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Jazz-Rock Piano Chops: Firing Up Your Technique.

Jazz-Rock Piano Chops: Firing Up Your Technique, with CD, by Mark Harrison. Hal Leonard Corporation, 2014.; 66 pp., $16.99.

The author of this book, Mark Harrison, is an established keyboard professional in the jazz-rock field. This is an excellent resource for teenagers or adults who are aspiring to be serious jazz or rock musicians, and it is used as a text book for college classes at the Berkley School of Music. The method comes with a play-along CD and has many short, notated examples of jazz-rock accompaniment ("comping") chords and rhythms. There are also examples of melodic phrases and licks used by famous jazz-rock keyboardists such as Donald Fagen, Joe Zawinal, Jeff Lorder, Bruce Hornsby and others. The book is laid out in a logical progression and is easy to read.

Reading the rhythms is challenging for even an advanced pianist, but the CD is excellent, as each example is in a comfortable slow tempo as well as a fast one. At the end of the book are several "etudes" written out. The etudes have a more complete band accompaniment, also slow and fast. The rhythm section and the piano are on different channels, so the right channel (piano) can be turned down. Each example has a paragraph of written explanations of the chord patterns using an advanced jazz vocabulary, for example: "We are building major triads from the third of the Emil and Dm 11 chord, with an extra 'nine-to-one' resolution occurring within each upper triad" (page 11). There are also some rhythmic explanations: "This is a good example of a funky two-handed jazz-rock groove, with the right hand using some 16-note anticipations, and the left-hand single-note part fitting into the rhythmic spaces left by the right hand" (page 7).

The technical difficulty of this book is fairly high, especially as the notated rhythms are in complex sixteenth-note patterns played in a fast tempo. It presumes some previous experience with all types of extended chords as well as knowledge of modal and pentatonic improvisation. For a classical pianist, it would be an excellent exercise in reading complex rhythmic patterns. For a jazz pianist, it has many excellent ideas for chord voicings that can be used in any jazz style context. It can be used effecti

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Author:Larsen, Janeen
Publication:American Music Teacher
Article Type:Book review
Date:Feb 1, 2015
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