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Essential Jazz Instructional Materials – Best of the Rest!

by John Kuzmich Jr.

List of Columns by John Kuzmich Jr.

“All dressed up and nowhere to go” hints at a long-standing dilemma in jazz education. We are blessed with a plethora of incredible teaching materials that too often remain unknown or gather dust. Why has there been a long-standing dilemma even while collegiate jazz study majors became popular in the 1960’s? Could jazz be on the losing side of pedagogy tug-o-war? Is jazz perhaps to step-kid in a classical and pop dominated music scene? Jazz spun to popularity in the 20th century reflecting social and technical changes, often eclipsing its classical cousin with exciting rhythms and melodic nuances. It is a performer’s art influenced by many different contemporary styles rather than formulatic replication. Oddly enough, required collegiate music education courses do not generally address the specialized jazz education instructional techniques in any depth even though jazz is America’s only original art form spread that has become world-wide. Lastly and not the least, there are many excellent, specialized instructional materials for jazz that address a host of unique musical styles like swing, Blues, rock, Latin, ballad to name a few. This specialized instructional tool includes play-along recordings, rhythm patterns, extended chord/scale considerations, combo/improvisation techniques, combo and large ensemble training, applied ear training/listening skills tools, distinct theory/arranging tools, transcribing techniques, and idiomatic applied techniques for woodwinds, brass, rhythm instruments, strings and voice.

Unfortunately many teachers today may not be comfortable teaching jazz even with the best available instructional materials. In an attempt to resolve this instructional void, welcome to the first JAZZed magazine installment of an on-going series of reviews of essential jazz instructional materials for music educators. This column will endeavor to provide a reliable resource for a variety of jazz teaching materials appropriate, vintage and for band, strings, choral and/or general music with pedagogical insights and instructional tips on how to effectively use them.

Ear Training

Constructing Melodic Jazz Improvisation by Brian Kane, published by Jazz Path Music Publishing, 2007, Cambridge, MA, $24.94 for book and CD and Instruction is designed for high school level and beyond by emphasizing melodic improvisation with patterns. The book contains a demonstration and play-along CD. Appropriate for both private and classroom use with both correlated and general discographies.

Constructing Melodic Jazz Improvisation is an invaluable method for stimulating melodic jazz improvisation through targeted ear training. There are ten progressively difficult chapters, containing dozens of improvisation exercises in an easy to follow step-by-step format. Each chapter contains insightful references for extended listening to further enhance the melodic improvisation tools. For example, this book covers the use of repetition of practicing, rhythmic, intervallic and exact repetition and more. What makes this a winner is how the ear training is presented with a rhythm section plus separate demonstration tracks with added wind players to present the musical nuances with rhythmic variety, articulation, stylistic interpretation, all in different registers. Designed for beginning and intermediate level instruction, it contains detailed explanations and analysis of creative and improvisation techniques for the high school or explorer, and with a private teacher, middle school students will benefit as well. Along with its abundant conceptual instruction in style, phrasing, solo development and motivic improvisation, gives dozens of exercises that explore jazz improvisation from creative, melodic and technical perspectives and meets all the national curriculum standards. I really like the insightful assignments included in each chapter going beyond the prescribed exercises themselves. The book contains 52 play-along tracks with stereo separation: right channel for piano and drums; and left channel for bass and drums. And it is available in concert, key, bass clef, Eb and Bb editions for effective use in a classroom. The appendix is loaded with good stuff like use of various scales and Blues progressions.

Too often, jazz improvisation is taught with a focus solely on harmony, analysis and copying. This book focuses on the creative side of jazz improvisation, the language, the process and the ability to tell a story all within an interesting musical methodology. 160 pp.

Comping Skills

An Approach to Comping: The Essentials A Guide to Jazz Accompanying by Jeb Patton, Sher Music Co., 2013, $34 for book and 2 CDs. Designed for advanced high school level, and college. Contains a demonstration and play-along CD. Offers correlated discography.

