Review of “Amazing Phrasing” by various authors

I purchased my copy of Amazing Phrases by Dennis Taylor about a month ago and wanted to take time to write a review.

The book is published by Hal Leonard and includes a CD. I purchased the version for tenor sax but the book also exists for also sax, trumpet, keyboard and guitar.  The book includes 50 ways to improve your improvisation skills with a focus on phrasing. The contents of the books can apply to just about any instrument.

The author breaks phrasing down into three components: Harmony, Melody and Rhythm. Due to the wealth of material covered in the book – some of the topics are covered in a couple of pages whereas in other books entire chapters or even entire books have been written about the topic. For example the Bebop Mixolydian scale is introduced in a couple of pages and Steve Neff has written a book entitled “Mastering the Dominant Bebop Scale” that is 191 pages. David Baker has written an entire book series on “How To Play Bebop”. You may be thinking that I am slamming the author for his short treatment of many topics but I’m not. I really like how the author introduces the improvisor in a condensed form to so many fascinating and practical ways to approach improv.  Once you are exposed to the concepts and the good examples you can then dig deeper using some of the other jazz resources I have written about and or to use the backing tracks on this site.

I recommend that you purchase this book.

For Tenor Sax

For Alto Sax

For Guitar

For Trumpet

For Keyboard

Review of “Best Minor II-V-I Patterns” book by Steve Neff

Steve Neff is a wonderful sax player and has written a number of eBooks and other instructional material.  “Best Minor II-V-I Patterns” consists of  80 Minor II-V-I patterns. Each pattern is four bars and includes the pattern in all 12 keys. The first measure is a ii7b5 chord. The second measure is a V7b9 followed by two measures of minor. I have finished playing through all of the patterns in one key. Learning all 80 patterns in all 12 keys will keep you busy for awhile. There are many nice patterns and I suggest that you add this book to your collection.

I have a post on this website entitled II-V-I Minor Long Sequence Backing Tracks that you can use with this book.

You can purchase the book at Neff Music

Review of “Approach Note Velocity Volume 2: Minor” by Steve Neff

Are you interested in learning how to improve your ability to improvise  over static harmony such as grooves or modal songs? If you answered yes, read on.

I first learned about neighbor tones from Bert Ligon’s  “Jazz Theory Resources Volume One” book. Chapter 4 of this book contans a 6 page section entitled “Neighbor Tones”. According to Mr. Ligon most music from the Baroque period to the present is to use the diatonic upper neighbor tone and the chromatic lower neighbor tone.

Steve Neff”s “Approach Note Velocity Vol. 1 Minor” book starts off with a very basic but very nice sounding example that uses neighbor tones.

UNT = Upper Neighbor Tone

CT = Chord Tone

LNT = Lower Neighbor Tone

For a C minor triad (C-Eb-G), one pattern is UNT,LNT,CT – try this pattern with each chord tone in the C minor triad.

Steve’s book starts at this point and provides 99 pages of exercises for minor chords. Steve also includes a short section on the minor triads so that a beginner can brush up on their minor triads before proceeding through the book. Mr Neff also has a demo audio track of him using these techniques while he is improvising over a groove on his website.

I highly recommend “Approach Note Velocity Vol. 1 Minor” to anyone wanting to improve their improvising over static harmony.

I have a post entitled “Minor Chord Backing Tracks In All 12 Keys” that you can use with Steve’s book or you can purchase Jamey Abersolds Major and Minor Volume for your backing tracks.

You can purchase the book at the following URL:

Approach Note Velocity Vol1. Minor

Review of “Approach Note Velocity Vol. 1 Major” by Steve Neff

Are you interested in learning how to improve your ability to improvise  over static harmony such as grooves or modal songs? If you answered yes, read on.

I first learned about neighbor tones from Bert Ligon’s  “Jazz Theory Resources Volume One” book. Chapter 4 of this book contans a 6 page section entitled “Neighbor Tones”. According to Mr. Ligon most music from the Baroque period to the present is to use the diatonic upper neighbor tone and the chromatic lower neighbor tone.

