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Creative Jazz Improvisation

4.2 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0131896710
ISBN-10: 0131896717
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

This book covers practice patterns and scales in all keys and tempos, transcribing solos of master improvisors, learning the jazz repertoire, and playing with other musicians. Students and professionals at any level of proficiency will find the material beneficial. The text may be applied to any instrument, or a classroom of varied instrumentation. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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It is gratifying that, since the publication of the first edition in 1989 and the second in 1995, many college educators, private instructors, and students of jazz have found Creative Jazz Improvisation to be a valuable aid in their musical growth. This text is a direct outgrowth of over twenty-one years of experiences teaching jazz improvisation at the college level, as well as my own personal quest to develop as a jazz artist.

I believe there is a direct parallel between life and art. The pursuit of understanding in any art form can teach us much about ourselves and serve as a catalyst for a lifetime of learning. My own musical perspectives have evolved since the second edition of this text was written, and much of this new information has been incorporated into the present volume. Therefore, I believe this edition to be much more than a minor reworking of the previous one. However, all of the same features that made Creative Jazz Improvisation a popular choice for classroom use are retained, including:

The philosophy that there are several paths to the same goal and that each student learns in his or her own unique way. An orientation in difficulty toward college-level and intermediate-to-advanced musicians. For students at the high-school or community college level or adult beginners, I strongly recommend the entry-level companion to this text, Creative Beginnings, which comes with a play-along compact disc. The division of the majority of chapters into sections devoted to jazz theory, exercises over a specified chord progression, a list of relevant compositions, and a transcribed solo which has been transposed and edited for concert pitch treble clef, B6, E6 and bass clef instruments. A thorough discussion of all facets of jazz theory, including major scale modes, forms and chord substitutions, melodic minor modes, diminished and whole-tone scales, pentatonic scales, and intervallic and "free" improvisation. The keying of the chord progressions to either the widespread Jamey Aebersold series or the compact disc accompanying Creative Beginnings. Exercises that include not only basic scales and arpeggios but also melodic ideas taken directly from cited recordings by master improvisers, arranged in order of relative difficulty. The indexing of the list of compositions to legal fake-books, particularly the New Real Book and the Aebersold play-along series. The correlation of half of the transcribed solos with the widely available anthology, The Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz. The convenience of allowing a classroom of mixed instrumentation to work simultaneously from the text.

Differences between the second and third editions include:

The addition of a new chapter, "Whom to Listen To," which lists major innovators, important contributors, and women in jazz. The expansion of the chapter on "Rhythm," with considerable new information and exercises. Replacement of two transcriptions with more readily playable examples, including Miles Davis's "Solea" solo (in place of Wayne Shorter's "Masqualero" solo), and Bill Evans's "Autumn Leaves" solo (in lieu of Dizzy Gillespie's "Stardust" solo). In addition, J. J. Johnson's solo on "Aquarius" has been renotated in long meter to make it easier to read. An expansion of the list of compositions in each chapter to reflect the ever-increasing number of play-along recordings by Jamey Aebersold. The third edition is now keyed to the first eighty-five volumes in his series, A New Approach to Jazz Improvisation. An extensive reworking of all portions of the text to improve readability and reflect recent information. A reappraisal of all exercises, with selected replacements and additions. The incorporation of inspirational epigraphs at the beginning of each chapter. A continued investigation of the how to bridge the gap between the technical and intellectual aspects of jazz with the creative and intuitive state of mind. Many of these ideas may be traced to my exposure to the concepts of pianist Kenny Werner, and I am indebted to his willingness to allow me to incorporate some of his ideas into this volume.

