Book Reviews

Duet Book Reviews:

“I have had the good fortune to use Rich Willey’s duets for myself and for my students for the purpose of teaching jazz phrasing and for sight-reading. I haven’t found anything that comes close to the well written ‘exercises’ (compositions) in his books. Not only are they well written, but also very challenging and very musical in every way.” — CECIL BRIDGEWATER, Trumpeter, composer, arranger, producer; professor at Manhattan School of Music, New School Jazz Program, Jazzmobile, Brooklyn Conservatory

“Hi Rich, I love your duet books!”
RON ROMM, founding member of the Canadian Brass,

“I played through Rich Willey’s duets with my son the other day, and we enjoyed them very much. The duets are dripping with the bebop language and all have a nice flow to them. They swing and are quite lyrical at the same time. I would recommend these duets for players young and old. I think there is something there for everyone.” — BOB MINTZER, Saxophonist, composer & arranger, leader of Grammy Award-winning Big Band, professor at Manhattan School of Music

“One of my students and I went through several bop duets just a couple of weeks ago.We found your duets to be VERY challenging to sightread as there are so many tricky and intricate figures throughout. A lot of these remind me of the old AMSDEN’s, some of which needed to be ‘worked out’ in order to make them sound good. I WILL use your books as part of my ‘humility training’ in the area of sightreading!” — BOBBY SHEW, World-renowned trumpet student

“Rich, I’ve got to hand it to you, man. These duets are great. They make excellent sight-reading studies. They include all of the standard jazz and commercial music rhythmic patterns that developing players need to learn to read and phrase. The easier portion of the book is technically simple enough for any decent middle school kid, but the musical values are not compromised in the least. Burnin’!” — PAT HARBISON, Trumpeter & Professor of Jazz, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN

“Rich’s Bop Duets are an amazing achievement, in my opinion. Far from being merely an updating of Bugs Bower’s efforts, Willey’s Bop Duets offer a multitude of help to all players: 1. Challenging lines, with intricately-contoured — yet witty — melodic twists and turns; 2. Technical workouts; 3. Stylistic challenges; 4. Large warehouse, if you will, of logical and creative statements in the bebop-and-beyond jazz language (sort of a newer Omnibook); 5. More duet/sightreading material — there really is something beyond Amsden! Seriously, these books are top-notch and should be in the library of all trumpet players — teachers and students alike. But my above list left out one very important factor: these duets are fun!” — BILL SCHMID, Trumpet and Jazz Studies, Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA

“Rich Willey’s jazz duets greatly aid one’s ability to develop jazz sightreading skills. They are based on standard chord changes and are eminently lyrical studies in the bop tradition, but also employ modern harmonic devices that push the ear as well as the eye.” — CHRIS BATTISTONE, Trumpeter, Silver Spring, MD

“I just bought these duets from Boptism and they are awesome. Rich has written by far the best jazz duet books out there. His “easier” duets are challenging but at a perfect level for a talented middle schooler or for high school students looking to expand their jazz vocabulary. These have been printed on nice, high quality paper. I highly recommend these books to any teacher at any level.” — BILL DUNN, Trumpeter, Washington, DC

These are great duets. Although somewhat advanced, many of my younger students have benefited from them. I am a huge fan of ‘Bop Duets’ by Bugs Bower, and Rich’s duets continue that tradition. The harmony is advanced, but over standard tunes. The lines are always challenging with sometimes odd intervals that don’t lay so well on the horn, which is what we should all be practicing.” — ERIC BOLVIN, Trumpeter, Arranger, Composer, Keyboards, SF Bay Area, CA

“In my lessons with high schoolers and collegiate students, I am extremely impressed with Rich Willey’s jazz duets. The lines are great in both parts, the harmony is advanced while not being too extreme for lesser trained jazz players, and the range is perfect for duet playing. I highly recommend them to any of you who are looking for some more duet material.” — TRENT AUSTIN, Trumpeter, Melrose, MA

“Great job writing these duets — great stuff and fun to play! Much more melodic, lyrical and accessible than other bebop-based studies. Using well known songs and including the changes adds another dimension to the material. I picked up a number of new insights during my first couple of times sightreading some of the duets, and I learned some new stuff just reading through the first couple of lines from the first duet I played.” — GEORGE WEST, Trumpeter, San Jose, CA

