|The Polytonal Rhythm Series|
Emile De Cosmo
As long as I have been interested in jazz improvisation and the saxophone I have seen adds in Downbeat and other magazines that said "Develop Big Ears". While in high school I had the opportunity to attend one of Emile De Cosmo's master classes at a local summer jazz festival where the author made his first impact on me.
Recently I had the opportunity to look over some of the books in Emile De Cosmo's Polytonal Rhythm Series and it was refreshing to look at "shedding" in a new light. The series begins with The Dianonic Cycle and continiues with studies in all aspects of the scales used in jazz improvisation. More recently Emile De Cosmo has added the well-known Woodshedding Source Book published through Hal Leonard. The newer series does not negate the use of the Polytonal Rhythm Series but does add a Cd with tracks to practice along with.
"This is the book you need to graduate from just playing scales to creating tasteful melodic ideas from them. It systematically provides the notes and scales to use with what chords along with rhthmical ideas. You gradually build up a vocabulary of rhthmical and melodic possibilities, all the time playing along with the CD backing tracks. This is a unique study and a solution to the question of "How do I make scales sound like music? I want to learn to solo, what notes can I use, etc"
The first book I had a chance to work with and practice was the Blues Scale from the original series. What impressed me most was the volume of material provided for only a few dollars. Page one of the Blues Scale will take nearly 30 minutes to complete at m.m.=60. There are litteraly hours and hours of practice material in just this one book of a dozen or more in the series.
Although the series is intended for improvisors of all levels, I find the books in the series to be outstanding warm up material on the saxophone. Just sightreading the examples on page one and then applying them to 33 different rhythmic variations was more of a task than I anticipated! Yes a task, but well worth the investment of my time.
In Emile De Cosmo's own words, "there are no shortcuts" to learning jazz improvisation. His books and cds will provide you with countless hours of challenging, eye and ear-opening practice.
This material was reviewed by Skip Spratt
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