An Approach to Comping: The Essentials A Guide to Jazz Accompanying is a one-of-a-kind book on jazz comping skills. Its instruction addresses both the essentials and advanced concepts and techniques. Comping is a term to explain how a pianist, guitarist, or other chordal instrument plays chords in rhythm to propel, or support the soloist. In the first few chapters, the nuts and bolts of comping rhythms and creating basic jazz piano voicings are covered with particular study of the left hand. The first five chapters build on each other charting a workable spectrum of jazz voicings, rhythms, and progressions that are often used in comping. The curriculum moves through boogie woogie rhythms to 2-note shell voicings, 3-note skeletal structures, to 4-note trombones voicings, and 5-note spread voicings as well as an introduction to passing chords and comping during the bebop and post-bog eras. There are eleven note-for-note comping transcriptions of Bud Powell, Horace Silver, Tadd Dameron, and Barry Harris. By the end of this book, there are modified comping transcriptions of Red Garland, Sonny Clark, and Bobby Timmons with the premise that the student will recreate the original using the modified comping examples as a transcription aid.

The methodology is extraordinary as the student is guided in each transcription to comp along with the original recording at different tempos using a slow-down device. In addition the workbook connects each example, transcription, rhythm guide, progression, and exercises with the original recordings plus humming or singing the solo melody as you play through the comping transcription. This results in developing a feel for the interaction between comping and soloist. A comping guide is provided outlining the comp in rhythmic notation.

The most important aspect of the workbook is not what is found in the written text. It is the music itself that the workbook strives to explain. It is vital that you play along with recordings, and whenever possible, with other live musicians. And the two CDs demonstrations and the comp-along tracks are stellar with over 80 comping exercises aimed at getting the concepts under your fingers. The 272 pages of volume one plus volume 2 make this two-part comping method the most thorough written on the subject in jazz education, and a sure winner for serious comping training.


Effective Etudes For Jazz: Audition/Performance Etudes by Mike Carubia and Jeff Jarvis, Kendor Music, 2004, $21.95 each for individual instrument books with the piano book priced at $24.00 and CD, Designed for high school and college.

Effective Etudes For Jazz: Audition/Performance Etudes is a multiple-functional jazz etude book appropriate for both private and classroom use. This is a collection of etudes based on the chord changes to popular standards contains very musical jazz etudes appropriate for jazz honor band auditions, and students can also be evaluated for improvisation since chord symbols are provided. With the play-along accompaniments, it is also worthy for jazz solo competitions, evaluation festivals and recitals. The etudes are presented sequentially, progressing from accessible to challenging that focus on musical phrasing and rhythm patterns and not on the upper tessiture demands. For best results before utilizing the play-alongs, use a metronome when first learning the etudes by setting the tempo at a reasonable speed. The CD play-alongs are motivationally valuable for internalizing the musical demands sooner. It is equally as important to listen to the accompanying CD to hear how the professional solo artist and rhythm section comprise and perform the etude. Novice jazz players often try too hard to swing, especially at faster tempos. The text offers good suggestions for emulating the jazz swing styles more authentically accenting (back-tonguing) the off beats of ascending lines. Since the tunes were created from standard tunes, improvisation with the play-along comes naturally.

Great straight-ahead jazz licks that cover theoretical, visual and aural aspects of interpreting and improvising jazz music. Each tune has contains a chord reference chart to identify the chord tones of every chord symbol in the etude. The key ingredients constitute of a good solo that are annotated beneath the staff to help build and expand a jazz vocabulary the student as you discovers how jazz phrases are constructed and relate to the chords. Common annotations include: melodic references, use of chord arpeggios, use of scales, chord tones chord tones, commonly used licks and melodic and rhythmic motives. The companion CD and downloadable MP3 recordings and contain 36 audition tracks with separate rhythm section and solo tracks. Individual books perfect for the heterogeneous classroom include: flute, trumpet, alto, tenor, and baritone saxes, trombone, piano, guitar, and bass. The second level of this method entitled: Effective Etudes for Jazz 2 contains 20 more challenging etudes and is available for alto/bari sax, tenor sax, trumpet, trombone, piano, bass, and guitar. Both books help provide a respectable repertory for the aspiring jazz musician for stronger performance. Pricing for this second book is $21.95 per individual instrument book, and $24.95 for the piano book.

