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Songbook Review: Jazz Album for Piano
Misha Stefanuk
Cover image of the songbook Jazz Album for Piano by Misha Stefanuk
Jazz Album for Piano
Misha Stefanuk
2005 / Mel Bay Publications
Review by Kathy Parsons
Jazz Album for Piano is a fascinating collection of original pieces composed in the styles of various major artists in the field of jazz piano. Logically, this begins with Scott Joplin (1868-1917) and goes through Bill Evans (1929-1980). With short biographical sketches before each piece, the player can learn about each composer’s place in music history before learning the music. The chronological order of the pieces also clearly demonstrates how this style of music evolved over the course of about a hundred years. Unlike Stefanuk’s previous “Jazz Piano For the Young Beginner,” these twelve pieces are fairly advanced, requiring good sight-reading skills and a solid understanding of rhythms. Most of the pieces are written in easy key signatures, but several have a lot of accidentals as well as dense chords. For the student with a good ear, the accompanying CD will be of tremendous help. The pieces were recorded by Stefanuk on piano with a simple percussion back-up. Hearing the more abstract pieces and more difficult rhythms before they tackle the music or while they are learning it will be a big help for many pianists. Along with Joplin and Evans, the composers who are referenced are Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Waller, Count Basie, Pete Johnson, Duke Ellington, Erroll Garner, Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, Dave Brubeck, and Thelonius Monk. For the aspiring jazz pianist, this is a great book for getting the feel for how these jazz composers differed in style without having to buy a book of music by each composer. These pieces are somewhat easier than the composers’ “real” music, but it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to go from this book to Joplin’s easier original compositions. I had a lot of fun playing through this book, and recommend it to pianists looking to explore jazz and it’s history in one concise album.
April 11, 2006
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