Category Archives: Learn Jazz piano eBooks

I now have written three Learn Jazz Piano eBooks.

Updated eBooks: improvising jazz piano

Updated eBooks: improvising jazz piano

Improvising Jazz Piano

As you know, once you have purchased any video or eBook, you then have continued access to them and can re-download as many times as you wish.

During the last few weeks, I’ve been editing my three eBooks. Some changes are very minor, but in other areas I have sought to make certain topics clearer and have added new illustrations.

For those of you that have purchased these books, I would advise you to re-download these new, updated versions.

Just log in, click on ‘my account’ in the top menu bar, and you’ll see the ‘my pages’ box to the right that contains ‘access eBooks.’ This link will take you to the books that you’ve purchased.

If you don’t have these books yet, you can either buy all 3 at discount

Buy the 3-pack set here

or purchase them separately

Book 1        Book 2      Book 3

improvising jazz piano
My eBooks

Here’s an extract from book 1


What is jazz?

Even if I had an answer, a better question might be: what was jazz? Whatever it was through the 20’s and 30’s, and how be-bop musicians like Charlie Parker changed it forever, no longer seems relevant. For better or worse, jazz has permeated into so many other genres that it no longer has a separate identity. As a teenager I was drawn to soul and R&B. My favorite singer then (and now) was Ray Charles. But was he also playing jazz? Or was it blues? His answer was that he was playing music. Were John Coltrane and Miles Davis still playing jazz by the end of their careers? Improvisation was their means of further exploration. Jimi Hendrix was doing the same thing.

Jazz or blues?

I have little interest in separating the two. In most cases, one is a part of the other. Some players such as Wynton Kelly are more influenced by the blues, others, like Bill Evans, are less so. Even the phrase 12 bar blues is misleading. It is a sequence in which to improvise: how bluesy or jazzy is up to you. In the end, my aim is not to play in a particular style but rather to express myself in the moment. It is a communication of how I feel.

Why all the theory?

If jazz musicians just play what they feel, why the need to learn scales, modes and all that stuff in the glossary? My simple answer is that any artist needs to acquire technique before discarding it. If you can play on instinct alone, you don’t need this book, but the rest of us require the tools that enable creativity.

Nice jazz/nasty jazz

I have a friend who will only listen to so-called traditional jazz. Anything from Charlie Parker onwards, to his ears, sounds discordant and incomprehensible. I have some sympathy with my friend. In fact I sometimes wonder why an audience of non-musicians would choose to listen to players improvising for hours. But at what point does nice turn to nasty? Is there some defining musical moment when a sound is perceived as discordant?

Take the blues: the blues scale does not stand up to analysis; it really shouldn’t work. The sound of a flat 3 being struck over a major triad would make Mozart turn in his grave. But my friend has no objection to this sound. It is at the root of Rock & Roll, the music he grew up with. The sound of a b9 within a dominant 7th chord will also go unnoticed. (If this means nothing to you, all will be explained. It works because the b9 is part of the diminished pattern that travels through a dominant 7th chord.) But play a sharp 9 and my friend will make his excuses and leave. What is happening? As we move further away from the home scale, the sound becomes increasingly discordant. This is called playing outside. By using these extensions and alterations, we are creating the spice and edginess that lies at the very heart of jazz (whatever jazz is). There is, however, a time and place to use a more discordant sound. I would not, for example, throw in complex harmony just for the sake of it when accompanying a vocalist.

The aim

By the end of this course, you will possess a total grasp of chord symbols and see how they relate to scales, modes, extensions and alterations. This will enable you to solo and comp through any jazz standard. You will also learn the various forms of a 12-bar blues sequence and gain an understanding of modal jazz.

Improvising jazz piano is a combination of instinct, creativity and learned knowledge.

eBook Learning Jazz Piano book 3

eBook Learning Jazz Piano book 3

Learning Jazz Piano book 3

My eBook ‘Learning Jazz Piano book 3’ is now available at the link below
This third book focuses on practical advice and strategies for the learning jazz pianist.
You can either purchase this eBook separately or as a 3-book set at discount.

