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Modern Jazz Piano: An Intermediate Guide to Jazz Concepts, Improvisation, Technique, and Theory (w/CD).

Modern Jazz Piano, An Intermediate Guide to Jazz Concepts, Improvisation, Technique, and Theory (w/CD), by Sarah Jane Cion. Hal Leonard (7777 W. Bluemound Rd. P.O. Box 13819, Milwaukee, WI 53213), 2005. 123pp. $19.95.

Modern Jazz Piano, as titled, is a guide rather than a method book. It is a tool that can be used for reference and for supplementing lesson plans. Inside, one will find individual sections that cover listening, jazz harmony, theory, transcription and analysis. Many jazz instructors find success with a non-linear teaching approach that allows the use of resources and materials from a wide variety of sources. Sarah Jane Cion's guide fits very well into this approach because it is a "go to" text that one could use to solidify weak areas in a student's skills, and it also can be used to supplement and reinforce newly introduced concepts.

It is evident throughout the guide that Cion has put her stamp of personal experience as a performer and educator on the included information and the pedagogical approach. This is in sharp contrast to other jazz method books that I have seen that are clearly not written by active, "gigging" jazz musicians.

To me, the transcription section of the book and recorded compact disk are most valuable. Many jazz teachers encourage students to learn to play by ear, the recorded solos of well-known jazz piano players. The idea is to imitate and assimilate the style by ear, then move on to develop a personal style through innovation. For intermediate and early-advanced players, it is sometimes difficult to find satisfying solos that are not too difficult for the student to transcribe. This guide provides 15 intermediate/early-advanced recordings of original compositions that have historically informed and stylistically mainstream improvisations. The back of the guide also contains note-by-note transcriptions of these recordings for reference. The CD could be more useful if it was presented in a play-along format like a Jamey Aebersold recording, with the piano isolated on the left or right stereo channel. This would give students the added opportunity to practice mock performances with bass and drums. My attempts to play along by isolating the bass and drums failed on both my stereo and personal computer.

The Modern Jazz Piano Guide is a clear, concise tool that will help fill the gaps in many students' skills. The Guide will also help bridge the gap between beginning and advanced improvisers, and will be especially useful for students who have progressed beyond the "get your feet wet" stage in jazz and are ready for intermediate-level concepts and training. Reviewed By Dave Roth, Fogelsville, Pennsylvania.
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Author:Roth, Dave
Publication:American Music Teacher
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Oct 1, 2005
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