All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Book Reviews

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

201

Steve Slagle: Scenes, Songs & Solos - A Composition and Improvisation Workbook for the Creative Musician

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
Scenes, Songs & Solos: A Composition and Improvisation Workbook for the Creative Musician

Steve Slagle

Paperback; 139 pages

ISBN: 97819361822882

Schaffner Press

2011

There's no substitute for experience in the world of jazz, and saxophonist Steve Slagle has experience in spades. Slagle has been putting his horn to good use, working with the likes of bassist Charlie Haden, saxophonist Joe Lovano, pianist Carla Bley, the Mingus Big Band, and many others over the past thirty years, and he puts his wit, wisdom and hard-earned knowledge onto the pages of this book.

Slagle avoids the overdone path of rote exercises, out-of-context transcriptions and play-along melodies in favor of a more holistic route toward musical proficiency. He uses some conceptual cornerstones of musical importance, such as "The Spirit Of Composition," "The Talent of Orchestration" and the importance of good time as an introduction and springboard for all that follows.

The core of this publication is broken down into five chapters—"The Blues," "Melody Rules," "People Music," "Songs Over Standards" and "Free Songs"—which cover important, need-to-know topics. Each chapter begins with a nuts-and-bolts explanation of the matter at hand and contains a variety of musical examples which are prefaced by "Tips," information on form, harmony, and performance practices, and "Trips," background on the origins of the music and anecdotes to provide insight into Slagle's writing process and history. Each of the five chapters then concludes with some form of complementary exercise or "To Do" list.

"The Blues" chapter starts off with a fairly standard 12-bar form example and then branches out from there, touching on extended lengths, odd harmonic twists and chromaticism, while "Melody Rules" is a self-explanatory title. Ballads and Brazilian-tinged examples dominate here, as Slagle emphasizes the importance of melodic motifs and lines serving as the kernel for compositional growth.

"People Music" is two chapters in one, as it deals with songs written in honor of jazz greats which are also built atop specific cultural/world rhythmic foundations. Afro-Cuban grooves, NOLA second lines ("Skee," written in honor of the late Dennis Irwin), West African highlife rhythms, and odd-metered boogaloo all help to make this chapter unique, while "Songs Over Standards" deals with building new compositions over the harmonic framework of preexisting material. The ever popular rhythm changes are covered ("Rhythm Method"), along with material built on the scaffolding of "Just In Time," "Yesterdays" and other classics.

The final chapter—"Free Songs"—has nothing to do with public domain material, but everything to do with looser constructs and concepts. Tonal freedom and saxophonist Ornette Coleman's "harmolodic" concept are both key components, but the reading/learning doesn't stop here. The "Outro" of the book contains some words of wisdom, delivered via auto-biographical segments, and specific essays on "Listening," "Life Lessons" and "Lifestyle." A detailed discography that can lead the student/reader to the recordings from which these examples came is a helpful, book-ending bonus.

While the educational music book market is as crowded as Times Square during the holiday season, the unique perspectives and solid musical material Slagle presents make this a welcome addition to the bookshelf and a worthy educational tool for those looking to expand their knowledge base and musical skills.

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Holiday

Holiday

Steve Slagle
Alto Manhattan

CD/LP/Track Review
Book Reviews
Read more articles
Dedication

Dedication

Panorama Records
2017

buy
Alto Manhattan

Alto Manhattan

Panorama Records
2016

buy
The Power Of Two

The Power Of Two

Panorama Records
2015

buy
Evensong

Evensong

Panorama Records
2013

buy

Related Articles

Read Led Zeppelin by Led Zeppelin Book Reviews
Led Zeppelin by Led Zeppelin
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: September 22, 2018
Read What's Big and Purple and Lives in the Ocean?: The Moby Grape Story Book Reviews
What's Big and Purple and Lives in the Ocean?: The...
by Doug Collette
Published: September 9, 2018
Read Jorma Kaukonen: Been So Long - My Life & Music Book Reviews
Jorma Kaukonen: Been So Long - My Life & Music
by Doug Collette
Published: August 25, 2018
Read Sophisticated Giant: The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon Book Reviews
Sophisticated Giant: The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon
by R.J. DeLuke
Published: August 21, 2018
Read Blues From the Bayou: The Rhythms of Baton Rouge by Julian C. Piper Book Reviews
Blues From the Bayou: The Rhythms of Baton Rouge by Julian...
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: August 20, 2018
Read Rhythm and Blues in New Orleans, 3rd Edition Book Reviews
Rhythm and Blues in New Orleans, 3rd Edition
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: August 18, 2018
Read "The Other Night at Quinn's" Book Reviews The Other Night at Quinn's
by David A. Orthmann
Published: August 17, 2018
Read "The Great Jazz and Pop Vocal Albums" Book Reviews The Great Jazz and Pop Vocal Albums
by Steve Provizer
Published: March 3, 2018