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The Advancing Guitarist by Mick Goodrich
My all-time favorite jazz guitar book. From the “realm of the electric ice-skating rink” to his thoughts on the music in the back of the book I still find things in here to practice.
The Jazz Theory Book by Mark Levine
This enormous book is an excellent starting point for learning about jazz theory. It is laid out in an easy to read and clear way.
The Real Book
The Real Book dates back to the 1970s when some college students put together a “fake book” of jazz standards. The older editions are often filled with mistakes and are technically illegal because the copyrights for the sheet music have not been paid. Enter Hal Leonard’s version (6th edition). This legal version of the Real Book has the official copyrighted sheet music. A Real Book is a great source for learning tunes or “faking” tunes on the gig.
Effortless Mastery by Kenny Werner
A very new age and Eastern approach to improvisation. Pianist Kenny Werner’s main premise here is that people try too hard to play well. If you can let go of needing to sound good the music will flow through you. This book also contains some guided meditations for musicians who have reached a plateau and want to reach mastery.
Patterns for Jazz by Jerry Coker, Jimmy Cassie, Gary Campbell, and Jerry Greene
This is a useful resource for a beginning improvisor. It is packed with information such as triads, 6th and 7th arpeggios, digital patterns, diatonic chords, exotic scale patterns, polychords, turnarounds, interval studies, and more.
Mel Bay’s Complete Jazz Guitar Method
The information in this book is intended for the beginning jazz guitarist. This is a great primer on jazz guitar topics before diving into some of the other heavier books on this page. If you could only buy one book to get you started on jazz guitar this would be a great choice.
The Jazz Language by Dan Hearle
This concise yet through book on jazz theory will help you understand the basic frameworks of this style. The jazz language begins with simple intervals and works through many of the harmonic and melodic concepts of jazz. This book is full of high quality musician and deserves a place on any jazz musicians bookshelf.
Mel Bay’s Complete Book of Harmony Theory and Voicing by Bret Willmont
This dense book will help you take your harmonic vocabulary on the guitar to the next level. The content is extremely comprehensive and could take years to fully digest. I still pop this book open from time to time and find things to practice.
Inside Improvisation Series Volume 6: Developing a Jazz Language by Jerry Bergonzi
Another great book for mastering the basics of playing jazz. Bergonzi takes you through chord scales, chord tones, target and approach notes, motivic shapes, harmonic devices, melodic devices, rhythmic devices, sonic devices, and more. There is an included CD with standard chord changes to apply the concepts presented in the book.
Jazz Guitar Chord System by Scott Henderson
This 16 page book is packed with over 500 chord voicing. Henderson’s approach is unique in that he gives you a chord voicing and then tells you all of the different contexts in which you can play that chord.
Modern Concepts in Jazz Improvisation by David Baker
Once you have mastered
Intervalic Improvisation by Walt Weiskopf
Around the Horn by Walt Weiskopf
Inside Improvisation Series Volume 2 Pentatonics by Jerry Bergonzi
A Chromatic Approach to Jazz Harmony and Melody by David Liebman
The Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization by George Russell
Repository of Scales and Melodic Patterns by Yusaf A. Lateef
Fundamentals of Guitar by Miles Okazaki
Creative Chordal Harmony for Guitar by Mick Goodrich and Tim Miller
Three-Note Voicings and Beyond by Randy Vincent
What books would you add to this list? Let me know and I’ll add them to this page.