Wow thank you for all the website visits... very gratifying!
Hello all -
Just getting the word out about the new fourth edition of my book An Approach to Jazz Piano, which is now available from my website and lulu.com in both printed and pdf versions. Any questions about the contents, don't hesitate to ask!
An Approach To Jazz Piano
by Charles Austin
Fourth Edition, 2011, 458 pages
Available as coilbound paperback ($39.95)
or PDF ($19.95)
An Approach to Jazz Piano is a comprehensive approach to the study of jazz piano, covering a full range of materials from essentials for beginning jazz pianists to an extensive study of harmonic, melodic, rhythm, motif development, voicings, comping, jazz style, inner lines, and jazz linguistics that are requirements for any advancing jazz player. First published in 2001, the revised 2011 fourth edition of this clearly written instructional text is now available online for the first time at charlieaustinjazz.com. Interspersed throughout with exercises and practice suggestions, material is introduced in a practical and progressive manner, informed by the author's lifetime of experience as a professional jazz pianist and thirty as a college instructor guiding hundreds of students in the fundamentals of jazz piano.
Source scales, chords and their extensions in harmonic context, and harmonic function are comprehensively addressed. Ideas on modal borrowing and inside/outside scale choices are presented to foster improvisational melodic note choices. Secondary dominants and their source scale relations and relevance to tritone substitution is another major topic. Melodic development in improvisation is a theme throughout the book, with approaches including motif based development, guide tones, polarized passing-tone scales, diatonic/chromatic-approach tones and passing tones, deflection, change-tones and numerous others explored.
The book presents a unique take on pentatonic approaches to harmony and melody, and on secondary dominants and diminished chord theory. Other harmonic and voicing approaches, such as quartal harmony, passing chord harmony, "Drop 2" voicings, rootless voicings, and polychord and slash chord approaches are thoroughly explored. The idea of chord shapes and intervallic shapes, particularly variations on the use of the "stock 13" chord (called "the Sound" in this book), is explored with a control of tension and color in chord progression. The incorporation of this material is aided by musical examples that demonstrate it in context, both melodically and harmonically.
An Approach To Jazz Piano is a complete guide to learning jazz piano and has been proven in classroom settings and as a resource for individuals for over a decade. It should be a welcome addition to the library of jazz study texts.
Please visit my website at charlieaustinjazz.com for more information.
Wow thank you for all the website visits... very gratifying!
Hi! I'm very curious about your book-can you post an exerpt? Thanks. Best of luck with the new edition!
Here is a preview of the book:
An Approach to Jazz Piano (preview) -- hope you enjoy.
Hey Charlie, I love the book. And I'm not even a piano player! I just got an e-book copy because I couldn't wait! Let me where and if you would like questions. Send me a PM or let me know here. I've found some minor typos but nothing serious. Maybe we could trade typos for answers? Hehe.
I’d like to put in some good words for Charlie Austin’s book. An Approach to Jazz Piano is great resource. Mr. Austin’s book is a fresh, insightful approach to virtually every topic relating to jazz piano.
An Approach to Jazz Piano starts with basic music theory, which I think is very helpful for beginning jazz students. It is safe to say that Mr. Austin’s approach addresses most of the concepts jazz pianists need to know about, starting with the basics and moving up through advanced theory concepts.
One thought that occurred to me over and over again while reading the book was “I’ve never thought of it that way before.” I think Mr. Austin has a fresh take on MANY concepts.
His sections on stride are very helpful for breaking down the style to its very core concepts without breaking out a Tatum transcription or making things unnecessarily complicated.
The sections on motivic development are quite nice, and I REALLY like the section on guide tones and APPLYING THEM to create solo lines. I feel that Charlie Austin fills a gap here. I haven’t seen enough material in other books helping students connect the dots between guide tones and using them in actual lines, but An Approach to Jazz Piano makes the connection on pages 84-92.
The chord quality extensions matrix on page 100 is unique. I’ve never seen any graphic representation on chord construction quite so thorough, and I think it’s a great tool.
Many of the ideas in the book made me think about things in new ways, which I really appreciate. For example, he has a section on seeing 7th chords as slash chords (p. 54). Teaching voicings can be a tricky thing, and I think the concept of a 7th chord as a slash chord is helpful way to visualize certain voicings.
Chapter 21 is a nice systematic approach to left-hand voicings, which is one of the most important topics for jazz pianists in my opinion.
Chapter 23 on tetrachords and their use in constructing scales is a masterful resource. This chapter will help musicians differentiate easily between all the different scales, and Mr. Austin has completely changed how I will change teach scales in the future. Again, Mr. Austin is spot-on. I HIGHLY recommend his section on tetrachords.
Chapter 24 is a really nice, thorough treatment on major, harmonic major modes, harmonic minor, and melodic minor modes. When paired with Chapter 25 on symmetrical scales (Diminished and whole-tone), you have a very complete picture of scales and chords.
Chapter 44 is really fascinating to me. Again, it’s a “I’ve never thought of it that way before” approach. Mr. Austin has a really tasty “slash-chord approach” to jazz piano voicing. He gets some really interesting sounds, and I really applaud him for this unique approach to voicing chords.
I’d definitely recommend An Approach to Jazz Piano. There are LOTS of great ideas, and the book is particularly strong with regard to theory and improvisational ideas/exercises, with some great voicing ideas as well.
I recommend skipping around by topic. Because the book is so thorough, it is dense, with over 450 pages of information and ideas. The nice thing is it is arranged topically, and it is easy to skip around from topic to topic based on the things you are practicing at the time.
As with any jazz text, it can’t be used as a substitute for listening, transcribing, and practicing. Those things are a must for jazz musicians and should not be neglected.
For the record, Charlie Austin has advertised on my website, but this is an honest review. He has a really great take on many topics, and I love his unique ideas and approach. I will be stealing many ideas from Mr. Austin for my teaching. I know there will someday be a Volume 2, and I look forward to seeing what else Mr. Austin comes up with.
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