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I was an alto saxophone player then. I could care less about the tenor saxophone. I had never heard anything like that before and I soon bought a tenor saxophone It was an H. Couf tenor I bought from Ken Gioffre……. Which of course meant John Coltrane! John Coltrane was always a bit of an enigma for me as an alto player. I knew him as the guy who played way too many notes that I could never decipher or figure out. I dreamed at night that I could somehow channel Coltrane and play just like him.
This was of course before the creation of slow down transcription software and all that. I would just listen to these amazing blurs of notes sheets of sound they were called and be in complete awe……… but have no idea what he was playing……..
I was immediately interested. John Coltrane, one of the greatest tenor saxophone players of all time and the word Omnibook were being combined I knew Omnibook from the Charlie Parker Omnibook which I worked out of all through High School. Some of these notes were upward of on the metronome for 16th notes…………..
The John Coltrane Omnibook is sitting on my desk in front of me now as I type this. It is a solid book and well made. I have seen many Coltrane transcriptions before and usually the density of notes on the page is enough to scare off the greatest sight reader to ever live.
Hal Leonard has had the insight to actually print the transcriptions so they are easier to read. The layout is spectacular. On some pages you will see 8 measures per lines and on other pages you will see 2 measures or even 1 measure per line. I just opened the book to a random page and in one measure there is 35 notes.
The fact that they give this one measure a whole line makes a world of difference. Does it make it easier to play…….
NO, not really BUT……. They vary from 7 to You get the impression that someone at Hal Leonard they deserve a raise went through this book page by page with the goal of making it as easy to read as possible. Whoever this unnamed employee at Hall Leonard is I commend thee. Job well done. This book looks great! Impression, Mr. Ease of readability is a huge plus in my book. Instead they have opted for accidentals for the notes that need them.
This might seem like a strange choice but I actually like it. When you are dealing with sheets of sound-meaning tons of notes all played incredibly fast I find it kind of nice to not have to worry about key signatures. What you see in front of the note dictates what it is…………Nice! The other element of the book that looks impressive are the chord symbols. No one puts an A13 b9 or F13sus unless they can hear those sounds. I like to see that……… It means someone listened to the recordings with a good enough ear that they heard or thought they heard those sounds and wrote it down.
Either way, they cared enough to do the work and try to nail down the sounds they heard…….. I like that. I am just starting to dig into the John Coltrane Omnibook but I really hope that they come out with a Coltrane Omnibook 2, 3 and 4. But it does get us closer to deciphering them and implementing his vocabulary and licks into our own playing……….
Great job Hal Leonard. I am grateful for this book……. It will keep me busy for many more years……….. If you are interested in the John Coltrane Omnibook you can order it on Amazon at:.
The John Coltrane Omnibook Review
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