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Jazz: Research

A guide to research materials for the serious jazz scholar as well as books, sound recordings, and videos for the jazz enthusiast.

Jazz Pedagogy

Analysis, Composition, & Arranging


  • Analyzing Jazz: A Schenkerian Approach
    Includes analytical transcriptions of five recorded performances of Thelonious Monk's 'Round Midnight (2 by Monk himself, 1 by Oscar Peterson, and 2 by Bill Evans).
  • A Thelonious Monk Study Album
    Transcriptons and analyses of seven Monk recorded performances (1947-1959). A discography is included.

  • Following in Giant Steps
    A 2008 MIssouri State masters thesis by T. Joel Griffin, in which he explores the original improvisational ideas that Coltrane used in this landmark tune back in 1959 and compares them to the approaches used by Kenny Jarrett and MIchael Brecker (on later recordings of the same tune).
  • Charlie Parker and Thematic Improvisation
    This 1996 publication by Henry Martin applies Schenkerian analysis to the improvisational lines of Charlie Parker to emphasize their relationships to the original melody line of the tune.
  • Charles Mingus, More Than a Fakebook
    This 1991 collaborative effort (Andrew Homzy, Don Sickler, and Sue Mingus were the primary researchers) draws on many sources to create what are referred to in the introduction as "composite renderings" of 55 Mingus compositions. The transcriptions are accompanied by discographies of all known non-pirated recordings of the pieces, commentaries from Mingus himself and musicians who recorded with him, facsimiles of from the Mingus archives, structural analyses, and numerous black and white photographs of the composer.
  • Jazz Styles: History & Analysis

The Nashville Number System



  • Jazz Arranging and Performance Practice: A Guide for Small Ensembles
    Pianist Paul Rinzler goes beyond the basics of three and four part writing that most arranging books focus on (and are rarely needed in small combo arranging). Instead, he dissects the form of various pieces, using musical examples from actual recordings to demonstrate the techniques of intros, interludes, outros, style changes (such as Latin A section to swing B section), and so on.
  • Modern Jazz Voicings: Arranging for Small and Medium Ensembles
    This Berklee Press book focuses on practical exercises in voicing chords for a variety of ensemble combinations, including strings, winds, vocals, etc. A companion CD includes recorded examples from each chapter to demonstrate the often subtle differences between the various voicing options. Highly recommended!
  • Arranging for Large Jazz Ensemble
    The emphasis in this Berklee Press book is on arranging for large horn sections, with a nod to past masters such as Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Gil Evans. A standard reference for jazz arranging classes.
  • The Contemporary Arranger
    A 1994 reissue
    (with an audio CD replacing the original records) of Don Sebesky's seminal 1975 publication. 
  • The Professional Arranger Composer
    1954 publication of a text by Russell Garcia (1916-2011), who worked as staff arranger at NBC in the early 1960s (Rawhide, Laredo, etc.). His credits also include film scores for Universal Studios and MGM as well as work with many of the leading Hollywood musicians and celebrities. 
  • The Arrangers' Dreambook
    First two of four total volumes from J.D. Music Publications (1976-1998). Illustrates characteristic sax, brass, and ensemble voicings of some of the greatest bandleaders (including Les Brown, Sammy Nestico, Harry James, Thad Jones, Guy Lombardo, Maynard Ferguson, Louie Bellson, and many more).

Fakebooks, Transcriptions, and Solos

General Fakebooks


"Need to find out which fake book a tune is in?"

This online fake book index includes over 80 fake books.


  • Dizzy Gillespie, World Statesman
    Transcriptions of nine solos from the 1956 Dizzy Gillespie, World Statesman album (Norgran Records, MG-N-1084).
  • The Jazz Styles of Maynard Ferguson
    Contains nine trumpet transcriptions, including Chameleon, Conquistador, Gospel John, Mr. Mellow, and Primal Scream. The accompaniment is written in condensed-score stye, with instrument cues.


