Influential books

Technical Books

Any and all books by David N. Baker. He was my teacher at Indiana University and I can’t begin to tell you all how much he helped me. While I would suggest that you study with him directly if possible, his books are full of a wealth of information that will definitely benefit any student of music.

A Chromatic Approach to Jazz Harmony and Melody
David Liebman
ASIN: 3892210306

This book solidified a lot of the concepts that I learned from David N. Bakerwhile at Indiana University. That shouldn’t be taken as a slam against David. On the contrary, he presents that material so solidly and extensively. I think what happened for me was that I was final at a point where, when I looked at this material again, I could see how to incorporate it into my playing and writing.

Self-portrait of a jazz artist : musical thoughts and realities
David Liebman
ISBN: 3892210136

What a great opportunity to take a peek inside the thoughts of one of the greats in jazz.

Devloping a Personal Saxophone Sound
David Liebman

I happened upon this book at just the right time. Just as I was really searching for my own voice (both as a saxophonist and an improvisor), I found some amazing information in this book. I would highly recommend this book to any saxophonist interested in honing their technique, tone and overall knowledge of the instrument. Short of studying will Joe Allard (Liebman’s teacher) or Liebman himself, this book might help you get there.

Biographies, Analyses

Ascension : John Coltrane and His Quest
Eric Nisenson
ISBN: 0306806444

This was an enjoyable read about Coltrane’s third development stage. Not a biograpy per se but much more than an anlysis.

Blue : The Murder of Jazz
Eric Nisenson
ISBN: 0312167857

I always enjoy reading about these “current state of jazz” and its future ideas. Everyone’s has their own and is entitled to it. But I always learn something when I read these. I dug it.

Miles : The Autobiography
Miles Davis, Quincy Troupe
ISBN: 0671725823

A very entertaining book from one of the most influential musicians to have graced the planet. How could you pass this one up?

Spiritual Books

Effortless Mastery
Kenny Werner
ISBN: 156224003X

Kenny Werner has written a truly insightful book I think every musician should read. I think we as musicians tend to become overly attached to the music we make. So much so that it inhibits the possibilities that lie before us. Kenny talks a lot about getting out of the way and letting the music flow through you. I fully subscribe to that idea. I know from experience that I play my best when I’m relaxed and sit back and watch the music happen all around me. The moment I try to push it, the magic is lost.

The Musical Life: what it is and how to live it
W. A. Mathieu
ISBN: 0-87773-670-7

This isn’t a “music geek” book at all. Its actually really amazing in that it speaks about the spiritual side of music so honestly and humbly – you can’t help but be drawn in and probably learn something about your ears. Equally valuable for non-musicians and musicians.

On Being Human

The New Peoplemaking
Virginia Satir
ISBN: 0831400706

From my work taking the Pairs course (, this book taught me a lot about being human.

Victories of the Heart
Robert Mark and Buddy Portugal
ISBN: 1852308001

The two authors reflect on their experiences leading a men’s group. There are numerous stories of how the human spirit can triumph over any painful experience if we let it. And often that involves sharing your story, empathisizing with another and, basically, bonding with your fellow man. Something society seems to be trying to prevent.

A Scream Away from Happiness
Dr. Caswell
out of print

If you ever find this book BUY IT! It is one of the most moving pieces of literature I’ve ever read. Dr. Caswell was among the first to use encounter group therapy for drug addicts. But soon after he saw that it was also extremely powerful among all his patients. Among other things, those groups let the participants be honest with each other. So honest, in fact, that many patients are shown, in vivid detail, how they’re hindering their own lives. An intriguing look at how we play games to cover up our anxieties.

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