blog post
12 August 2018

Playing Jazz Standards

A good deal of time with my students I dedicate to showing them the ways of playing jazz standards and using various approaches of harmonization.

Sophisticated Lady

“.. a not too sophisticated take on Sophisticated Lady”

This is one of my favorite ballads, a masterpiece by Duke Ellington. Here I try to implement some harmonic ideas within the melody of the tune.

Recorded on January 18, 2019

The Jitterbug Waltz

The Jitterbug Waltz is one of my favorite compositions by Thomas “Fats” Waller. It is has an interesting melody and elegant compbination of waltz with a strong blues feeling.

Alone Together

Alone Together is a beautiful ballad by Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz made special by Billie Holiday, Betty Carter with Ray Charles, Kenny Durham, Chet Baker AAamong others.

Here is a little demonstration filmed by one of my student from a lesson a few years ago.

‘Round Midnight

Here is a Thelonius Monk Round Midnight, one of the most beaytiful jazz ballad tunes. showed to one of my students on a lesson a few years ago

In Your Own Sweet Way By Dave Brubeck

This song by Dave Brubeck has a very interesting harmonic structure. 

Learning Jazz Standards

Studying harmony, learning how to connect the chords (voice leading) and make chord movements is important. And of course, listening to a great jazz piano masters like Art Tatum, George Shearing, Bud Powell, Bill Evans, Erroll Garner, Dave Brubeck, Oscar Peterson and many others is crucial for studying various approaches to standards. Pianists can also get much inspiration from getting to know the orchestral works of Tadd Dameron, Ellington and Strayhorn, Stan Kenton and Thad Jones. There is so much beauty in orchestrations made for singers. The great arranger Nelson Riddle made some beautiful arrangements for Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole. Here are some great albums by the singers (YouTube links):

Ray Charles and Betty Carter (arrangements by Marty Paich). Listen to “Alone Together”

Frank Sinatra Sings for Only the Lonely

Nat King Cole Sings For Two In Love

Somewhere Over The Rainbow (piano arrangement)

I have written dozens of jazz piano arrangements to demonstrate some approaches to jazz standards, harmonization techniques, etc. Here my arrangement version of a popular song Somewhere Over The Rainbow by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg. Click on the image below to go to the page with the audio and sheet music.

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Claudio Werner
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Great music, jazz is the best

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