10 Outstanding Resources for Jazz Musicians

By Zachariah Friesen

Teachers, students, professionals and dreamers, welcome to the jazz reference mecca. This is comprised of some of the great literary resources, DVDs and method books for the aspiring jazz musician. Learn the keys of success from people who have success in the profession. With these must-have resources, you’ll be jamming, gigging and living the jazz life in no time.

1. How To Listen To Jazz by Jerry Coker - To play jazz you must learn how to hear jazz. The great Jerry Coker beautifully explains how to train your ear and what to listen for in jazz music.

How To Listen To Jazz by Jerry Coker

How To Listen To Jazz by Jerry Coker

2. Volume 1 – How To Play Jazz & Improvise by Jamey Aebersold - This is the book all musicians around the world should have in their library – It just plain works.

Volume 1 - How To Play Jazz & Improvise

Volume 1 – How To Play Jazz & Improvise

3. How To Practice Jazz by Jerry Coker. For any C, Eb, Bb, bass instrument or voice - The companion to “How to Listen to Jazz”, if you relate and understand Jerry Coker as well as I do, this book will help you immensely and save you a lot of time and pain in the practice room.

How To Practice Jazz by Jerry Coker

How To Practice Jazz by Jerry Coker

4. Volume 76 – How To Learn Tunes by David Baker - Learning tunes is the best skill you can learn to be employable and to have fun. Use this book wisely and you’ll be able to play with any band at the drop of a hat. The fastest way to busking!

Volume 76 - How To Learn Tunes

Volume 76 – How To Learn Tunes

5. How to Create Jazz Chord Progressions by Chuck Marohnic - Written for pianists, this book gives you the ins and outs of comping and creating music. This book is a must for pianists, but also a great resource for all musicians to understand navigating the nuts and bolts of a given song.

How to Create Jazz Chord Progressions by Chuck Marohnic

How to Create Jazz Chord Progressions by Chuck Marohnic

6. The Working Drummer’s Groove Dictionary (The Working Drummer’s Groove Dictionary) - Not just for drummers, this is a great resource for all musicians to use. Know the style differences and characteristics. It makes music more fun and makes people want you to play in their band.

The Working Drummers Groove Dictionary

The Working Drummers Groove Dictionary

7. Quotable Jazz by Various. Arranged by Marshall Bowden - Quotable Jazz is a gathering of fantastic quotes from the jazz greats. Funny, enlightening and extremely helpful, this collection of quotes is a must for enthusiasts and performers alike.

Quotable Jazz

Quotable Jazz

8. Jazz Pedagogy (The Jazz Educator’s Handbook and Resource Guide) - It’s amazing how much more you understand about a subject when you have to try and teach it to someone else. This is a great book for just that and a great resource for teachers regardless of their level of experience with jazz.

Jazz Pedagogy (The Jazz Educator's Handbook and Resource Guide)

Jazz Pedagogy (The Jazz Educator’s Handbook and Resource Guide)

9. Rhythm Section Workshop for Jazz Directors (DVD) (Rhythm Section Training for Instrumental Jazz Ensembles * Small Group Combos * Vocal Jazz Ensembles) - This is a great resource for teachers and directors and even bandleaders. Tighten up your rhythm section no matter what kind of group you’re in.

Rhythm Section Workshop for Jazz Directors (DVD)

Rhythm Section Workshop for Jazz Directors (DVD)

10. The General Method: A New Methodology for a Tighter Big Band by Mats Holmquist - This book is an incredible resource from a seasoned veteran who knows how to be successful. What Mats Holmquist has done is create a clear and well thought out way to run rehearsals and improve communication, interpretation and style across the band. This book covers the gamut of having a successful, gigging big band.

The General Method: A New Methodology for a Tighter Big Band

The General Method: A New Methodology for a Tighter Big Band

What are some of your favorite resources for learning and playing jazz?

Zachariah Friesen is the online merchandiser at Sheet Music Plus. He is also a freelance trombone player and private lessons teacher in the bay area. 

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