As Reviewed By You – June New Releases

This month we have 5 new ‘Jazz’ themed titles reviewed by Felicity Moran. Felicity is a piano/instrumental teacher and band conductor from Northern NSW who is passionate about making quality music education experiences accessible at school. Being a single mum keeps her very busy outside of work, but she still finds time to arrange music for her students and administer many facebook groups. As the founder of the ‘Piano and Instrumental Teachers with Coronovirus Concerns’ group she was at the forefront of supporting music teachers across the globe face the pandemic, and transition to online teaching last year.

New Orleans Jazz Styles Simplified

In this delightful book, Glenda Austin has simplified fifteen of William Gillocks’s pieces to make them accessible to late elementary/early intermediate students. This book would be perfect for teenage beginners after a few months of lessons as the easy jazz pieces would pique their interest, with many of the melodies centered around the blues scale and the swung rhythms would certainly appeal. One thing I really liked about this book was the use of repeats, signs and codas. Introducing these concepts in music this simple is a great way for students to gain a thorough understanding of these concepts early on. Glenda has done a fabulous job of arranging these jazz pieces in a way that not only sounds authentic to the originals, but that students will no doubt love playing.

Jazz Piano For Kids

This book is designed to teach students how to work around a chord sequence and get them improvising. It explores the building blocks of blues and jazz. Each exercise is dependent on the accompanying videos which probably doesn’t make it very practical to use during lessons unless as a small component each week – or a beginner student whose goals are to ‘learn jazz’. Having said that, it would certainly be a valuable tool for students to work through at home outside of the lesson setting, or for teachers to run through themselves to gain a better understanding on how to teach improvisation – a question I have heard asked often!

Duke Ellington – 16 Jazz Classics arranged by Phillip Keveren

Phillip Keveren has done a marvelous job of taking Duke Ellington’s complex pieces and turning them into simple piano arrangements that students will love. The pieces include chord symbols above the staff which provides a great opportunity for the teacher to explain the theory behind jazz for the classically trained student exploring this genre. Students will want to play through every piece in this book. At first glance the notation may seem simple, but add in the syncopated rhythms, triplets and swing puts it firmly at an early intermediate level.

Boogie Time – 10 Piano Solos arranged by Eugènie Rocherolle

It must be said – I REALLY loved this book! Eight arrangements and two original pieces by Eugènie Rocherolle, all of which are so much fun to play. The boogie-woogie basslines completely transform some well-known pieces, many of which would make great extra or own choice pieces for intermediate students. I particularly loved Boogie Alla Turca. Mozart’s well know piece retained the original key and right-hand melody, but the left hand turned this into a different piece altogether! His theme and variations approach to ‘When The Saints Go Marching In’ transformed this (let’s admit it) dull piece into something that was really interesting. Highly recommended!

Soul – Music from and Inspired by the Disney/Pixar Motion Picture

I was completely unfamiliar with this recent release from Disney Pixar when asked to review this piano book, but after playing through the pieces I watched this lovely film and found the arrangements quite true to the feel of the movie. Contained in this book are seven arrangements from the film, four arrangements of jazz standards, and two bonus selections from the movie, the rather haunting ‘Epiphany’ by Trent Reznor, and ‘Parting Ways’ by Cody Chesnutt. The pieces in this book are definitely of an intermediate standard. The arrangements from the movie are very well written, combining the melody lines (often played by saxophone in the film) combined with the overall feel of the piano part – which let’s face it, if you’ve seen ‘Soul’ the actual piano performances would put the pieces at an advanced level. Combined with some lovely images from ‘Soul’ this is a must have for anyone who enjoyed this Disney Pixar classic. 

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