Large Ensemble Method

First Place for Jazz by Dean Sorenson is a comprehensive jazz method first published in 2011, published by Neil A. Kjos. Designed for middle and high school levels. Emphasizes basic fundamentals for improvisation and jazz performance. Contains over 3000 audio downloads. Well suited for both private and classroom use. Director Score and DVD, $69.95. Student part books, $8.95 each. Guitar, Piano, Bass, Drums, Vibes, and Auxiliary Percussion, are $9.95 each. More information is available at or

Finding a good heterogeneous jazz band method that teaches jazz rhythms/articulations, nuances, and improvisation has always been a challenge. First Place for Jazz by Dean Sorenson is a comprehensive introductory heterogeneous band method for teaching the fundamentals of both jazz improvisation and performance where middle school instrumentalists are eager for jazz ensemble experiences, but not necessarily ready for the rigors of jazz instruction. In this method, instructional concepts are broken down into easy-to-understand elements. Everything correlates to real music that can be played by a variety of ensembles from big band to a small combo. The instrumentation is flexible and in addition to standard jazz ensemble instrumentation includes flute, clarinet, horn, baritone T.C., and tuba.

The director’s book is meticulously well organized, and the Quick Start chapter clearly outlines the course of study. The book’s concert Bb, F and Eb divisions are taught the major, Mixolydian, Dorian and blues scales and correlated chords through Jazz Starters, Rhythm Section Spotlights and Rhythm Sectionals. These resources are applied in 12 original grade 1-2 full jazz ensemble charts. Correlated Lead Sheets are included so that students can also apply their new skills in combo and individual settings.

Directors with limited rhythm section experience will find First Place for Jazz an excellent resource with all rhythm section parts which are fully notated. Guitar fingerboard diagrams, piano and vibes voicings, bass lines, drum and auxiliary percussion grooves, and suggested drum fills are all provided. In addition, the Spotlights and Rhythm Sectionals serve to help students develop the proper groove and rhythm section sound for each tune.

Each First Place for Jazz book includes modern technology with many options for both teachers and students. Included with the conductor score is the Kjos Interactive Teacher Studio (ITS) offering a virtual version of the score, with numerous teaching tools-including tempo-adjustable accompaniment recordings performed by professional musicians, as well as access to a digital version of each student part book. The ITS is ideal for personal study in the classroom with a traditional projector or interactive whiteboard. Likewise, each student part book comes with an Interactive Practice Studio (IPS). As with the ITS, the IPS provides a virtual version of the student book with instrument-specific audio tracks for every line of music. Also included in both the ITS and IPS is a tuner/metronome, plus a personal studio where students can record their performances for sharing via email with teachers, family members, and friends. Video lessons are also provided to augment classroom learning, and tutorial videos are available as well. Students and teachers also have the option to download files to their computer for use on a portable media device. Finally, Music Writer Touch software is included for completing written exercises and composing. The Director Score also includes a DVD, offering alternative means of accessing student’s audio and video creations.

The ITS and IPS are Windows and Mac compatible. First Place for Jazz is also available in SmartMusic (, and in e-book format, via the Kno App (

In closing, First Place for Jazz is particularly well laid-out, user-friendly, musically attractive, and up-to-date in its use of technology. This method is an effective bridge between traditional band methods and jazz education practices—a musical adventure, from the first page through the 12 tunes.

