i've had this book for a couple of months now and it's exactly what i've been looking for since i started my piano learning adventure. i'm an old trumpet player who played mostly big band lead and have taken up learning piano in my retirement years. i have had one year of group piano at the local university and two tears with a classical teacher. if i had it to do over again, i would do the full two years of group piano that the u offers then take off on my own with richards' book.  

it is the kind of method book that you can start on page one and work your way through the entire two volumes. i expect this will take me probably three years to do.  

the book begins with "major chords" and the first lesson has you playing a very simple little tune. my first reaction was that it was too simple even for me. not true, i'm still learning things from that lesson. in the first lesson you learn to play rock solid, simple triads in the left hand while playing the simple tune in the right. you work on hand independence from day one. next, horror of horrors, your instructed to transcribe his eight bar improvisation from the play along cd provided. transcription has always been something that i avoided but this one was easy enough that i did it in thirty minutes or so. the transcription in the second lesson is a little tougher, but i've been successful on that as well. it's a real confidence builder.

by lesson two. you're working with pentatonic scales. he gives you a scale format to practice the pentatonic scale and instructs you to play them in all twelve keys until you are proficient. i think that's the best featyure of this book...there is never any questiuon as to what you should be practicing today and its all productive jazz stuff. when you do the transcription of his chorus in lesson two, you see that his improv uses the pentatonic scale exclusively and sounds really good even though the underlying chord progression is simply tyhree major triads. and of course you are still playing with the rock solid left hand triads.  

lesson two ends with a discussion of the form of all of the major triads, ie., the i, iv & v in c are all white keys; in a there is a black key in the middle; and in ab the form is black, white black. you spend time masteriong these triads and both of their inversions before proceeding.  

the second lesson ends with an instruction to go back and redo the tune (which is in g) in a and ab. including the improv of course.

so, as you can see, it's a very thorough approach and, like i said earlier, there is never any question as to what you should be doing.

i've peerked ahead and listened to the cd and it will be just a few months before i'm working on a really nice sounding version of green dolphin street. presumably transcribinmg and improvising in multiple keys.  

i love this book! i'm surprised that i haven't seen more posts about it.
There is one comment, leave a comment.
tim gave me one to review, but i haven't had a chance to get into it yet. thanks for the writeup on it!  inspires me to get my act together and do the review i promised tim :)
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Jazz Piano Notebook Series
Scot Ranney's Jazz Piano Notebook, Volume 1 - jazz piano tricks of the trade

Volume 1 of this educational jazz piano book contains 15 jazz piano exercises, tricks, and other interesting jazz piano techniques, voicings, grooves, and ideas Scot Ranney enjoys playing.

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Scot Ranney's Jazz Piano Notebook, Volume 2 - jazz piano tricks of the trade you can use today

Volume 2 has 14 jazz piano exercises and tricks of the trade, and quite a bit of it is Calypso jazz piano related material, including some Monty Alexander and Michel Camilo style grooves. Jazz piano education is through the ears, but books like this can help.

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Tim Richards' Jazz Piano Notebook - jazz piano tricks of the trade

Volume 3 contains 12 jazz piano exercises and explorations by the acclaimed jazz piano educator, pianist, author, and recording artist Tim Richards.

Tim wrote the well known "Exploring Jazz Piano" and "Improvising Blues Piano" books and has several others to his name.

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Jeff Brent's Jazz Piano Notebook - jazz piano tricks of the trade

Volume 4 is by Jeff Brent, a jazz pianist, composer, teacher, and author of "Modalogy" and other acclaimed jazz theory and education books. In this book Jeff shares detailed analysis of transcriptions of live performances. He covers everything from the shape of the songs to the tricks and licks he uses in improvised lines to the ideas behind his lush chord voicings.

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