[Smt-talk] FW: [Smt-announce] OT -beginning jazz piano

Gillespie, Jeffrey jgillesp at butler.edu
Thu Feb 5 11:52:55 PST 2009

Dear Colleagues:

Our jazz pianist at Butler has provided some input here, regarding this inquiry.

- Jeff Gillespie
From: Walters, Gary
Sent: Thursday, February 05, 2009 2:31 PM
To: Gillespie, Jeffrey
Subject: RE: [Smt-talk] [Smt-announce]  OT -beginning jazz piano

Jeff -

I use Mark Levine's The Jazz Piano Book also. It isn't perfect, but I haven't had a student yet who didn't benefit from it. It is quite possible to make it a 4 year text given that I always supplement with other materials I've gleaned through the years. I'm familiar with Mantooth's book and know several folks who find it valuable as well, but a true beginner seems to find plenty to keep busy with Levine's book. His Jazz theory book was used by Buselli when he taught here. I don't have personal experience with it, but found it to contain most things that are in the Piano book theory-wise, with the expansion of playing techniques in the Piano book vs. style and analysis in the theory book.

Jazz piano study is the study of jazz theory by and large. No one struggles with issues of technique when they are first studying with me. In fact, some of our better classical pianists have felt rather frustrated in their first lessons because they don't get to use technique, but also can't figure out how to play the chord symbols! But that is why I suggest that early jazz piano study is theory-based. The student MUST learn to see a chord symbol and then have varied approaches to voicing the notes in that chord. I don't believe it helps the student to have things notated, because it delays the internalization necessary to read chord symbols efficiently.

I have an extra copy of Levine's book that I'm happy to let you review. I hope my points are helpful in your forum discussion.

Gary A. Walters
Jazz Department
Butler University

P Please consider the environment before printing this email.
From: Gillespie, Jeffrey
Sent: Thursday, February 05, 2009 1:25 PM
To: Walters, Gary
Subject: FW: [Smt-talk] [Smt-announce]  OT -beginning jazz piano


Do you have thoughts on this?  I really should get myself a jazz keyboard book as a reference.  Your advice would be appreciated.  Thanks!

From: smt-talk-bounces at societymusictheory.org [smt-talk-bounces at societymusictheory.org] On Behalf Of K. Christian McGuire [kmcguire at bitstream.net]
Sent: Tuesday, February 03, 2009 7:54 PM
To: smt-talk at societymusictheory.org
Subject: Re: [Smt-talk] [Smt-announce]  OT -beginning jazz piano

I frequently use with my student's both Mark Levine's The Jazz Piano Book as well as his Jazz Theory Workbook.  In fact I recommend most of the Sher Music Co. publications.

Frank Mantooth's Voicings for Jazz Keyboard is good for the same reasons stated by Mike Rogers.

Another neat book is John Valerio's intros, endings & turnarounds for Keyboard (ISBN 0-634-02301-2).

K. Christian McGuire

Instructor of Electric Bass and Music History
Rock & Improv Ensemble Director
Augsburg College
Music Department
2211 Riverside Avenue
Mpls MN 55454
mcguire at augsburg.edu<mailto:mcguire at augsburg.edu>

Instructor of Music History
McNally Smith College of Music
19 Exchange Street East
Saint Paul, MN 55101
651 291 0177
800 594 9500
cmcguire at mcnallysmith.edu<mailto:cmcguire at mcnallysmith.edu>

International Society of
Hildegard von Bingen Studies, webmaster

Musicologist & Electric Bassist
kmcguire at bitstream.net<mailto:kmcguire at bitstream.net>
cell: 651-270-5807

----- Original Message -----
From: Brian Kane<mailto:brian.kane at yale.edu>
To: smt-announce at societymusictheory.org<mailto:smt-announce at societymusictheory.org>
Sent: Monday, February 02, 2009 11:39 PM
Subject: Re: [Smt-announce] [Smt-talk] OT -beginning jazz piano


It might be more than your student needs, but I highly recommend Mark Levine's The Jazz Piano Book. It's practically oriented with plenty of notated examples, good explanations of chord symbols, transcribed songs, discographies, etc. It less a theory text and more in the spirit of a "thoroughbass treatise" for jazz piano.


Brian Kane
Assistant Professor
Department of Music
Yale University
143 Elm St., Rm. 208

On Feb 2, 2009, at 8:50 AM, David Claman wrote:

I'm off topic as usual but expect that the collective knowledge of the list members will be helpful.

I have a student who wants to learn a little about jazz piano. What I think would be appropriate would be a book (or website?) that has an explanation of chord symbols and chord voicings, but also has a few tunes transcribed/notated. She is a foreign student with little knowledge of jazz but is a good reader. I think the notated examples would give her some satisfaction before she delves into complexities of chord voicings and substutions and improvisation. The level of the material should be introductory.

Please let me know of your recommendations.

Thank you,
David Claman
Lehman College CUNY

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