Play-Along Recordings
Improvisation Handbook – Volume 2

Jazz Handbook by Jamey Aebersold, Jamey Aebersold Jazz, 2000, 2010, 2013, Download a free hard copy from web site in English and French. Designed to provide improvisation basics to both music educators and aspiring students: middle/high school and beyond. Includes a heart-of-jazz, correlated discography.

Jazz Handbook, perhaps the best keep secret in jazz education, the best bargain for Jazz 101. Besides being free, it smoothly covers a plethora of vital jazz education information. The well organized content is integrated with musical examples to study and perform. Jamey’s clear, straight-forward and teaching style presents techniques, tools and tricksto better understand thefundamentals of scales, chords, patterns, listening and soloing. He also discusses ear training, theory, an essential jazz master’s discography, jazz articulations, practice routine process, Blues progressions and piano voicings. You’ll like the theory tests and handy transposition charts. A copy of highly 56-page handbook should be in every jazz student’s hands; and recommended, required reading and review by students and teachers alike. It’s that good.

Naturally this booklet emphasizes play-along recordings as the foundation for mastering and instilling pulse, time and swing as student experience the cool excitement of playing with a good rhythm section. Jamey cautions students to be patient, don’t play the same tunes over and over, and don’t expect everything to come in one try. Students are encouraged to train their ears to really hear the music and all that it takes to make good jazz. Musically, there are ten best music practice suggestions offered that all musicians can adopt.

  1. Play with tone. Wind players – support your sound. Don’t play staccato.
  2. Make phrases flow nationally, even when playing scales and exercises.
  3. Mentally sing the exercises, scales, patterns as you play them.
  4. If an exercise is hard, slow it down. Then gradually increase the tempo.
  5. Listen to every note you play. Match your mind’s ideas.
  6. Be patient. You’re not the first to make mistakes.
  7. Use jazz articulations on exercises and scale/chord practice.
  8. Improvise some every day. That’s the REAL YOU. Play what you hear in your head.
  9. Learn the Blues in Bb & F concert keys.
  10. Memorize everything you can. Know what it is you are trying to play.

Also included is a recommended comprehensive course of play-along study from specific play-along volumes prescribed in the following order: volumes 1, 24, 3, 21, 116, 84, 54, 70, 47 and 120, giving music educators direction and focus guiding students in systematic approach for studying jazz improvisation in an expanded format. Rarely in the education field, is such a free handbook offered to students and teachers, that is so comprehensive and engaging. As a plus, it connects directly with the ultimate master library of jazz instruction publications that can’t be duplicated elsewhere at and 800-456-1388 with its catalog of 36 pages of landmark products making it a best buy in the entire music education industry and free as well! Together, the handbook and Jamey’s catalog are definite best buys in the entire jazz market.

Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band Play-Along Series, Volume 2 by Gordon Goodwin, published by Alfred Music, 2014, Van Nuys, CA. $24.99 for individual instrument book with DVD at Designed to develop advanced high school and level ensemble skills. Big-band play-along tracks with recorded solo and play-along tracks minus a particular part.

While most play-along albums are orchestrated for jazz combos, Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band Play-Along Series is a particularly “hot” item because it features the music of one of the most creative big-bands on today’s professional band circuit with nine festival-level, challenging charts for band directors to use their jazz ensemble concerts. This big-band play-along series is available for alto sax, tenor sax, trumpet, trombone, and drums. The nine technically and musically challenging charts will appeal to advanced students and improve ensemble skills. The manuscript is awesome, featuring many details of the original manuscript. In particular, students will be exposed to musical style, phrasing, tone, dynamics, technique, articulation, playing in time, Latin grooves, funk grooves, swing grooves, and much more.

Included on the companion DVD, is Alfred Music’s TnT 2 software, which allows tempo changes of each track without changing the pitch. Because the tempos are rather challenging, the TnT 2 software is a fantastic practice tool for versatile practicing either by slowing down or speeding up the tempo, mixing and customizing tracks, or looping a section for specific practice and soloing opportunities.

