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Mark Levine Jazz theory book audio examples?

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by McGas, Feb 2, 2008.

  1. McGas

    McGas Member

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    Hi all, I want to get better at jazz/fusion.So after lurking here for a while and picking up some great advice, I got Ted Greenes CC and MCP. Also picked up Mark Levines book. It seems like a great book, makes everything a lot clearer. Since this appears to be the "bible" does anyone sell a companion cd that demos all the examples in the book? Thanx and keep the good info coming! ..Macka
     
  2. rosscoep

    rosscoep Member

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    I used that book in school. I'm not aware of any CD.
     
  3. JonR

    JonR Member

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    Most of the examples are from the commercially available CDs he mentions in the footnotes (and again in Chapter 24).
    If you are a serious jazz fan, you should - ahem - have these in your collection already...:jo

    (No, neither do I... :eek:)

    Have you read Chapters 21 ("The Repertoire") and 24 ("Listen")? :eek:That's a scary list... Dunno about you, but my life's too short.

    But the lesson is there:
    if you don't have the CDs, (a) buy them - OR (b) work out (play/record) the examples for yourself. I recommend the latter (well, both is best, but (b) will do).
    (Who told you it would be easy...?)
     
  4. McGas

    McGas Member

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    Thanx Jon, ur right, learning jazz is a lifestyle...have to brush up on my limited sight reading!
     
  5. Sunil

    Sunil Gold Supporting Member

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    I had the good fortune of studying under Mark Levine when I did my undergrad work at Sonoma State University in CA just before he left there in the early '90s. He has an uncanny knack of making jazz theory (and jazz piano for the non-pianist -- see his book on the topic) easily understandable, and in a sensibly structured, step-by-step way. There wasn't a CD for his theory book when I bought it a decade ago or so. Don't think one became available with subsequent editions. You might want to check with the publisher, Sher Music (www.shermusic.com), to find out for certain. Mark is one of those rare people who is both an incredible player AND teacher. I couldn't recommend his theory book more highly.

    -- Sunil
     
  6. dewey decibel

    dewey decibel Member

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    we eat a lot of cheese and drink a lot of beer

    I agree with Jon, except I'd recommend the former- (a) buy them. In fact you might not even have to buy them, lots of local libraries have decent jazz collections.

    I got that book a year or two ago, and I already had maybe 80% of the stuff he references in my collection (now I'm probably up to 95%), and often I knew the example he was talking about before I went to play it. I think it's really important to hear the actual recordings and the way things should sound, and also understanding these lines in context is very important.

    Cool! I'm thinking about picking up the Jazz Piano book as well...
     
  7. Sunil

    Sunil Gold Supporting Member

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    I'm a lousy pianist (it's amazing that I got my degree), but I've always found that working out harmonic and theoretical ideas on the piano rather than the guitar allows me to internalize those ideas more deeply, which greatly benefits my guitar playing. Things make much more sense to me on the piano given its linear layout. Levine's jazz piano book is really great because even if you're a terrible pianist like I am, his method and clear presentation makes it possible for the student to very quickly play (and therefore learn) cool and advanced material that is very musical, as opposed to clinical, sounding.

    I really think that using the piano to learn jazz harmony -- or any harmony for that matter -- and voice leading is the best way to absorb them both aurally and intellectually; whereas it's all too easy on the guitar to just let your fingers do the walking, playing familiar shapes and patterns without really hearing ideas in your head.

    -- Sunil
     
  8. JonR

    JonR Member

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    I agree with all the above, actually.

    I don't know if McGas is a pianist or not, but a keyboard of some kind is an invaluable harmonic exploration tool, as well as letting you play Levine's examples as written.

    And of course - if you want to be a jazz musician - you need to build a comprehensive collection of jazz CDs, and get familiar with the canon of classics. Every good jazz musician is intimate with the history and development of the music. It's the necessary foundation on which you build your own style, however different it may turn out to be.
    (You won't find many jazz musicians, however avant garde, who don't have a profound respect for folk like Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington.)
     
  9. McGas

    McGas Member

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    Totally agree about the piano bit, I learnt piano as a kid for a few years, but alas, that was when deep purple, led zep etc were on the radio any time of day,[giving my age away] I heard the guitar sounds and thought..man I gotta do that. So the oldies let me ditch the piano for the guitar. But as u guys have said, all thru the years different theory concepts, eg modes, chord building, have made so much more sense on the piano, then I transferred it to guitar. My young bloke has been learning classical piano, and when he finishes practising, I go over his lessons and im totally blown out at how good these simple pieces sound. Anyway, in my recent quest for jazz theory I have thought about going to jazz piano lessons, coz it seems a slow process on the gtr! That other Mark Levine book that was suggested could be a good idea. Also good tip about the library. Thanx for the advice!! cheers Macka
     
  10. GregoryL

    GregoryL Supporting Member

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    Not a theory book, but anyone interested in jazz should really pick up "Thinking in Jazz" by Paul F. Berliner. It's the best 'scholarly' book on jazz I've ever come across.
     
  11. JonR

    JonR Member

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    +1! A really great book.
    Oddly unsatisfying in many ways, but really grapples with the concept, thinking and practice of improvisation in a way I haven't seen anywhere else.
     
  12. dewey decibel

    dewey decibel Member

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    I'm a big proponent of keeping the theory separate from your instrument, especially with guitars. People learn a fingering pattern for a mode and then it becomes hard for them to think about that mode without using that pattern. When I started out I was lucky enough to realize this and began thinking of the keyboard in my head, and I often use one when explaining theory to others.

    Anyway, I'm also a terrible piano player, but given some time I can throw some stuff together. I got Logic to use as a composition tool not too long ago, and I'm using a lot of software instruments with a keyboard controller. In trying to learn the program I'm working on anything that pops into my head, including a couple backing tracks that folks can jam over. Here's one I did for another forum of Blue Bossa with a lead over it.

    http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page_songInfo.cfm?bandID=468001&songID=6180648

    The vibes, piano and bass were all done on the keyboard (in fact, the drums were, too). Of course, it's midi so when you make a mistake you can fix it easily and I did use a lot of punches, but I was really happy that I managed to get at least the gist of what I wanted to do out with the keyboard. I like to think of myself as a musician, not just a guitar player. I think it would help a lot of guitar players to think more like this.


    I have that book. It's heavy (both physically and mentally). It's really more like a text book, and IMO pretty hard to get through. One thing I don't like about it is it relies on interviews and quotes, and jazz players are often misunderstood in these quotes. A lot of times in the book the author puts a couple quotes together in support of one another where I feel they contradict each other. But there is a lot of good info there, you just have to really dig for it.
     

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