Re: The real book
Well the one that most people have, at least when I was in college, is "The Real Book". There are several legal volumes of this but I'm referring to the illegal copy that looks horrible. The only problem with this book is that a lot of the changes are wrong and even some of the melodies are inaccurate. Plus tunes like Autumn Leaves are written in a key that most people don't play it in unless they learned the song from this book(although it is always helpful to learn a tune is many keys). The legal volumes of "The Real Book" are ok but not great. I actually think that Jamey Aebersold's play-alongs have the most accurate versions of standards but that gets expensive really quickly because each volume only contains about 15 songs and they cost about $15 a volume. Another book I find helpful is "Pocket Changes". This is a book that is in concert C and contains only the changes to just about any standard a beginner would want, but no melody. This is really helpful for practicing and also to give to the rhythm section on a gig when they don't know a tune that you know. This isn't helpful for melodies and would require you to learn them from another source.
All of these books contain standards like "All the Things You Are", "Blue Bossa", etc... universal tunes that everyone should know whether you are in California, Iowa or New York. When you say swing are you talking about big band music and older songs like "In the Mood"? I'm just making sure that I'm leading you to the right material. A few of those types of tunes are in these books for gigging purposes but mostly these books contain standards and bebop tunes. Speaking of bebop, the "Omnibook" is one of the better sources for learning Bird tunes.
The best source for learning tunes should be your ears. Once you get some of these books you should focus on buying the definitive recordings of several popular standards and try to memorize the melody and chord changes by using your ears. When you feel that you are ready to do this let me know and I can give you some tips about learning tunes.
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