An efficient practice strategy could include to listening to and play along the Big Phat Band muting and performing a part. Then play along with the Big Phat Band by muting your part or the tunes by listening and then by playing along. Then practice the sample solos and solo over the chord progressions, or loop sections at a slower tempo to accommodate a phrase or practice the licks more accurately and then crank the tempo up.

The play-along booklet also includes transcribed solos of some of the improvised solos found on the album’s recordings to study and practice as etudes, or simply the solo with section of each respective track. On the drum book’s DVD, the original horn solos have been kept intact to help play off the soloists. The chord symbols are included in the saxophone, trumpet, and trombone books solo sections. The DVD disk software tracks have the solos mixed out so that student can jump in and jam. Worth reading are the in-depth performance notes for each tune by Gordon Goodwin, composer/arranger, and Eric Marienthal, lead alto saxophonist. For individual practice, use headphones while playing along with the tracks to better hear yourself with the band. Headphones with individual ear volume adjustment can help the balance. Note: Radio Shack offers such headphones at a reasonable price.

Review #6
Maiden Voyage, Volume 54 by Jamey Aebersold for CD and booklet, published by Jamey Aebersold, New Albany, Indiana,, $15.95 per book and CD. Designed for middle and high school level. Play-along with scales and chords. Can be used individually and in a heterogeneous class.

Play-alongs are essential to jazz improvisation for both instruction and practice. Practicing with a metronome has long been an essential practice tool. But practicing with a rhythm section is a more authentic practice tool for not only developing ones pulse and time, but equally as important for enhancing style conception. This particular volume is particularly good for beginning improvisers featuring fourteen easy-to-play jazz tunes ranging from the blues to modal tunes and standard tunes in a variety jazz and rock styles that all musicians need to be exposed to, including “Maiden Voyage”, “Cantaloupe Island”, “Footprints”, “Doxy”, “Autumn Leaves”, “Summertime” and others. The booklet contains numerous helpful instructional guidelines. The practice procedure for memorizing scales and chords to any song is particularly pertinent for beginning level improvisers. I like how this play-along material correlates well with volume 1 of the Jamey Aebersold play-along series. Melodies, chord progressions and suggested scales/chords are provided for C treble, C bass clef, Bb and Eb instruments. This is an excellent resource for getting students interested in jazz improvisation and immediate use for beginning combos because the tunes are very energetic and stimulating for practice while the harmonic requires of scales and chords is reasonable. Booklet 63 pp.

But volume 54 is much more than a single play-along because it is well correlated with seven separate companion volume 54 play-along books for more specialized instruction pertinent for enhanced jazz instruction. For example, four of these play-alongs contain 14 solos transcribed and written especially for each volume 54 track with transcribed solo of four choruses utilizing slick patterns that are perfect for structuring improvisation instruction for entry-level improvisers in an ensemble setting and private lesson. Plus, the CD also includes a featured artist playing all solos with the Volume 54 accompaniment tracks to demonstrate proper jazz feel and stylistic interpretation. Artists featured are Greg Fishman for alto and tenor, soprano and clarinet, Bobby Shew for trumpet, and Rick Simerly for trombone. The rhythm section players also have four companion play-along also contain practice tracks without the featured artist. In addition, there are three specialized companion books for comping with the original volume 54 play-along. Note: these three comping books have no CD’s. The companion drum book has full drum play-alongs with selected drum transcriptions for $14.95, bass book with transcriptions as recorded on the volume 54 CD at $9.95 and a piano book featuring a transcription of all comping and voicings as originally recorded. Together, the volume 54 along with its seven correlated materials brings a unique comprehensive delivery system for music educators in dealing with improvisation instruction as well as teaching comping techniques all within a combo/improvisation and/or large jazz ensemble rehearsal which to me are the most authentic mediums for these essential jazz instructional tools because you have head charts, improvisation and comping tools all assessable that can lead directly for public performances as well as future rehearsals.