This text reflects the influences of my previous teachers, particularly David Baker, Woody Shaw, and Kenny Werner, the many jazz artists whose work I have studied and transcribed, and the pedagogical concepts of Jamey Aebersold. I gratefully acknowledge these people, as well as the staff at Prentice Hall, particularly my acquisitions editor, Christopher Johnson and my production and copy editor, Laura Lawrie. I sincerely hope the readers of this text will find it a valuable aid in their growth as musicians. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 354 pages
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall (October 1, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0131896717
  • ISBN-13: 978-0131896710
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.8 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,128,008 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By frankp93 VINE VOICE on April 5, 2005
Format: Spiral-bound
I worked with the 2nd Edition and can't comment on recent revisions, but I have to disagree with a couple of points made by prior reviewers. Regarding the "obscurity" of the transcribed solos, while the Smithsonian Collection that Reeves draws about half his examples from is, to my knowledge, no longer available, most if not all of the selections are available on recordings under the various musicians' names. Many are considered jazz touchstones and even masterpieces (i.e. Armstrong's Hot Fives and Sevens, Sonny Rollins Saxophone Collossus). I'd go so far to say that anyone interested in the broad scope of jazz history will probably have a fair number of the examples already in their collection. The other point I'd take issue with is the suitability of the book for self-study. Perhaps it's not a book for an absolute beginner as a player or a listener of jazz, but for musicians with the ability to read and an understanding of jazz feel, the book provides a wealth of material to explore in ways beyond simply following the text sequentially as you might do in a class. As a teenager, I spent hours practicing scales up and down to build finger dexterity, hoping against hope that the benefits would show up in creative playing. It didn't happen - though I got pretty good at playing scales, up and down. As an adult I regard that kind of practicing as a waste of time and creativity-numbing. I now see scales as sets of notes with particular tendencies. Playing an entire scale end to end is just one expression of those tendencies (and a very overused one at that). While Reeves gives you the scales and you can run them if you want, much more interesting to me are the patterns and transcriptions that draw on the scale set, in some cases using just a few notes, in others, the full set.Read more ›
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Format: Spiral-bound
This is an excellent text when used in a classroom environment, accompanied with audio examples from a teacher and selected recordings, annotated throughout the text (mostly references to J. Aebersold's Play-Along series). The high-level classification of important jazz innovators in the "Whom to Listen To" section alone is worth a long read. Coverage of the scales, progressions, rhythms and structures is well organized. I can't think of a better single book on which to base class-room teaching of jazz improvisation. Any criticism that this book is "unoriginal" is misplaced; that's not the purpose of the book.
It is definitely less useful as a self-learning tool. For this purpose I believe there is no way around a few book-cd combos such as Ferrara's Jazz Piano and Harmony. Unless you want to spend time tracking down the recordings referred to by this Reeves book.
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Format: Spiral-bound Verified Purchase
When I took an improvisation class a few years back at the local college, we used Jazz Improvisation by Dan Haerle, which stressed learning a bunch of scales to be applied to soloing. This is hardly a bad approach, it was just, for me, a little too dry and disassociated from what I thought of as teaching of an inherent skill. Imagine my surprise, then, when I picked up this book and found the approach to be also heavily oriented toward the understanding and usage of a number of different jazz scales. I suddenly felt like I had wasted my money and walked down a dead end street … until I started reading.

Because this book is so much more. In addition to introducing the scales, it also explains where and why you might use them, based on which jazz musicians have used them in the past when improvising over certain songs or phrases. That is to say, the author here ties the scale to specific performances, which makes the scale not so much a tool, as a model. And for the first time, I started to really understand how one would go about picking a scale for a song or a certain portion of a song. I even got some ideas for composing original songs of my own by utilizing certain scales and tonalities in the melodies and harmonies, which hopefully will make the song more vital when other musicians solo over it.

What I did not like about this book, however, is that most of it is geared to learning, practicing and playing in a classroom, or at least a teacher-student, setting. I bought this as a self-study guide, which the author even claims early on it can be used as, but I found it basically impossible to work the exercises on my own, and the suggestions for playing and practicing, are not practical at all.
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Format: Ring-bound
This book is for any instrument, and the only qualification is that you must know how to play chromatically in two octaves on your instrument. Each chapter is organized around learning a single scale/mode, or on common progressions (ii-V-I) and song forms such as the blues, rhythm changes, and sectional forms. The emphasis is on building proficiency in playing all scales and modes in all twelve keys, and in building a vocabulary (also in all twelve keys) through the practice of licks and by learning the transcribed solos. I think anyone serious about learning jazz would benefit from this book; at a minimum, it will provide explanations of scales and their use for reference, and as a source of exercises and patterns for years to come.
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