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Real book, New Real Book, what's the real book to get?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by ksandvik, Mar 13, 2008.

  1. I was browsing Amazon and found that there are many public versions of the underground 'Real Book' for jazz playing, but I'm not sure which one or ones to get? What would you recommend?

    Also, should the ones in the key of C be OK or anything specific tailored for both guitar and bass use?

    Thx for any info, Kent
  2. I like the regular Real Book, mine is bass clef. I've also got the Hal Leonard version, slightly different set of tunes. It's been a while since I was doing a lot of jazz gigs, but I suspect the older ones are still the standard. At least out here on the east coast.
  3. Hi, is this the underground version that one gets via word-of-mouth?

    I just want to pick something that most jazz musicians use in case I end up in a jazz jam. --Kent
  4. It used to be the case that that was what you showed up with. I do not know how regional that is, and if it has changed much with the introduction of the Hal Leonard version.
  5. Scot


    Mar 20, 2004
    Pacifica, CA, USA
    If I see any books at a jazz gig or jam (there's definitely a stigma to showing up with a fake book with some) it's almost always the good ol' Real Book.

    I still have my old trusty (and crusty) Real Book in bass clef, which is great for sightreading and learning the melodies on the bass but doesn't make many friends on the bandstand if others want to look. Seems like the Hal Leonard books should be better (e.g., corrected mistakes) but I haven't used them.
  6. justBrian


    Apr 19, 2002
    Kansas City, MO
    The Hal Leonard book is OK, but it is missing lots of tune that are in the other books. I've got some on CD--like 8--and we just use that when we want to add new tunes to our book.
  7. Yes, Wikipedia has a good listing of the missing material:


    It looks like I will get the Hal Leonard edition, worth supporting the cause that pays back to the song creators -- and get any missing parts from various other sources then later.

  8. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    I am in the minority but I think the HL legal ones are good. They have arrangements, suggested lines, hooks, lyrics, etc. It's not like the "illegal" ones are really great. There are lots of questionable changes in those as well.

    I would like to see everyone make the switch, but it won't happen until all the old guys quite using them and new players start using the "legal" ones.

    Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be one authority on the correct changes for standard tunes.
  9. sleeplessknight

    sleeplessknight Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2002
    Count me in the "hate the Hal Leonard version" crowd. I've used and loved the 5th edition RealBooks since I started playing, and there's just some *standard* standard tunes that Hal Leonard inexcusably left out (Alone Together, Days of Wine and Roses, etc etc etc). I dig some of the corrections in the Hal version, but c'mon, no "Night and Day"? I'm also all for the musicians (really, the record companies) getting paid too, but I've spent *far* more money on iTunes/Amazon just so I can get the phrasing on the heads 'just right' (UMMG, anyone?) than I have on the actual books themselves, so that's how I've reconciled my "pay the artist" guilt when using my "Real" Realbooks.

    Also, IMHO, jazz is kinda supposed to have that "underground" and "slightly illicit" vibe to it. I know that playing "Girl from Ipanema" for the 10,000,000th time ain't exactly my ticket to Hipville, but at some level I take just a little bit of pride that my Realbook (more often than not, even though I *do* own both) is the "proper" illegal version. When the mother of the bride inevitably comes up to (badly) sing that one verse that everyone knows, it's small comfort to know that at least the hippest thing on the bandstand is my 'counterculture' (perhaps 'vintage' now?) bootlegged charts keepin' the spirit of jazz alive. :D :bassist: :bawl:

    Or... somethin'. I need to get back to the woodshed now..

  10. sleeplessknight

    sleeplessknight Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2002
    p.s. any Boston cats know where I can pick up a copy or two of the REAL (read: illicit) Realbook? I've tried the usual places around town (Cambridge Music, Berklee Press, etc) but they're *all* tapped out. Mr. Music flatly told me they no longer sold them, even *after* I did the Secret Jazzbo Handshake(tm) with the shady man behind the counter. I've got my re-re-re-bound bass clef book (hint: Kinkos is AWESOME for this. Best $6 you'll ever spend!), but I wouldn't mind picking up a treble clef one just to work on my sight-reading. PM me bien sur, por favor!
  11. 62bass


    Apr 3, 2005
    I bought the Hal Leonard book. I consider it a waste of money. Not many tunes in it that are actually played in a jazz jam. But it is easier to read on a music stand and opens up and stays flat.

