The Jazz Theory Book

by Mark Levine

(1995) Sher Music #1-883217-04-0

Description Comprehensive treatment of jazz theory
Posted By John Rice (551)
Directory Books/Tab: Theory/Fundamentals
Rate/Review This Resource
Overall Rating: 5.0 (of 5)
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Member Reviews


On 7/11/2001, Doug McMullen (6014) posted:
Overall Rating:
I think I'll review Robert Silvia's review and say I think he nailed it. 5 stars to Robert's review. If you've been working at theory for a while this book will really help you put it all together (ok, I'm not done with the book yet... but I'm just dang excited by what I've gotten so far). It's _NOT_ just a theory book/reference book. It's really "a how to learn Jazz inside and out book." Including tips on practicing, listening, etc. Some of Levine's stuff is idiosyncratic... but once you get into his take on things... it makes sense. Levine has taken great pains to write a _useful_ book. You can tell he wants you to dig in, understand whats going on, and learn.

Finally, I don't think this book is suitable for beginner beginners. You should be familiar with standard notation, harmonizing a scale, and the general idea behind modes before dropping the $38 on this book. But if you've got some guitar under your belt, and wanna play bebop... man oh man, this looks like the real deal.
Suitable for intermediate guitarists
On 5/23/2001, Huw Murdoch (996) posted:
Overall Rating:
THis is the mother of Jazz theory books. In a short while, I have been able to arrange little bits of random knowledge into a much better understanding of Jazz. Levine goes from basic scales right through to advanced reharmonization of songs, in a clear way with tons of examples from great tunes. He also provides a huge list of recorrdings to listen to, stressing the importance of listening which is great. Much of his stuff needs to be looked at over and over before you understand it, but I think it is for all levels because he starts right at the basics and it has something for everyone. If nothing else, this book will help you come to grips with reading music, because all his voicings are quite complex, it is probably better to have access to a keyboard.
Suitable for all skill levels of guitarists
On 5/7/2001, Robert Silvia (1575) posted:
Overall Rating:
Having studied classical Harmony, this book was a humbling experience for me to say the least. Mark Levine has really done an incredible job here explaining a very difficult subject, this is the first theory book that I have read through and understood it in the first pass. At least 50% of the material presented in this book I have not seen in any other book (and I have quite a few books).

OK there are a few things about the book that gave me a little trouble.

1. Even though this book is written for any instrument, the chord voicings are written for the piano. This is more of a problem for guitarist; you will need to know your instrument well to construct (or find an alternated voicing) some of the voicings he presents.

2. Since Mark is so specific if you have studied any theory elsewhere you are going to find contradictions in this book.

I would recommend this book to musicians with a strong understanding of music fundamentals, and a very good understanding the fret board.
Suitable for intermediate guitarists
On 8/2/2000, Jim Kangas (1957) posted:
Overall Rating:
Definitely one of the best theory books around (Mark has also written a "Piano" book as well which is also of value to guitar players). The great thing about this book is that everything is annotated with examples from classic jazz recordings - you can always go play the record to hear what he's talking about. He covers major scale harmony, melodic minor harmony, reharmonization, and lots more (including some excellent chapters on improvisation). If you are a serious jazzer (or just musician) this book is indispensable.
Suitable for all skill levels of guitarists
On 1/1/2000, Omer Rauchwerger (125) posted:
Overall Rating:
Mark Levine's book is exactly what I have been looking for... it contains very wide ranged information, beginners will find it a bit hard. The book itself is written for all instruments, but you can see it is mostly intended for the pianist. Being a harmonica player, I find it hard to play, since sometimes it lacks lead lines, but I get by, I record the chords on my acoustic and play with it.

Very comprehensive book, for a very low price.

Good for life.
Suitable for all skill levels of guitarists
On 11/28/1999, John Rice (551) posted:
Overall Rating:
I rate this book for all levels because I think you can use it a life time. If you are a beginner, much of it will be over your head. However, there is enough to get you started, and started off on the right foot. If you are an expert, you'll find a wealth of advice and inspiration.
Suitable for all skill levels of guitarists