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Best books to learn jazz & blues

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by Benjobobs, Apr 12, 2021.

  1. Benjobobs

    Benjobobs TDPRI Member

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    Hi TDPRI members,

    I'm a recent addition to the forum.

    Long story short: I've been playing guitar for 20 years, had lessons to begin with when I was a teen but since then have just been a 'strummer' of sorts & was quite happy with that.

    Recently I've picked up electric guitar again (my first Tele) & I've been studying a bit of music theory online to get a bit more of a theoretical back ground.

    But what I am looking for are the best books to learn jazz & blues guitar. I've been a rock & pop man for 20 years but in the last few years I've stopped listening to a lot of what I used to & I mainly listen to jazz/blues (plus a lot of classical/ambient/african/world etc. alongside some more avant garde pop stuff) & that's what I want to learn to play.

    I want book(s) because I'm on a computer for a lot of the day & I don't find computers great for learning.

    Any suggestions would be much appreciated - in print or out of print - for reference I'm in the UK & have access to both good local music shops & of course the evil empire of Amazon.

    Thank you! :)
     
  2. Novak

    Novak Tele-Meister

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    This might help get you started (hope this uploads):
     

    Attached Files:

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  3. Benjobobs

    Benjobobs TDPRI Member

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    Thanks Novak. I should have said I've got the free e-books for the Jazzguitar.be website which are fine (& would be better if I printed them off!) & this is not dissimilar I think (I will also print it off).

    I wondered if there were any 'classic tomes' that people swear by?
     
  4. WingedWords

    WingedWords Friend of Leo's

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  5. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    I know you're cool on learning online, but search for Jens Larsen on YouTube. His jazz guitar lessons are as good as I've seen anyone do.
     
  6. erratick

    erratick Tele-Holic

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    If you already know your way around a guitar a bit:

    The Jazz Theory Book by Levine.

    Spiral bound for noting in.
     
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  7. blue17

    blue17 Tele-Meister

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    I know it’s not instructional per se, but a copy of The Real Book is an invaluable resource for those learning jazz. It’s got standard after standard and will always be useful.
     
  8. nobis17

    nobis17 Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    +1 for the real book.
     
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  9. johmica

    johmica Tele-Holic

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    I know that you said "no computers" in your OP, but your history and your interests are so closely aligned with my own, that I have to let you know about my experience with Truefire.

    This time last year, I was pretty much in your exact spot. I'd played on and off since high school (early '90s), but never taken it too seriously. I decided that the quarantine was the perfect opportunity to put the time in, and I wanted to learn to play jazz and the blues.

    I had known about Truefire for a while, but I'd never really explored their website thoroughly. I started looking around on it, and discovered their "Learning Paths." I'm not going to go into a lot of detail on how the paths work, because you can just visit their site and see for yourself.

    I will tell you that I purchased probably the first five or so lessons individually, but then felt confident that I would continue following the programs, so I switched to a monthly subscription. After another eight months or so, I decided that I am in for the long haul, and I upgraded to the annual subscription (and saved quite a bit more in the long run. They have some pretty spectacular holiday sales).

    I've followed both the jazz and the blues Learning Path for a couple of weeks more than a year now, and I'm not quite half way through either program. That being said, I am hands-down leagues better as a player than I've ever been.

    I've completed four of the "Core Lessons" in each path, but an added benefit of the "All Access" approach is that I've been free to explore the "Electives" suggested between courses. Worthy of special note are the "Fakebook" courses. Nothing makes learning to play jazz and blues more fun and engaging than, well, just playing jazz and blues.

    Again, I understand your aversion to more screens, given your career. But I hope that you'll at least take a look at how the Learning Paths work. I spent several years trying to learn from books, with some success, but the process is so much more intuitive when you're playing along with someone who then explains to you why they chose to play what they played.

    Good luck.

    P.S. Frank Vignola has the Midas touch. Every course he touches is a treasure.
     
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  10. Deeve

    Deeve Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Thanks for these links - I've D/L and have some optimism (again)
    Peace - Deeve
     
  11. mfguitar

    mfguitar Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    I would get the Berklee Modern Method by Leavitt. This is a great foundation for jazz studies. You can still venture off into other things and depending on your level you can breeze through some of the material. Almost 40 years later I still use a lot of the exercises and concepts.
     
  12. gtroates

    gtroates Tele-Holic

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    As a long time jazz guitarist I have found a lot of people get stuck in the Jazz Theory stage without working on playing what they hear on recordings and imitating the phrasing of the greats. If at all possible, when we are allowed to see regular live performances again, make a point of seeing live jazz if at all possible where you live, so much of the communication between the musicians is visible during performances in a way you couldn’t otherwise get from just audio. Listen and transcribe on a regular basis, get used to playing along with great jazz solos and melodies to get their sense of timing down, get a good audio slowing down device, either an app or a portable device like the Tascam GB-10 which slows and has pitch adjustment features for working with MP3s.

