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Educational Book Roundup

A buyer's guide to some of the year's best

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By Joe Riposo (Jamey Aebersold, $9.95)

The relationship between jazz and spoken language is one of those analogies you hear so often it loses its meaning. But Syracuse University jazz studies director Joe Riposo believes deeply in the correlation. In this 51-page book, he details how linguistic elements like vowels and consonants have their musical equivalents, and when used intelligently along with “outside notes” these elements yield fluid, musical, narrative solos.


By Jamey Aebersold; Adapted By Corey Christiansen

(Jamey Aebersold, $19.95 with CD)
Jazz Guitar Volume 1 is an ideal meld of guitar-focused instruction and Jamey Aebersold’s more universal improv lessons. So you get your exercises with accompanying tablature, and enough guitar-centric listening recommendations to blast through your iTunes budget, but you also receive Aebersold’s time-honored expertise in melodic development, the circle of fourths and the like. In short, it’s a definitive method book for aspiring Scofields.


By Max De Aloe (Sher, $30 with CD)

So much current harmonica instruction treats the instrument like a novelty or a vessel for would-be Dylans and Little Walters exclusively. Max de Aloe’s expansive new method book from Sher feels geared toward the Toots Thielemans/Gregoire Maret track. The 147-page book, as the author points out, uses actual musical notation, for one, and its lessons traverse all skill levels. Sample topics include whistling and tongue-blocking methods, breathing, choosing an instrument, using the slide, bending, scales and exercises through the octaves. Also present is a large selection of tunes (including many of the author’s infectious originals) and a crisply recorded CD with examples and backing tracks.


By Roy Burns; Edited By Murray Houllif (Kendor, $22.95 with CD)

This 79-page book from drum great Roy Burns reinforces a simple but essential lesson for drummers: Remember to relax. When drummers attempt to advance the tempo, they often tense up in a way that produces clunky, non-swinging music and decreases endurance. This compendium of rudiments with brief but crucial performance notes instructs drummers in increasing speed without changing the evenness of their sound and the fluidity of their attack. A bonus CD includes effortless extended solos by Burns for inspiration.


By Joe Deninzon (Mel Bay, $32.99 with CD & DVD)

Released early this year, Plugging In is a peerless tool for the well-studied violinist constrained by a lifetime of conservatory culture. As author Joe Deninzon points out, the demands of the marketplace make absorbing contemporary styles and improvisation concepts essential for pro fiddlers who want to eat, and this book covers a lot of pragmatic ground. Deninzon offers a kind of buyer’s guide to the requisite sonic tools-electric violins, amps, effects-in addition to his lessons on the underpinnings of funk, blues and fusion, and idiomatic techniques like chopping and DJ scratching. An illustrative CD and DVD are included.



By Richard Sussman And Michael Abene

(Oxford, $39.95 with website access)

This 505-page tome is a landmark resource. Composer-arrangers Richard Sussman and Michael Abene-the latter’s work is in your record collection whether you know it or not-provide a guidebook for their craft that is beyond comprehensive. The instruction, with lucid notes and notation, starts simple and snowballs, with sections on small and large ensembles and topics like unison and octave writing, reharms, where to start your solos, classic shout choruses, adding texture via mutes-the list goes on (and could fill this page). Along the way, the authors seamlessly incorporate teachings on using today’s composing-arranging software. Purchase of the book includes access to its companion website, featuring audio examples by name players performing real tunes. Teachers and directors: Buy this one for the most ambitious young musician in your lab band.

Originally Published