Recommended Reading

Recommended Reading_____________________________________

Paul Berliner. Thinking in jazz: the infinite art of improvisation University of Chicago Press, Ltd., London 1994.
Academic treatise on improvisation containing numerous of personal accounts, highly detailed musical examples and references. Thorough, but heavy going if you’re not used to academic style.

Jerry Coker. How To Practice Jazz publ. Aebersold. Concise and practical book about practicing jazz.

Jerry Coker. The Teaching of Jazz Rottenburg: Advance 1989.
Concise and practical book about teaching jazz.

Hal Crook. How To Improvise – A Guide to Practising Improvisation. Rottenburg: Advance, 1991
The best book available, a book about improvising rather than the more common compendium of information. Hal Crook stresses the importance of design and control. Information serves process here, with dozens of practice routines. Suitable for all improvisors – including drummers and singers.

Hal Crook. Ready, Aim Improvise! Exploring the Basics of Improvisation. Rottenburg: Advance, 1999. Excellent, practical and comprehensive, essentially a summary of a 2 or 3-year undergraduate course.

Betty Edwards. Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain. London: Harper Collins 1979, 1993.
A stunning revelation of how left/right brain (hemispherical) theory transforms drawing and painting. While written for artists, this is well worth a read.

Gallowey and Green The Inner Game of Music New York: Pan 1986, 1987.
Sequel to the Inner Game of Tennis, straightforward psychology of performance, widely used by sports professionals and musicians.

Carl Gustav Jung. The Undiscovered Self London: Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd, 1958. Jung’s distinctions and perspective on dogma and doctrine – a lateral and useful angle on stylistic adherences and artistic development.

Mark Levine. The Jazz Theory Book, Sher Music.
Compendium of jazz information, mainly bebop and modern. Excellent presentation, but lacks guidance on improvisation.

Stephanie Judy. Making Music for the Joy of It. New York, Tarcher 1990.
Self-help book designed for amateurs, yet full of important reminders of the principles and purpose of practice.

Stephen Nachmanovitch. Free Play – Improvisation in Life and Art. New York: Tarcher/Putnam 1990.
Beautiful, readable and highly insightful treatise about improvising, drawing upon, amongst others William Blake, Einstein, Martha Graham, Stravinsky. A must!

George Odam. The Sounding Symbol. Cheltenham: Stanley Thornes 1995.
Teaching and learning music, by one of the UK’s leading educators with deep insight into how we learn.

Joe Riposo. Jazz Improvisation: A Whole Brain Approach. Aebersold. 1989.
An approach to practicing improvisation that utilises left/right brain theory. The material is orthodox but the approach is useful.

Mark Steinel. Building A Jazz Vocabulary, A Resource for Learning Improvisation Milwaukee, Hal Leonard Corp, 1995.
Thorough guidance on assembling and developing jazz vocabulary – mainly for playing “changes”.

Philip Sudo. Zen Guitar. A beautiful collection of lessons aligning musical practice with the philosophy and psychology of Eastern spiritual/martial arts. Philip Sudo was a graduate of Berklee College.

Kenny Werner. Effortless Mastery New Albany: Jamey Aebersold, circa 1998. Yoga/meditation meets jazz improvisation, by leading jazz pianist Kenny Werner.

The Universal Mind of Bill Evans. Rhapsody Films.
American Public Services TV documentary. Bill Evans explains his personal philosophy about music, demonstrating at the piano.


5 thoughts on “Recommended Reading

  1. Just discovered this site love it. I personally found the Bergonzi inside improvisations series very helpful.

  2. Really useful list for me as an undergraduate where jazz is not necessarily as well supported. Thank you! Am reading your ‘How to practice guide’ also.

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