Skip to 0 minutes and 10 secondsSo let’s have a go at playing Brad Mehldau’s interpretation of Lenon and McCartney’s “Blackbird”. I’ll try and keep to the music by and large although, on occasion, I’m bound to do my own thing. For example, I’ll be playing grace notes. Take the second bar third bar So we’ll be playing grace notes - and probably wrong notes as well - but I hope to give you enough so that you can have a go at this and have some fun with it.

Skip to 0 minutes and 49 secondsThe structure: I’ll play the introduction, 8 bars, then A1 - that’s the tune through to the first time bar, A2 - the tune through to the second time bar where it modulates temporarily to F, A3 - which is on page 2, first 2 lines there - in fact to the second time bar -

Skip to 1 minute and 8 secondsthe end of page 1 is the end of the tune: A1, A2, A3 essentially. I’ll do some improvisation on A1 and A2 trying to just use the pentatonic scale for G. So I’ll miss out Cs and Fs and F sharps, and so on. I can do that for A1. I can do it for A2 up until the second time bar, but then we’ve got the modulation so then I’ll have to use Cs and Fs. Then I’ll do another chorus where I’ll try and make it a bit more jazz-inflected by playing more jazz scales - like blues scales and so on.

Skip to 1 minute and 47 secondsI’ll try and keep the left hand much the same throughout, but I think I’ll have a go at putting in some chords at some stage so that you can hear what it sounds like with our voicings. Strictly, to make it meaningful, you really need a rhythm section. I haven’t got one because there isn’t an Aebersold version of “Blackbird”, unfortunately. Never mind. We will have a go at playing it. After the jazz I will go then go back to the head - which is the second line, bar 9, through to the Coda, the end of bar (line) 3.

Skip to 2 minutes and 20 secondsAt the Coda I’ll just wind it down by playing the last bit of the tune a few times and then I’ll move over to the Outro which is this bass line with chords. I’ll do a little bit of improvising on that and then essentially build it up to a plink ending - I hope.

Playing "Blackbird" solo

We discuss how to play and improvise on the tune “Blackbird” as a solo piece, and utilising a pentatonic scale in the improvisation, prior to presenting an illustration.

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This video is from the free online course:

Learn Jazz Piano: III. Solo Piano and Advanced Topics

Goldsmiths, University of London