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Jazz Piano

Joe Cool

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The best book I have ever seen on jazz theory is THE JAZZ MASTER COOKBOOK by Jim Grantham. It's got a ton of great theory plus a key a week practice method. Jim is a former Berklee College of Music Instructor who now lives in Oakland California. Right now his book is kind of like my secret weapon because most people aren't yet hip to it since Jim is self published right now. You can get it from his web site www.nightbirdmusic.com


A couple of other books geared more specifically to keyboards that I like are Jazz/Rock Voicings For the Contemporary Keyboard Player, & Jazz Improvisation For Keyboard Players (Complete Edition), both by Dan Haerle. I use these as supplements to The Jazz Master Cookbook.





Marzuki Grinage

Progressive Soul

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@ http://www.innerphonic.com

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I learned a lot from the John Mehegen series which has been around for a long time. I just lucke out and found them for sale at a local sheet music store when I was in college. I'm not sure but they may have been the "standard" for a time?? All my jazz knowledge had to come from self study since none of my teachers played or taught anything that wasn't classical. I'm very curious as to what is considered the "standard" book or series used now in colleges that teach jazz. You younger guys who are in college or finished recently, what books are being used now?

"It is a danger to create something and risk rejection. It is a greater danger to create nothing and allow mediocrity to rule."

"You owe it to us all to get on with what you're good at." W.H. Auden


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There's a book called "the Professional Arranger-Composer: Volume 1" by Russell Garcia that I got years ago that I still just love. It was written a while back, it isn't really about keyboards, but rather, arranging. Still, his way of presenting the material is so down-to-earth that it brings certain points home very quickly. And what it brings home is adaptable to jazz piano and many other musical theory ideas. It looks like his personal notes... kinda non-professional... but he insisted on that presentation in order to keep it from distancing the reader. I've got Volume 2, too, but haven't had much time to get into it. But no matter one's knowledge, I'd start with Volume 1.
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Well, the Mehegan books are very good if a bit dated (He gives you reharmonizations of standards, but without the melody, and a few of those songs are really obsolete and difficult to find).

The Russell Garcia book (and its second volume) is very good, but has really nothing to do with piano. It's about orchestration, composition and arranging.

The two books by Dan Hearle mentioned by Marzuki are also good resources; their main drawback is, they both start with some particular kind of modern voicings, without putting them in perspective. Good sources for ideas and analysis anyway.


The most complete book I know of, especially for self-instruction, is "The Jazz Piano Book" by Mark Levine. Very complete and communicative.


You can also check "The Contemporary Keyboardist" by John Novello, a mammoth-sized encyclopedic thing for both pianists and keyboardists.


If your main interest is jazz piano, however, I find that the Levine book is the best of its kind.


Hope this helps



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My best tip would be to transcribe. It's really easy these days with a software audio editor. You can loop sections and time shift them to make it much easier. I have books and books of transcriptions that I've done over the years. It's been the best ear training and jazz vocabulary builder ever. Good luck!
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