by Bill Dobbins
Improvisation is at the heart of jazz, but knowing how to play stylistically correct in a large jazz ensemble is also a necessity. How to Play Piano in a Big Band offers tips, suggestions, examples and a play along CD to help you put it all together.
How To Play Piano in a Big Band is a detailed and organized guide to understanding the most important skills and concepts for the big band pianist. Through the study of seven recorded compositions by composers ranging from Clare Fischer and Richie Beirach to Jim Snidero and Heiner Wiberny, Bill Dobbins gives experienced insight into the role of the pianist in the rhythm section as well as the interpretation of the notated piano parts.
Many excerpts of piano comping and solos from the recordings are included with helpful analysis, as well as organised exercises for internalizing the vocabulary of chord voicings, rhythmic comping patterns and other material that represent essential skills of the big band pianist. The seven pieces are introduced according to their level of difficulty, and the accompanying CD includes a listening version, where the volume level of the piano is raised slightly so that it can be easily heard, as well as a play-along version in which the piano is muted.
Although the first four pieces are accessible to pianists with beginning to intermediate jazz experience, the last three provide an invaluable study of more advanced technics for performing the demanding repertoire encountered in more experienced ensembles. As a result of this approach, the book is designed to be of practical use for jazz pianists at all levels of experience.
The repertoire covers many jazz styles from Basie to Latin and African-influenced music to ECM and contemporary jazz (the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Bob Brookmeyer, etc.). There is an extensive discography included for further listening as well as a brief list of recordings that are stylistically similar to each of the seven recorded arrangements.