View Full Version : Real Books

Mar-09-2004, 2:23pm

I am thinking about buying a few books to beef up on my technique and theory, and would like to know if anyone has some 'go to' books that they continually reference.

I am really interested in buying a really good 'Real (Fake) Book' that covers a lot of standards, as well as some of the Jamie Aebersold books to increase my theory/improv, but jeez, there are so many!

Can anyone recommend some of their favorites?


Pete Martin
Mar-10-2004, 10:15am
"The New Real Book" series by Sher Publishing is great. Make sure you get the books the are in standard keys (key of C), not the books for Bb or Eb instruments.

I have a lot of the Abersold series. For starters the "Blues in all keys" and II V I books are good. Also I recommend "Getting it Together".

I think the software Band in a Box is just as good as the Abersold collections, plus YOU can pick the tempo. A combination of BB and Aebersold is way cool.

Best of luck!

Seth Rosen
Mar-10-2004, 5:15pm
I like "The Ultimate Jazz Fake book" by Herbert Wong better than the Sher Real Book as a source of more older standards (30s, 40s) and also has lyrics

Mar-12-2004, 8:09am

Where do you find the Abersold books? I used them when I was studying jazz improv and loved 'em, but the backing tracks where on vinyl and sadly I do not have a turn table any more...

Mar-12-2004, 8:35am
of course I have to state the obvious, sorry bout that....

make sure you get a book with mostly suitable keys.(for the guitar) I see sooo many fake books that have a really small C instrument section, and a whopping Bb, Eb, Ab section, which of course is no problem for us, but if you play with an "intermediate" guitar player, as I do, that can be kinda brutal, bar chording all night... I have one of these "flat key" books myself, whenever I really like a song, I change it into one of the 5 easy keys or their minors, whatever...I think almost all the fake books for jazz or "standards" ,, they seem to almost all have the same stuff. I try to find unusual ones, but no luck yet... if you do gig, maybe try to find one that isnt too heavy....

anyway, unless you really like to practise your transposing skills, I would look for a book with a lot of guitar friendly keys.

Ted Eschliman
Mar-12-2004, 11:41am
Where do you find the Abersold books?
Here's your link for Aebersold:
www.jazzbooks.com (http://www.jazzbooks.com)
If your experience dates back to when these were still vinyl, you aren't going to believe how much is available now!
This is a tremendous resource for any jazzer, with the caveat that you are fluent with standard notation. I've got 5 or 6 of the "Play alongs" (CD of course), and have a ball with them.

Now as far as "guitar friendly" keys, I'd have to throw out the idea that many (if not most) of the good standards contain 5 or 6 (or more) tonal centers, despite having one key signature.
"Satin Doll" takes you through C, D, Gb, F, G, and ends in C. "Have You Met Miss Jones" takes you through F, G, Gb, D, etc., and I hate to even get into "'Round Midnight."
Seems you'd really be misdirecting your energies in avoiding "unfriendly" keys, as opposed to just digging in and learning them.

Mar-12-2004, 12:20pm
Gotta go with Pete, Jeff and Ted on the endorsement of the Aebersold Series! #Although I've never used 'em for woodshedding on the mando, I've used 'em quite a bit for playin' around on my trumpet... great resourse - and FUN!!

BTW - Ted... Jazz guru?? #WOW! #I've never been an anything-guru! #I'm impressed! #I'm envisioning you high on a mountaintop overlooking Lincoln, "Ol' Blue" in hand, sackcloth draped over your torso, an eight-stringed rendition of Miles' "So What?" wafting through the thin, Nebraska air... ahhh... errr... there are mountaintops in Lincoln, right??


