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Learning Resources

Here’s a random list of very useful resources for the jazz musician….


  • if you’re playing jazz and DON’T have Mark Levine’s Jazz Theory Book then you’re dafter than Vic Reeves’ pants.  Unless you’re already a jazz-master, it’s a must purchase regardless of your instrument. It ain’t exactly cheap, but sometimes the best things aren’t.
  • Bert Ligon, who teaches jazz at the University of Carolina, has written  several jazz educational books.   If they’re as good as his transcriptions, they will be excellent.

Licks, Patterns etc.

  • Steve Neff’s II-V-I ebooks are the best I’ve come across for improving your chops and – since they’re written for all keys – generally getting comfortable playing jazz’s most useful pattern in the most awkward signatures. There’s a book for major II-V-I’s and a book for minor II-V-I’s.  I think Steve sells from both his website above and also via ebay (where I got my copies from). The quality of the licks are excellent and at $10 is superb value. The only downside is they’re PDF’s so you’ll have to print out the pages yourself.

Online resources

  • Online Realbook: what’s great about this site, is that you can alter the key of all the tunes (or have the changes as ‘romans’). No melodies however, just the chords. Very very useful , and lots of non-jazz charts which makes it good for all kinds of muso’s. Oh, you’ll need to be registered – and have Java enabled – to view the charts.
  • Create your own realbook leadsheets – top stuff, especially if you’re needing to transpose etc.
  • Ralph Patt’s vanilla book has been going strong for years now. Again, it’s an online jazz-changes archive, very useful.
  • OK, so the jazz muso ideally would not have to write anything down, but for the time when you do, I’ve found that the Free Staff Paper site very handy for when there wasn’t any manuscript lying about….
  • For years now, Jamey Aebersold has made his Jazz Handbook available free of charge. Get it from this page, each chapter comes in it’s own pdf file.
  • Not really a ‘learning resource’, but I’ve recently come across www.jazznote.co.uk which is run by a nice chap called Andy (here in the UK) who will transcribe for you, delivered via a PDF, and for a reasonable fee. Well done Andy.
  • The Musician’s Library is truly excellent.
  • Play Jazz Now offers downloadable jazz playalongs
  • James Mahone has got a really good site with transcriptions, lead-sheets and audio clips – excellent study tools.
  • Alleged artists lessons is obviously run by a guitarist, but it was some good practice resources and transcriptions etc that’ll be useful regardless of your instrument.
  • Free Jazz Lessons is a really good site, including practice charts, reharmonised charts and transcriptions.


  • PG Music’s Band in Box program and related ‘add-ons’ (especially the realtracks) offer the jazz beginner a really valuable learning tool. And as you progress this great program will come into it’s own, as you can build your very own backing tracks to practice along with.
  • While many professional audio editing tools (eg. Soundforge, Adobe Audition etc) give you the ability to slow down music without changing its pitch Seventh String’s Transcribe software is probably the best at doing what it does, and its a light usable application.


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