  • 12 Intermediate Jazz Etudes for Alto Sax (Bill Holcolme)
    Presented in lead-sheet format, with chord changes written above the melody line.
  • Famous Saxophone Solos from R&B, Pop, and Smooth Jazz
    Includes transcriptions of solos by Gerald Albright ("Against All Odds"), Michael Brecker ("Still Crazy After All These Years"), Kenny G ("Midnight Motion"), Phil Kenzie ("Time Passages"), Brandon Fields ("I Heard It Through the Grapevine"), Tom Scott ("I Love the Night Life"), David Sanborn ("Ooo Baby Baby"), Phil Woods ("Have a Good Time"), and more.


  • Wes Montgomery
    15 transcriptions by Fred Sokolow.
  • Jazz Standards for Solo Guitar
    A 2012 Berklee publication that uses 10 jazz classics as springboards to this study on the art of creating solo guitar arrangements.
  • Solos for Jazz Guitar: Classic Jazz Solos as Played by Django Reinhardt, Charlie Christian, Les Paul... [and others]
    9 analyses and transcriptions by Fred Sokolow.


  • The Artistry of Bill Evans
    Very precise transcriptions of ten recorded performances by Evans (mostly from trio recordings during the 1970s, according to the introduction). Although it would be nice to have more specific information as to the recording date, album title, etc., these transcriptions provide good material for studying Evans' melodic phrasing and harmonic creativity.
  • A Thelonious Monk Study Album
    Transcriptions of seven recorded performances by Monk, including: Misterioso, 'Round About Midnight, Little Rootie Tootie, Trinkle Trinkle, Evidence, Played Twice, and Crepuscule With Nellie. Includes separate performance parts for C, B-flat, and E-flat instruments.
  • Deluxe Piano Album: Dave Brubeck
    Transcriptions and performance notes by Howard Brubeck, from The Dave Brubeck Quartet at Carnegie Hall recording (1963).
  • The Genius of Dave Brubeck
    Transcribed by Howard Brubeck.
  • The Jazz Solos of Chick Corea
    The subtitle of this collection, "for all instrumentalists," refers to the fact that these are single-line transcriptions of Corea's right hand solo lines (with the chord changes indicated above the staff). The note-accuracy of transcriber Peter Sprague has been endorsed by Corea himself, and Sprague includes a discography at the back of the book so that users can reference the exact recording for themselves (drawing on 16 different albums).
  • Duke Ellington: Piano Solos
    Medium difficulty arrangements of more than twenty Ellington classics, including: Caravan, Do Nothin' Til You Hear from Me, Don't Get Around Much Anymore, Mood Indigo, Satin Doll, Take the A Train. The arranger is not indicated.
  • The Genius of Fats Waller: Piano Solos
    Waller's own piano arrangements of sixteen titles he made famous ("Who's Sorry Now," "Pennsylvania 6-5000," "I'm Sitting on Top of the World," "Margie") as well as four songs from the Broadway musical Ain't Misbehaving.
  • The Vince Guaraldi Collection
    Nine transcriptions, including both Christmas and samba favorites!
  • All The Things You Are
    Transcriptions and in-depth analysis of solos by 15 jazz greats playing Jerome Kerns classic song. Includes CD.


  • How to Play Bass in a Big Band
    The closest thing to having your own private lesson with author Jeff Campbell! After a 10-page introduction to using the double bass in a big band situation (chart reading, choosing the proper strings/pick-ups, and diagrams of common rhythm section set-ups), Campbell presents 7 pieces to represent a wide variety of styles (including 12-bar blues, blues shuffle, funk, Latin "guajira," and "Euro-bossa"). For each of the individual studies, Campbell explains his own thought processes in interpreting the chart, including choice of instrument (on several tunes he chose to play electric bass rather than the double bass), articulations, phrasing, etc. The text is full of helpful advice, especially for younger players -- ex. "The long quarter notes in bar 18 help emphasize the downward movement toward the low F in bar 19." Includes a companion CD with "listening tracks" and "play-along tracks" for each chart.
  • The Bass Tradition: Past, Present, Future
    Over 35 transcriptions from eighteen bassists, including Jimmy Blanton, Oscar Pettiford, Ron Carter, Stanley Clarke, and more. A brief biography of each artist is included, along with album information and a summary of stylistic features of each transcribed passage by author Todd Coolman (a Grammy-award winning bassist). Published by Jamey Aebersold.



