Tag Archives: Learn Jazz piano eBooks

3 Learn Jazz piano eBooks are available. Book for is in preparation.

learning Jazz piano book 4

learning Jazz piano book 4

I’m currently working on learning jazz Piano book 4, in my series Learn Jazz Piano.

Here is an excerpt.

Click here to get Learn Jazz Piano eBooks 1 – 3!

Chapter 1: The trouble with 7 chords.

Because this book is primarily concerned with soloing over chords, I’ll start   with the chord that seems to be everywhere: the seventh. I suggest that it is often written and used incorrectly. This is of great importance to you when you’re playing from a chord chart or lead sheet. A jazz lead sheet seems to be littered with 7 chords: major 7, minor 7, dominant 7, diminished 7. In most cases it is there for a good reason, with each note serving a harmonic purpose. But there are times when naming a chord as a seventh is misleading. The problem arises when we consider the most important harmony notes within a chord: the two notes that identify it. These two notes, sometimes described as guide tones, are usually 3 and 7, because in most instances they serve a vital harmonic function. 3 tells us whether the chord is major or minor, then 7 completes the picture. Example        C + E + G + Bb Note E is a major 3rd. Note Bb is a minor 7. Therefore the chord is C7 (i.e. C dominant 7). 5 is of much less harmonic importance. If it were omitted in the above example, the chord would still clearly be a dominant 7. Here is a VI – II – V – I sequence. Each chord has just three voices. Notice that the first three chords, although described as 7, don’t require 5 to establish their identity. What they do require are 3s and 7s. Notice how each 3 becomes a 7 without needing to move, while each 7 becomes a 3 by moving down a half step. Fig 1

learning Jazz piano book 4
3s and 7s
learning Jazz piano book 4
Tonic chord

Now look closely at the final, tonic chord and how it is approached by its dominant 7. The 3 of G7 moves up a half step, but to the 1 of the C triad. This final tonic chord does not require a 7 in order to establish its harmony. And here lies the problem. Perhaps out of habit, perhaps out of laziness, this chord is often still written as a major 7. Fig 2   This final chord could be Cmaj7, but it can equally be C6 or just a C triad. Don’t assume that you are obliged to play a 7 just because the lead sheet states maj7. The scale of C major will work over all these variations, because the chord is essentially a major triad. So play the chord that suits your purposes. Another scale that will work here is the Lydian Dominant, but I’ll examine this in chapter 3.

Learning Jazz piano book 4 should be ready sometime in 2014.

Click here to get Learn Jazz Piano eBooks 1 – 3!

The best way to use this book is in conjunction with my learn jazz piano video course. http://www.learnjazzpianoonline.com

Introduction to Learn Jazz Piano eBook 4

Introduction to Learn Jazz Piano eBook 4

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


Over the years, many accomplished classical pianists have asked me to teach them jazz improvisation. It has never ceased to amaze me that they can sight read a Mozart Sonata, yet are usually totally unable to improvise. They are equally amazed that ‘we’ can just sit at the piano and make up stuff. Apparently, for a number of these talented classical musicians, the subject of improvisation was virtually ignored in a three-year music degree course, even though great composers such as J. S. Bach were famed for their improvisatory skills.

These gifted classical pianists yearn to improvise, but often become fearful at the prospect of no longer reading the notes in front of them. They marvel at the way we seem to be conjuring flurries of notes out of nowhere, as though we’re performing magic. And in a way, we are, although a lot of work has been put in before the magic can be created.

It could be said that improvisation is the highest form of music. We seem to be creating new and spontaneous compositions, but the truth is that our improvisations have both structure and logic. There are certain rules that we are following (or breaking). Moreover, our seeming spontaneity is  both consciously and subconsciously influenced by the generations of master jazz musicians that have gone before us.

Much has been written about the harmonic language of Bill Evans, and indeed, behind the sheer beauty of his playing, there lies a logical structure. But a more interesting case is Thelonious Monk, with his alleged eccentric approach and wrong-sounding notes. Yet, when analyzed, everything Monk plays has logic and structure.

In order to create a meaningful solo, two seemingly contradictory skills need to be in place: harmonic and rhythmic understanding, alongside an empty mind. Once the understanding is in place, this empty mind takes over and is totally alert, like an antenna. Once you have put in the preparation and are fully awake, you are ready for anything.

For eBooks 1, 2 and 3 follow this link.

learn jazz piano
My 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

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