Review #7
Easy Instrumental Play-Along series by Hal Leonard Publishing, published by Hal Leonard Publishing, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 2014. $9.99 for book and audio download. . Designed for first-year instrumentalist within the first three months of study or less.

Ever wish your first-year instrumental students could partake of appropriate popular music play-along materials to further stimulate their music interest and in promoting home practice that actually features music based on their very first few notes and rhythms initially taught? Fear not, there is a play-along series designed for these entry-level instrumentalist. The Hal Leonard Easy Instrumental Play-Along series presently represent four different play-along books that specially written for first year instrumentalist to supplement their studies with popular music during the first year of instruction. The four books cover four distinct popular repertories: Disney tunes, classic rock, classical themes and now Christmas Carols. These books are available in separate books for flute, clarinet, alto, tenor sax, trumpet, horn, trombone, violin, viola, cello and keyboard percussion. What makes them “perfect” is that each book contains ten arrangements carefully edited to include only the notes and rhythms that student learned in their first months playing their instrument because the notes, reoccurring rhythms and key choices work perfectly to these students. The play-along accompaniments are rather exciting and appropriate for such entry-level musicians. What makes the accompaniments unique is that the audio tracks can be accessed online for download or steaming using the unique code inside each book. The tunes are winners by themselves. For example, the Classic Rock book features catchy tunes by Queen, Steppenwolf, Van Morrison, Kansas, Sting, Steve Miller Band, Marvin Gaye, Eric Clayton, Santana and Creedence Clearwater Revival. The other three books are equally attractive. Finally, beginning instrumentalists can readily be engaged with stimulating play-alongs that can supplement any beginning level band or string method even before its completion of that book. In my private lessons, the success level has been instantaneously received, resulting in additional home practice and more commitment coming at a perfect time when beginning students need to jump-start their music lessons within the very first few months of instruction when enrollment drop-ups are most common in first-year instrumentalist music programs.

Improvisation: Patterns

Review #8
Patterns for Jazz: A Theory Text for Jazz Composition and Improvisation by Jerry Coker, James Casale, Gary Campbell, and Jerry Greene, published by Studio P/R and controlled by Alfred Music,, 1970. Designed for middle and high school levels, this book contains over 400 rhythm patterns over scales and chords. Although written for individual use, it can be used in a heterogeneous classroom. Correlated discography is included.

Rhythm pattern books can be the first line of teaching jazz improvisation because the study of jazz licks over chord progressions can be a stimulus for giving students the tools for successfully performing the correct chordal/scalar notes over a given progression. This book, despite being published in 1970, is a great starting point for such study and is a monument among all jazz education materials. What makes this book so appropriate is that it is performance-oriented for being played through practice rather than to be read in an armchair. Harmonically, its methodology covers a wide repertory of patterns so the student gets into transposing each rhythm pattern through all keys in a number of pertinent ways: cycle of fifths, chromatic, stepwise, and in minor thirds of chord movement. It covers a rather broad spectrum of materials ranging from major triads, sixth chords, major seventh and ninth chords, and major scales through minor chords, scales and Mixolydian, and much more, such as whole-tone, diminished chords and scales, turnarounds, altered ninth chords, polychords, and even harmonic minor, and Lydian augmented scales. Condensed charts and pertinent explanations are conveniently inserted throughout the book to give greater clarity to the application of more than 326 patterns built on chords and scales. The patterns are organized from simple chords to intermediate (II-V7) and even more complex patterns. Players of any instrument can benefit from this structure. The clef sign and the octave used in presenting the patterns should not restrict its use. Note: there are both treble and bass clef versions available. The patterns are flexible enough to be played in other octaves and by any instrument. A metronome can be applied as desired, ranging from minimum tempo to maximum tempo for the more ambitious students.

