Go ahead, ask me about the Western world and it’s relationship to books. The Jews are called “the people of the book,” and all three of the major Western religions, Judiasm, Christianity and Islam, are all based on sacred texts. So the worship is focused on gods, prophets, saints and beliefs, to be sure, but there is plenty of devotion left for the books themselves, and that way of thinking is an integral part of how we look at every other subject and endeavour.
If only we could find the perfect cookbook, home-improvement tome, great American novel, even self-help book, then that part (or even all) of life will fall into place, and all the answers will be contained therein.
That’s the thought with music books as well. Find any musician and ask how many instruction books they’ve bought over the years, and chances are (for guitarists especially) the number is staggering. Many (including myself) have probably spent as much or more on books as on gear — unless you have some very expensive instruments.
And we’re always hoping for the one book, the one author, the one approach that will open the gates and tell us exactly how and what to do to become the player we want to be. And sometimes this happens, even if it’s not just one book but maybe three, five or more that, together, provide the path toward mastery.
I keep a list of what I have that I want to keep close to the guitar (someday I will put in links for all of these):
Modern Guitar Method – William Leavitt
Building a Jazz Vocabulary – Mike Steinel
Jazz Guitar: Single Note Soloing Vol. 1 and 2 – Ted Greene
Modern Chord Progressions – Ted Greene
Mastering the Guitar – Gene Bertoncini
Essential Jazz Lines in the Style of Grant Green
Joe Pass Guitar Style
Joe Pass Guitar Chords
Joe Pass Guitar Method
The Harmonic Language of Jazz Standards – Marc Sabatella
Eddie Lang Modern Advanced Guitar Method
Charlie Parker Omnibook
George Van Eps Guitar Method
Improvising Handbook – Putter Smith
Fretboard Basics – Arnie Berle
And here are the books I don’t have but am interested in getting a look at (this list used to be a lot longer, but I’ve pared it down to what I’m really interested in):
Connecting Chords with Linear Harmony by Bert Ligon. Published by Houston Publishing.
Comprehensive Technique for Jazz Musicians by Bert Ligon
A Common Sense Approach to Improvisation for Guitar – Joe Negri
Jazz Etudes Over Classic Jazz Changes – George Benson
Voice Leading for Guitar: Moving Through the Changes – John Thomas
Linear Expressions – Pat Martino
Monster Chops – All by Jack Grassel (from his Web site)
Jazz Guitar Technique – Andrew Green
Jazz Guitar Structures – Andrew Green
Jazz Guitar Comping – Andrew Green (just released … go to http://www.chopsfactory.com for all three)
Talk Jazz – Roni Ben-Hur (www.ronibenhur.com)
Modern Harmonic Technique by Gordon Delamont ($30 from http://www.sheetmusicplus.com)
Creative Comping – Daniel Davis (Neil A. Kjos Music) (out of print)