    Many years ago I had one of the real underground ones which it seemed most of the jazz players had then. They were full of mistakes and were treble clef only (melody) and the chord changes were often lame or wrong but they were good if you had a good ear and just needed a bit of a crutch for songs you weren't familiar with. The good jazz players just knew when to play the right chords rather than the lame ones. It was good for the lead instruments to quickly grab a melody they weren't familiar with. But it was hard to see on a dim stage on a music stand. What I did was was copy out a bunch of the most often played songs and correct the chords. That was easier and more useful for me as a bass player. As I improved I didn't need the charts anymore.
  12. DocBop


    Feb 22, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    I'm still using my 30 year old copy of the Real Book, but have some of the later variations of the original. I would say get the treble clef of the Real Book. Learn to read treble clef. Yes, you will mix clefs up a bit in the beginning, but after awhile it won't be a problem. With treble clef you can share with others on a gig or if you forget yours can read theirs. Also need to know treble clef to read/study theory and other music books.

    I would also get the Sher Publishing New Real Books they are very accurate and have Fusion and Funk tunes the original Real Books don't.

    As for Real Books at hard core Jazz jams, don't bring them it is uncool. Attitude is you might not know the head of a tune, but your ears are good enough to pickup on the changes, because they aren't going to stick to original changes that long anyway. But if you start working Casuals bring your Real Books. I've seen keyboard player show up with briefcases full of fake books to handle requests. Another reason to be able to read treble clef and/or have good ears.
  13. Dan Knowlton

    Dan Knowlton Sarcasm: Just ONE of the many services I offer! Supporting Member

    Aug 12, 2002
    Palm Coast, FL
    A couple of years back a guy had pdf's of the original Real Book - haven't seen them lately though! Is that an underground version of an underground book?

    Dan K.
  14. Antman3820

    Antman3820 Supporting Member

    Feb 27, 2005
    Toms River, NJ
    I actually have those PDF files and I also have the Illicit Real Book.....My Bass instructor used the Real Book, when I was taking lessons...Having the PDF files were great, because I was able to print up copies and use them for my weekly assignments.....There were about 20 different books on the CD I recieved...If you need more info, PM me...
  15. Scot


    Mar 20, 2004
    Pacifica, CA, USA
    Although a controversial subject, you can still find pdf versions of the Real Books. Try a google search for: "The Real Book.pdf"

    Wow, no Alone Together or Days??? I hope they at least have Autumn Leaves in G minor instead of E minor. I grimace and curse the Real Book every time someone calls it in E minor because it's such a jazz newbie key to play it in (not that I don't think we should know it in all keys).
  16. 98dvl


    Jan 31, 2002
    Pretty easy to find the PDF Real Books through a torrent search...
  17. David1234


    Jun 1, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    Endorsing Artist: SWR Amplifiers
    I usually wind up lugging the Real Book Vol 1, Vol 2 and New Real Book Vol 1. My favourite is still the New Real Book Vol 1.
  18. acleex38


    Jul 28, 2006
    Years ago, I found a site with the pdfs of the 3 volumes of illicit Real Book, 3 volumes of Hal Leonard Real Book, the Blues Real Book, and Jazz Ltd: Over 500 Tunes the Real Book Missed.

    I don't hate the Hal Leonard books...I just don't have much use for them. Every song I've wanted has been in the old version and not in the new version.
  19. jweiss

    jweiss Supporting Member

    Jul 5, 2007
    Park City, Utah
    Our univeristy only uses The Real Book 6th edition for legal reasons. However there are tunes in the 5th edition that are not in the 6th.

    Around here, if someone brings a real book to a jam session it's pretty much guaranteed to be the 6th edition legal version. Second would be the 5th edition. I rarely see the Chuck Sher ones.


    I have both the concert key and bass clef versions of the 6th edition. I usually bring the concert key version to jam sessions in case someone else wants to read the head.

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