Effective Etudes for Jazz: A Review

By Kyle Larson • May 20, 2023 • 2 min read

Effective Etudes for JazzCarubia, Mike & Jarvis, Jeff. Effective Etudes for Jazz. Kendor Music Inc, Delevan, NY. 2004. Softcover. 40 pages. $21.95. Range A♭2 - B♭4.

This review will examine Effective Etudes for Jazz by Mike Carubia and Jeff Jarvis and will cover the contents, and the best practices and benefits of using them. This book consists of eighteen jazz etudes written in styles ranging from blues shuffle to rock. It aims to help the learner gain knowledge and experience in improvising and playing with swing articulations. As students progress through the book, each etude increases in difficulty, becoming highly chromatic and expanding in range.

Effective Etudes starts with an introduction and a "how to use" section to get the best results. Each etude is a contrafact of another popular jazz tune which is listed next to each title in the table of contents. What makes this book unique is the use of annotations that help the performer analyze the etudes. Motives, scale tones, and chord tones are some of the musical tools identified, as in the following excerpt from "Baggage Claim Blues."

Figure 1. Effective Etudes for Jazz, Baggage Claim Blues
Figure 1. Effective Etudes for Jazz, "Baggage Claim Blues," mm. 13-24

Each annotation analyzes the function of the phrases that build a larger picture of how a solo is composed. Additionally, a chord reference chart is also presented above the etude to tell the learner what notes belong to what chords. With the amount of content and information that comes with the etudes, students should spend significant time practicing and analyzing.

Carubia and Jarvis have provided backing tracks and solo modeling in either CD or MP3 formats. If one chooses to download the MP3s, they are available on the publisher's website for free. The trombone model is played by Dr. Nat Wickham, professor of trombone and euphonium at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. Dr. Wickham's recordings are an excellent source for students to learn and mimic the articulations and styles while having a clear and beautiful tone. Because one of the roles of the book is to get students familiar with jazz idioms, the music is marked with more details (e.g., articulation, style, and dynamic emphasis) than music intended for professional musicians.

Trombone teachers may be familiar with Jack Gale's 24 Jazz Etudes, but Effective Etudes takes things further by including analysis, annotations, and methodology. While there is no one way to effectively learn how to be a proficient jazz performer and improviser, this book provides a unique and comprehensive approach. It is an excellent source for teachers, students, and performers who want to dig deep into a solo's building blocks so they can compose and improvise the ingredients of an efficient solo or melody. Effective Etudes for Jazz is also a book suitable for high-school trombonists or undergraduate students working on sight reading over a backing track.