There is much existing piano literature to teach young students (or, for that matter, less experienced adults) about the great figures in the world of classical music: Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin and so on. When it comes to jazz, rock, blues and other contemporary styles, however, most existing material is treated as a diversion from more “serious” studies. While many method books exist to help one learn these styles, I was disappointed to find so little material that paid the proper respect to the great artists in these styles while still being compatible with “traditional” piano pedagogy. The Portraits series is my way of addressing this issue.

From the back of the book:

“The Portraits series fills one of the longtime gaps in student-level piano repertoire by presenting colorful fun-to-play pieces in jazz, blues, rock and other popular styles. Portraits invites you on a guided tour through the music of various artists in these styles, exploring what gives each artist his or her own special sound, while the progressively arranged original pieces allow you to try out these styles on your own. Each piece is accompanied by a biography and photo of the artist who inspired it, listening suggestions and specially tailored preparatory exercises. While the Portraits books are recommended for students age 12 and older, younger musicians will certainly enjoy playing the pieces under the guidance of a teacher.
A CD that demonstrates all the examples and allows you to play along (with solo keyboard or full band) is also available.”

Book 1 – Early Elementary to Early Intermediate

All Hands (And Feet) On Deck – for Max Roach
Line and Sinker – for John Lee Hooker
Backward is Forward – for Thelonious Monk
The Singing Guitar – for Carlos Santana
Blues Fit for a Queen – for Bessie Smith
Workshop Shuffle – for Charles Mingus
The Blue Country – for Jimmie Rodgers
Soul is a Lady – for Aretha Franklin
K.C. Swingin’ – for Count Basie
Killin’ Stomp – for Jerry Lee Lewis

Book 2 – Early Intermediate to Late Intermediate

Sliding Home – for Bonnie Raitt
Alhambra – for Ahmad Jamal
Rasta Prophet – for Bob Marley
Mistress of Scat – for Ella Fitzgerald
Thumpin’ – for the Isley Brothers
Delivering the Message – for Art Blakey
Cha Cha Caliente – for Tito Puente
Shades of Blue – for T-Bone Walker
Roots Rockin’ – for the Rolling Stones
Red-Hot Rag – for Jelly Roll Morton

Book 3 – Early Advanced

Tennessee’s Troubadour – for Johnny Cash
The Quest – for Joni Mitchell
Daddy Blues – for Robert Johnson
Beboparology – for Charlie Parker
Rise of the Sun – for Eddie Palmieri
Boogie Gumbo – for Professor Longhair
Back and Fourth – for McCoy Tyner
Workin’ It – for James Brown
Mission of Freedom – for Ornette Coleman
Omnipresent – for Mary Lou Williams