Jazz Books for Musicians

Here is a list of my favorite jazz educational books for aspiring musicians and students

The Jazz Theory Book presents all the information any student of jazz needs in an easy-to-understand, yet thorough, manner. For intermediate to advanced players, and written by one of the acknowledged masters of jazz, it is used by universities around the world.

Beginning/Intermediate. Easy to understand and inspiring for all musicians wishing to explore the secrets of jazz improv. This book will give you a good working grounding in the jazz genre for any instrument, especially helpful for those self teaching themselves.

This book is great for intermediate/advanced players to study the solos note-by-note of jazz's innovator, Charlie Parker. I had a teacher who insisted students learn parker's bebop before moving on to any other facet of jazz. This version is in the key of C but horn players should get a copy in their respective key.

David Baker's series is great for the beginner/intermediate student to learn some simple "licks" as well as the basic scales, chords and modes necessary to play bebop music

This is a fantastic philosophical book for any musician who finds themselves having reached a plateau in their development. Werner, a masterful jazz pianist in his own right, uses his own life story and experiences to explore the barriers to creativity and mastery of music, and in the process reveals that ''Mastery is available to everyone,'' providing practical, detailed ways to move towards greater confidence and proficiency in any endeavor.

This is the official sheet music book of jazz standards used in modern jazz education and small group performance. It is full of wonderful music to discover and learn. However, don't make the mistake I did: be sure to check any song you learn against the original recording and learn the songs to memory before you ever perform them! (Don't worry, I eventually figured it out)

What exactly are the steps that lead to ability? In which order should they been taken? What will be required to master each one? These are questions the author has explored in this book, resulting in a rather unique "one-thing-at-a-time" approach to studying improvisation - one that incorporates discipline, technique, creativity and musical intuition.

This is my favorite book on pentatonics. It is great for any player ready to advance beyond the styles of bebop into this more modern style that was developed in the 60's.

The definitive text used for the time-honored Chord Scales course at Berklee College of Music, this advanced book concentrates on scoring for every possible ensemble combination and teaches performers and arrangers how to add color, character and sophistication to chord voicings. 

Since its publication in 1947, great musicians and composers of all genres - from Arnold Schoenberg to John Coltrane and Freddie Hubbard  have sworn by this legendary volume and its comprehensive vocabulary of melodic patterns for composition and improvisation. It is an interesting classical scientific approach to every possible scale and more.

This is the definitive book on jazz piano. It has everything an aspiring pianist needs to learn to go from beginner to advanced. Also good for other instruments to better learn jazz theory and comping techniques.

Another thesaurus which is divided into two hierarchically organized parts. In Part I, the various Melodic Shapes for creative writing and improvisation serve as the important aesthetic substance. In Part II, materials quoted from John Coltrane and others are integrated in a fashion convenient to improvisers who seek the technical proficiency of an instrumentalist.

I'm glad there is a Coltrane omnibook featuring transcriptions note-for-note of 43 of his best solos. This is perfect for anyone who wants to really get deep into Coltrane's technical brilliance.

This book does only one small thing, but it does it extremely well: It will teach you how to play melodically over quick-change bebop ii-V-I progressions. For players who are frustrated by the "play this mode over this chord" approach, this book is a refreshing antidote that focuses instead on functional harmony and good voice leading to help you find the target notes that will smoothly connect the chords while outlining the harmony. 

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