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The Harmony of Dave Brubeck.

* The Harmony of Dave Brubeck, with CD, by Jack Reilly. Hal Leonard Corporation, 2013.; 88 pp., $24.99.

In consultation with the master himself, Jack Reilly has analyzed 12 of Dave Brubeck's compositions and presented them in this intriguing collection along with theoretical exercises, anecdotes and several of his own compositions. A kind of sequel to his The Harmony of Bill Evans books, this volume is addressed to the intermediate jazz student. The first section, devoted to music theory, could have been greatly expanded. Reilly keeps the explanation to a minimum without failing to touch on the most important issues: polytonality, counterpoint, modulation. Reilly's ears are both sharp and broad, commanding the fine details of jazz theory while locating Brubeck's music in the classical tradition with listening lists that include Milhaud, Ives and Bartok.

The analyses of Brubeck's songs show sensitivity to form, harmony and phrase structure. The written introductions explain his reasoning--particularly useful when multiple interpretations are possible--and provide context. The first seven songs are arranged progressively, gradually providing the tools needed to unlock Brubeck's unique harmonic language. The second chapter of songs features five selections from Themes from Eurasia. The anecdotes from Brubeck and his family that preface these are a touching tribute to the great American composer.

The accompanying CD is mostly chord progressions from the songs and theory exercises, though it seems unlikely someone lacking the keyboard skills to play these himself would benefit much from studying this book. The CD is best when Reilly plays his own compositions and improvises. The book shows Reilly as a master teacher; these musical gems show him as a great performer as well.

--Reviewed by Michael Rector, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay

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Author:Rector, Michael
Publication:American Music Teacher
Article Type:Book review
Date:Oct 1, 2014
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