    Books are great, I have a large library myself, but they can’t describe in words the use of dynamics and the elasticity of swing feel that make jazz sound the way it does. Get familiar with the recordings of Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, John Coltrane, Jim Hall, Bill Frisell, Mike Stern, John Scofield, Tal Farlow, Jimmy Raney, Chet Baker, Wes Montgomery, George Benson, Barney Kessel, Grant Green, Kenny Burrell, Paul Desmond, Ed Bickert, Sarah Vaughan, Clifford Brown, Sonny Stitt, Coleman Hawkins, Charlie Christian, Django Reinhardt, Sonny Rollins, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Joe Pass, Steve Swallow, Jaco Pastorious, Chick Corea, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Cannonball Adderly, Billie Holiday, Tony Williams, Hank Mobley, and many others to hear the jazz vocabulary they use and the tone and phrasing styles they play with to make their individual styles work. So much of music is in knowing how to create and recreate the sounds that make the style sound as it does, each style has cliches that identify it as within its genre.

    Books tell you the fingerings, scale and chord theory, and the nuts and bolts about techniques, but they can’t describe accurately how the music sounds and how to play it authentically without audio recordings or even better seeing the players performing live as supplements.
     
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  13. Cloodie

    Cloodie Tele-Meister

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    I'm currently working my way through this and finding it to be really good
    [​IMG]
     
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  14. tomnardozza

    tomnardozza Tele-Meister

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    They are really 2 different animals (and I don't even like to use that phrase). There's jazzy blues, but when a jazz band calls for a blues it def isn't the same as a blues band.
     
  15. teletail

    teletail Friend of Leo's

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    Jazz and blues can be very different disciplines. For blues, forget the books, transcribe tunes you like. For jazz, get a good teacher. And he’ll tell you to transcribe tunes you like, but will give you the background you need.
     
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  16. Benjobobs

    Benjobobs TDPRI Member

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    Thank you for all of this. I will take some time to read all your replies and links. :)
     
  17. Ricky D.

    Ricky D. Doctor of Teleocity

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    Another suggestion of Mickey Baker. A quick jump start for those "algebra " chords.
     
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  18. Rockinvet

    Rockinvet Tele-Afflicted

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    Welcome to the forum. All suggestions so far are great and I wouldn't make any other suggestions other than combining them! You have to learn tunes so the Real Book is an invaluable resource of printed material to get you started. But in order to learn the tunes you need some theory to get the chords right so a good chord book and the ability to read them of course. The Berklee series A Modern Method for Guitar is a great source for learning scales, reading and chords, all 3 volumes. You can buy them all combined in one book on Amazon.

    The chord book download in a previous post looked pretty good and there are others like it but don't get bogged down in those 10000 chord books. Waste of time IMHO. There is a guy in Cincinnati named Bob Roetker who has a chord book that is personally endorsed by Joe Pass that has different ways to play the II V I progression. bobroetker.com. His book is in print too. It is the best unknown jazz guitar chord book I have ever seen. You see those chord books do not put the chords in context like his. The biggest thing about Jazz is knowing Chord Progressions. Standard tunes are all very formula oriented and once you have the ability to play those progressions it will make life much easier for you and progress you that much faster than just learning one chord at a time.

    The problem with all books are they do not put things in context. Its up to you to put them together. Of course a good theory book is helpful for that. I mean then you'll be able to discern the difference between a Dom 7 chord versus a Major 7 chord or what a II V I progression is. So you'll need a good theory book. I have one that I may be able to share once I get permission to upload that is our of print. Its a copyright thing but there are tons of them out there.

    But as @gtroates said you need to listen to the greats to see how it all fits together. You see Jazz is like a language. You can learn to read a language and learn its grammar but until you hear how it sounds and are able to articulate it audibly its nothing but a bunch words on paper. The opposite is someone who speaks a language but can't read or write it. That is why some people who play by ear are successful. So listening and transcribing is the best source of all. Of course you need to have some of those resources assist you along the way but your ear and playing those tunes is the best way to go forward. And if that's too much information having a good teacher guide you along the way helps as @teletail has already eluded to.

    Hope this helps and is not too much information. I will find out if I can upload that theory book for you. One last recommendation Volume 76 Jamey Aebersold "How to Learn Tunes."
     
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  19. dhodgeh

    dhodgeh TDPRI Member

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    There is wisdom in these words.

    Frank is great. In addition to all the Truefire courses, I have had the pleasure of attending an acoustic guitar camp where he was one of the guest instructors.

    Without a doubt I got the most value out of the material Frank presented.

    His take on theory is if you want to learn theory, learn songs. Those are his words are in my signature.

    Can't go wrong here.

    D
     
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  20. Yonatan

    Yonatan Tele-Meister

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    I'm no expert, rather in a similar situation as you, but I can definitely recommend Robert Conti's Chord Melody Assembly Line.
    Don't be fooled by it's apparent simplicity - IMO it gets so right what many "seemingly" more complex books just get completely wrong.
    After working with it for a while (good few months), you'll be able to construct your own chord melody from lead sheets.
    O.k., it will be a very bare bones chord melody (no fancy bass lines, reharmonizations, etc.), but
    1. You will have done it completely on your own
    2. It will sound nice with his voicings
    And I didn't even use the video, just the book, so there's even a whole other aspect to this book/DVD set that I didn't make use of yet.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2021
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