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The Jazz Theory Book Spiral-bound – June 1, 1995

4.6 out of 5 stars 172 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Spiral-bound: 522 pages
  • Publisher: Sher Music (June 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1883217040
  • ISBN-13: 978-1883217044
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 1.1 x 12 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (172 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,237 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Spiral-bound Verified Purchase
When I was younger I used to read about how playing with various famous jazz musicians like Monk or Dizzy was like going to school. I just thought it was for general inspiration. Now I can see that there is a mass of musical harmonic theory that has built up over the years, and mostly passed on from player to player. This book presents all the basic harmonic innovations that Jazz came up with between the 1940's and 1980's, and it's a lot. You'd have to know this stuff in order to play with the musicians of those times.
I think the best audience for this work consists of players who have mastered the "basics of their horn" and are ready to move into the "real world" of jazz improvisation and writing. However, even beginners can get into the book and I'd bet there are some masters out there who could learn a trick or two from it.
Many of the ideas presented here may have been printed before, but I've never seen them all together like this, never seen them related to each other like this, and there's lots and lots that this musician at least had never conceived of before. Reading it was like opening my eyes for the first time in the morning. So much of what I had listened to for years suddenly became explicable.
Do you want to know what to do with that B-flat alt chord in the "Real Book?" Want to know how pentatonic scales can build over various chords? Want to know why it somehow sounded right when that V chord resolved down a major third instead of a fifth? Read this book.
Other topics: Coltrane's changes -- modal scale theory -- a whole section on using melodic minor scales to basically reharmonize every which way but loose --- be-bop scale theory and great gobs of four-bar examples (properly notated in case you can beg borrow or steal the original record) -- playing "outside".
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Format: Spiral-bound
There was a time when it was a common adage that Jazz can't be taught. You were either born with it, or were lucky enough to pick it up... to some extent that is true... as there is a time you have to lift your head from the books and learn on the bandstand... but the question is how to get to that point - - the point where you can benefit from lead sheets or learning off of records, or by communicating with other musicians ?
For many years, a lot of the "Jazz" educational material on the market was either antequated by the time of publication (remember going into music shops to find "modern" piano books that would teach you how to play stride version of Honeysuckle Rose and the Maple Leaf Rag?)... other books contained misleading information, or some of the better ones required technical reading skills (as well as hand spands and chops) that few Jazz masters themselves were known to possess (!) - - Finally, over the years, a few breakthroughs... two of the earliest that come to mind would include books by David Baker and John Mehegan. - - But most of us still wondered, "When is somebody going to write *the book* ?" - - ...finally someone did.
The publication of this book has launched Jazz education into the modern era... Very readable, well presented, modern, practical, never over academic or esoteric, and requiring the most minimal amount of reading of musical notation possible - - and written for a generation raised on Miles Davis and John Coltrane not Fats Waller and Louis Armstrong (as great as they were.)
Combining this book with the right listening, hands on playing (check out some of the Aebersold play-a-longs) and the right fake book...
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Format: Spiral-bound
This is not a "how-to" book to work through, but a reference work that will offer much to the ongoing study by a serious student of jazz music. It offers mode-by-mode analyses of major scale and melodic minor harmonies, looks at different techniques practicing and for constructing solos, outlines the basics of reharmonization, and has a thousand other little details that are very helpful. Each point is accompanied by examples from classic works in the jazz repertoire. This is a book that can only be digested over a period of years. I recommend it highly to anyone studying this music seriously.
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Format: Spiral-bound
This book is very good and I recommend it to any serious music student. I learned a lot from it and it gave me plenty of new information and insights. It is also valuable as a reference with excellent indicies and appendices, for example a long list of contrafacts based upon standard song forms. My main criticism of it is that it is very piano-centric. Most examples are given in complex two-handed piano-score format which is great if you can sight read complex piano parts, but are not immediately helpful if piano is your second or third instrument. Also, examples and contexts reflect the author's own personal tastes heavily. There is nothing really wrong with these things, but for a book that seems to present itself as the authoritative text on jazz theory, it's not. I think Bert Ligon's series of books presents a more comprehensive, accessible, and balanced overview of jazz theory, and is more oriented towards musicians in general, not only pianists.
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