“Essential Jazz Instructional Materials”
by John Kuzmich, Jr.
October 10, 2010
1. Jazz Piano Handbook – Michel Weir – Alfred Publishing – 2007 – ? II. HS/College. III. Comping/Chordal-Scalar/Voicing. Play-along. VI. Individual. Price $22.95
Jazz Piano Handbook is a must publication for jazz singers, teachers and instrumentalists who don’t already have basic, essential skills in jazz piano. This book is a gateway to understanding chords and progressions, checking lead sheets for accuracy, learning new tunes, arranging, writing your own tunes, becoming a better improviser and more. Not only is it user-friendly and easy to understand and non-threatening, it works as advertised for it is logical, practical and yet challenging. Music teachers will find it useful for working with students. Content is organized in ten chapters starting with simple jazz voicings then moving on to explore color note with five-notes, voicings (closed and open), pianistic texture, and playing tunes. Both rubato and in tempo playing in a solo piano style is thoroughly covered. The first appendix contains 14 jazz standards to expand your piano “chops” with such tunes as “Rainy Day,” “ A Foggy Day,” “Embraceable You,” “Time and Time Again,” “A Fool’s Day,” and others.
The second appendix consists of a catalog of chord symbols and color notes plus a glossary of terms. The accompanying CD is very important, providing a role model for how the exercises should sound when played correctly, musically and with good piano technique. There are 24 tracks which are coordinated with specific pages and exercises found in the book. The layout is outstanding in an oversized format of 9 X 12 inches that must be used to believe how user-friendly it really is. The text is exceptionally easy to read and there are illustration, musical examples throughout.
In closing, the publication contains essential jazz piano skills for all musicians and it does so, in a very straightforward, well organized method that rocks. You will like how the exercises are progressive and designed to be followed in chronological order. Text works well with a fake book to apply the piano techniques you’ve learn. How good is this book? At the 2008 Winter Show in Anaheim, this book was sold out to music dealers within the first two days of the four-day show which is very unusual. I think it sold out at IAJE the first days too. Highly recommended. Address: Web site: www.alfred.com and www.micheleweir.com . 128 pp.