History of the "real book"

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by PB+J, Dec 8, 2010.

  1. PB+J


    Mar 9, 2000
    arlington va
    Lot of you probably have a copy somewhere: if you ever get called to play "jazz" gigs it's pretty much required. The thing is illegal and has not author: it's got no corporate backing and no ads and yet it spread worldwide.

    I did some research into the history of the thing and the way it's used:


    comments welcomed!
  2. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    I wish these would go away. The new "legal" books are really nice. Easy to read, lyrics, suggested chords, bass licks, horn backgrounds, etc. My quartet has switched to these. Of course, I still have to keep the other books around for when I do gigs with old guys.
  3. PB+J


    Mar 9, 2000
    arlington va
    Old guys are so inconvenient
  4. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    At 45, I am close to being one of the old guys. I still wish we/they would convert already.
  5. I bought my Real Book from under the counter of a Music Store in Miami in 1982 - once they'd known me for a few months and decided I was a pro and so I was a Cool Guy.

    Reading the link I LOL'd when I saw:

    There are some famous mistakes: four measures missing from Jobim’s Desafinado, for example.

    I had a hell of a job convincing some pig headed egomaniac of a keytard at an audition that this was the case - he never believed me!!.

    And many of the chord changes are wrong in the sense that they aren’t the chords of the song as written.

    The point here is that it has the Right Chords - the "Real" Chord changes that Jazzers use, NOT the "pub piano" changes you get with the published sheet music. It was the first Busking (US Fake, UK Busk) book to do this!!.

    Us Old-Timers (I'm 53) will tell you that playing the "as written" changes would immediately mark you out as a know-nothing pleb to be completely shunned/ignored by any self-respecting musician!!.
  6. PB+J


    Mar 9, 2000
    arlington va
    I posted it in the bass guitar and double bass forums, that's why you're seeing it twice.

    I've had the same problem with desafinado--"waddya mean that repeats?"
  7. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt

    Sep 20, 2000
    Endorsing Artist: Kiesel, Carvin, Accuracy, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden
    Fascinating stuff. There were many versions including the "Spaces" series and the "Spaces Solos" that were lifted from transcriptions in Down Beat, among other places. I much prefer the Chuck Sher series, better chords, complete arrangements, but there was nothing like The Real Book when it first started showing up at NTSU in the mid-70s.
    I used to gig with a Tulsa-based saxophonist, the late Joe Davis, in the mid-70s and I was amazed when he didn't use one because he knew all the tunes. I never thought I'd be that "Old Guy" but now 35 years later that's me. I rarely bring a Real Book to a gig anymore.
  8. Try it with a vocalist - gets interesting :)
  9. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    I thought it was:
    "Fake Book"= illegal,
    "Real Book"=legal....
  10. I got mine from a guy at a music store - they were stored under the counter.
  11. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt

    Sep 20, 2000
    Endorsing Artist: Kiesel, Carvin, Accuracy, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden
    The "Real Book guy" would come through NTSU (UNT) about once a semester. All of the students would tell each other, "Hey, the Real Book guy will be at this place at this time" and we'd all bring our $25 ( a lot in 1976) and get copies.
  12. KTFunkAlive


    Nov 28, 2007
    The "Real Book" was the first organized Fake book (name for Illegally copied book) that surfaced in the 70's.

    I'm not sure if it's just a rumor but I heard that it's Steve Swallows manuscript (Which explains the abundance of Swallow tunes)
  13. KTFunkAlive


    Nov 28, 2007
    Same At my College. He was like "the Dealer". It was pretty cool because you had to have one.

    I think I paid $40.00, but that was in '83.
  14. okcrum

    okcrum in your chest

    Oct 5, 2009
    Verde Valley, AZ
    RIP Dark Horse strings
    I laughed when I saw this. Thanks for the memory, so true.
  15. 251


    Oct 6, 2006
    Metro Boston MA
    Interesting reading. Thanks for posting. :cool:
  16. I got mine in 1978
  17. It's a shame I don't have a copy of the Real Book. If only someone might tell me where to get a copy *cough cough*
  18. gre107


    Dec 25, 2005
    The article link was really cool and overall good read.
    I grew up in Boston and yes you could buy these at instrument / music stores. Many a time I saw these pulled out from under the counter for a "quick" sell. HA!
    Good times!
    You can actually get these versions now on pdf's. Not that I have one... Ahem... I was just told that this was the case!
  19. My local music store has them out on the racks - they're legal now!!.

    They have them right next to another book that takes me back even further - The Arban Cornet Method!!
  20. pmcd


    Feb 22, 2006
    Umm...most music stores??? In 2005 Hal Leonard started publishing a legal version of the book(s). It is available at many music stores, and is superior to the illegal versions.

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    Primary TB Assistant

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