This page is for players who are maybe slightly more advanced and are looking for some resources to advance their playing/knowledge in the jazz genre. Once again there is a huge wealth of material out there so I have simply listed below a small selection of the books that I have used over the years. These are resources that I found helpful in my own development as a musician as well as that of some of my pupils.
By far the most comprehensive and fun series of books that I have come across is by one of the greatest jazz tutors to have been published (in my opinion), that is Jamey Aebersold. His books cover all aspects of jazz improvisation leaving no stone unturned in his quest to help ANYONE improvise. These books are not for absolute beginners…..they will not teach you how to play your instrument but if you do have a basic grasp of playing and reading music then there is no reason why you can’t dive straight in and enjoy. On the down side they are slightly expensive as they come with a play a long CD (which is the whole point) so you can put your new found skills into practice. This series is not aimed particularly at woodwind and incorporate Bb, Eb, bass clef and concert pitch. For more info check out the section “how to play Jazz…”
Lennie Niehaus is another heavyweight when it comes Jazz education. He is an alto-sax player and has written the musical scores for many Hollywood blockbusters (he works a lot with Clint Eastwood). As such this is another very comprehensive and fun book to learn and practice from. As with most books in this section a decent degree of facility on your instrument would be recommended if choosing this book. It does though offer a very comprehensive use of scales and associated chords introducing the principles of soloing through relevant chord progressions. The book then moves on to 12 jazz etudes, 30 solos which are based on well know standards and 7 duets. Once again I found this book to be quite expensive but worth every penny.
OK so straight off this is not a music book in the mould of all others listed on this site. This is NOT a “learn as you play” style book. This is simply a comprehensive bible to learning, playing and understanding jazz music. And believe me when I say Bible I mean it….this book can also serve as a great door stop due to it’s size and weight ! All aspects of the genre are covered with practical examples for you to play (mainly on piano) and a very detailed listening list. If you want to learn how to play and understand Jazz then this is book is a DEFINITE. I would suggest that it would certainly help if you had a detailed understanding of music theory in general before you tackled this book. The book draws heavily on the jazz masters, using practical examples from jazz classics to explain general principles, meaning you can actually listen to the music to better understand. If you are new to jazz or are simply wanting to further understand the genre and theoretical principles used to create the music then this book is pretty essential reading.
“Jazz improvisation is the spontaneous creation of music in the jazz style” is the opening sentence of this book. But to be able to be really spontaneous you must, as a musician, have a real knowledge, feel and understanding of scales, patterns, chords sequences and how to apply them. This book will certainly help to develop that skill. It is bursting with all of that and more. I would again suggest that a solid knowledge of music theory would certainly help to get the most from this book. One for the player who really wants to take their improvising to the next level.
25 Daily Exercises for Saxophone – H.Klose
Again this is not strictly a tutor book. It is suited to the player who has good facility on their instrument and has a desire to improve their technique. It is also not a very big book (containing only 25 exercises) but they are a good workout and if incorporated into your daily practice routine will definitely improve your playing.
Saxophone studies – Gustav Bumcke
As with the above book this is not strictly a tutor book but rather a book absolutely full to the brim of micro exercises designed to improve fingering techniques. I would suggest this is not a book for an absolute beginner but once you are quite comfortable with the layout of your saxophone then this book will certainly be your companion for years to come !
Street fighters guide to improvisation – Duncan Lamont
This is a strange but very enjoyable book. It is a completely “outside the norm” system of learning to improvise. To be fair it is jam packed with some really useful theory, tips and strategies though for me not everything worked….but then each to their own ! If you are looking for something a bit different I would certainly recommend this book.
This is a brilliant starting point for anyone that is looking to explore jazz but is not too familiar with the genre. It is a collection of 88 of the greatest jazz songs ever written (their words not mine) and I pretty much agree. It is not a tutor book and is not aimed at the heavy duty jazz oficionado but rather the beginner looking to explore a range of really popular jazz standards.
This book was one of my first entries into the world of jazz and I still enjoy playing from it today. It is available for alto sax, piano and trumpet.
- Ain’t Misbehaving
- Fly me to the Moon
- I’ve got you under my skin
- One note Samba
- Satin doll
- That’s life
- When I fall in love
and many many more.