Steve Neff”s “Approach Note Velocity Vol. 1 Major” book starts off with a very basic but very nice sounding example that uses neighbor tones.

UNT = Upper Neighbor Tone

CT = Chord Tone

LNT = Lower Neighbor Tone

For a C major triad (C-E-G), one pattern is UNT,LNT,CT – try this pattern with each chord tone in the C major triad.

Steve’s book starts at this point and provides 98 pages of exercises for major chords. Steve also includes a short section on the major chords so that a beginner can brush up on their major chords before proceeding through the book. Mr Neff also has a demo audio track of him using these techniques while he is improvising over a groove on his website.

I highly recommend “Approach Note Velocity Vol. 1 Major” to anyone wanting to improve their improvising over static harmony.

I have a post entitled “Major Chord Backing Tracks In All 12 Keys” that you can use with Steve’s book or you can purchase Jamey Abersolds Major and Minor Volume for your backing tracks.

You can purchase the book at the following URL:

Approach Note Velocity Vol1. Major

Review of “Mastering The Dominant Bebop Scale” by Steve Neff

I recently learned about the website of Steve Neff from Jacob Lampe. I visited his site and purchased a pdf book entitled “Mastering The Dominant Bebop Scale.

The book covers the bebop dominant scale in all 12 keys. After Steve provides you with a number of suggestions and exercises in a particular key – he introduces bebop scale links. These links are very powerful and cool sounding and really help you to use the bebop scale without sounding like a scale exercise. Steve also demonstrates the use of the bebop scale in the blues. Since the dominant chords prevail in the blues – the blues are an excellent way to practice the bebop scale and linking patterns.

This is a very good book that you should work through if you desire to play bebop.

Steve Neff webite

Review of “How To Play Bebop 3” by David Baker

This post is the third in a series of my posts that review David Baker’s “How To Play Bebop” series. I am reviewing the third volume in this post.

This volume is all about techniques for learning and utilizing bebop tunes. This book consists of the following eight chapters:

  1. The Contrafact
  2. A Technique for Learning Tunes
  3. A Technique for Learning and Internalizing a Composition Using Bebop Tunes
  4. Using Bebop Compositions and Arrangements As a Means of Learning to Play Bebop
  5. The Use of Quotation in Bebop Solos
  6. An Approach to Developing Thematic Fluency Using the “Piggyback” Technique
  7. Another Approach to Learning to Improvise on The Blues
  8. An Approach to Improvising on “Rhythm” Tunes

The author also includes “A List of Essential Bebop Tunes for Memorization” in the appendix.

Chapter 1 provides a definition and historical perspective of the contrafact and then lists 15 bebop songs and other songs that are contrafacts of those songs. The most important thing to take of from this description is that next to the blues there are more bebop songs that are contrafacts of “I Got Rhythm” than any other bebop song. The author lists 48 bebop songs that are contrafacts of the “Rhythm” changes. This explains the importance of spending a great deal of time on the “Rhythm” changes.

Chapter 2 provides a detailed method for learning tunes. Guide tones and example exercises are provided.

Chapter 3 describes ways to internalize bebop tunes. For example learn the melody, learn the roots, use of root-based digital patterns.

Chapter 4 provides a list of tunes that will aid in the learning of bebop.

Chapter 5 discusses the use of quotes from other songs in bebop.

Chapter 6 discusses constructing lines that have a smooth flow.

Chapter 7 disccuses a different approach to improvising on the blues. The author provides a list of riff blues and asks that you learn them in all keys. Examples are provided.

Chapter 8 provides an approach to improvising on the “I Got Rhythm” tunes. Different variations are provided along with some model lines.

David Bakers bebop books are well written. In my opinion this series is best approached by an intermediate or higher level jazz improvisor.

Buy
How to Play Bebop – Volume 3

Review of “How To Play Bebop 2” by David Baker

David Baker has written three books on how to play bebop. This review will take a look at volume two.

The book begins with a preface that traces the beginning of bebop.

