Sightreading Jazz by Bob Taylor

First off, I need to apologize to Bob Taylor. He sent me this book a while ago. Months ago, and I just plain got busy. So, finally, here is a review of the book.

Sightreading Jazz is a 130 page, spiral bound book that addresses jazz sightreading. Being able to come to a musical situation, and play stuff for the first time with a high degree of accuracy is an essential skill. Bob Taylor’s book focuses on sightreading jazz music.

The first part of the book gives you some history, things to look out for, counting rhythms, swing rhythms, articulations, and accents. The second part is where the meat of the book begins, the Rhythms. 2 and 4 bar rhythms. Mr. Taylor recommends practicing these with one pitch, or two or three pitches that you pick out, or using a scale (going up or down as the notes go by), or an arpeggio, or two octaves, or using thirds. Whew. PLUS, you can do the rhythms across the page, down the column….and upside down (just kidding).

Actually, upside down come in the next section, where there are actually pitches to read. No rhythms (all eight notes), just pitches. And you do these across the page, down the column, upside down, new key, or new rhythm (other than eight notes). Plus, combinations of these, so you could do it upside down in a new key with a new rhythm. Whew.

Last section features etudes. Four measure, eight measure, sixteen measure and blues etudes. Some of these are pretty fun to play….others not so much.

Two minor things I did not like. The enclosed CDs were pretty useless. It would have been better to perhaps just include ONE CD with MP3s, or a hybrid CDs with Audio and the Band in a Box files on it. Second, most of the book is all professionally typesetted and looks great, but then there are large sections that are scanned handwritten stuff. It is legible, but, just kind of takes away from the whole look of the book.

The material in the book is first class. What it really almost needs to be is a brutal computer program that, when you load it, proceeds to kick your a**. Not really a SmartMusic kludge, but something simple like Patterns X would work. A program that would have all the material in its database, and could generate infinite variations for your reading pleasure.

In all, this book is well worth having, especially if you have been through Bugs Bower’s Rhythm Book, Joe Allard’s Advanced Rhythms, and Joseph Viola’s 3rd book.

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