The Books

There are two books available from this site:

  • Harmony with Lego Bricks was first published in 1985 and is the book aimed at jazz beginners wanting to know what to listen for in jazz and how to develop the understanding needed to be a practicing improvisor on the bandstand. The 2021 edition is the first time this book has been available as a PDF e-book.
  • Insights In Jazz, (2009) is the book that helps you see patterns in Jazz Standard chord progressions and  thereby memorise them so that you can play them in any key.

I bought your book from you already in e-form. I have found the whole methodology a very concise way of describing something similar to what most of us, to differing degrees of consciousness, do already. I find the Lego method is very good for helping my (better) students identify common harmonic material and it has also helped me rationalise various systems I have developed over the years. I am developing practise material over the various bricks at the moment. We should get together sometime for a chat and maybe a play! I have listened to most of your podcasts as well as reading both your book and Conrad’s, and I must commend you on a really well conceived piece of work. Since I have been in education I have made a point of trying to examine all the different resources available and the usability and originality of the Lego concept is one of the best things I have found.

Dave O’Higgins, saxophonist, composer, educator, producer.

The Problem

Anyone interested in playing jazz standards faces the same set of daunting challenges:

  • What can I do to stop jam sessions being stressful? How can I learn enough songs so as to be not embarrassed when other jazz musicians call well-known tunes that I cannot play?
  • How do I achieve a high-level understanding of songs so that I always know where I am and can stop worrying about what the next chord is in the progression?
  • How can I make each song my own and free up mental space for creative thought so that I can improvise in a meaningful and cohesive way?
  • Is it possible to learn songs in such a way that playing them live in any key is not stressful?

The Solution

These challenges can all be tackled using the method outlined in the Harmony With LEGO Bricks book, which exploits the astonishing way the human brain naturally remembers things through a hierarchical process of understanding. Common ‘bricks’ of chords are identified along with ‘joins’ that allow you to move from one to the next within a song. A small repertoire of twenty-four songs is analysed in prose.

Insights In Jazz moves to the next level, taking the baseline method established and applying it to over 230 songs. The baseline method is extended and updated according to the needs of those songs so that you can see how to apply the method to your favourite songs. MP3 audio tracks of 55 bricks used are provided to allow you to hear how they sound.

Reliable chord progressions are provided for a body of songs that are likely to be called on the bandstand (and some others for interest) with complete analyses of bricks and joins presented as visual roadmap charts. Once you see a chart, you find the song form and changes hard to forget. The roadmaps are provided as a PDF file allowing you to electronically search for features across all the songs in order to rapidly make the associations that facilitate memorising.

Whatever your level of jazz musicianship this book will help free your mind up for developing better improvisations and interacting with other musicians on stage.

Conrad Cork, author of  Harmony with LEGO bricks wrote an endorsement of Insights In Jazz.