The Jazz Pianist’s Ultimate Guide To The Real Book

I’m excited to announce that after almost 2 years of hard work, my Jazz Pianist’s Ultimate Guide To The Real Book is complete!!!

The whole thing started when I got the 6th edition of the Real Book. It’s an excellent edition, but it leaves out one of my favorite features of the original versions from the 1970s: the recommended recording at the bottom of each tune.

In those archaic, pre-internet days, those brief recommendations were my connection with the lineage of each tune. I’d open the book to Autumn Leaves, and see the words “Bill Evans: Portrait In Jazz” scribbled across the bottom of the page. This was like a revelation to my 16-year-old self. “Wow! This Bill Evans guy must be great! I should check him out!” So off I’d go to the local record store where I had got to know the employees and I’d ask them, “Do you know anything about Bill Evans?” And “Do you have the record Portrait In Jazz?” They’d show me a few of the more famous Evans records and I’d leave with Portrait In Jazz and perhaps Sunday At The Village Vanguard under my arm.

Since the new edition doesn’t include these recommendations, my initial thought was to compile a list of recordings for a blog post. But as with many of these “wisps” of an idea, it soon began to blossom on its own:

“Well, if I’m going to think of a recording for each tune, maybe I’ll write down what I’d tell a piano student about the tune. An informal history and a bit about playing the tune at a jam session.”

And… “If I’m going to do that, I may as well give a practice suggestion or two, and provide links for further study, including some to my free lesson pages and performance videos.”

So the idea for The Jazz Pianist’s Ultimate Guide To The Real Book was born. Little did I know how long it would take to write a 400-page book! I wrote during long car rides while my wife drove us on vacation, I wrote late at night while I should have been sleeping, and I wrote at café’s in between gigs and teaching local piano lessons.

It’s been a true labor of love, and I’m proud to share the entire book with you. Each tune has its own page, and each page is published separately, as a free online resource to help you get to know the jazz repertoire in a more complete way as you learn the music.

Here’s the table of contents. Just click on the name of a tune that interests you, and enjoy:

The Jazz Pianist’s Ultimate Guide To The Real Book: Table of Contents

Enjoy the journey, and “let the music flow!”

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