The 9 Essential Books for Jazz - Sent in from the JazzMemes Community

Feb 13, 2020

We recently polled our #JazzMemesFamily on Instagram asking them what are their essential books for jazz. The question was left open to include instructional jazz books or books written on the topic of jazz and music. We collected the most popular responses that were sent in and categorized them into two categories Performance and Theory/Concept. If you're new to jazz or haven't checked some of these books out, they're a great starting point to further your jazz education. Let us know in the comments which books you would add to this list.


  • The Realbook - A collection of sheet music containing some of the most widely recognized jazz standards. Great to learn tunes from if you aren't at the level of transcribing everything by ear. Don't bring on a gig or jam session unless you want to be vibed. 
  • The Omnibook - Essential study for learning the bebop language through one of its masters, Charlie Parker. Includes Parker's most famous bebop head, "Segment", as heard in this scene from the racing documentary by Will Ferrell, Talladega Nights. 
  • Jamey Aebersold Series - Possibly the most well recognized voice in jazz and the most effective method to learn how to count off a tune. Jamey Aebersold had some of most used original backing tracks for musicians to shed along with using recordings of professional jazz musicians. That is, until the iReal Pro app and Band-in-the-Box allowed musicians to get more out of their backing tracks by using MIDI-based instruments and algorithms, finally removing one of the last human elements of jazz once and for all.
  • The New Real Book - Like the Real Book, but including songs you'll actually get requests for such as "Feel Like Making Love", "Affirmation", and "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy".


Let us know in the comments below which book you would add to this list!

By clicking and purchasing any of these books using the Amazon Affiliate links provided, you are directly supporting what we do at JazzMemes at no extra cost to yourself. We appreciate the support.

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