“These “trad jazz” duets are pure FUN! If you like traditional New Orleans jazz you’ll love these – based on tunes like Bill Bailey, Baby Face, Bye Bye Blackbird, and When You’re Smilin’. My wife and I read through these duets in a little over an hour Friday night. I think we had to stop on the second page of every tune. Rich just loves throwing you a curve just when you think you’ve settled into a groove. These are very playable, note-wise, not a lot of accidentals. But best of all, these tunes are just toe tappin’, go home whistlin’ fun.” — STEVE EVANS, Trumpeter, Lykens, PA

Duet Book Reviews (cont.)

“My trumpet studio is pretty much legit, but I have found Rich’s duets to be a very valuable reading and style resource in lessons and find myself using them more and more! Nice way to end the end of semester lessons!” — DAVID GREENHOE, Trumpet Professor, University of Iowa, Iowa City

“I was weaned on Bugs Bower. Although a lot of fun, they were/are fairly challenging at the suggested tempos. If you are trying to develop a vocabulary related to written changes, too bad. No chord changes there. Some of Rich’s compositions are also quite challenging, but others are very accessible. They have a context in the standard repertoire which makes them much more useful. And he has the changes written down. This is fun, interesting and useful material. For the practice freaks, think of them as etudes for two trumpets. Or forget the duet and play the lines separately in all keys. Your ears & chops will thank you.” — LARRY MADSEN, Trumpeter, Grand Junction, CO

“I have played many jazz duets, but Mr. Willey’s books are by far the best. This collection not only teaches standard chord progressions, they teach style, rhythm, melody, and unique bebop lines. I would recommend these books to any educator or professional musician.” — BILL DUNN, Trumpeter, Washington, DC

“If you like the Bugs Bower book (my copy’s been abused for years) but you’re looking for something a bit more up-to-date (not to mention challenging), you NEED Rich’s duets. I love ‘em. What a great concept, writing ‘improv’ duet lines over the changes to standards. Spend a little analysis time and you’ll get an education.” — STEVE EVANS, Trumpeter, Lykens, PA

“They’re swingin’ and challenging. Great titles too. Can’t wait to do it again!” — STEVE BLEIFUSS, Trombonist, Tarrytown, NY

“Very well written duets – very interesting – very playable at all levels; good job Rich . . . Bravo!” — LEON MERIAN, Trumpeter, Bradenton, FL

“Rich Willey, why you been holdin’ out on us, bro? On your website I see there are now more of these tremendously well-written and fun duets. I suspect they’ll be worth buying just so I can languish in the punning titles (groan)!” — PAT HARBISON, Trumpeter & Professor of Jazz, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN

“Rich Willey’s jazz duets are both challenging and motivating. They are also valuable tools for the development of sight reading. I recommend these duets to any instrumentalists wishing to further their knowledge of the bebop language.” — KENNY SHANKER, Saxophonist/pianist/vocalist, NYC

“Just wanted to drop a quick note with an ‘endorsement’ for Rich Willey’s jazz duets. Figuring out the ‘real’ names of the tunes is enough fun already without even playing a note! The duets are written extremely well, easy enough to play but challenging enough to give your sight reading chops a bit of a workout. Rich’s duets are a nice change of pace from Amsden’s, Arbans, etc. Check ‘em out!” — JAMI DAUBER, Trumpeter, New York, NY

“I met Rich when he was living in NYC and want to recommend his jazz duets. They’re medium level diffculty, quite musical, and right down the middle as far as the mainstream jazz idiom is concerned. Good particularly for students who are trying to get a feel for the style. I wish stuff like this had been around when I was trying to figure things out.” — SAM BURTIS, Trombonist, Hastings-on-Hudson, NY

“These duets are great. They have provided me with new insight in constructing bebop phrases. I have already incorporated some of the ideas into my soloing. It is apparent that a lot of work and thought went into these books.” — DAVE SHERMAN, Trombonist, Wakefield, RI

