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VINE VOICEon May 6, 2007
This books covers a world of material on crafting rock/jazz/blues solos for less than the price of a music lesson. You need to have reasonable mastery of your instrument before tackling this book (playing scales, reading music, producing proper tone, etc.). The book will easily take a non-obsessed musician over a year to plow through and absorb fully if they do not have much background in improvisation or theory. The "Idiot" that masters the material would be an amazing idiot indeed. What makes this book stand out from others?

1) The amount of material covered: There are some gaps (like modes of the melodic minor scale), but this book does an incredibly good job of hitting important topics in comprehensive fashion. Its broad scope almost rivals an encyclopedia.

2) Clear and concise explanations: the book opts for clear explanations and illustrative examples, rather than giving technically perfect explanations. Other books deal with topics in exhaustive depth (Bert Ligon's jazz books and Mark Levine's Drop 2 book come to mind); this one presents the concepts and suggests their application, then leaves it to the student to explore.

3) Interviews - there are two very good interviews with pros from jazz and rock

4) Appendices - the appendices have some good scale charts that will be useful for reference and practice.

5) Lots of practice patterns

6) Advice that goes beyond the theory - theory is indispensible, but it doesn't equal music, any more than colors equal art. The real value in this book is the discussion of how to make solos interesting and effective. The advice in this realm is as useful to a reaasonably experienced improviser as it is to a beginner, and trancends all genres. Every solo can be analyzed through these concepts to find where room for improvement may be found.

This books has plenty to offer to the budding improviser. Do not be fooled by the bargain price or the title: it is not a half-hearted introduction or a quick fix. It is as jam-packed with information as any book on the subject could be. It will require time, practice and dedication to master the material in this book, but it will produce results if you do your part.

Because of the breadth of material covered, go elsewhere for depth (not a fault, just a fact). That might come in the form of a book on a specific topic or a music teacher. In fact, this book would probably be an excellent text to use with music lessons so that important topics can be identified and expanded, and bad habits can be avoided.
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on April 9, 2013
I always wondered how improvision and jazz solo's were done. Music teachers just teach you in the classical way, they don't go into improvision. This book unravels the mystery of how to solo. Although, I feel that musicians should learn to read music and play classical music before learning to improvise. I wish that I had read this book years ago. My advise is BUY IT!
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on April 18, 2011
just the best guide to playing jazz music I ever saw. Comprehensive explanation, good examples, interesting to read. In a short sentence: recommendable in every way.
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on October 18, 2012
There are many great pieces of advice in every chapter but the most powerful of them all is definitely the section, "Playing with-and Against-Your Fellow Musicians". You don't even need to know anything about improvisation to get this. Just go straight to this section, read it first and then everthing else makes perfect sense. You will play better than ever because you are "in the pocket" with the other players.
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on February 6, 2015
My daughter is very happy with this book. I read it to her, since she is totally blind and cannot read print. We are only on the third chapter, but already her instructors have noticed a big improvement in her solos and improvs. We recommend this book, as well as others by this author. She has also enjoyed his Music Theory book.
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on November 3, 2013
For the record: I am a pianist and I bought this book so that I could do two things:

1. In a verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus song I wanted to be able to embellish the second verse and second chorus (because sometimes a melody is too simple to go through three times in one song).

2. As a lot of songs don't actually have the bridge/ instrumental solo written down, I was looking for something to fill in that time well enough to keep the song interesting.

This book did not offer that. It did have some good things (a chord and scale dictionary), but those can be found and printed out from any number of internet sites. No need to pay shipping and handling for something so simple.

I also expected that:

1. The book would take apart a larger number of solos (there were a couple of scattered examples of that, but not enough to justify the purchase price of the book) and show us what they meant.

2. The book would not all be only for the right hand (and that is just what this book was). This book was made for all instruments (not only the piano), but I had the feeling that the book was (how to say?) a mile wide and an inch deep.

Verdict: I don't recommend this book. I believe that if you want to play something nice on solo piano, then just buy something that is arranged (and arranged well) for solo piano. It's actually more work to try to find a good solo book and go through that than it is to learn extant music (although the latter is enough work by itself).
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on February 4, 2009
Wow. As a blues/rock guitarist that also dabbled but choked in Jazz and Classical, this book perfectly compliments what all rock/blues guitar books/dvd's seem to leave out - what makes leads work in simple yet true musical language. The author took a ton of info and simplified and organized it for all musicians so that even a lazy guitarist could learn it and not give up. If you are ready to get past flash ONLY guitar licks and learn how to craft nice sounding leads that people will hum to themselves, this is it. It helps if you can read music minimally for some of the less than 10 note examples. The only drawback is the cheapo phonebook paper and binding for the book.
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on February 10, 2013
Bought this because I try and buy different approaches to this subject. A good place to start learning this subject for any instrumentalist who wants to improvise.
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on March 27, 2013
This Book has really opened my eyes to want is possible within the confines of a solo. The chapter on jazz and its history was really helpful as well.
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on November 1, 2012
To summarize it: Michael Miller knows how to give clear explanations and tips for the musician. This book is no exception and it is essential reading.
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