By Lucy Galliher


Sing Jazz! Leadsheets for 76 Jazz Vocals, edited by Dr. Gloria Cooper. $14.95 Published by Second Floor Music and distributed by Hal Leonard. The musical numbers are one to two pages each, with accurate chord changes and rhythmic embellishments. Gloria Cooper wrote the introduction and a helpful hints section. Also included is a selected discography, and short bios about the people who made the music.

In Sing Jazz!, it's interesting that the tunes were written as Jazz instrumentals, and the lyrics were added later. Most of the pieces are written by living composers that have not had their work widely published in other books. There is some great music in here. A couple of standards are featured: Bobby Timmons' "Moanin'," and Annie Ross' "Twisted." Pieces by such Jazz greats as Clifford Brown, Kenny Dorham, James Williams, Curtis Fuller and Tadd Dameron are paired with fascinating lyricists, and relative unknowns and newcomers are interspersed.

Some of my favorite pieces are: "Beloved," "Christmas Morning in the Snow," "Cup of Life," "Fair Weather," "In the Moment," "It's All In the Mind," "Just a Little Dreamer," "Never Been in Love," "Oh! Gee!" and "Two Reflect as One."

Don Sickler has had an impressive success with Second Floor Music. These books and CDs are a wonderful addition to his resume, and he offers the general public a chance to get involved seriously in the world of Jazz. Dr. Gloria Cooper has added her expertise in the field of Vocal Jazz, and should be commended for excellent research and clear, concise writing.

I believe this book is perfect for the Jazz Vocalist who is looking for a unique and exceptional tune, which he or she can add to their repertoire.

Jazz Phrasing, A Workshop for the Jazz Vocalist, by Dr. Gloria Cooper and Don Sickler. Published by Second Floor Music and Hal Leonard. $16.95. Supplement to Sing Jazz! Songbook. CD included.

Jazz Phrasing, A Workshop for the Jazz Vocalist, comes with an excellent and extensive CD (85 tracks). It includes vocal and instrumental examples, and sing-along rhythm section tracks. All of the tunes that are used as examples in this book can be found in the above-mentioned fake book, Sing Jazz! This is not a beginner book; the singers need to be somewhat advanced to understand the concepts in Jazz Phrasing.

The instrumentalists on the Jazz Phrasing CD are: Don Sickler, trumpet and flugelhorn; Cecilia Coleman, piano, Tim Givens, bass; Vince Cherico, drums, and Jeanfrancois Prins, guitar. The vocalists are: Gloria Cooper, Meredith d'Ambrosio, Judy Niemack, Akil Dasan and Angela DeNiro.

What I like about this book and CD combination is that they work very well together ­ each concept is explained thoroughly in the book and one can follow it easily on the CD. The repetition of each tune is good, so the singer can practice in different combinations of phrasing, scatting, etc. There is nothing too complicated, and all styles are covered. All of the excerpts give a starting note for the singer.

Following are the tunes that are used as examples:

Charlie Rouse and Ben Sidran's "My Little Sherri." Each cut is one chorus of a blues in Bb, starting at a medium slow tempo, and gradually getting faster. 1/tpt, 2/singer scats, 3/rhythm section only, 4/drums added, 5/words added, 6/rhythm section, 7/faster w/tpt, 8/scatting w/band, 9/rhythm 10- 20 continues in this fashion, increasing the speed. The emphasis on this chapter is "Interpreting Eighth Notes."

Introduction to "Beloved," Meredith d'Ambrosio's take-off on Clifford Brown's "Daahoud."

Vamp, lead-ins to Bertha Hope's tune "You Know Who."

"Sweet and True," a medium swing piece composed by Curtis Fuller, with lyrics by Catherine Whitney.

Art Taylor's theme song, "Do it, Again," a catchy tune, written by Walter Bolden and R. Rachel Mackin.

"Big Brown Eyes" was originally the swing tune, "Glo's Theme" by Tommy Turrentine. Aziza Miller wrote the lyrics. Here, the authors tell the singer how to count off a tune that has a specific rhythmic figure.

"I'm Movin' On," by Kirk Nurock, Lyrics by Judy Niemack. This chapter is focusing on open phrasing in a variety of styles: 2-against-3, Jazz waltz, medium and slow Latin, and smooth Jazz. There is a chance for the singer to stretch out here and improvise with a great rhythm section.

The authors discuss how to interpret a ballad such as "Never Been in Love" (composed by Tadd Dameron, with lyrics by Irving Reid.)

The final chapter goes into detail about how to make a complete arrangement out of "Your Day is Comin" (written by Hank Mobley and George Johnson).

Piano By Ear: Play Jazz, Blues, Rock, in 3 Volumes, by Andy Oswald. Published by Mel Bay #MB99458BCD-$19.95 ea. CD included in each book. On the CDs, there are exercises in every chapter, followed by piano improvisations.

I think the content of these books is useful, and this is what you'll find:

Piano By Ear: Play Jazz, Blues, Rock

Book 1. Basics covered: Scales, Triads, Improvisation, and Listening to Music. Andy covers 8 out of the 12 keys possible, and leaves plenty of room for the student to write down exercises and transcriptions. He gives simple song patterns, and ways to improvise over them.

Book 2. Playing in different keys around the circle of 5ths. There is an introduction to all types of seventh chords, and their inversions. Andy continues his improvisation workshop with three main ideas: 1) Vary the Length of Your Phrases and Spaces; 2) Begin Phrases on Different Beats of the Measure; and 3) Repeat Phrases and Patterns.

Book 3. Three approaches to improvising on harmonic chord progressions, such as II V I's. Transcriptions, Modal Jazz, and more Advanced Theory: scales that go with chords, rhythmic phrasing, and incorporating composed phrases into a solo.

In this reviewer's opinion, the books are better than the CDs. Andy spends a lot of time improvising on the recordings, and not enough time with the exercises. Readers would benefit more from listening to their favorite Jazz recordings, and working with transcribing excerpts of these, after doing the exercises on Ostwald's CD.

All in all, this is a huge undertaking, and Andy Ostwald does a good job trying to make some sense out of the many facets of Jazz Improvisation, Blues and Rock, in Piano By Ear.

by Lucy Galliher

Jazz Now Interactive June 2004 Vol 14 No. 2 - Table of Contents

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