Hal Leonard Jazz Piano Solos: Christmas Classics

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES
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Any advanced player with a penchant for jazz and looking for fresh festive fare this holiday season would do well to check out the newly published Christmas Classics, which appears as volume 61 in the Hal Leonard Jazz Piano Solos series and delivers 24 selections arranged by Brent Edstrom.

Since its recent arrival I have been playing my way through these tunes, and have been equally impressed by the variety on offer and by the consistent quality of Edstrom’s arrangements. Here’s my review…

Continue reading Hal Leonard Jazz Piano Solos: Christmas Classics

Jason Sifford’s KEYBOP

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES
Learn More • BOOK A LESSONVIDEO FEEDBACK


New from the Willis Music Company, Jason Sifford’s two books of Keybop each offer “11 jazzy solos for the young pianist”.

Not another set of jazzy books for young pianists, I hear you say. But stay with me, because these ones are really worth a look…

Continue reading Jason Sifford’s KEYBOP

Tim Richards: Beginning Jazz Piano

EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES • review by ANDREW EALES
Supporting Your Teaching • PATHWAYS FOR TEACHING


Tim Richards is well established as one of the UK’s leading jazz educators, having burst onto the scene with his best-selling book Improvising Blues Piano, which set a new standard in jazz education publishing upon its first release back in 1997.

Since then Richards has produced a steady flow of publications in partnership with Schott Music, including the excellent Exploring Jazz Piano volumes 1 and 2, and more recent Blues, Boogie and Gospel Collection, which I described in my 2016 Pianodao review,

“…not simply as the best “jazz piano” publication of the year, but probably the best of the decade so far.”

Now he’s back with two chunky new books. Beginning Jazz Piano Parts 1 and 2 are billed as a new jazz method for players who already have some piano experience and a basic technique, and claim to offer “an introduction to swing, blues, latin and funk”.

Let’s find out whether these handsome publications live up to the sky-high standards of Richards’ previous work…

Continue reading Tim Richards: Beginning Jazz Piano

FREE! James Welburn: Cool Cat Blues

FREE SHEET MUSIC DOWNLOAD
Courtesy of EDITIONS MUSICA FERRUM


James Welburn has produced two collections of original music for Musica Ferrum which I have previously reviewed: Reflections in Waltz and Musical Escapades, both highly enjoyable.

Cool Cat Blues comes from his hotly anticipated and soon to be released third collection Adventures & Accolades.

I will review the collection once it’s available, but in the meantime here’s a preview of Cool Cat Blues, an astutely observed jazz piece for the intermediate player; those looking for fresh material that will get their toes tapping are in for a treat!

And here’s your free promotional copy of the sheet music to this piece, courtesy of Editions Musica Ferrum:


Further details of the book, including the option of purchasing a digital copy or studio license, are available from the publisher here.


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June Armstrong: Take Ten

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES
Learn More • BOOK A LESSONVIDEO FEEDBACK


June Armstrong is not only one of the UK’s most creative composers, but one of the most prolific. Having only reviewed her Dreams and Dragons last December, she’s already now back with her next publication, Take Ten.

Capitalising on the immense popularity of her piece Dusty Blue, recently a Grade 2 favourite here, Armstrong’s new book delivers 14 brand new ‘Jazz Miniatures for piano solo, suitable for elementary players.


With so many competing publications in this territory, and the prevalence of jazzy pastiche, it’s inevitable that Take Ten is a less musically distinctive collection than some Armstrong publications.

But I have no doubt that it will be a best-seller, and deservedly so, because it’s excellent and has some cool twists…

So read on for my detailed review…

Continue reading June Armstrong: Take Ten

Nikki Iles and Friends

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES
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Nikki Iles will be known to many readers for her Jazz on a Winter’s Night book and subsequent series for OUP, and her recent Tales for Alice and Tales for Peter Pan collections for EVC Music, all of which I have been hugely impressed by.

Over the years, Iles has also contributed to the ABRSM Jazz Piano Syllabus and composed several memorable pieces for the board’s standard piano grades, which are always popular choices. And now she’s back with two new books of jazz pieces for ABRSM, between them bringing 29 new piano solos to the intermediate and advanced repertoire, composed and arranged by Iles and a stellar array of luminaries of the contemporary jazz world.

With the drawing power of Iles and friends, and the marketing clout of ABRSM, these two books are sure to fly off the shelves, so let’s take a closer look while we can!

Continue reading Nikki Iles and Friends

Jazz Piano for Kids

EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES • review by ANDREW EALES
Supporting Your Teaching • PATHWAYS FOR TEACHING


While there’s a growing number of good published resources for the keen jazz student these days, most are aimed at the serious adult player, and in many cases too-quickly get embroiled in complicated jazz theory. Meanwhile, for young players who enjoy “jazzy pieces” and want to explore the style, there’s long been a gap in the market.

Jazz Piano for Kids, new from ace jazz educator Richard Michael and published by Hal Leonard, aims to fill that gap. Introducing his book, Michael writes,

“Welcome to Jazz Piano for Kids and your very first steps in making up your own solos. What do you need? Apart from a piano or keyboard, just two hands, two wide-open ears, and the ability to have a go without fear of making mistakes. This beginner’s course will give you the building blocks of playing jazz on the piano… Before you know it, you will be improvising your own solos and starting a lifetime’s discovery in the wonderful world of jazz.”

Let’s get started right away…

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Sam Wedgwood’s ‘Next Level’

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES
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Sam is the latest member of the Wedgwood clan to be making a big name for himself as a composer of well-crafted and catchy piano pieces suitable for intermediate students.

Following the popularity of the two Sam Wedgwood’s Project books from EVC Music, the publisher’s latest release is his new collection of solo and duet pieces, Next Level.

Here’s the Pianodao review…

Continue reading Sam Wedgwood’s ‘Next Level’

Bob Chilcott: A Little Jazz Piano

The PIANODAO MUSIC LIBRARY
Selected & Reviewed by ANDREW EALES
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Bob Chilcott will be known to many readers for his lifelong association with choral music, first as a chorister and choral scholar in the choir of King’s College, Cambridge, and for 12 years as a member of the King’s Singers.

Chilcott became a full-time composer in 1997, and has produced a large catalogue of music for all types of choirs which is published by Oxford University Press. His most often performed pieces include A Little Jazz MassRequiem, and Can you hear me?

In common with John Rutter, whose Piano Collection and Christmas Piano Album I have recently reviewed, Chilcott has lately turned his hand to creating a collection of piano pieces.

Nattily titled A Little Jazz Piano in reference to his popular Mass, this newly published collection from OUP contains three short pieces suitable for intermediate players. Let’s take a little look…

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Brad Mehldau: Suite, April 2020

RECORDING OF THE MONTH • by ANDREW EALES
Showcasing An Inspiring Recent Piano Recording.


Brad Mehldau is not simply one of the true greats of jazz piano, but one of the most interesting composers, collaborators and creators in the contemporary music scene.

Every release of his is special, and this year we are fortunate to have two in close succession, the brilliant quartet album Round Again with Joshua Redman, Christian McBride and Brian Blade and, the subject of this review, Suite: April 2020, an intimate solo set comprising twelve pieces improvised in response to the lockdown of March/April 2020, plus three concluding bonus cover versions.

Suite: April 2020 appeared digitally almost immediately back in the late spring, and the physical CD album arrived this Autumn:

Continue reading Brad Mehldau: Suite, April 2020