The Faber Music Jazz Anthology

Products featured here are selected for review by ANDREW EALES

Over the last three years, Faber Music seemed to establish a pattern of releasing deluxe Piano Anthologies in the run up to the Christmas season. For 2020, they have ‘upped the ante’ by bringing forward the next title in this stunning series to the Spring, with further anthologies (Contemporary and Easy) already in preparation.

The Faber Music Jazz Piano Anthology builds on the quality of its predecessors to deliver a sumptuous and brilliantly conceived book of jazz standards, newly arranged as piano solos for more advanced students and adult piano enthusiasts everywhere.

Definitely time for a closer look…

Another Bumper Collection…

If you are familiar with the recent Faber Music Christmas Piano Anthology or Faber Music Soundtracks Anthology, you will know exactly what to expect from the growing series.

This latest addition sports 208 pages, housed in a sturdy soft cover with fold-out flaps. These list the pieces alphabetically, while within there is also a Contents page listing them in the order in which they appear.

The main body of the book comprises the following 57 jazz standards, making up something of a dream list:

  • A Foggy Day
  • A Night In Tunisia
  • Ain’t Misbehavin’
  • April In Paris
  • Believe, Beleft, Below
  • Blue And Sentimental
  • Blue In Green
  • Blue Monk
  • Embraceable You
  • Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye
  • God Bless The Child
  • Good Bait
  • Honeysuckle Rose
  • How High The Moon
  • I Can’t Get Started
  • I Can’t Give You Anything But Love
  • I Get A Kick Out Of You
  • I Got Rhythm
  • I Think It’s Going To Rain Today
  • I’ve Got You Under My Skin
  • It Ain’t Necessarily So
  • It’s Only A Paper Moon
  • The Kerry Dance
  • Let There Be Love
  • Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off
  • Lilac Wine
  • Little Girl Blue
  • Lullaby Of Birdland
  • Magic
  • Misty
  • Moanin’
  • My Baby Just Cares For Me
  • My Foolish Heart
  • My Funny Valentine
  • My Wish
  • Night Train
  • One For My Baby (And One For The Road)
  • Please Send Me Somebody To Love
  • Portrait Of Jenny
  • Prelude No. 3 (Gershwin)
  • P.S. I Love You
  • Round Midnight
  • Satin Doll
  • The Seventh Son
  • Stella By Starlight
  • Stormy Weather
  • Summer Song
  • Summertime
  • Swanee
  • Sweet Sixteen Bars
  • Take The ‘A’ Train
  • They Can’t Take That Away From Me
  • Unsquare Dance
  • The Way You Look Tonight
  • What Is This Thing Called Love
  • Where We Used To Live
  • Witchcraft

I’ve mentioned in previous reviews that this is an extremely classy series, and once again I found myself immediately impressed with the stunning quality of the Jazz Piano Anthology.

The music is beautifully and spaciously presented, and interspersed with occasional full-page black-and-white illustrations evoking the jazz age, predominantly photographs of iconic performers.

Physically, the book is a sturdy publication. It’s again necessary to bend the cover back to keep it open on the music stand, but the quality is sufficient to withstand such repeated use, not least because the binding is stitched rather than simply glued as one finds with some inferior publications.

In short, the book is built to last, and I don’t doubt that it will stand the test of time, as earlier books in the series are already doing!

So what of the music?

The Arrangements

The impressive list of included titles confirms that for this anthology, Faber have succeeded in assembling some of the greatest hits of the golden age of jazz, and from the Great American Songbook. Those looking for a one-stop collection of so many well-known and popular jazz songs are likely to find this book pretty irresistible.

The pieces appear in progressive order of difficulty, and on balance they are undoubtedly more difficult than those in the previous Christmas and Soundtracks books, both in terms of technical demand and in their advanced musical language.

The opening I Get A Kick Out of You would be manageable for an intermediate player (at around UK Grade 4), but the material quite quickly becomes more challenging. Minimal fingering is included (more would perhaps have been welcome), as well as expressive markings, although for a more jazzy feel, the player will benefit from wallowing in the original recordings.

While the detailed notation and fully realised piano arrangements are aimed at the classically trained player, there are plentiful reminders that jazz doesn’t obey ‘the rules’. Arranger Oliver Weeks again proves his musical mettle, opting for faithful renditions over technical ease.

In the later pieces, The Faber Music Jazz Piano Anthology serves up original piano licks carefully transcribed, improvisatory flourishes included; with knotty vamps and ambitious chords, there’s plenty here to challenge and inspire the advanced player who wants to explore this music to the full.

To Conclude…

Faber Music are continuing to raise the bar with their outstanding series of Anthologies, and for anyone in the market for a selection of jazz classics tastefully presented and well arranged, the Faber Music Jazz Piano Anthology is certainly a top choice.

There are some obvious competitors on the market, notably including John Kember’s Jazz Piano Player books, also from Faber Music, which have long been my top recommendation with their eminently pianistic realisations and astute jazz voicings.

But with such a pitch-perfect and mouth-watering selection of great jazz tunes, in ambitious arrangements that are stylistically on point and, as the book progresses, offer plenty for the more adventurous player to get their teeth into, this new book really is another sure-footed winner!

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Published by

Andrew Eales

Andrew Eales is a widely respected piano educator, writer and composer based on Milton Keynes UK. His book HOW TO PRACTISE MUSIC is published by Hal Leonard.