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Bebop Jazz Piano: the Complete Guide with CD.

by John Valerio. Hal Leonard Corporation (7777 W. Bluemound Rd., P.O. Box 13819, Milwaukee, WI 53213), 2003. 96 pp. $17.95.

Published as part of the Hal Leonard Keyboard Style Series, Bebop Jazz Piano helps experienced pianists understand--by listening and performing--one of the most influential yet complex styles of jazz. I think it is important to note that the author, John Valerio, has been busy over the past five years exploring other aspects of keyboard jazz. He has authored four additional books, each published by Hal Leonard: Jazz Piano Concepts and Techniques (1998), Playing Keyboard Bass Lines (1998); Intros, Endings and Turnarounds for Keyboard (2001) and Stride and Swing Piano (2003).

In Bebop Jazz Piano, Valerio has limited his discussion to "classic bebop," that of Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Dizzy Gillespie and others who flourished during the 1940s and 1950s. His book does not deal with the offshoots of bebop, such as cool jazz, hard bop, modal jazz, free jazz and fusion. The author does take the position, and I believe rightly so, that classic bebop represents the beginning of modern jazz--a combo jazz, rather than swing or big band jazz.

Valerio has crafted a valuable book that combines historical perspective; knowledge of characteristic harmonic and melodic practices, including the use of various chord progressions and scales; and the common jazz keyboard practice of comping. Numerous notated examples and practice suggestions are included, supplemented by an enclosed CD of eighty bebop examples performed by the author and, on some tracks, with a typical bebop combo--which on this recording includes piano, bass, drums, and alto or tenor sax.

An important feature of the CD is that, for each of the five combo tracks, the keyboard is recorded on the right stereo channel; the other instruments are recorded on the left stereo channel. Thus, a pianist can practice comping or soloing in the bebop style by turning down the keyboard channel and then playing along with the other instruments--a "music minus one" concept.

Valerio concludes his book with a presentation of nine typical bebop tunes, including several by Powell and Monk, and "lead sheets" for all these tunes.

This book can be useful for jazz pianists but also for other interested pianists who can learn from listening to the recorded examples which are excellent--and from playing the notated examples, perhaps at a slower tempo but as close as possible to the musical style and spirit of "classic bebop." Reviewed by David Willoughby, Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania.
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Author:Willoughby, David
Publication:American Music Teacher
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Aug 1, 2003
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