Alex Laing reviews Harry Hunt Jr’s volume for violinists on how to practise jazz scales most effectively
Jazz Violin Etudes: Jazz Scales Every Violinist Should Know
Harry Hunt Jr
223PP ISBN 9781954127210
Harry Hunt Jr $16.95
I am someone who gets overly excited when I discover a new volume of scales or studies. I am also someone keen to explore different genres outside my comfort zone, especially the worlds of jazz and improvisation. If this also applies to you, then this volume of jazz scales by Harry Hunt Jr could be just the ticket.
Hunt is a violinist and the son of noted jazz trumpeter Harry Hunt Sr. He began his training in classical violin before exploring other genres including jazz. It is clear that he is well aware of the great scale volumes of Flesch and Galamian, and his book feels very similar. It sets out all the scales as the great masters have done, taking the players through each note name starting from G. Hunt indicates 13 essential scales to be mastered. In addition to the major and minors, there are also scales in modes, as well as dominant and diminished scales. Each scale is presented in four versions: one octave; first position; E string only; three octaves. Interestingly, Hunt advocates restriction of shifting to the E string as it he claims it helps to ‘give a predictable anchor of when and where to shift at a given moment’.
There are bonuses to the volume. After each note (key centre) is explored, Hunt includes suggestions for patterns that can be explored including slurring and more arpeggiated work. There are also small sections exploring be-bop, pentatonic, blues, whole tone, diminished and chromatic scales. The best bonus, though, is the selection of downloadable backing tracks, which include chords for each scale allowing the violinist to explore the sound world of each at leisure.
There are elements of this volume that feel rather light in exploration: the sections on jazz styles at the end give the impression that they are an afterthought. Perhaps they are included to whet the appetite for further material to come. Indeed, more material already exists. Hunt’s website indicates several other volumes that may complement this one, so, if you enjoy this as I do, there is lots more to get your teeth into.
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