This book from woodwind performer Jon De Lucia is a follow up to his earlier book Bach Shapes from 2017 (reviewed here). In this instalment, you get 12 jazz etudes based on Bach’s melodic shapes.
The eBook comes with MP3 files with Jon demonstrating each etude & backing tracks for practice. The backing tracks feature great playing from the rhythm section of Tatsuya Sakurai (guitar), Steve Whipple (bass) and Ben Zweig (drums).
As I tried playing the etudes, it became obvious to me that there’s a lot of musical information to digest here.
First you get the harmonic information from the jazz standards. Second, it’s all the ‘Bach Shapes’ that Jon has digested and used in these etudes. Third is all the motivic development and phrasing information embedded in these pieces.
The most valuable thing for me are the recordings of Jon playing each etude. From the recordings, I could find out the subtle nuances in how he accents some notes, ghosts others and connect the lines. The way I was hearing it in my head was okay but not as musical as Jon’s interpretation of the etudes.
As a guitarist, I found it challenging to figure out smooth left hand fingerings to allow the music to be as expressive and at the performance tempo. These pieces are worthy as student exam pieces or study in a university or college.
If you’re new jazz phrasing, you can catch valuable lessons in how Jon phrases the lines. I would recommend printing the etude out and writing out fingerings & phrasing notes especially for guitarists.
Also, do note that these are all in standard musical notation so if you’re only comfortable with tablature, these will present even more of a challenge. However, the recordings will be able to help you to learn the etudes.
I could picture these pieces as assignments for my private students in the future. These are challenging and musical (two really important things).
In conclusion, I strongly recommend this book to any musician who is curious about how you could take Bach’s melodic language and use it in a jazz context. This isn’t a new thing but the way Jon has taken the material makes this more accessible than ever.
Pros: A great etude book for jazz improvisors who would like to extend their melodic vocabulary.
TLDR: If you would like to explore the melodic shapes of Bach in the context of jazz improvisation, this is a great addition to your (virtual) music stand.
NOTE: I received a review copy of this book from author Jon De Lucia. Thank you Jon!
You can buy this eBook here: https://www.jondelucia.com/product-category/books/
I wrote a lot of other book, course and video reviews too.
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