Richard Polf
Mar-12-2004, 1:59pm
Re "Guitar Friendly" keys:

In jazz there is really no such thing. You are expected to play the tune in the generally accepted key for that tune. As far as playing "Barre" chords all night: barre chords are considered unacceptable for jazz players due to the thick sound they produce. Jazz Guitar makes use of the "movable forms" (also called "orchestra chords" in the Big Band Era) which make use of 3 or 4 string forms played on the different string sets (i.e., 6543, 6432, 5432 and 4321). Quite often these are "partial" voicings without the Root so as not to conflict with the Bass and/or Piano in a combo situation. Once learned, these 5 forms give the guitarist a system that enables playing in all keys (even "horn" keys---which are usually the flat keys---such as F, Bb, Eb, Ab) with equal facility. These are the basis for jazz comping and chord melody. Playing jazz standards requires facility in all keys (which means a lot of work for the "pinky" on the mandolin). #

(In re-reading Jeff's post, I wonder if he hasn't confused editions of books transposed for instruments built in different keys, i.e., Eb, Bb, etc., with playing in specific keys.)

Richard Polf
Mar-12-2004, 2:32pm
"Seems you'd really be misdirecting your energies in avoiding "unfriendly" keys, as opposed to just digging in and learning them."
---Ted Eschliman

I couldn't agree more! As a sometime theory instructor (at the community college level)and guitar teacher, I've taught many guitarists to learn to read music and to learn to play in all keys. I've said soooo many times---if you can read TAB you can read music! Then the whole world of music is open to you. Trust me, it's not that hard. I went through it myself (many) years ago. If you really want to play jazz, just sit down and do it! It's mainly just a matter of getting past a mental block.

I'm looking forward to the day when I can walk in to a jam session full of sax players with my mandolin and not get weird looks. Oh well...at least they don't make fun of my Tacoma # http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif #!

John Goodin
Mar-12-2004, 6:15pm
I agree completely that it's important to be able to play jazz standards in their standard, commonly-used keys. I agree that's important to be able to play (and read) in all keys. The Aebersold materials are great for making that kind of learning fun.

One of my pet peeves, though, is only playing jazz standards in the usual keys. Why are there almost no jazz standards commonly played in A major? Because horn players don't want to go there! At your next session with a sax or trumpet guy suggest playing a tune normally in Eb down a half step in D and see what reaction you get.

The open strings of the mandolin are potentially a source of great beauty and I think it's OK to play tunes in keys that make the most of our instrument. But it shouldn't be an excuse for not learning to play in Ab, that's important too.

Just my two cents,

John Goodin

Ted Eschliman
Mar-12-2004, 6:36pm
Okay, not to add any "heat" to this thread, but let's take for example, one of my favorite tunes, "I Can't Get Started" (Duke/Gershwin).
Commonly used key signature is C (maj), but we transition through tonal centers of A, Bb, G, Gb, with a quick secondary dominant in D minor. That's all even before we get to the Bridge, which centers around D.
Now, which are you going to pick for your "guitar-friendly" or "open-string" friendly?
If all those key relationships are to be represented, you'll drive yourself crazy picking a key, or more likely one who isn't familiar with the chromatic nuances will just blow through them and not bother.
The "open string" concept is dead-on right if you're doing folk/bluegrass/rock with its one or two key center confinements, #but if you're tackling the lush chromaticism of a jazzed up Broadway show tune, the issue isn't which key works for my instrument, but what key(s) is the rest of the players use to playing in (without any rehearsal)? This particular song is not all that unusual.
Add a singer to the mix, and it really is important to not fear the heavily flatted or sharped keys.

John Goodin
Mar-13-2004, 12:36am
Ted, I hope you read this as good-natured grousing and not any attempt to challenge decades of jazz tradition and, certainly not, your expertise. As I said before I'm all in favor of learning to play standard tunes in the standard keys and trying to be fluent in all keys.

I'm lucky if I can even blow through "I Can't Get Started" in C major, much less master its nuances, but I'll take C over Db any day. For all its harmonic richness, though, I still think of it as being "in C."

I think part of my point is that many tunes are commonly played in certain keys because those keys are friendlier for saxes and trumpets to play in. I don't get to play very often with horn players but, when I do, I always expect to play where they want to play. When I play harmonically more interesting tunes with guitars and violins there's a tendency to gravitate toward sharp keys. A lot of times a jazz guy will think of a Bb blues as an easy ice-breaker but a comparable comfort zone for a mando might be A or D.

