Jazz Phrasing For Beginners by Greg Fishman

jpfbGreg Fishman has a number of excellent books out. I’ve reviewed and highly recommend his Jazz Etudes Book Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 and his Saxophone Duets book. His latest book is Jazz Phrasing For Beginners, which is aimed at the beginning student. It contains 10 melodic tunes that great examples of idiomatic “classic” jazz tunes such as “C Jam Blues” and the like. The tunes are great studies in good voice leading and use of jazz rhythms. Also great motivic (or sequential) development. You get 2 CDs with the book. One CD that has Alto Sax demos and backgrounds, and one that has Tenor Sax demos and backgrounds.

As a book for someone who is just starting to play, this would be a good first book before diving into something like Jim Snidero’s Jazz Conception Easy. The etudes are short, and emphasize excellent idea development. However……

I think this book might have been so much more. Just the title “Jazz Phrasing for Beginners” hinted that there might have/should have been more to the book. I think Greg Fishman missed the boat on this one. This really ought to have been a workbook. It might have doubled the number of pages, but it would have made the book a lot more useful.

What I mean by a workbook is something like this. You have this great little thing on page 9 where Sequences are discussed. The next page has variations on a theme examples that are used in Franklin Street. This is GREAT STUFF. But what about having intermixing of the motives/phrases used in the etudes? Or have ONE or TWO phrases that are demonstrated being used throughout all the etudes?

There are TONS of etudes books out there. But there seems to be a huge void on some kind of constructive way to get students to work out variations or phrases for jazz. I think this book had the potential to do this, but did not. I’m not knocking the content of the book. The tunes are excellent, and the layout is excellent. I just thing if the title of the book was “Easy Jazz Etudes” or something it would be a little more apt.

The Jazz Phrasing title implies to me that it is going to really show how Jazz Phrasing works for a beginner. I think it would have been more effective to have the etudes, and then something that takes it to the next level. People will play these, and then…..what? I think I would have liked some sort of expanded Page 9 section where it went into more depth, and perhaps even encouraged people to write out some phrases. The way it is now, the book sort of bounces over it, hoping from the oh too scant example that you can see what is going on.

My little “suggestions” aside, Greg Fishman has produced another quality book. 2 CDs that are great to play with, and some tunes that are great examples of developing ideas and playing them out. This book would be great for someone starting out on their adventure in Jazz, or for a teacher to teach beginners jazz. Go get it.

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