[Dixielandjazz] Fake Books [long]

David W. Littlefield dwlit at cpcug.org
Mon Mar 24 12:00:51 PST 2003

As the producer of several fake books, and one who has been "ripped off", I'll
weigh in on this. 

The basic answer is NO, don't put someone else's fake book on CD (except for
your own use), and don't make copies for anyone else. 

The problem is that some of the fake books are not generally available--one has
to know someone who knows someone, etc., or one has to have access to a
"musician's music store". We used to have one of these in DC that carried
anything they could get; periodically a salesman would come in, so they had a
continuous supply of old and new ones. So what is one to do? None of the books
I saw or bought identified the source, so the only thing one can do is copy

But if one knows the source, one should buy from the producer, or a music
dealer who is selling hard copies and presumably has obtained them from an
authorized source. 

Speaking personally, I have 3 books out, 2 more in the works. 
"Gig Book" is a compilation from a wide variety of sources, mostly other books,
and my contribution generally is 1. the format, 2. the selection, which is
informed by my experience as a bandleader--in fact, it's basically half of my
danceband book, which I put into the computer when I retired from my "day gig".
The only section that required much work was the Jewish-Israeli section. If
someone ripped it off, I'd be irritated, but not particularly put out.

"30s-40s Fake Book" is essentially the other half of my band book, but with
significant differences, and I devoted a lot of time to making the sheets of
the classic big band tunes--I have a collection of stock and transcription
arrangements--and transcribed portions from the records, particularly Artie
Shaw solos and complete lead lines from a several of his records. I got a lot
of the standards from the Anderson book, and used my early 30s stocks to
supplement it. This book is also informed by extensive listening to my CD
collection, and experience with a 10-piece dance orchestra. So there's enough
of me in the book that a rip-off would piss me off, but not enough to make me

"Dixieland Fake Book" is another matter. I started it from scratch. Of course
it has plenty of pop tunes from Anderson and published sources, but after
working with "Firehouse Fake Book" and "Vintage Jazz Standards", I decided
there was plenty of room for another book which would try to be authoritative
and relate to the records. So I worked my butt off on the multi-strained
classics, and spent many hours transcribing many of those, plus some of the
solos, in whole or part from the records. Anderson didn't help me much with
these, because his sources were often defective or inadequate in one way or
another. I spent much time on the layout of each sheet, trying to make each one
easy to follow. Etc. Etc.

So there's a L-O-T of me in this book, so much that I'm utterly enraged that
someone has ripped it off and is selling it on CD-rom at a ridiculous price.
DFB is readily available to anyone who looks up Fake Books on Google, and
ordering info is in the book, so there's no excuse for the rip-off. 

As for the issue of royalties, there are rationales up the wazoo for not
worrying oneself about them. My thinking is that the owners of the music have
not made it available in usable form. I tried to interest several publishers in
a book like mine, but only one responded; the latter was very interested, but
only wanted public domain tunes, which at this time would drastically reduce
the usefulness of the book.
I view what I earn from sales as payment for the ME that's in it. Since I can't
sell the book to most music stores, my market is limited to a niche--people I
contact, people who look for it on the net, people who see a copy and contact
me, referrals. So there's no way I'll sell enough to deprive the copyright
owners of more than a pittance, which to my mind is compensated for by my
preserving the tunes. The icing on this cake is that many of the classic tunes
apparently were never published in the first place, and the classic records by
which we know many of these tunes were never not published as transcriptions.

I guess a final one would be that fake books are a part of the business,
obviously important, judging from the great number that are available
commercially. I think that our "niche" books are too small in volume for them
to come after. 

There are a few notes on the eMail snips below.

At 01:44 AM 3/23/2003 -0500, Banjo06820 at aol.com wrote: 
> I got mine at the Stone Street Strummers annual affair,which BTW is coming up
> next weekend in Mass. They were being sold at a vendors table,the name of
> which I have forgotten. I carry a laptop to the gig and put it on a heavy
> music stand. That way I can call up any tune post haste. I wonder if Chas.
> Anderson would like me to scan and burn his collection? How does he and the
> fake book printers handle it? I remember back in the early fifties you had to
> buy them "under the counter"  and were warned not to get caught with it? Boy
> am I getting old.
> Bill Lee

Charles Anderson died, but he gave his business to Jim Jones, who is now the
owner and *authorized* seller of the book; Jim will continue to add to it.
Unfortunately, someone has already ripped it off onto CD-rom and like my book,
is selling it cheaply, and neither Jim nor I are receiving any share of the

Steve Barbone wrote:
>A friend of mine copied his and gave a CD to me. Don't know where he got
>it. Who has a CD burner out there? It is called THE FAKE BOOK CD"

My understanding is that one or more musicians in the Annapolis Navy band did
I know some of the books (marked by ***) These are books the sources of which
can't be identified, hence are not readily available.
>and it contains:

>Bill Evans Fake Book
>The Jazz Fakebook
***The Real Book Vol 1
***The Real Book Vol 2
***The Real Book Vol 3
Library of Musicians Jazz
???The Colorado Cook Book--what is this?
Jazz LTD
???The New Real Book Vol 1--are these underground books or commercially
???The New Real Book Vol 2
???The New Real Book Vol 3
***The Book - Commercial--This is a fine book. Hand written, but the print is
oh so small, it's a general book, mostly post-OKOM, with good chords, certainly
a good one to have. But lacks much C&W, and 50s Rock'n'Roll, as well as Motown
and other "oldies". 

I may have answered the following above.
Bill Haesler wrote;
>Your fake book copy CD sounds a bit dodgy to me.
>Particularly with all that stuff on it.
>The less said the better I think, or you will have the copyright police
>on your door. 8>)
>And also, perhaps, the authors of the original 'fake' books who have had their
>lifetime effort ripped off.
>It's a bit like copying currently available jazz CDs instead of buying the
>original and encouraging the, mainly private, producers. 

Barbone replied:
>Yes, perhaps, but then didn't those "fake book" authors rip off the original
>authors too? The music on the CD is transcribed from various sources. e.g.
>from original sheet music, some from painstaking transcription from records,
>like Dizzy & Bird's record of A Night in Tunisia.

David W. Littlefield, Piano, Guitar, Banjo, Washboard
Compiler: "Dixieland FB" (Bb, C); "30S-40S FB (Bb, C)"; "Gig Book"
http://cpcug.org/user/dwlit (Dixie playalong list, other tools)  
http://americanmusiccaravan.com (Fake Books, Chord Books, Bands)
eMail: dwlit at cpcug.org

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