“Rich Willey’s jazz duets belong in every trumpet player’s library. They are great for developing & improving sightreading skills, time, articulation, and jazz vocabulary. These books were written intelligently, allowing players of virtually all abilities to enjoy them.” — JIM YEDLOUTSCHNIG, Trumpeter, Cedar Grove, NJ

“If you are an aspiring jazz musician, you owe it to yourself to get hold of Rich Willey’s jazz duets! These have REAL changes to REAL tunes with REAL lines that can be taken out of the practice room and on to the stage. With a fresh look at the bop tradition, Mr. Willey has summoned a technical challenge and paired it with a true musical experience. I recommend these books without hesitation!” — TIMOTHY J. McGINLEY, Trumpeter and Music Educator, Kissimmee, FL

“For jazz, all four of Rich’s duets are great fun and are stylistically very correct, for each genre represented. They require that the two players listen to each other (one of the important things about practicing duets) and include the changes so you can improvise as well as play the notes written. Rich’s books are a good value and great addition to the trumpet community’s resource base.” — TOMMY TAYLOR, trumpeter, Deep East Texas

“I have all four volumes of Rich’s duet books. From fairly easy to more difficult, these books have neat, written out parts (with the chords also written in), and the parts work so well together! These books should REALLY help all jazz players, from the neophyte to the advanced player, to improve in a steady way, and with lots of FUN!” — TOM TURNER, trumpeter, GA

“I recently bought a copy of Rich’s jazz duet book. The book is nicely printed; the duets are very playable and challenging (don’t let Rich’s tenure with MF cause consternation — the highest note is just high C), and work the changes thoroughly — meaning they’re good for theory analysis (chord changes are shown) as well as just having fun.” — GIRARD “GIZ” BOWE, Trumpeter, Richmond, VA

Jazz Improv Materials Handbook Book Reviews:

“I just received the new Jazz Improv Materials Handbook! Congratulations on all your hard work! You have outdone yourself. I’ve practiced with this the last two days and what a kick! I have a lot of work to do to get all of these skills under my fingers. I look forward to spending quality time with these exercises as I know they will make me a better player. Thanks again for your hard work, time, and talent!” — MARK LINDVAHL, IN, satisfied customer

“I received Rich’s Jazz Improv Handbook last week. Wow, this is great stuff! I appreciate that you’ve laid out suggested ways to practice the material. And what an amazing bunch of material it is. I just wanted to say thanks! This will give me some fun stuff to work on. Maybe this 41 year old amateur player will learn to play some decent jazz yet! Thanks also for the quick service.” — DIRK STUBBINGS, Canada, satisfied customer

“Rich Willey, Jazz Improv Materials Handbook Complete — great for trumpeters even if you’re not seriously pursuing jazz.” — DR. STANLEY CURTIS, trumpeter, clinician, educator

“Rich Willey has compiled one of the most complete improvisation methods on the market today. This book is thorough and fun! I recommend it for any instrument, especially the trombone!” — RICK SIMERLY, world-renowned Conn/Selmer trombone artist

“Rich’s improv handbook is even better than the bop duets and his other books. Very detailed and progressive, a great aid to anyone who uses it. Well worth the price, and the service is fantastic. Rich is to be commended for all.” — DR. SAM PROVINCE, NC, satisfied customer

“I love the way Rich’s improv handbook is organized, with the scales and patterns progressing through the cycle of 4ths, so you nail every key. This is going to kick my butt to work on all scales and all keys, as well as force me to get to know my horn better. This is not just a book for jazz studies, but a great book for any musician who wants to get their chops and ears together! The play along tracks are great. Thank you for including slower tempos; most play alongs don’t. I’ll certainly be recommending this to my students.” — MARK PARSONS, Canada, satisfied customer

“I got my copy of Rich’s new improv handbook today. This is definitely a book which should be on every jazz trumpet players music stand. My first impression when I received the book was that this new publication is like the jazz trumpet player’s new Arban’s. Even classical players could benefit from this book. If it’s time to do some shedding, make sure you have this book. Congratulations Rich!” — OSCAR OÑOZ, NJ, satisfied customer

“Order was processed immediately. Items were in PRISTINE condition, arriving three short days later. There was always an open communication line, and issues were resolved promptly, and with great professionalism. I definitely will order from again, and strongly recommend others to do so as well.” — BRIAN SCHNECKENBURGER, MD, satisfied customer

