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Jazz Etudes for Saxophone - Level3

24 Swing & Bop Studies for Tenor & Alto

by Randy Hunter

Review by Harri Rautiainen

You've got to love this book for several reasons. I seldom see a jazz etude book introducing new ideas and information in such a well thought-out, organized manner. And putting this all in a package introduces some new concepts.

Saxophonist Randy Hunter is a prolific author as well. He has published several jazz etude books and jazz combo arrangements for beginners and advancing students. The book at hand is definitely for more the advanced student, or the "upper level" student as Randy puts it.

I liked the structure of this book very much. Randy introduces four progressive difficulty levels for improvisation; starting from your garden flavour basic scales to altered scales and rhythmic variety. Randy's way of introducing jazz scales, e.g. mixolydian and dorian scales is very illuminating and pedagogic. In addition, the book is easy to use to both Bb and Eb sax players, even at the same time.

There are six sets of chord changes in which the 24 etudes are based. The first one is a 12-bar blues using jazz chord changes. The five others are based on known jazz standards either in AABA or ABAC format. Randy plays each one in the practice CD with accompaniment. In addition, there are two more tracks for each set (slow and fast) so you can play on top of the rhythm group, consisting of guitar, bass and drums. The comp is consistent and steady. It is a great feeling to play with top-notch musicians. (I sometimes had difficulties with some of the Aebersold play-along CDs when the rhythm group gets too "artistic".)

The etudes are creative and they progress from the easier to the more difficult, as mentioned above. This will guarantee that I will have plenty to study in the near future, too. Randy's tenor sax playing on the demo tracks is a real pleasure to listen to and is something to try to imitate.

If I have to find something to complain about this etude book, I would have to say that I would have preferred a more concise graphic design. The sheet music is very clear and easy to read, four bars a row. I did not like the mixing of different font families on every text page; it kind lost its impact. The dark grey background image on "Table of Contents" page does not improve the readability.

Overall Randy Hunter's Jazz Etudes for Saxophone, Complete Jazz Styles is not a book you will play once or twice through. This will last longer and will offer you many pleasurable playing moments.

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