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#472909 - 07/09/02 05:17 PM Learning Jazz
Aaron Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/09/01
Posts: 53
Loc: Oklahoma City
My piano teacher told me once that a good pianist can play both Classical and Jazz. I play Classical. I've been wanting to learn how to play jazz, and I was wondering what would be the best way to go about this?

I'm probably approaching it from a more "Classical" learning style (in other words, a structured method of learning) and Jazz is largely unstructured. But today I was thinking about learning Jazz, and it occured to me that you can study Jazz at conservatories, so there's obviously some employable learning method I could use for jazz.

I was in jazz band at my high school for two years, playing piano. I was terrible, in the grand scheme of things, but not all THAT bad for not having any clue how you're supposed to play jazz.

Oh yes, and I know people will suggest listening to recordings. Go ahead, I could DEFINITELY use some recommendations. I DO listen to jazz, all the time. For jazz piano, I like Keith Jarret, and Vince Guaraldi is nice, though much of his music sounds the same. For more casual jazz, Diana Krall and Harry Connick Jr. are some of my favorites (both of which play piano in their bands).

Thank you so much. \:\)
Aaron (PianistforJesus@aol.com)

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#472910 - 07/09/02 10:10 PM Re: Learning Jazz
April Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 323
Loc: Great Lakes State

There's a book by Ann Collins called "Jazz Works" that might be helpful to you. It is written specifically to teach jazz to classically trained pianists. It expects that you can sightread material at an intermediate level. Another book by her that might be useful is called "Lead Lines and Chord Changes." The two work together pretty well to serve as an introduction to jazz style. They're both put out by Alfred Publishing.

I think that Hal Leonard publishes a book actually titled Jazz for Classical Pianists (or some variation of that title - I can't remember for sure). You may want to take a look at that one, too.

Good luck,

#472911 - 07/09/02 11:30 PM Re: Learning Jazz
JS Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/14/01
Posts: 306
Loc: Lubbock, TX
Hal Leonard also publishes "The Aspiring Jazz Pianist" by Debbie Denke which I like a lot.

#472912 - 07/10/02 12:28 AM Re: Learning Jazz
Mr. Gould Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/01
Posts: 1111
I also wanted to learn some little solo jazz works. I really dont want to, but my parents really want me to play more variety of music, like if I go to a house party and there is a piano it would be better for me to play jazz.

Who knows maybe I will like it after I try playing??

#472913 - 07/10/02 01:32 AM Re: Learning Jazz
Renauda Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/02
Posts: 5066
I have a number of friends who are Jazz guitarists and over the past three or more years jammed in a few jazz sessions. Jazz players are masters of modulation- they have their scales, particularly modal scales, major and minor pentatonics and blues scales nailed in ALL keys. It seems to be a matter of fact for any of them to be able to improvise a tune in almost all keys.As for developing an ear or feel for jazz they almost invaribly all cite the Blues as the root source of their inspiration.

As for jazz piano I would recommend listening to lots of Jelly Roll Morton, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Fats Waller and the like before delving into the likes of Theolonius Monk and many of the BeBop players. Secondly, there are the Blues pianists like Jimmy Yancey, Otis Spann, Sunnyland Slim, Roosevelt Sykes and Jay McShann (he's still alive). All these names were the inspiration for all the modern jazz pianists including Oscar Peterson. You may also want to listen to some of the recent recordings with Fred Hersch- There is an excellent Disc called "Songs We Know" with Hersch on Piano and Bill Frisell on guitar. In a more classical vein the Latin Americans like the Brazilian, Ernesto Nazareth and Astor Piazolla, from Argentina will provide you with plenty of jazz like chord structures with great rhythms and melodies (both composers' music is widely published).

If you were to try this listening approach coupled with the already suggested books you could very well discover a new world of music that is just as spiritually rewarding as classical music. Have fun!
"The older the fiddle, the sweeter the music"~ Augustus McCrae

#472914 - 07/10/02 04:22 AM Re: Learning Jazz
.rvaga* Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/14/02
Posts: 2046
Loc: Portland, Oregon
My 2.5 cents worth. . .