Looking for ways to creatively augment this landmark publication? Try creating play-along accompaniments with an automatic accompaniment generating program, such as Band-in-a-Box by PG Music, and students can quickly have customized play-along accompaniments to practice any pattern in the book with an authentic sounding rhythm at any tempo and in any key and even create loops to practice difficult patterns more realistically. Note: the book was not intended to have patterns practice systematically from the first patterns to the last ones, but rather, the patterns should be practiced selectively by need in any order that meets soloing needs, which further helps make this book solution-oriented rather than just following the dictates of the authors for its content of use. 173 pp.

Review #9
The II-V-I Progression, Volume 177 by Larry Dunlap, published by Hal Leonard Publishing, 2014 Milwaukee, WI, $19.99 for book and 2 CDs, Designed for high school level and beyond. Concentrates on II-V-I progressions with patterns. Contains 2 CDs and a 283 page book. Appropriate for both private and classroom use.

Eventually all aspiring jazz musicians need to learn and master the II-V-I chord progression. This play-along book is part of a master series of 175+ play-along materials devoted to repertory development of jazz luminaries. Parts are provided for Bb, Eb, bass clef and C instruments with lead sheets, melody cues and other split-track choices included CD for study of some of the greatest jazz tunes. Each tune include a split track with melody cue with proper style and inflection, a professional rhythm tracks, choruses for soloing, removable bass and piano parts plus each tune also has an additional full stereo accompaniment rack with no melody and additional choruses for soloing.

This volume, II-V-I Progression, volume 177, is a one-of-a-kind play-along devoted exclusively to the II-V-I progression from chords and scales to major and minor progressions to melodic and harmonic patterns and variations. The two CDs provide abundant play-along tracks based on this unique progression to immediately apply the concepts presented within a musical context. Many examples in the book are also included on the CD so you can hear how they sound within a jazz setting, including practice tunes. The amount of instructional opportunities presented is formidable and when considering the price for both the book and the two CDs, it represents an incredible buy in today’s market because of its easy-to-use along with detailed instructions are provided along with a choice of backing tracks and extensive play-along materials for practice and improvisation study. Multiple jazz and Latin musical styles are abundantly offered in their unique II-V-I progressions which is pertinent for providing real performance applications. The layout of the book is over-sized for easy-to-read and most welcomed on a music stand for convenient use in practicing. The best description of this play-along book is that it is indeed an all-purpose practice guide for intermediate level and more advanced improvisers. Its contents are essential for all aspiring jazz musicians.

Jazz History

Review #10
Jazz Styles by Mark C. Gridley, 11th edition, published by Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, NJ, 2012, bound hard copy (0-205-03683-X; $124.80), unbound 3-hole punched pages suitable for loose-leaf binder (0-205-20392-2; $81.33) , eText (0-205-20579-8; $49.99), eText with access to publisher website (0-205-20614-X; $66.67); bound book with jazz classics 3CD set of 55 historic recordings (0-205-25361-X ; $160), College and Music educator. Focuses attention on musical interpretations within jazz styles. Correlated and selective discographies. 513 pages, comprehensive index, 113 photos, bibliography, discography, videography; Elements of Music appendix (which is a short course in music theory for non-musicians), “For Musicians” appendix of modes, blues chord progressions, turnarounds, bass lines, and piano comping”

Music educators are in need of understanding jazz styles in their teachings. Rarely do they receive detailed training about America’s First Art Form, Jazz. A prerequisite to teaching jazz performance skills is to have a thorough understanding of the evolution of the jazz idiom over the past 100+ years. I don’t know a faster or more efficient manner of grasping the mastery of jazz styles is to have study it with a jazz history text that is aurally committed to musical styles. Fortunately, there is such a textbook available offering a clear understanding of how the jazz idiom not only evolved but just as important, how it is musically unique in terms of its many idiomatic musical styles that have evolved over the past 100+ years covering not only the basics of jazz, but pre-modern jazz to modern jazz and through the music of the present. Gridley divides the book and online con-tent into eighteen chapters, of which the first two are preparatory but vital: “What is Jazz?” and “How to Listen to Jazz.” The first of these sets up themes that are repeated throughout the book and addresses some of the vexing challenges of writing a brief survey of jazz.”

