In Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz
, a show which ran on National Public Radio from 1978 to 2011, pianist McPartland interviewed literally hundreds of jazz greats. The format is simple. They chat about life and music, stopping to play a few tunes together. Outstanding.
Sadly the archive currently available online is very incomplete. We hope these historic interviews have not been lost forever.
Stuart Smith has written an excellent, free 89-page book on Jazz Theory
. It’s very readable, with a relaxed but serious style, but it does assume a certain level of knowledge. It quotes (and lives up to) Einstein’s saying, that things should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler. Chewy but nourishing.
is an incredible educational resource, where many talented musicians and teachers share their skills. More links coming soon, but one of my favourites is Dave Frank
. Dave can tell you loads of ways to sound better on piano, show you an original take on a familiar tune, or expertly dissect the playing style of masters like Keith Jarrett and Oscar Peterson.
Many great jazz recordings can be found on Youtube. Sure, the visuals are often slideshows of stock photos, or a still shot of the album cover, but it’s always nice to discover actual video of a live performance, or vintage movie footage of a show tune. Tools like Youtube-DLG
allow you to capture the audio as an MP3 file for convenient listening, transcription or playing along.
…by the way, whatever software I or anyone else recommend, it’s worth checking the crowdsourced opinions on alternativeto.net
because there always may be something even better.
has an abundance of musician biographies, discographies and other factual data. Its help on matters of music theory and criticism is less reliable. A crowdsourced encyclopedia isn’t where you would look for a consistent viewpoint or a strong, well-argued opinion.
is a large website built around a list of 1000 jazz standards. 300 tunes are documented in depth, and I mean in depth. It’s jazz-geek paradise, and the only reason I don’t use it more is that I like to root around on Youtube and Wikipedia and pretend I am discovering things for myself.
The Jazz Resource
is a compact, engaging site, aimed at beginning or intermediate players, especially pianists. Useful pages on theory, piano voicings, ear training and other topics. The lists of top albums and pianists are unashamedly personal. There is a good list of other jazz websites, which I’m gonna recommend and then raid, OK?
A Passion For Jazz. Educational resources, jazz history, humour*, festival listings, and neat little in-browser programs, seasoned with choice quotes which illuminate the human condition through the medium of jazz. The sheet music and books are from sheetmusic.com, the posters from allposters.com. Both serve mainly the US market. This site is an infectious blend of labour-of-love and commercial hustle. If you are going to do affiliate marketing, do it like this.
*This kind of thing: Rules for Dating a Musician
Train and test yourself on intervals, chords, scales, relative and (hold my beer) absolute pitch, at good-ear.com
. Everything runs in your browser. The links page looks useful, and includes sites for people learning specific instruments such as bass and guitar.
Michael Furstner’s Jazclass.aust.com
has masses of educational material, especially for piano and saxophone. Surprises include a section on the anatomy and physiology of the hand. Looking at all the exercises I should have done on piano has me in instant denial, but the sax pages will surely help me understand what my reed-playing friends are up against.
blogs about creativity, improvisation and making a living as a performer or a teacher. What does it take, to perform at a high level? Steve has many useful pointers. The reader comments are at a high level, too.
has loads of stuff you can buy, including books and the famous play-along tracks. His site also has some useful free resources. Jamey may once have peddled a rather mechanistic chord-scale approach, but the scale syllabus introduction
takes a liberal ‘you choose’ approach. He clearly hears a whole scale when he hears a chord, and regards scales and chords as basically the same thing.
A drumming friend recommends Peter Erskine’s play-alongs
which are not only for drummers. They include Jazz Essentials
, Big Band Essentials
, Afro-Cuban essentials
, and The Code of Funk
. Lots of other stuff on Peter’s website
, including books, video, music downloads and a blog.
Berklee College of Music
has not achieved its dominant position in jazz education without controversy. The website is mainly there to sell courses and as a resource for signed-up students. For anyone else it’s a bit frustrating – but it offers a revealing glimpse of the competitive world in which aspiring young musicians must survive.
Apparently there are jam sessions where you lose serious points for whipping out a phone and opening iReal Pro
. But if you can’t yet play 1000 tunes in 12 keys, you may actually need this. For copyright reasons this electronic equivalent of the Real Books
provides chords only, no ‘dots’. But if you can accept that, it’s brilliant.
Don’t restrict yourself to the main jazz playlist, go to the forums and download free playlists for bossa nova, funk, Stevie Wonder tunes or whatever you and your crowd are into. Transpose to any key. Edit tunes with your favourite reharmonisations. Print or share charts. Search for songs or composers. Build playlists. Etc, etc.
iReal Pro will play a rather mechanical backing track – just set the key, tempo, instrumentation and number of choruses – but I never use this feature unless we’re short of a bassist or drummer. Which is practically all the time.
