I've been a mediocre guitar player for many years, good enough to accompany myself singing and I've done fairly well playing solo gigs and in bands in years past, but I always felt that I have not learned music all the way and have not developed my musicianship to its full potential. So about 2 years ago I decided I wanted to go back and really learn music on piano/keyboard and really learn music theory and learn to read and write music and develop my ear to a level where I could transcribe music I hear and be able to write down musical ideas that I hear in my mind. I've still got a ways to go on those goals but I feel like I'm making steady progress on my piano/keyboard playing and now one of my sub goals is to learn to play from Fake Books aka Real Books which is what jazz musicians usually do. A lead sheet from a Fake Book/Real Book usually has the melody line notated and the chord symbols and the idea is to improvise around the melody and improvise your own arrangement for voicing the chords to harmonize the melody.

Aside: Historically, "Fake Books" were typically under the counter books that jazz musicians would buy from music stores or make for themselves in loose leaf binders and share with others. But this practice was often outside the rules of copyright law which is why they were sold under the counter as opposed to over the counter. The music publishing industry has tried to remedy this by publishing "Real Books" which have the licenses for publishing these copyrighted works so that the authors and composers get their royalties from the sale of the books.

Ok, so I got myself a Real Book of Jazz Standards to learn from but quickly realized that only a few of the songs were familiar to me and it got me to wondering how these songs became jazz standards and how I could get more familiar with them. So I found this book, The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire, which gives a bit of the history of the songs that the author considers as Standards and tells you about the various recordings and interpretations that have been done by various jazz artists. Some of the songs have come in and out of favor over the years so there are many opinions about which tunes should be considered standards and there are 6 volumes of Real Books for Jazz Standards reflecting some of those changes over time in the common repertoire. But the book is a good starting point for learning about the jazz standards and not intended to be all inclusive. I got the Kindle version of the book but in hindsight I would rather have the printed copy. While it is a book that you could read from front to back it is also the kind of book you could skip around and browse and the printed version would be better for that I think.


Now that is all well and good and stimulating to the curiosity and it makes me want to listen to those recordings mentioned in the book to hear the different ways that these tunes have been interpreted over time, but it would cost a whole lot of money to just go on a buying spree to obtain all of those recordings. Fortunately for those seeking a jazz education, in the age of Spotify one can listen to those songs at any time for free with advertisements or with no advertisements and a reasonable subscription price. I know I know streaming is killing the music business so they say, and records killed live music, and video killed the radio star and all that yadda yadda, but nevertheless there is something to be said for being able to listen to all that music that otherwise would be out of reach to a poor aspiring musician who wanted to educate him or herself with exposure to this large repertoire.

Anyway I worked my way through the book making a playlist on Spotify of all the ones I could find of the recordings mentioned in the book. I was able to find the majority of them and it took quite a while to create the playlist so I thought I should share it with others who like me may want to learn about the Jazz Standards repertoire.

 

This playlist can be useful for listening to multiple renditions of each song in a row to see how different the interpretations are, or you can set playback on shuffle and just enjoy a random stream of great jazz music.