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What exactly is cocktail piano as opposed to jazz piano? #2349377
11/13/14 12:01 AM
11/13/14 12:01 AM
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pianolearnerstride Offline OP
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I'm a bit sketchy on what constitutes cocktail piano. Is there something that distinguishes cocktail piano, and jazz solo piano in general?

Thanks for any input.

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Re: What exactly is cocktail piano as opposed to jazz piano? [Re: pianolearnerstride] #2349498
11/13/14 09:31 AM
11/13/14 09:31 AM
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Posts: 828
Germany
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Piano Girl RMG Offline
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Germany
I've been playing cocktail piano for almost 40 years and I still haven't figured out the answer to that question. There are accomplished classical pianists playing in cocktail lounges, heavy jazz musicians, musical theater experts, and people like me, who write their own music and hope for the best. Some of the best jazz pianists I know work the occasional cocktail gig.

I think the best answer is to find a room that suits your style and never forget that you are not the star of the show, but part of the ambience of the room. Stay in the background (except when it's appropriate to step into the spotlight's glow), play what you love, and the customers will love it, too.


Robin Meloy Goldsby
www.goldsby.de
Author of PIANO GIRL: A Memoir
RHYTHM: A Novel
RMG is a Steinway Artist
Re: What exactly is cocktail piano as opposed to jazz piano? [Re: pianolearnerstride] #2349638
11/13/14 03:19 PM
11/13/14 03:19 PM
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pianolearnerstride Offline OP
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Thanks for the input!

Re: What exactly is cocktail piano as opposed to jazz piano? [Re: pianolearnerstride] #2349645
11/13/14 03:30 PM
11/13/14 03:30 PM
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Hidden son of Teddy Wilson Offline
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My definition of cocktail piano would be :
- you stay in the background
- don't play too loud
- don't necessarily play in tempo; lots of rubato

Jazz is the opposite- people are (supposed to be) listening, you have
to make it swing and make it interesting. Not appropriate for cocktail
piano because it gets in the way of conversations.


Re: What exactly is cocktail piano as opposed to jazz piano? [Re: pianolearnerstride] #2349648
11/13/14 03:33 PM
11/13/14 03:33 PM
Joined: Oct 2007
Posts: 184
raleigh, nc
JazzPianoOnline Offline
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raleigh, nc
cocktail piano refers to a style of solo piano where the melody is highly ornamented with runs and arpeggios. the repertoire is usually pop tunes and standards.

btw robin- i loved your book.


Bill
bill@jazzpianoonline.com
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Re: What exactly is cocktail piano as opposed to jazz piano? [Re: pianolearnerstride] #2349744
11/13/14 07:27 PM
11/13/14 07:27 PM
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 1,382
Twin Cities
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TonyB Offline
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Twin Cities
Look around this site for a sense of cocktail style piano:

http://www.cocktailpiano.com/index.html

He (Jim Haskins) says pretty much what is said here, but you get a real feel for the style through the CD samples and his writing about fine cocktail piano rooms.

By the way, I have the entire collection of his CDs, having purchased them from him over the years as he puts them out. All are really wonderful listening.

Tony


Re: What exactly is cocktail piano as opposed to jazz piano? [Re: pianolearnerstride] #2349763
11/13/14 08:17 PM
11/13/14 08:17 PM
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California
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Michael Martinez Offline
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Cocktail piano uses standard jazz harmonies on things like showtunes and standards, but discards the rhythms you find in straight jazz in favor of a looser embellishment of the melody. Cocktail piano stays with a standard harmonic interpretation of a tune. Also since it's solo piano, voicings include the root. Based heavily around the melody. Because the goal is basically background music, you won't get too far out as far as improvisation or harmonies go.


Music Educator, Computer Engineer, avid reader of literature, enjoyer of the outdoors
http://www.michael--martinez.com/music/
Re: What exactly is cocktail piano as opposed to jazz piano? [Re: pianolearnerstride] #2349809
11/13/14 09:47 PM
11/13/14 09:47 PM
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Posts: 1,867
rintincop Offline
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I would not say that cocktail piano style abandons jazz rhythms, I don't do that and I play a lot pf cocktail parties... I would say that many cocktail pianist don't have much of a jazz rhythm sense and that's why they tend to abandon the jazz rhythm.

