Slick Licks That Stick! Book Review

by Russ Nolan

I recently purchased Tenor Saxophonist and Jazz Educator Bobby Stern’s e-book entitled Slick Licks That Stick! after discovering his B Natural jazz blog. Since digging in, I can’t put it down. It is now part of my daily practice. All this for two cups of coffee at Starbucks –$9.99!—think about it!

Slick Highlights That Stick for Jazz Education:

1)     With current technology in mind, the e-book is formatted in Landscape for use with the iPad. Easy page navigation, no need for scrolling to see the entire page, and completely mobile.

2)     Organization of Topics/Themes – Just as we have the same 12 notes to work with—at least in Western music—there are only so many patterns to form and they’ve already been published by many authors. What makes this book different is that he presents the standard repertoire/exercises and then applies them in a personal vocabulary meant for greater retention of the material.

3)     Comprehensive Resource for Modern Jazz Harmony: Pentatonics b3, b6, and b2, , Augmented scale exercises, Melodic Minor Bebop scales, Coltrane Changes, Melodic Minor ii-V patterns, Chromatics, and etudes that reinforce the concepts.

4)     Not just a pattern book, he gives detailed instructions on the formation of the scales/patterns and how to apply them to the harmony with the goal of sounding musical instead of mechanical.

5)     Note-Centric exercises: He encourages the mastery of using one note as a launching point over multiple chord changes through pentatonic scales. See page 14 in the sample pages here (bottom of page).

6)     As previously mentioned, Bobby has an excellent jazz education blog entitled B Natural which offers a wealth of jazz pedagogy, transcriptions, resources, videos, and his humorous anecdotes. I check it weekly.

“There is never any end…There are always new sounds to imagine; new feelings to get at. And always, there is the need to keep purifying these feelings and sounds so that we can really see what we’ve discovered in its pure state.” – John Coltrane


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