Metronome apps are a musical necessity. A serviceable one is Frozen Ape’s Tempo
. Unconnected with the Arctic Monkeys, as far as I know, but nothing would surprise me.
Personally, I find metronomes a bit of a groove-killer, and would rather practise along to something like Drumgenius
which lets me choose the feel I want for the tune. You can download over 400 loops in jazz, rock and Latin styles – a great way to educate yourself about rhythms. Drumgenius comes with this excellent advice:
“Listen carefully to the drum loop, measure its length, surf on the meter, breathe and move your body following the time feel. When you feel comfortable, play or sing, trying to groove with the loop as much as you can and remember: DON’T MISS THE ONE!”
If you want to do more with your phone or tablet than just running a metronome, a tuner and iReal Pro, John Walden’s Music App Blog may give you some ideas. John reviews apps for Apple mobile devices. Even if you don’t have an iOS device, it is interesting to know what is out there.
If you play, teach, arrange or compose music, sooner or later you will want some software for notating scores and parts. I have not tried the industry standard Sibelius, or the newcomer Staffpad (which looks amazing in demonstrations). After trying a couple of other free or cheap programs, I am currently using Musescore.
Music editing is a complicated business, and any app for it is going to present a bit of a learning curve for the user. At least Musescore is fairly well-behaved once you have got the hang of it. A useful feature is the forum where Musescore users share scores. The quality of these is patchy. Even so, it is sometimes less work to edit a badly transcribed version of a tune than to create your own version from a blank page.
mDecks Music has produced a series of innovative music apps. I already mentioned the ingenious and hard-to-classify Tessitura Pro here. This app is based on the circle of fifths as a device for visualising and comparing ‘structures’ (scales and chords). Choose a structure, and the app can generate a variety of practice exercises, from simple scales and arpeggios to complex patterns. Excellent videos on the mDecks website explain the uses of this and their other apps better than I can here.
Pianist and composer Dave Jones writes reviews and articles some of which you can also find on the Jazz Journal website. His 2014 series The Classical Tinge explores how jazz and classical music influenced each other.
Musictheory.net provides instruction and exercises in ear training and basic music theory. A useful site for teachers. The free online stuff is supported by sales of apps for iPhone and iPad.
Hooktheory.com has a database of thousands of pop songs and their chord progressions. Useful for research, or if you are actually trying to learn to write songs. There is plenty of free stuff, but you pay for books and the premium version of the Hookpad software. The site is not jazz-focussed, but hey, they are trying to make a living.
Jazz-clubs-worldwide.com is a massive resource, and if you are in the music business you are unlikely to balk at the $35 subscription. It’s a database of clubs, festivals, agents, promoters, record labels, radio stations and more, in dozens of countries. I have heard good things about it, but without direct experience of the service I can’t really comment.
After five years as a free online publication, in February 2019 Sussex Jazz Magazine
relaunched as a print subscription magazine. Subscribers get a printed copy and a pdf by email every month. Listings of local gigs and jam sessions, links to local resources, and an archive are still on the website. A good place to start looking for anything jazz and Sussex.
is an annual weekend festival, in the countryside near Lewes. World-class artists in jazz and related genres play on multiple stages.
Based in East Sussex, Jazz Smugglers
are basically a band which makes itself available in various styles and formats. They also provide courses. Their website is witty and entertaining, especially the Bluffer’s Guide
which contains a core of sharply observed truths that you will recognise, wherever you live.
Just a few of the many sites offering manuscript paper layouts as PDF files:
A Passion For Jazz
has some jazz-specific formats, on US paper sizes. Printer drivers can usually scale the image without too many surprises.
lets you customise your design, with separate columns for text and either staves or guitar tabs.
has a good range of standard designs, and a very flexible program for creating your own custom design, in portrait or landscape format, on any paper size you like.
If you have a favourite layout, why not ask your local printshop to print and bind a pad or notebook?
Just cos we link it don’t mean we think it
This page is a work in progress. Please message me with any suggested links, or to report broken links. I link to sites that I like, or that I think are relevant here. Links are not necessarily endorsements.
I will make it clear if any link appears on this page because of an arrangement in money or kind. The WordPress logo (bottom right) is not such a link. I pay for my WordPress account, so I don’t have to display it. But I think you are entitled to know what platform I use. Also, the WordPress core development team are jazz enthusiasts, and they name each release after a jazz musician