Randy Hunter JAZZ Complete Jazz Styles Etudes: Book I
Review by Saxguy (aka: John Temmerman)
DEC 25 2007
I've been teaching for several years now. This book, in both the Eb (alto and bari sax) and Bb (tenor and soprano sax; clarinet) does an outstanding job of teaching jazz feel to developing students who have not encountered it before.
The etudes in Book I are very accessible to students who have been playing for 3 years and up. Typically, I will start interested 7th and 8th grade students in this book, although I have also started with high school students and adults.
The toughest part of getting students stared playing jazz is to get them comfortable with the different rhythmic feels involved: swing, modal, rock, latin and more. Both of Randy's etude books (there is an advanced book II) do an outstanding job of this. Randy performs each etude with a swinging rhythm section and then there is a second version of each tune without the background.
This accomplishes several things: First, the students can watch the music and listen to Randy perform it, not unlike the listening and transcribing done by developing players a generation ago. Then, the students can perform along with the melody track as part of learning it. Once the student can do that fairly well, the student can then practice by playing over the background only track.
While Randy does have a small amount of written instructions and stylistic comments, the focus on this book is listening and playing. Randy's a great player and there is much value for students in listening to him perform the etudes. That is very appropriate for the developing student.
This book was a Godsend. Until I found it several years ago, I was making play-alongs on Band In A Box software to help my students learn feel, but they weren't remotely as good as this.
Modern students need more and earlier validation that the last generation. When I first started out teaching, I learned early on that "go practice for hours and days and let me know when you have mastered something" which worked great for me wasn't going to work for this generation. These etudes are not too long and not too tough, while still challenging the student to play them correctly. Book II is tougher, but once a student has completed Book I, the student is ready.
Another bonus is that many of the etudes are written over the chord changes to familiar jazz standards. This means the students can use the etudes to help learn the tunes and even practice improvising over them, although that is not the primary focus here. I have successfully had students play the applicable standard over Randy's background and that has worked very well.
This book is available in the following versions:
Tenor sax Alto/Baritone Sax Clarinet
Trumpet Trombone Flute
Every single one of my students who wants to learn jazz ends up in this book, once they are capable. Like I said, this book was a Godsend. 5 stars is not enough! Recommended for any student who has 2 - 3 years experience and is ready to play it.
Complete Jazz Styles Book Review
Randy Hunter, jazz saxophonist/instructor, has released a superb series of instructional books for students of jazz with varying experience levels. The series provides a solid foundation in the skills of interpretation and improvisation. As with many jazz masters, Hunter has a desire to keep the muse alive and well, and is handing down information to the upcoming stars of the genre in an accessible and cohesive fashion.
With a solid background of performance credits and teaching experience numbering over 35,000 private music lessons, itís no surprise Hunter discovered a void left by traditional music education, that of the expression of jazz. He has filled that void with a creative, accessible and fun way to pass on the elemental skills of the idiom; style, rhythm, and phrasing, concepts that are essential to improvisation and the key to developing one's own voiceí as a musician.
All versions of the books are compatible, offering Alto, Baritone, and Tenor Saxes, Flute, Trumpet, and Trombone students to perform as an ensemble or individually, and come with play-along CD ís created in stereo, allowing students to isolate a part or listen to the composition in itís entirety. The written text is thoughtful and insightful, a clear picture into improvisation and interpretation. These books are an excellent tool for both private lesson and individual study settings, and supply the grounding for prepared audition and performance opportunities. The series comes in a format that is comprehensible to beginners through intermediate players, inspiring students to learn the skills of thinking independently while phrasing together.
Jazz music is an interpretive and improvisational art, itís not enough to be able to read and play notes and rhythm, feel is integral to this music. Hunter has created a required vehicle for students to learn this most vital of skills. His endorsements come from several jazz masters such as Joe Lovano, Randy Brecker, Bobby Shew, and Mark Colby, and the consensus is unanimous, this is a highly recommended series.