The book is divided into the following 8 chapters:

  1. The Use of the II,V7 Progression in Bebop
  2. The III, VI, II, V Progression in Bebop
  3. The Major Chord
  4. The II, V7 Progression in Minor
  5. The Cycle in Bebop
  6. The Use of the Turnback in Bebop
  7. Other Important Formulae in Bebop
  8. A New Approach To Constructing Bass Lines Based on the Bebop Scales

Chapter 8 is followed by an appendix entitled “A List of Essential Bebop Tunes for Memorization”.

The author includes a 101 bebop era II, V7 patterns in chapter 1.

Chapter 2 consists of a list of songs that contain the III,VI,II,V patterns followed by 100 III,VI,II,V patterns.

Chapter 3 contains 101 major patterns.

Chapter 4 provides a number of II,V7 patterns in Minor.

Chapter 5 provides a number of Cycle patterns.

Chapter 6 includes a number of turnback ( or turnaround ) patterns.

Chapter 8 begins by stating that the blues and “I Got Rhythm” chord changes occur most often in bebop and perhaps in all of jazz. The chapter lists several different formula and a list of songs that use the same formulae.

Chapter 9  provides a discussion on constructing bass lines using the bebop scale.

If you are serious about the bebop scale – this book should be in your library.

Buy
David Baker’s How to Play Bebop 2 for All Instruments – Learning the Bebop Language: Patterns, Formulae and Other Linking Materials

Review of “How To Play Bebop 1” by David Baker

David Baker has written three books on how to play bebop. This review will take a look at volume one.

The book consists of two parts. Part one begins with a brief background of the bebop scales and then begins with the bebop dominant scale. In the most basic terms the bebop scales takes a 7 note scale and adds an extra chromatic note. The addition of the extra chromatic note creates an 8 note scale with all of the chord tones occurring on the downbeats.  Mr. Baker provides numerous examples of the following:

  1. Starting the scale on any note of the scale
  2. Bebop endings
  3. Extending the Bebop line
  4. Using enclosure ( adding a half step above the target chord note, a half step below the target chord note and then the chord note )
  5. Joining the bebop scale with other scales
  6. The bebop major scale
  7. An example Bebop Solo

Part two of the book is a scale syllabus.

If you are looking for a series of books with a serious study of the bebop scale you should consider this series.

Buy

How to Play Bebop – Volume 1

Review of “Bebop Scales” by Joe Riposo

Bebop Scales was written by Joe Riposo. Joe Riposo is the Director of Jazz Studies at Syracuse University.

What is a bebop scale? The bebop scale is an 8 tone scale.  A chromatic half step is added to the basic 7 tone scales to cause the chord tones to fall on the downbeats. The bebop scale tends to provide a musical phrase with “forward motion”. An example descending bebop scale for C7 would include C,B,Bb,A,G,F,E,D.

The author provides bebop scales in all keys for the following scales:

  • major
  • dorian
  • mixolydian
  • locrian

The author provides exercises that move in minor seconds, fourths, ascending and descending major thirds and ascending and descending minor thirds.

The book also includes an application section that provides examples using the bebop scales.

If you are looking for a book that will give you a good workout on the bebop scale – you should consider this one.

Buy:
Bebop Scales Jazz Scales and Patterns in All 12 Keys

Review of “Elements Of The Jazz Language For The Developing Improvisor

Elements Of The Jazz Language For The Developing Improvisor was written by Jerry Coker.  Jerry published his first book “Improvising Jazz” in 1964 and has authored many jazz books. In my opinion he is an outstanding author with a great deal of practical information.

Jerry has analyzed many jazz greats and observed 18 common devices that comprise the jazz language.

A few of the devices include

  • Change-Running
  • Digital Patterns
  • 7-3 Resolution
  • 3-b9

The book has a CD which illustrates the examples and the author provides exercises to practice and ingrain the devices.

I highly recommend this book and you can purchase it from the following link.

Buy

Elements of the Jazz Language for the Developing Improvisor