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“Take Five”…and Check Out Our Jazz Titles

Although the majority of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) Music Section’s collection deals with classical music, we also have a wide array of materials dedicated to the great American art form–jazz. In this blog post, I will detail some of the special format materials in our collection that jazz enthusiasts and musicians alike will enjoy.

Jazz Appreciation and Listening:

Ralph Gleason’s Jazz Casual Series
Anyone who has casually or seriously studied jazz has most likely come across Ralph Gleason’s groundbreaking series Jazz Casual. This television series ran on National Education Television (a predecessor of the Public Broadcasting Service [PBS]) from 1961-1968. These 30 minute episodes contained interviews and performances with famous jazz musicians. We have two recordings of these episodes in our collection, from saxophonist John Coltrane and pianist Earl “Fatha” Hines.

DBM 00117 (audio): John Coltrane Quartet
DBM 00054 (audio): Fatha Hines Groove

Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz
Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz has the honor of being the longest running cultural program on National Public Radio (NPR). Over the show’s 33 year run, McPartland interviewed numerous musicians in the jazz and pop crossover scene.  Although we have quite a few more from Piano Jazz, below is a brief selection of episodes including an interview with blind pianist George Shearing.

DBM 01238 (audio): Roy Eldridge
DBM 01242 (audio): George Shearing
DBM 01241 (audio): Cecil Taylor

Other History & Appreciation Titles

DBM 03615 (audio): A History of Jazz: the New York Scene by Samuel B. Charters
LPM 00512 (large print): Listening to Jazz by Jerry Coker
LPM 00253 (large print): Music is My Mistress by Duke Ellington
DBM 00183 (audio): Charlie Mingus Speaks Out: A Documentary on the Great Musician Turned Social Reformer

Sheet Music & Method Books

For the jazz musicians out there, we have a collection of sheet music and method books. Below is a selection from the collection.

For Piano
These famous tunes have been arranged for solo piano in braille.

BRM 35951 (braille): One O’Clock Jump by Count Basie
BRM 35937 (braille): Giants of Jazz Piano with selections by Dave Brubeck, Art Tatum, George Shearing, Duke Ellington, Marian McPartland, Matt Dennis, David Benoit, and Bill Evans
BRM 27688 (braille): Caravan by Duke Ellington
BRM 29700 (braille): King Porter Stomp by Jelly Roll Morton

Photo of the Count Basie Orchesra a the Savoy Ballroom, Chicago, Illinois

Photo of the band [Count Basie Orchestra] at the Savoy Ballroom. Chicago, Illinois. Photo by Russell Lee, Apr. 1941. //loc.gov/pictures/resource/fsa.8c00885/

For Bb Tenor Saxophone
For saxophonists, we have two tunes by the eminent saxophonist Coleman Hawkins and another by Georgie Auld and Al Killian, two great big band musicians who worked with Dizzy Gillespie.

BRM 20311 (braille): Georgie Porgie by Georgie Auld and Al Killian
BRM 20312 (braille): Disorder at the Border by Coleman Hawkins
BRM 20314 (braille): Feeling Zero by Coleman Hawkins

Method Books
As my grandfather always told me, the only way to become a better musician is to “practice, practice, practice!” Below are some exercise books in braille and audio to help those learning jazz.

BRM 25359 (braille): An Introduction to Jazz Improvisation by Ray Brown
DBM 01305 (audio): Ear Training by Matt Glaser
BRM 35952 (braille): Patterns for Improvisation by Oliver Nelson
DBM 01282 (audio): Play by Ear and Improvise by Gale Pederson

And here are some specifically for jazz pianists:

DBM 03010 (audio): Advanced Keyboard Harmonies by Bill Irwin
DBM 03012 (audio): Fills: How to Fill Those Empty Spaces by Bill Irwin
DBM 03014 (audio): The Versatility of Diminished Chord Progressions by Bill Irwin
BRM 19769, 29126, 35921, 35895 (braille): Jazz Improvisation, Books 1-4 by John Mehegan
BRM 34308 & LPM 00709 (braille & large print): Jazz and Contemporary Chord Symbol Reading for the Blind Pianist by Richard Taesch

If you are interested in borrowing any of our special format music material, please contact the NLS Music Section.

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