, includes recordings of the actual songs themselves.

Stefan Grossman’s Early Masters of American Blues Guitar: Rev. Gary Davis
Reverend Gary Davis, also known as Blind Gary Davis, was a master musician who felt comfortable playing in a wide variety of styles and techniques. He could freely improvise on ragtime, religious and blues themes, and was an exciting and vibrant performer. An ordained minister, Rev. Davis often expressed a preference for gospel music, sometimes refusing to play the blues. This book features 13 songs transcribed by Stefan Grossman, who was also a student of Rev. Davis, along with recordings of all the songs.

Stefan Grossman’s Early Masters of American Blues Guitar: Country Blues Guitar
An incredible collection of 22 songs, by eight legendary early "Country Blues" guitarists. Artists include: SCRAPPER BLACKWELL: (Blue Day Blues; Kokomo Blues); BLIND BLAKE: (Georgia Bound); BIG BILL BROONZY: (Big Bill Blues; Mississippi River Blues; Mr. Conductor Man; Saturday Night Rub; Stove Pipe Stomp; Worryin' You Off My Mind); REV. GARY DAVIS: (Cincinnati Flow Rag; Italian Rag; Sally, Where'd You Get Your Liquor From; Two Step Candyman); BLIND LEMON JEFFERSON: (Easy Rider Blues; Hot Dogs; One Kind Favor); LONNIE JOHNSON: (Go Back to Your No Good Man; Life Saver Blues); CHARLEY JORDAN: (Hunkie Tunkie Blues: Keep it Clean); JOSH WHITE: (Jesus Gonna Make Up My Dying Bed; Little Brother Blues).

Stefan Grossman’s Early Masters of American Blues Guitar: The Anthology of Country Blues Guitar
A collection of 14 songs, transcribed exactly as they were performed by legendary blues masters Rev. Gary Davis, Lonnie Johnson, Blind Boy Fuller, and Mississippi John Hurt. Titles are: MISSISSIPPI JOHN HURT: (Big Leg Blues; Stack O’ Lee Blues; Ain’t No Tellin’; Frankie); REV. GARY DAVIS: (Hesitation Blues; Soldier’s Drill; I’m Throwing Up My Hands; Baby, Let Me Lay It On You); BLIND BOY FULLER: (Jivin’ Woman Blues; I Crave My Pig Meat; Careless Love; You Never Can Tell); LONNIE JOHNSON: (Stomping ’Em Along Slow; Woke Up With the Blues In My Fingers).

Stefan Grossman’s Early Masters of American Blues Guitar: Delta Blues Guitar
This is a fascinating collection of 14 songs from seven pivotal early blues guitarists from the Mississippi Delta. Artists featured include: WILLIE BROWN: (Future Blues; M&O Blues; Ragged and Dirty); SON HOUSE: (Dry Spell Blues; My Black Mama); SKIP JAMES: (Devil Got My Woman; Hard Time Killin' Floor; Special Rider); HAMBONE WILLIE NEWBERN: (Roll and Tumble Blues); CHARLIE PATTON: (Screamin' and Hollerin' the Blues; Stone Pony Blues; 34 Blues); ARTHUR PETTIS: (Good Boy Blues); ROBERT WILKINS: (That's No Way to Get Along).