The reason why Jazz Styles by Mark C. Gridley is America’s most widely used introductionary text to jazz music is because it provides the historical details all within a musical context that entry-level musicians can relate to. There are many new instructional features to this 11th brand-new edition that incorporate a rich array of online technology features with a new website called MyMUSICLab. The book includes a full interactive eText with hyperlinks to all web assets, streaming audio, and historic performance video-through MyMusicLab.” The new MyMusicLab delivers more personalized learning with proven results in helping students succeed, provides engaging experiences that personalize learning, and comes from a trusted partner with educational expertise and a deep commitment to helping students and instructors achieve their goals”.

The book includes a full interactive eText with hyperlinks to all web assets, streaming audio, and historic performance video-through MyMusicLab. The new MyMusicLab delivers more personalized learning with proven results in helping students succeed, provides engaging experiences that personalize learning, and comes from a trusted partner with educational expertise and a deep commitment to helping students and instructors achieve their goals.

This new edition comes with optional access to 3 CDs of historic recordings and a Demonstration CD (of instruments and narrated explanations for how musicians make jazz), and a publisher’s website (MyMusicLab) that streams 55 historic recordings along with listening guides that unfold on the screen at the same rate as the music is heard. The website also provides access to 18 historic videos and 43 NPR radio documentaries containing interviews with the great musicians.

What helps to distinguish Jazz Styles is its improved active listening that gets into its detailed listening guides that take students through the key elements in each performance. Through MyMusicLab, these guides are now integrated with streaming audio for a truly integrated listening experience.

In the text, students are engaged through design, historic photographs, and active listening activities through streaming audio, historic performances by jazz legends, and a full interactive eText in MyMusicLab engage them online.

In summary, Jazz Styles is the best all-around text on the market because it teaches students and their teachers how to listen and what to listen for in jazz which is especially important for those who have had little or no exposure to the music styles of jazz.

Jazz Theory

Review #11
The Jazz Language: A Theory Text for Jazz Composition and Improvisation by Dan Haerle, published by Studio P/R and controlled by Alfred Music, 1982. URL: Designed for middle and high school levels, this book features scales and chords along with music theory and can be used in either private lessons or the heterogeneous classroom.

Regardless of how you teach jazz improvisation, there comes a point when all students need to know and use a variety of scales and chords to solo on. A jazz musician needs to have a good grasp of grammar, vocabulary, and structures of the jazz language for their understanding of chord construction and scales to best utilize them when improvising.

The Jazz Language: A Theory for Jazz Composition and Improvisation is a theory syllabus for music educators who teach jazz improvisation and composition. The text presents a wealth of theory materials in a logical sequence by complexity and need to present a faster self-evaluation process of what needs to be taught. Each chapter contains a set of study questions and exercises. In short, this text is exceptionally well-organized and illustrated along with abundant musical examples for the heterogeneous classroom. At the end of each chapter, there is a set of study questions. These relate directly to the text materials of the preceding chapter and serve as either a review guide or as an indicator of one’s understanding of the context. The book also includes writing, keyboard, and ear-training exercises. Harmonic context covers a broad-spectrum from basic chord construction and modes of the major scale to basic substitutions and functions, to thirteenth chords, modes of the harmonic minor scale, to voicing and connecting chords, modes of the ascending melodic minor scale, polychord nomenclature, symmetrical altered scales, advanced substitution and function, to pentatonic and blues scales, five-part harmony, synthetic scales, and more. It is a must-reference resource for music educators at all levels of arranging and improving instruction. 58 pp.