Posts tagged jazz

How Classical Pianists Learn Jazz

I’ll never forget sitting at the piano at age 15 completely frustrated and baffled by the fact that i had witnessed musicians playing without music.  Now these weren’t musicians playing memorized pieces… they were apparently making it up as they went along.  How intriguing!  Improvisation of notes… but how? How did they know what combinations of notes ‘went together’ to make that kind of sound?  Sure i had practiced (ad nauseum) my dominant 7ths… and i had read somewhere that jazz was all about 7ths… but my solid and broken chords sure didn’t sound like any jazz i had ever heard.  Enter Dave Brubeck.  My brother gave me a book called Impressions of New York for Easy Piano (pictured).  If you can get your hands on a copy it’s a FABULOUS book!  But one great thing about Brubeck is that he wrote out what he played.  For Classical died-in-the-wool piano players, this is INVALUABLE because we’re so used to reading… then processing, then playing.  And this book was my first small step into jazz – listening to chords i liked the sound of, extrapolating, analyzing, and integrating into my own playing.  Jazz is all about vocabulary.  Ask a child 7 years of age to write a story.  Ask a well travelled, well read, well educated adult to write a story and you know of what i speak.  It’s the vocabulary of words that make the difference.  In jazz, it’s the chords – the musical words that tell the story.  So next time you play some chord that you like – pause – listen – think – analyze then integrate.  And if you’re not great at experimenting with chords, get a book like Dave Brubeck’s where he weaves together musical concepts – bridging the gap from those who read with those who improvise.

Retro

 

James Brown on one of his recordings said when asked for the next tune “i don’t know…but whatever it is, it’s jes gotta be funk-ay”.  I tend to like songs that are not only fun to listen to but also fun to play.  There’s just something about swing, funk & blues that bring a smile to my face.  Sometimes when i play, the pure mechanical feeling at the piano is exciting.  It’s almost like a musical puzzle – a tongue twister but once accomplished, it’s most satisfying.  This collection of songs is a sampler of various genres from the 1920’s to the 1970’s.  It contains laid back jazz, dixieland and even a bit of boogie woogie.  If fun is what you’re after, it doesn’t get more entertaining than this!

Repertoire

  1. Just in Time
  2. Dig It!
  3. Funk-ay
  4. Out Walkin’
  5. Chicago
  6. Checkers
  7. In Such a Flap!
  8. Riff Raff Blues
  9. The Moon and Back
  10. Cherries on Top
  11. Bullfrog Blues
  12. Afro & Bellbottoms
Go to Top