First it was "Trad Jazz Play-alongs" in the August 2006 RAG (print edition), then the sequel, "More Trad Jazz Play-alongs" in the June 2007 RAG (PDF online edition), and now the final chapter in our saga, the breathlessly anticipated "Bride of Trad Jazz Play-alongs" in this new web edition of the RAG. This is the completion of our alphabetical survey of special recordings on the market that omit your instrument, allowing you to step into that role for practice purposes. As before, TJEN believes these materials to be available as described at the prices shown, but no guarantees are made, nor are any endorsements/recommendations implied. Prices do not include postage unless otherwise indicated. For a full listing of available trad jazz play-alongs, visit the TJEN website and click on "Teaching Resources."
Jamey Aebersold Play-along Book & Recording Sets. Aebersold's extensive series of recordings has been the "bible" of student improvisers for decades. While the vast majority of them are devoted to contemporary jazz styles, the series includes Vol. 100, St. Louis Blues: Traditional Dixieland Classics, as well as several volumes that include swing or pop tunes that are commonly played by traditional jazz musicians. These include Vol. 39, Swing, Swing, Swing; Vol. 51, Night and Day; Vol. 71, East of the Sun; Vol. 79, Avalon; and Vol. 80, Indiana. I've auditioned Vol. 100, which comes in a single edition, with separate sections in the music book for C, Bb, Eb, and bass clef instruments. The CD contains 16 standards (including multi-strain tunes) performed as rhythm section accompaniments. Each track consists of five to 15 rather laid-back choruses for you to stretch out on. Some of the routines employed here depart from standard convention, going through an unfamiliar sequence of strains and keys. Banjo and piano are confined to the left and right channels respectively, so that players of those instruments can eliminate them in the playback. The music book is in "fake book" ("lead sheet") format, and lyrics are included. The Aebersold sets named above are priced at $14.90 or $15.90 each. Available from Jamey Aebersold Jazz Inc., P.O. Box 1244, New Albany, IN 47151-1244, tel (1-800)456-1388, [www.jazzbooks.com].
Jazz Player Magazine, Volume 3 No. 1 (Dec/Jan 1996). This magazine includes a play-along CD in every issue. The Dec/Jan 1996 issue contained a play-along CD devoted to trad jazz, and copies are still available. This issue accommodates Bb, C and Eb instruments. The CD contains nine tunes played in an authentic style by a full banjo-tuba band, Chuck Stewart's Crackerjack Jazz Band, which includes (among others) Dave Whitney on trumpet, Ed Metz Sr. on piano, and Jimmy Mazzy on banjo. The selections comprise a mix of standards, lesser-played tunes, and two Metz originals, including a couple of two-strain tunes. Presumably for copyright reasons, "Buddy Bolden's Blues" appears here as "St. Louis Tickle," "Storyville Blues" as "Those Draftin' Blues," and "Shake That Thing" as "Three Flat Stomp". The full band plays ensemble choruses and takes solos, with choruses left open for you to take solos against the rhythm section. The magazine includes lead sheets written in C, Bb and Eb (no lyrics). $15. Available from Dorn Publications Inc., P.O. Box 206, Medfield, MA 02052, [www.dornpub.com].
Keith Nichols Presents Vintage Jazz Play-Along by Keith Nichols. I have not auditioned this ambitious set, which consists of chord sheets and eight CDs, each containing 15 tunes. £15 per volume or £99 for the set. Available from Party Jazz, 26 Harold Rd., London E11 4QY, England, tel 020-8539-5229.
New Orleans Classics. This set comes in seven editions: trumpet, clarinet, tenor sax, trombone, piano, bass, and drums. The two CDs contain 10 tunes performed by Tim Laughlin's New Orleans All-Stars, which, in addition to Laughlin on clarinet, includes Connie Jones on trumpet, Tom Fischer on tenor sax, and Hal Smith on drums. The full-band recordings run in succession and are followed by the minus-one versions in succession. These in turn are followed by electronically-slowed versions of four of the minus-one tracks, for beginners. You play during the ensemble passages and during your instrument's solo choruses. The repertoire here is a mix of standards, not-so-standards, and original tunes by Laughlin, including several multi-strain tunes. In my trumpet version, the music book has the lead lines written out in trumpet key, with chord symbols for solo passages. $24.98 each. Available from Music Minus One, Theodore Front Musical Literature, 50 Executive Blvd., Elmsford, NY 10523-1325, tel (1-800)669-7464, [www.musicminusone.com].
Twenty Dixieland Classics. This set comes in a single edition for trumpet or clarinet. In my copy, clarinet is present throughout the recording, but I understand this set has now been remastered, so that may no longer be the case. The two CDs contain a total of 20 tunes performed by the Dixieland All Stars. In my copy, each short track is heard twice in a row on the CDs. You play melody throughout; there are no solo choruses. Intros and endings are arranged. The repertoire includes some lesser-played tunes within the idiom, but there are strains missing. The music book has the melody written out in your key, plus a suggested countermelody with chords; no lyrics. In my copy, the CD tracks are incorrectly numbered on the front cover - the correct sequence is on pg. 11 (in the middle of the music). Perhaps this too has been fixed in the new version. $29.98. Available from Music Minus One, Theodore Front Musical Literature, 50 Executive Blvd., Elmsford, NY 10523-1325, tel (1-800)669-7464, [www.musicminusone.com].
When Jazz Was Young. This set is for the advanced player, and comes in a single edition for trumpet/clarinet/tenor sax. The CD's 11 tunes are performed in a swing/mainstream trad style by the Bob Wilber All Stars, a full band that includes trumpeter Buck Clayton, tenor saxophonist Bud Freeman, trombonist Vic Dickenson, and other now-departed giants. The mostly familiar tunes are presented as arrangements, with occasional key changes. The full ensemble plays and the players take solos, leaving places for you to play lead and take solos. In the music book, the melody and scored sections are written out in your key. No lyrics. Solo choruses and ad-lib ensemble sections are shown in fake book format (sometimes just voicings, with or without chord names). The High Society clarinet solo is written out. $24.98 each. Available from Music Minus One, Theodore Front Musical Literature, 50 Executive Blvd., Elmsford, NY 10523-1325, tel (1-800)669-7464, [www.musicminusone.com].
That's all we know of at this point in time. But a drummer friend of mine tells me he recently participated in a recording session for yet another traditional jazz play-along to be published by Music Minus One. Watch for it!