  • Improvising Jazz Sax
    Begins with the blues, and then progresses into modal improvisation and free jazz. The book contains a mix of exercises and written-out solos "in the style of" legendary saxophonists like John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Ornette Coleman, and Johnny Hodges. There is also a section at the end that gives instructions for producing special effects on the saxophone, including multiphonics, microtones, flutter tonguing, and harmonics.


  • The Evolving Bassist
    The emphasis in this extensive text is on creating effective walking bass lines. There are also sections with dexterity etudes and "patterns" etudes to help develop a foundation for creating melodic solo lines. The final pages include seven bass duets (written and recorded by Rufus Reid) as well as nine transcriptions of his recorded solos (including "On Green Dolphin Street" from Stan Getz's 1991 Serenity album).


This classic 1965 text by Gary Burton provides a good introduction to jazz voicings.


  • Jazz Piano Comping: Harmonies, Voicings, and Grooves
    Includes a companion CD by author Suzanne Davis.
  • Chord-Scale Improvisation for Keyboard: A Linear Approach to Improvisation
    A 2011 Berklee Press publication by Ross Ramsay. Includes a companion CD.
  • Jazz Improvisation for Keyboard Players
    The 1978 classic by Dan Haerle (University of North Texas)--this edition includes all three volumes in one binding!
  • The Improviser (Mainstreams in Improvisation - Level A) 
    Not real;ly a jazz book, but provides a solid, though basic introduction to piano comping in ten short lessons.  Also includes exercises on melodic improvisation.
  • Ways of the Hand
    If you're in a philosophical mood, David Sudnow  (the Sudnow Method of "instant" piano playing) tells the story of how he learned to improvise jazz on the piano. The text leans heavily on the psychological aspects of skill-development and body awareness.


  • 1001 Jazz Licks
    Just what it says! A sort of "cookbook" of four-measure idiomatic musical phrases that can help the beginner improviser add to his/her solo vocabulary. Some are played over a single chord or mode, while others are designed to practice common chord progressions (ii-V-I-VI, I-VI-iiV, etc.).
  • The Jazz Musician's Guide to Creative Practicing 
    This 2007 publication by pianist David Berkman combines short practical exercises with creative tips for practicing (often mixed in with stories from his own experiences as both student and professional). The 10 chapters cover basic theory, soloing, comping, ear training rhythm practice, tune analysis, and much more. Plenty of good ideas in here, with an emphasis on mastering skills through a variety of approaches. The companion CD is also available.
  • Improvise: A Step-by-Step Approach
    This book by pianist Alan Swain could be easily adapted for use by other instruments. Most exercises use the blues pattern in F major, leaving it to the student to extend the patterns into different keys. From his introduction: "When you are improvising well in F major, the concepts, finesse, and learning techniques can be applied to other keys with one tenth of the effort." Swain emphasizes the development of melodically-interesting lines, using scat singing as his introduction to each new lesson. As suggested by the title, the complexity of ideas build gradually through the course of the book; Lesson 2 uses scat singing to explore ideas, Lesson 4 focuses on rhythmic improvisation, Lesson 10 introduces nuances of expression, and Lesson 15 (the final lesson) expands the materials into the keys of C and G. There is a CD  "improvisation kit" included with the book.
  • Techniques of Improvisation (in 4 volumes)
    The standard "cookbook" of patterns for building fluency in all keys, written by trumpeter David Baker (Indiana University) in 1971. We have Volume 3 (Turnbacks) and Volume 4 (Cycles).
  • A New Approach to Ear Training for Jazz Musicians
    Another jazz theory classic from David Baker (1976). Our library copy is missing the accompanying practice tape -- which is needed for the ear training worksheets that make up the second half of the book (pages 80-151). But this text is still a valuable resource, if only for its excellent discographies and transcription tips.