I think it's one thing to play in "easy" keys as a crutch but something else to choose a different key because of how the music will sound. I agree completely that in a jam session or on a gig when we need to find common ground it's counter-productive to ask people to play tunes in non-standard keys. I certainly wouldn't recommend that anyone spend money on a fakebook that presents standard tunes in abnormal keys. If I spent 10 hours practicing for every dollar I've spent on fakebooks and jazz educational materials over the last 30 years I'd be a lot better player.

Just another two cents. Not trying to raise the temperature of this discussion (although it is kind of cold tonight in northeast Iowa).

John Goodin

Ted Eschliman
Mar-13-2004, 7:31am
John, you've certainly got me on the "blues" thing, and your example of "icebreaker" Blues in the key of Bb, is absolutely correct. Go to a guitar jam, it's going to be E or A, which tansposed for a trumpet, yields F# or B. Alto Sax would be an uncivil C# or F#. (Hardly comfortable for them!)
Consider my own bias, I was a trombone major in college. I absolutely hated playing in orchestra, the "string" keys were so foreign. I'm in complete agreement about the "unfairness" with tunes that don't stray much from the original tonal center, and certainly the blues would be of that nature.
Another thing we all need to consider is the fact that the mandolin has kind of come into the jazz thing pretty late in the game. Much as I don't like it, the sax and trumpet have pretty much defined the genre, with piano and guitar weighing in a bit, too. We are frankly, about 50 years late in the game, so we have to live by the "conventions" and practices established by our windy brethren.
Not fair, until we make the decision to "lump it" and dig into all 12 keys.
Good point about the blues.
Oh, as far as "heat," I'm saving my more emotionally charged sentiments for when the topic evolves into whether or not it's appropriate to play jazz on a Gibson...

Mar-13-2004, 8:35am
Dick Flop. OOPS!!! Wrong thread...

Mar-13-2004, 2:59pm
Do those Aebersold books work for mando too or is it guitar specific? I played with a few people last night and we ended up doing some jazz which I really don't know how to play (my playing is mainly grassy, but I want to learn how to play other genres also!)


Richard Polf
Mar-14-2004, 2:32am

Say what?

Richard http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rock.gif

Richard Polf
Mar-14-2004, 9:03pm

As long as you can read notation the Aebersold books will work---they're not instrument specific---just be sure to buy the "C Instrument" edition(s), and treble clef, of course. You'll have a great time! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif


Mar-16-2004, 7:16am
Back to another part of the original questions ... What I found is a great Jazz Theory book is offered by Mel Bay # (http://www.melbay.com/product.asp?productid=97845BCD) as the Jazz Theory Handbook by Peter Spitzer. This is a general theory book written in notation with a lot of exercises and explanations.

The first three chapters / sections (out of ten chapters and four appendix') are labled 1/ Intervals and Scales, 2/ Chord Building and 3/ Chord Movement: Harmonic Cliche's. The way this is presented is elegant and simple, it's my aging brain which is having a hard time in really exploring the material.

It seems the problem I have is - when I get an exercise or explanation working under my fingers, it sounds so neat I kind of get lost exploring it all over the fretboard. Staying focused with nifty, different sounds is very difficult.


P.S. This is being offered by an eBay book dealer with a fairly good discount - including the CD. I got my copy from Elderly but they don't list it anymore.

Mar-16-2004, 5:10pm
The good news is that the mandolin offers a symettry of tuning that guitarists (unless you use the Fripp/Stanley Jordan tuning E A D G C F) can only dream of. When you get the lay of the land on the fingerboard, and figure out your octave transpositions of fingerings, switching keys is rather easy, as all the shapes are interconnected in a simple double helix continuum... hope that helps!

As far as "guitar-friendly" goes, when you are talking about jazz, many tunes modulate like crazy anyway. You'll never find a "guitar friendly" key for "Cherokee"; besides, you don't have to play barre chords all night, Freddie Green used 3 note chords with no barres, and could be heard chunking, acoustically, under the Count Basie Orchestra.

Really, they are all guitar (mando, ocarina) friendly once you get to know them. Db and Gb just act a little stuck up at times. they loosen up after a few drinks. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wow.gif

Make friends with all the keys as a player and don't let the instrument play you. Instrument-friendly keys are for bluegrass and traditional forms, which rely on the timbre of open strings, not jazz (although most jazz players would do well to play in open position on occasion, instead of ignoring it! Wes Montgomery is about the only jazz guitarist I've seen play "down the neck"). Horn players have to play in all keys- even A! Most rock bands make the horn players play in E- revenge? Anyway, if they can deal with it, so can we.