“Holy Smokes!! Finally a REAL JAZZ METHOD BOOK!! I have studied, played from, and referred to virtually every book written on jazz for the last 50 years. None, and I repeat, NONE compare to Rich Willey’s Master Text. It covers all the aspects of learning and playing jazz that were absent in all the preceding books.” — KEN LESIGHT, CA, extremely satisfied customer

“I bought Rich’s improv handbook and have been using it myself and with students. I love it. Fantastic presentation even if some of the notes are a little small for my old eyes. 🙂 The exercises are a great workout and should not be limited to only those who want to work on their jazz playing. These technical exercises are an excellent supplement to those wishing to work on their chops, their fingers and their transposition and sight reading skills. Even if you don’t play a lick of jazz and never intend to, this book can help you immensely.” — MICHAEL ANDERSON, trumpet professor, Oklahoma City University

“I’ll chime in with a plug for Rich’s books — don’t know him except through the web, but love using his books in my personal practice and with students. I especially love the Jazz Improv Materials Handbook  just for getting fingers and ears together in all keys. Good stuff! Good customer service, too!” — TIM CATES, trumpeter, Texas

“Rich Willey’s Jazz Improv Materials Handbook  provides a wealth of terrific materials. I met Rich at ITG in Harrisburg and heard him at the jam sessions and have to say that first-off he’s a terrific human being; warm, friendly and encouraging to the younger players, and secondly he definitely knows what he’s teaching in these books. His solos were very impressive and very musical.”
— DAVID BAILEY, trumpeter, composer & arranger, conductor, NH

“I have really enjoyed your books, and have recommended them to several bone players in master classes at the Aebersold camp. I especially recommend your Jazz Improv  book and your Melody Lingers On  etude books as tools for developing their improvising and improving their sight-reading.” — RICK SIMERLY, trombonist, Aebersold clinician, Selmer artist

“Just a quick note to mention how much help I’ve gotten from Rich’s Jazz Improv book. It’s not easy shedding ideas and patterns, but this stuff pays off! Thanks, Rich!” — NICK MONDELLO, NY, satisfied customer

Michael Dease’s Online Trombone Journal Review:


Jazz Improv Materials Handbook Complete: a melodic approach to jazz improvisation
by Rich Willey (Boptism Music) Review by Michael Dease at the Online Trombone Journal

Rich Willey utilizes his considerable experience as a performer, composer and pedagogue to craft the Jazz Improv Materials Handbook, one of the more practical jazz methods in publication.

Willey injects good-natured humor throughout the handbook’s 167 pages. The levity is a welcome addition to the vast amount of technical and melodic content, which, upon first glance could appear overwhelming. The clear-cut drills (including interpretations of Herbert L. Clarke and Donald S. Reinhardt studies) are well-supported by Willey’s expert commentary, which is concise, unassuming, and easy to understand. Included very early in the book is a suggested listening list that is sure to keep any student busy. My only criticism of this method is its lack of a rhythmic approach, which is not uncommon in jazz education pedagogy. Having become familiar with his style of explication, I would be interested to hear Willey’s thoughts on rhythmic development and interaction.

The handbook includes a play-along CD, and due to its sturdy construction is sure to withstand many years of use. As a musician equally at home in New York City and the university lecture hall, Willey brings a unique perspective to his jazz method. Though highly influenced by pioneers of jazz education, such as Dr. David Baker and Jamey Aebersold, Willey’s “updates” are sure to appeal to the next generation of young jazz students, or to anyone looking for a one-stop (“Mom and Pop Bebop Shop” according to Willey) source for harmonic and melodic direction. Please visit Rich Willey on the web at where you can learn more about his compositions, arrangements, and purchase this highly-recommended introduction to the world of jazz improvisation.

Michael Dease received a Bachelor of Music and a Master of Music from The Juilliard School. He has recorded with the likes of Alicia Keys, Paul Simon, Luis Miguel, and has been featured with the big bands of Jimmy Heath, Illinois Jacquet, and Wynton Marsalis. Listen to him play at Smalls in NYC.