As you are already an accomplished classical pianist, I would suggest you get some arrangements of jazz. There are many collections in print of standards by top artists: George Shearing, Lou Stein, Matt Dennis, etc. There are also some great transcriptions and arrangements by Bill Evans, Count Basie, Dave Brubeck, Dick Hyman, Waller, James Booker, "Jelly Roll" Morton, Marcus Roberts, Roland Hanna, Professor Longhair, Marian McPartland, and others.

Playing these, as well as arrangements/transcriptions of some of the old jazz masters could do worlds of good in getting you used to the sound and feel, and you would get a lot out of playing and studying the songs. All of this stuff is available. But, as pointed out above, some jazz artists can be esoteric to say the least. If you don't "get" Thelonious Monk, you won't get it IMHO. Same is perhaps true with Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea and others. If you are familiar with their playing, and love it, then of course these should be on your list as well.

Start building a library of advanced arrangements/transcriptions, just as you have with classical. You'll have one heck of a lot of fun exploring new sounds, and find yourself amazed at the high level of technical mastery of some of these 'ol boys.

Unfortunately, there is also a ton of junk out there in print-music land. Lousy arrangements, or watered-down renditions that work best as fire starters. Also reams of "advanced" music arrangements that are poor, IMHO. Anyone can write "hard" arrangements. But it takes a great pianist/musician to come up with a decent sounding -- and pianistic -- arrangement. Tom Roed is very good at jazz/pop arranging, as is Dan Coates.

#472915 - 07/10/02 01:32 PM Re: Learning Jazz
April Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 323
Loc: Great Lakes State
Aaron & Classical Player,

There is a book called "World's Best Piano Arrangements" published by Warner Bros. (# TMF 0227).

Their description is:

100 golden jazz standards arranged by greats such as Bill Evans, George Shearing, Art Tatum, Teddy Wilson, Dave Brubeck, 'Fats' Waller, and Duke Ellington. Titles include: Blue Moon * C Jam Blues * Ebb Tide * I'm in the Mood for Love * Mood Indigo * Satin Doll * Take Five * Who's Sorry Now. Spiral-bound.

This collection contains George Shearing's arrangement of "Over the Rainbow", which is absolutely gorgeous! The music in this book would be well suited to the house parties mentioned above. \:\)


#472916 - 07/10/02 10:35 PM Re: Learning Jazz
Aaron Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/09/01
Posts: 53
Loc: Oklahoma City
Thanks to everyone who responded, and anyone else who wants to put in what they have to say. \:\) In a few days I'll have to compile a list of all the books and recordings mentioned and look into them. I was at Pender's today, and I found a Jazz theory workbook (by Coker? Cooker? Something like that) that seemed like it would be worth looking at. I don't think it was directed at pianists, per se, but just jazz theory in general. (Dorian modes, blues scales, etc.)
Aaron (PianistforJesus@aol.com)

#472917 - 07/11/02 08:17 AM Re: Learning Jazz
Samejame Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 808
Loc: NL, Canada

Coming in a little late on this one, but I would add a reccomendation that you look at Christopher Norton's series of jazz compositions. His "Microjazz" series of compositions for children are also ideal adult starters. His all original compositions are great learning tools.

"A cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing" Oscar Wilde.

#472918 - 07/11/02 09:18 AM Re: Learning Jazz
MikeMcf31 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/07/02
Posts: 194
Loc: Northern NJ
Here is a great jazz piano website:



#472919 - 07/11/02 10:31 AM Re: Learning Jazz
daryl Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/26/02
Posts: 49
Loc: new york
Good choice!Jazz piano,like classical piano is an art form,and i feel that they complement eachother.The greatest jazz pianist were all classically trained,and a well honed technique is essential to play some of the intricate styles of jazz such as ragtime,stride,or bebop.I'm learning that now as a jazz pianist who did'nt study classical,so i'm on the same path but in the other direction.jazz piano is no easy task,you have to learn and internalize alot about chords and scales and harmony and how they function,but more than that you have to learn how to listen very well,because for the most part everything is interpretation and the goal of a true jazz musician is to never be repetative and always seek new interpretations.If you have mastered your classical technique your half way there.Good luck!
"Great talents ripen late;
"The highest notes are hard to hear"

Lao Tzu


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