Post by Safir
Isn't the books series "Approching the standards" somewhat similar ?
Post by Al Stevens
I'm not a piano teacher, but a friend is. He's also a fine jazz player. Many
of his students want to learn jazz, and they are from all age groups. Ron
looked for appropriate literature and found only books that are either way
too simple or way to complex. So he started to write his own arrangements of
tunes in a piano solo jazz idiom for his students. Rather than concentrating
on jazz scales and such or long lines of transcribed solos, Ron's charts are
standard tunes with jazz voicings. They are easy enough to play and yet they
have a good jazz feel.
Ron says the students are really enthusiastic since he began using his own
charts. Now he's thinking that maybe there is a market for a book of such
arrangements. I'm a published writer and jazz piano player, so I understand
the subject and can write the text and know about publishing. We're
1. What are the best books already available on this subject? What do you
use with your jazz students at various levels?
2. How many tunes would such a book need to be useful?
3. How much narrative text would a typical teacher need to explain each
4. Would today's teachers and students be receptive to a book on cdrom from
which you can read the text and print the arrangements on a computer? Or do
teachers prefer traditional bound books of music for their students? (Cdrom
copy protection is not an issue. I am in touch with a mastering company who
has a viable solution to that problem.)
There are, of course, innumerable books on the subject of jazz piano.
There is one written by Dave Frank in CD and I think now in DVD form.
It is really good, but tends to want the player to play Lennie
Tristano type lines--he was his teacher.
And Charles Beale, which is part of that AASBRM (or whateve the
initials are) has written Jazz Piano From Scratch, which is also
There is also of course, Jazz Piano by Mark Levine, widely
recommended, but with a dearth of tunes, and a dearth of instruction
on jazz rhythm.
I think what would be good would be a true update of the Mehegan
books. He included charts for all tunes, but no melodies. But his
charts were strange, often more Bach-like than jazz-like. If the
charts were better, I would think these would be really good. But
the charts did have the advantage of being listed as Roman numeral
charts, forcing the student to think in all keys. And his books were
really comprehensive. The other problem with this set of books is that
they really did not teach you much about how to form a melodic line on
your own, as I recall, just exercises on scales and arpeggios. But
the only other set of books I have seen that is as comprehensive,
actually even moreso, is the set by Bill Dobbins, but it is marred by
a poor typesetting job, as the bass clef and the treble clef do not
even match in most places. And it is not widely marketed. I don't
think you would even find them at a music store.
Maybe Roman numeral charts for tunes in the New Real Book should be
matched inside a piano jazz text. Try this technique on the chart for
the following tune found in the New Real Book or something like that.
Some of the best books find their place at Borders or Barnes and
Noble, reaching a larger market.Jazz Piano Harmony by Dominic Alldis
is one such book, and it is a good book, and he has just come out with
another one--Jazz Improvisation. And he includes limited tunes.
But the problem with a lot of these books is they do not include
tunes. That is where Aebersold and others have tried to fill the
As for books with just tunes, I have seen many of these published
recently, although I think Aebersold is the king. I cannot remember
which ones include voicings, but some do. Go to www.ejazzlines.com
and you will find a pretty comprehensive list of what is available.
Between this and www.jazzbooks.com (Aebersold) you should know about
everything that is available, although I don't know if the Dave Frank
books or the Dominic Alldis books are available at either of these
places. But www.pianoplace, www.encoremusic.com, and
www.sheetmusicplus.com will show you everything available on the
subject if you missed anything.