JJ 11/93: Coltrane – A Player’s Guide To His Harmony

Thirty years ago Mark Gilbert reviewed Walt Weiskopf & Ramon Ricker's guide to Coltrane's use of key cycles in descending thirds. First published in Jazz Journal November 1993


The title could be misleading, since this volume deals with only one, albeit charac­teristic, aspect of Coltrane’s harmony. Produced in the same manuscript size as other Aebersold publications, the book is a thorough practical guide to Coltrane’s use of key cycles in descending major thirds, either when composing (eg, Giant Steps) or soloing (eg, his break on Summertime on the My Favorite Things album).

It works perfectly well on a practical level, including exercises in the style, but for more extensive analysis and a historical overview, readers are directed to an essay on the subject by David Demsey in The Annual Review of Jazz Studies 5, pub­lished by Rutgers Institute of Jazz Studies and reviewed in JJ August 1992.

Coltrane – A Player’s Guide To His Harmony, by Walt Weiskopf & Ramon Ricker. Pub­lished by Jamey Aebersold, 1211 Aebersold Drive, New Albany, Indiana 47150. Pb, 48pp.