Besides, there's only 4 keys anyway http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mad.gif #I know, just a little #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif

Ted Eschliman
Mar-16-2004, 7:12pm
Besides, there's only 4 keys anyway
Amen, Brother McGann!...
FFcP (http://members.aol.com/teesch/FFCP.html)

Mar-17-2004, 12:54pm
"a simple double helix continuum... "

I thought that was just another name for the scroll http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/cool.gif

Mar-23-2004, 7:55pm
Real Books still exist.

and all of these other "Real real fake real books" are a load of junk.

honestly, invest the time and effort into finding a real "real book" you will never EVER regret it.

a buddy of mine has one in Bb and ive got one in Eb and the guitarist that we played with had one in C along with the piano player.

honestly, try to find an origional one.

Brian Ray
Mar-26-2004, 10:40am
I would have to concur with the folks saying there is only ONE "Real Book" and in addition, the ultimate version for mandolin is the "Baby Real Book"...

Mar-26-2004, 11:15am
I think you are misunderstanding my motives... I have been reading music since I can remember.... I am not avoiding any kind of learning or reading at all. I'll play in C#, and I will sight read it too. dig in and learn?... please.. treat me with some respect here... I been playing guitar and piano with real lessons since FOREVER, I played in my school orchestra and jazz band , even in elementary school, middle, high ....

I am speaking in work horse terms.
I play 3 hours a at my regular gig. one break.
you can talk all the theory and what you should do all you want... the point is, a guitar player who has to bar chord a classical guitar all night, three hours, is a VERY tired guitar player... why suffer? I like to transpose... misdirect my time,,, my friend, you have no idea what kind of time I have.... I work with my family business so I have freedom, and I am studying music in school... I think , on the contrary, if you DONT take time to transpose tunes,,, then you are "avoiding" music technicalities... but to each his own.....

but keep in mind,, you can ask me to play in any key, and I am used to transposing,, so I can do it almost immediately now,,
if you dont practise transposing.. how can you do it quickly, what do you do when the band you are sitting in with , plays a song in a different key, are you just going to sit out, becuase you never did that before.

sorry for that rant, but I have never heard someone argue that transposing is bad..
maybe for a student, as the "teacher" upstairs mentioned, maybe a student should take the tunes as they come, but an advanced student should play around with them. and I can transpose a jazz chart in minutes.

Mar-26-2004, 11:15am
sorry bout that , but you guys totally rubbed me the wrong way there.

just a question, how many of you guys play gigs, play three hour gigs?
does your guitar player play in Eb, Bb, Ab, Db, all night long?

sure, you guys are thinking,well the oringal guy played it in this key, well true
--but then he wasnt using your fake book either!!!!
maybe his next song was in G

so, what I am saying, is not that I NEVER play in Eb,Ab, Db ,,
I just dont play in Eb, Db, Ab ALL NIGHT LONG
I still play MIsty in Eb, "all the things you are" in Ab,
but Georgia on my MInd, I switched to G maj. get the idea?
I cant give you anything but love, I switched to C maj
my LImehouse blues sheet was in Db, well grapelli plays it in C, and I like it better in C, it fits on the mandolin better.....

you can be verbatim to your chart, but that isnt the jazz thing to do, my opinion..

in short, I use these songs. In my living room with the comfort of my home, I can play anything and take a million breaks, but at a gig, I work like a dog. #I play many songs in Eb,Ab, Db, Ab, but I rewrite a good many of them, they are just plain and simple, more physically demanding...

Mar-26-2004, 11:37am
you guys are aware that it is common practise to arrange music for a particular instrument?

I am not the only person in the world doing this...

this is what people do,,, when you see a score , "arranged for...."
someone took a piece of music , and transposed or arranged it to fit a particualar instrument....

I think what I am doing is quite common and actually healthy.

maybe some of you could write to james abersold and tell him to stop transposing music! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif

Mar-26-2004, 11:48am

Brian Ray
Mar-26-2004, 11:50am
Brothers sisters, come together...