Re: What exactly is cocktail piano as opposed to jazz piano? [Re: pianolearnerstride] #2843885
04/30/19 07:02 PM
04/30/19 07:02 PM
Joined: Apr 2019
Posts: 7
Tasmania Australia
Piano of Tasmania Offline
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Piano of Tasmania  Offline
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Tasmania Australia


Song for Sienna. A Sweet little tune I often play during high moments in a cocktail lounge smile


My YouTube channel: A Piano of Tasmania
Re: What exactly is cocktail piano as opposed to jazz piano? [Re: Michael Martinez] #2844273
05/01/19 07:09 PM
05/01/19 07:09 PM
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New York City
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Originally Posted by Michael Martinez
Cocktail piano uses standard jazz harmonies on things like showtunes and standards, but discards the rhythms you find in straight jazz in favor of a looser embellishment of the melody. Cocktail piano stays with a standard harmonic interpretation of a tune. Also since it's solo piano, voicings include the root. Based heavily around the melody. Because the goal is basically background music, you won't get too far out as far as improvisation or harmonies go.
This is a good description of my idea of cocktail piano.

I wonder if Beegie Adair should be classified as a cocktail pianist? I've read that she is plays "smooth jazz". Here is her recording of Yesterdays to help you decide:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_aDqfgr6R4

Re: What exactly is cocktail piano as opposed to jazz piano? [Re: pianolearnerstride] #2844304
05/01/19 09:31 PM
05/01/19 09:31 PM
Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 2,997
Northern VA, U.S.
ClsscLib Offline

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I can’t classify Beegie Adair, but I love her music.


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"People may say I can't sing, but no one can ever say I didn't sing."

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Re: What exactly is cocktail piano as opposed to jazz piano? [Re: pianolearnerstride] #2844354
05/02/19 03:36 AM
05/02/19 03:36 AM
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Israel
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Nahum Online content
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Israel
The function of the cocktail piano for ears is similar to function of interior design of the hotel hall for eyes, i.e. background function - with all the ensuing consequences.

Re: What exactly is cocktail piano as opposed to jazz piano? [Re: ClsscLib] #2844443
05/02/19 09:52 AM
05/02/19 09:52 AM
Joined: Jun 2016
Posts: 763
Southern California
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Originally Posted by ClsscLib
I can’t classify Beegie Adair, but I love her music.


+1. smile


[Linked Image]

Kawai Novus NV10
Re: What exactly is cocktail piano as opposed to jazz piano? [Re: pianolearnerstride] #2845822
05/06/19 03:49 PM
05/06/19 03:49 PM
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Rochester, NY
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NittyRanks Offline
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Rochester, NY
They are the same.

Re: What exactly is cocktail piano as opposed to jazz piano? [Re: NittyRanks] #2845832
05/06/19 04:44 PM
05/06/19 04:44 PM
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New York City
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Originally Posted by NittyRanks
They are the same.
Not really. Cocktail piano is a type of jazz piano.

Re: What exactly is cocktail piano as opposed to jazz piano? [Re: pianoloverus] #2845949
05/07/19 01:34 AM
05/07/19 01:34 AM
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Israel
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Nahum Online content
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Originally Posted by NittyRanks
They are the same.
Can you imagine McCoy Tyner in the hotel lobby?


Originally Posted by pianoloverus
[Not really. Cocktail piano is a type of jazz piano.
As well as country and pop piano.

Last edited by Nahum; 05/07/19 01:35 AM.
Re: What exactly is cocktail piano as opposed to jazz piano? [Re: pianolearnerstride] #2845967
05/07/19 03:33 AM
05/07/19 03:33 AM
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Left Coast of US
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Docbop Offline
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Cocktail piano has nothing to do with real Jazz. Cocktail piano is like what used to be called Easy Listening music it's fluffy background music.

Re: What exactly is cocktail piano as opposed to jazz piano? [Re: Nahum] #2845971
05/07/19 03:51 AM
05/07/19 03:51 AM
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Oakland
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BDB Offline
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Originally Posted by Nahum
Originally Posted by NittyRanks
They are the same.
Can you imagine McCoy Tyner in the hotel lobby?


Originally Posted by pianoloverus
[Not really. Cocktail piano is a type of jazz piano.
As well as country and pop piano.

I have tuned for a McCoy Tyner performance in a hotel, but it was not in the lobby.


Semipro Tech
Re: What exactly is cocktail piano as opposed to jazz piano? [Re: pianolearnerstride] #2845975
05/07/19 04:29 AM
05/07/19 04:29 AM
Joined: Sep 2014
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Israel
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Nahum Online content
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Originally Posted by BDB

I have tuned for a McCoy Tyner performance in a hotel, but it was not in the lobby.
Yes, it is a hard problem.

Re: What exactly is cocktail piano as opposed to jazz piano? [Re: pianolearnerstride] #2845977
05/07/19 04:45 AM
05/07/19 04:45 AM
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Moscow, Russia
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