Smooth Jazz Piano
Smooth Jazz Piano: The Complete Guide with CD!, by Mark Harrison. Hal Leonard Publishing Corp. (7777 W. Bluemound Rd., P.O. Box 13819, Milwaukee, WI 53213). 79 pp. $17.95. Late-intermediate to early-advanced.
Smooth Jazz Piano is a self-contained volume within the Hal Leonard Keyboard Style series. The opening chapter defines various styles of jazz and clarifies the objective of the course: to teach the subgenre of jazz known as "smooth" jazz. The second and third chapters deal extensively with scales, chords, modes, rhythms, voicings and progressions common to smooth jazz. These chapters provide excellent fundamental materials to the musical selections in subsequent chapters.
The teaching approach focuses on two areas: comping (accompanying) and soloing. The comping and soloing chapters contain numerous "grooves" to illustrate stylistic elements. These grooves, designed to give students a sampling of various types of smooth jazz, are musically and technically interesting. The final chapter of the book, "Style Files," provides original examples of various types of smooth jazz, based on the styles of well-known jazz artists, such as the Rippingtons, Al Jarreau, the Yellow jackets and others.
There is a great deal of text in this volume. The author gives helpful information regarding how to play certain rhythms and progressions, what theoretical elements and voicings are taking place in the various grooves and how to make one's playing of smooth jazz more stylistically correct.
This text would be of interest to students wishing to become familiar with jazz playing in a structured and sequential manner, with the help of supplemental theoretical study. The course, designed for the late-intermediate or early-advanced student, does require substantial technique and a willingness to explore rhythms that are sometimes quite complex. To aid the student, the text comes with a CD containing recordings of all the grooves and style files. Reviewed by Stephen Weber, Chickasha, Oklahoma.