Thursday, December 6, 2007

New Mark Levine Publication

Pianist-educator Mark Levine has written another in his series of great piano publications, "The Drop 2 Book" available from Sher Music Co. Drop 2 is a simple method in which a closed right hand voicing of the chord with the melody note in the top can be opened up for a different sound. The second note of the closed position voicing is dropped an octave. There can also be "drop 3" but drop 2 is the more common choice preferred by pianists and jazz arrangers. The book isspiral bound so it sits flat on your instrument and there is an attached CD with recordings of each example in the book.

"Chording" the melody of a tune, or the improvised melody for the more adventuresome, is a very common tool of the jazz pianist. Pianist George Shearing based his whole style on it. When Bill Evans was age 16 or so he went through a George Shearing period of practicing everything in a single or two handed chordal style. It's a fantastic way to really learn the harmony of a tune and applying it directly to a melody.

Mark starts with a sixth-chord approach on the chord tones and a diminished chord on passing tones. Then he gradually takes the user through "tweaked" versions of the chords to add different colors. Then the major seventh chord approach is explained and applied, giving a more modern like sound. The "tweaked" options become more plentiful and more demands are made upon the user to decide for himself if the resultant color is appropriate for the tune being played. The user may end up with fourth based chord voicing which is another technique, arrived at circuitously here.

To summarize, this book is a lot of fun to go through and can prove to be an invaluable step in developing a style vocabulary for the jazz pianist. Highly recommended.

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