Good books, pages, Youtube channels on Jazz theory/guitar


Hey guys,
do you have some recommendations for books etc. on Jazz theory and/or Jazz guitar?


I’ve gotten a lot of mileage from Mick Goodrick’s “The Advancing Guitarist.” It’s not really a jazz book per se, but it seems to present the chord/scale theory in an interesting way. It also has some nice anecdotes from the author, who’s a very knowledgeable jazz guy based either at Berklee or NEC. This book is fairly dense, but helped me build a larger working chord/voicing vocabulary - especially with the drop 2 and 3 and quartal harmony voicings. Here’s a link:


There are three Joseph Alexander books that are pretty good, they are progressively more complicated som I’d recommend beginning with the first one.

  1. Guitar Chords in Context
  2. Voice Leading in Jazz Guitar
  3. Jazz Guitar Chord Mastery

All available on kindle in a bundle.


I haven’t worked through it personally, but William Leavitt’s 3 volume “A Modern Method for Guitar” seems to get recommended a lot.


Rick Beato’s youtube channel is pretty universally epic content about all facets of music, and the video below is probably particularly relevant for this thread:


Hal Galper’s “Forward Motion from Bach to Bebop”, and any clinic videos of him you can find on Youtube.


All of Randy Vincent’s books are fantastic and I would highly recommend them -

His chord books are highly detailed, especially the 3 note voicings one.


I’ve seen folks recommend Jimmy Bruno’s DVD “No Nonsense Jazz Guitar”. Anybody here have first-hand experience with it?


Thx guys,
I’ll go through that and see what I like.

@Prlgmnr: I just listened to some Youtube stuff with Hal Galper during work, this guy’s really inspiring


Guthrie Govan’s books also do a fine job when it comes to explaining basic music theory in an easy way. Although they are primarily lick/exercise books.


Check out Matt Warnock’s site, which is a treasure-trove of jazz-guitar goodness:


I’ll echo a little.

Randy Vincent’s work is great. I also really like Brett Willmott, Jon Damian, and Mick Goodrick. Rick Beato’s YT channel is very interesting too.

Good luck


Robert Conti’s Chord Melody Assembly Line and The Formula books are great for learning how to arrange for solo jazz guitar.


Hi @Frylock.

I have both of Jimmy’s Hot Licks DVDs, No Nonsense Jazz Guitar and Inside Outside Jazz Guitar. No Nonsense Jazz Guitar is definitely the one to get first, but both are excellent.

Before I got No Nonsense Jazz guitar, I was trying to learn jazz by using “The Jazz Theory Book” by Mark Levine. Levine really promotes Chord-Scale Theory. For a simple ii-V-I progression, for example


in C major, Levine instructs you to play the chord-scales

D Dorian - G Mixolydian - C Ionian

This approach really obfuscates the fact that in the above progression, you’re really just playing the notes of the C major scale throughout. I found that as the chord types and chord progressions became more complicated, it became prohibitively difficult to follow the Chord-Scale approach. Even when I could manage to follow the chords, I ended up playing little more than scale fragments in a disconnected manner without rhythm or phrasing. It was frustrating and I felt that I’d never make any real progress.

Jimmy’s approach is altogether different, and worked much better for me. In Jimmy’s approach, there are only 3 chord types, being major, minor and dominant. Altered and diminished chords fall into the dominant category. Immediately, there is less information to process.

Jimmy works from five shapes of the major scale, which he understands as being common to all chords of a ii-V-I.

Though not exactly the standard CAGED shapes, Jimmy’s shapes allow him to identify the chord shapes (or arpeggios) of ii, V and I chord in those shapes. Notes per string is not consistent.

Concisely, his method is based on knowing the sound of each of the 12 notes over the three chord types he identifies. That might sound like a lot to learn initially, but it’s really not that difficult. If some of the notes of the major scale doesn’t quite work with the chord your hearing, you can temporarily modify the scale by raising or lowering the bad notes. This process might result in you playing a melodic minor scale at some point, for example, but Jimmy doesn’t think about it that way.

Some might think initially that this will lead to problems. For example, suppose the chord to be playing is a dominant, the accompaniment decides to add a 9th to the chord but you decide to play a b9 in your line. It will rub, but that isn’t such a bad thing. As Jimmy says, that rub is part of the sound of jazz. Adjust to fix the rub or don’t, to your taste.

I’m not a straight ahead jazz player, and I’ve supplemented my approach to playing over changes with other ideas, both my own and those of other teachers, but I feel like Jimmy’s DVDs gave me a solid foundation which I can continue to build upon for playing that style of jazz. I thoroughly recommend his products.

Also, I feel it’s important to mention Scott Henderson’s DVD Jazz-Rock Mastery. The DVD contains two instructional videos, Jazz Fusion Improvisation and Melodic Phrasing. The first deals with note choices over chord types and is quite compatible with Jimmy’s system. The second teaches you what to do with the notes you choose, and is bar none the most important instructional video to my musical development that I have ever watched.


That seems logical to me, and now that I see it written out, I think I’ve heard it explained that way before, either from Jimmy’s cracking the code interview, or from another video clip. I definitely need to make time to dig deeper into Jimmy’s stuff.

And thanks for suggesting that Scott Henderson DVD.


I really like Mark Levine’s books. I have the jazz piano book and it is excellent - so I’d assume is theory book is great. I also really liked Jerry Bergonzi’s book on pentatonics…


This guy is awesome!


Hi @geoffk.

I have mixed feelings about The Jazz Theory Book by Levine.

I don’t play piano, so I can’t comment on how useful it would be for pianists. As a guitarist, I think it’s something of a mixed bag. There’s a lot of good information which helped me to understand jazz on a conceptual level, but I found little that was useful on a practical level. I imagine the book is a good resource for those who already have some knowledge of jazz, but I don’t think it’s a particularly good place to start.

Due to a visual impairment, I have difficulty reading music, and I cannot sight read. Consequently, I cannot sight sing either. It took me a lot of time to digest the examples. I had to write some of the more complex examples into MuseScore so I could hear them. I felt that the book would seriously benefit from being sold with a CD of the examples. I would guess that a pianist who was competent at sight reading would have a much easier time with the book than I did.

I don’t see how the Chord-Scale approach is helpful when improvising. It seems much too cumbersome to be an effective approach to improvisation.


Hi JazzyJay! I teach jazz guitar - I think it’s really hard to make a book recommendation without knowing more about your background and what you’re trying to accomplish. Also, jazz is an extremely wide topic, so there isn’t going to be just one book to cover it all.