Here’s the link to buy all 3 jazz piano books.

eBook Learning Jazz Piano book 3
Learn jazz piano book 3

To give you a flavour of the contents, here’s the list of chapters:

  1. Bebop blues
  2. Using rootless voicings with tritone substitutes
  3. Decoding jazz standards
  4. Simplifying lead-sheets
  5. Navigating chord charts
  6. Stride piano, part 2
  7. Playing with other musicians
  8. Working with singers
  9. Building a repertoire
  10. Suggested listening
  11. Recommended books

Lesson 13: Learn blues piano, part 2

Lesson 13: Learn blues piano, part 2

Lesson 13 of my online video course Learn Jazz Piano is now available. It’s time to learn the blues  in the way a jazz musician plays.

Learn blues piano, part 2 takes you beyond the basics.

No longer will you be playing just 3 chords over the blues scale.

  • Use advanced chord changes that turn blues into jazz.
  • Play rootless chords with your left hand.
  • Incorporate the diminished and Lydian dominant scales into your playing.
  • The 30 minute online video comes with downloadable backing tracks and sheet music.
  • Learn blues piano online now.

Here’s an illustration of how the 12 bar sequence looks after adding some II – V’s

If you really want to learn blues piano you should take it beyond the basic 3 chords.

learn blues piano
12 bar with II-V sequences

 My eBook Learn Jazz Piano part 2 is also now available.

learn blues piano
jazz piano eBook 2

jazz piano eBook 2

jazz piano eBook 2

I’m working my way through jazz piano eBook 2 and should have it ready by the Summer. It will include rootless voicings, diminished theory, tritone substitution, block chords, rhythm changes and advanced blues structures

Introduction to jazz piano eBook 2

An imagined Q&A

Q        Surely, playing jazz piano is all about instinct and invention. How can I freely express myself with a head full of theory?

A         Errol Garner is just one instance of a jazz master who, apparently, couldn’t read music. However, unless you are a genius, you need more than just good instinct when learning jazz. As for a clear head, the way forward is to put in the work until the theory becomes second nature. Then stop thinking.

Q        Can I get by with just a sound knowledge of each chord and its extensions?

A         Yes, to a certain extent; a good deal of the excitement of jazz comes from the concept of moving from tension to release. This is created by the dominant 7 chord moving to its tonic: V – I: the perfect cadence. All the tension is contained in this V7 chord and we create this tension with notes known as extensions and alterations. These are notes not within the chord.

There are three extensions: 9, 11 and 13. When we flatten or sharpen these extensions, they become alterations. The four alterations are b9, #9, #11 and b13. By combining these extensions and alterations with the basic notes of a dominant 7 chord, we create the tension that will release into the tonic chord.

Q        Is it helpful to recognise the scale and mode that relates to each chord? For example, if I play G Mixolydian over G7, it will include 9 and 11. Is this useful?

A         Yes, very useful, and to create more tension you could try other scales such as the diminished, whole tone or Lydian Dominant. But always keep in mind that the sole use of this approach results in the unmusical sound of running up and down scales rather than playing anything creative.

The reality is that you need to combine knowledge of the chord’s extensions and alterations, together with the scales and modes that fit the chord. Yes, this involves a lot of work that needs to become second nature before ‘instinct’ kicks in.

Believe me, I’m not belittling instinct. Indeed, the only time I feel I’m playing a decent solo is when I’m not thinking. The last thing I want to be doing is consciously going for a diminished scale or #9. In the same way, when speaking, I’m not thinking about letters of the alphabet; I’ve done that work.

For people that say jazz is self-indulgent, they ought to know how much work and preparation masters like Coltrane, Bill Evans and Sonny Rollins put in before they used instinct.

The best way to use this book is in conjunction with my learn jazz piano video course.

jazz piano eBook 2
jazz piano eBook 2