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Jazz Improvisation Primer, A

AuthorMarc Sabatella Entered0000-00-00 00:00:00 by bcrowell
Editedit data record FreedomCopyrighted, doesn't cost money to read, but otherwise not free (disclaimer)
SubjectM.T - Musical instruction and study
This link was reported to be OK by user Ben Crowell on 2001-01-04 12:00:00
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Useful, but not perfect
by Ben Crowell (crowell09 at (change 09 to current year)) on 2000-12-16 12:00:00, review #31
This book is available for free reading at It is copyrighted, and is not open-source licensed. The version I'm reviewing is the one that was on the site as of Dec. 18, 2000.

I read this book in about 1993, when I was first starting out as an amateur jazz musician. It was useful, and I was grateful for the fact that it was a free.

Despite the title, the book covers theory as well as improvisation. I felt that the theoretical material was the least useful. A very long section of the book consists of nothing but a long series of definitions of scales and modes. I've never seen the point of memorizing, for example, that you use a G myxolidian scale over a G7 chord. It seems much more intelligent and economical to parse a chord progression like Dm-G7-Cmaj7 and say "oh, a ii-V-I in C major." I think a lot of beginners with weak theory backgrounds would have a hard time telling the forest from the trees here. They'd probably be better off shelling out the money for Levine's book.

As far as the actual material on improvisation, well, I haven't really found any book that I'd consider a good over-all treatment of the subject. Sabatella's book doesn't seem much better or worse than the others, or any more or less complete. It definitely hurts that the book is in text-only format, without any music written on a staff.

Information wants to be free, so make some free information.

This review has been revised. Earlier versions (viewing not yet implemented): -1
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The contents of this web page, except the parts contributed by members of The Assayer, are copyright (c) 2000 by Benjamin Crowell, and are copyleft licensed under the Open Publication License 1.0, without options A or B.