Andrew D. Gordon of ADG Productions has recently updated and added to his popular series of books with 100 Ultimate Blues Riffs – The Beginner Series. The original publication by the same title is geared toward intermediate to advanced students. Both books feature a companion CD and optional midi files that will help in the practice of these 100 blues riffs.

I had the opportunity to preview the tenor saxophone books from the series; however the same books are published for other instruments as well. Saxophonist Frank Villafranca of the Super Groovers demonstrates each riff with the rhythm section first with and opportunity for play-along following each demo track. Andrew Gordon writes, “For people who want to improve their ear training skills, you may want t o listen to the saxophone part and then try to duplicate what is played on the CD. I personally find I am able to memorize music quicker when I pick music out by ear than from musical notation.”

As you play through the books, you will see there is some overlapping of the riffs used. In the case of the beginner series, there are some riffs that are essentially the same but with some large leaps in the lines changed – presumably to facilitate younger players.

Whether reading the 100 riffs or picking them up by ear, the book can have many uses. It is good for sightreading in the style, short improvisational work or developing the ear.

The clean, well-laid out books should offer a springboard into further study of the blues and improvisation.

You can find out more about A.D.G. and their publications at