In all music, one chooses a key for a song that best suits their needs or works well for their instrument. When one becomes two (playing with others), then there is a choice to be made. It can be quite useful to know the "standard" key but whatever works... works. All of this should be pretty obvious... and anyone who condems either of these ideas is... well... wrong.

Now we were talking about Fake Books...

Mar-26-2004, 11:57am
now this guitar player is a "real pro", he never does a day of work.....accept to teach... he is a real musician.....and a professional "performer" of music.
he has been teaching me since I was about seven, when we moved to florida...I took lessons at someone's house in Atlanta before that... I dont remember his name, but my sister does I am sure, she took lessons there too and she ws older
when I play with him, we dont have to adjust anything for anything,, he is much more trained and experienced than the guy I gig with regularly...

Mar-26-2004, 12:11pm
like dasspunk says, when you play with someone else, you have to work together as a team.... when you sit in with other bands, it is THEIR team, you are just sitting in for a round... when it is your band, then it is your team, if you are the boss...

if your "team" is like mine, a mutual agreement, not a boss /worker relationship, then you do what works for both of you.

Richard Polf
Mar-26-2004, 1:21pm
If what I wrote was one of the posts that offended you, I am truly sorry --- I meant no "put down" of your skills or knowledge. I am a music teacher by trade and I just wanted to participate in the dialogue.

I was speaking to your concern about about a guitar player having to play "barre" chords all night in order to play in the flat keys. Yes, jazz guitarists can, and do play in Bb, Eb, Ab, Db all night long, but they do not use "barre" chords, which, yes, would be much too taxing. Rather, as I said above, they use the "movable forms", which do not require a "barre" and are thus much easier on the hand. If a guitarist learns the 5 forms (for Major, Maj7, m7, Dom7, dim7) they form a system that can be moved up and down the neck so that playing in the key of Db is just as easy as playing in the key of C. This is the wonderful advantage that string players have over horn players, who have to learn different fingerings for each key. I was a saxophone #major in college, and getting around in B major is a lot more difficult than in C. There are many reasons to transpose a tune, but worrying your guitar player playing in the flat keys shouldn't be one of them.

Again, hope this did not offend.


Mar-26-2004, 1:23pm
make sure you get a book with mostly suitable keys.(for the guitar) I see sooo many fake books that have a really small C instrument section, and a whopping Bb, Eb, Ab section,
thats my original post, edited...

it basically says, to buy a C instrument fakebook

I think we should all agree on that.
the mandolin is more a C instrument than , say, an Eb? http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif

rpolf, you are almost right, accept I am not confused.... there are books with C sections, and then the horn player sections....

Mar-26-2004, 1:57pm
those chord forms are pretty rough on a classical guitar neck you know. your point is true, but you realize , thats an ideal situation... like when I gig with my teacher, he is real good, as I said before. to me, playing in any key is more of how you described it, I just move up or down, its not really a big deal.. for my usual gigging partner, he is not that great....he's 19, been playing trombone mostly, and picked up guitar without lessons, he reads treble clef good and he sight reads so he is useful. but his hands are puney. I hope to supplement or replace him sometime... but I love to gig so we arrange songs to work for us..

Mar-26-2004, 2:04pm
on a different but related subject, I am right now transposing "never on a sunday",
as you can see, I gig in an Italian restaurant, frequented and owned by Greeks, so this request always comes up.... we have been playing it in Eb, as it is written in our C inst. fake book

have you ever heard this song? its in D or A, right?
why did they change it? the fake book is wrong, it is "fake"

the real key is D or A, depending on whether they go by the 1st chord or the 2nd.

Mar-27-2004, 11:43am
Jeff, in my opinion (speaking as a guitarist and mandolinist) classical guitar repertoire is generally a hell of a lot more demanding of the left hand than barre chords- so a good guitarist should be up for it, regardless of if it's an archtop, dreadnought or classical (not that a jazz gig should require many barre chords, but that's personal taste).....the only people who care what key a tune is played in are the people you are playing with, and you can play everything in one key if it suits you and them...I'd rather play Limehouse Blues in G than Ab any day, then again, I happen to like first position more than most jazz players.