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Skip to 0 minutes and 7 seconds So first, we’ll have a look at the upper voicings for “I’ve Got Rhythm.” So we’re going to start off with a third inversion B flat major seventh, then first inversion with G minor 7 and then third inversion for C minor seventh and the 9th for F7. Then that repeats.

Skip to 0 minutes and 29 seconds Now, we come to F minor seven. Well, let’s first of all consider the third inversion F minor seven. B flat seven with the 9th. E flat major seventh the third inversion. A flat seventh with the 9th, and we’re back home. II-V-I. Now, that’s a bit high. So the natural thing to do is to use the one below it, which is first inversion 13th, 6/9th, 13th. And one of the problems about this II-V-I to E flat major

Skip to 1 minute and 5 seconds is: this is too high. That’s fine – that’s more or less in the middle of the piano. But if we were to take the upper one and put it down an octave –

Skip to 1 minute and 14 seconds then it’s really probably a bit too low. I don’t think I mind an E flat major seventh too much. That’s not too bad. I think I find A flat seven, the ninth shape down there, just too low. It will depends on the piano you’ve got. I’ve got an excellent piano, so it doesn’t sound too bad, but if the piano is not brilliant, it won’t sound that good.

Skip to 1 minute and 35 seconds So what I think we’ll do as an exercise is we’ll take the upper voicings, but really, I think – remember when you’re in a position of playing the left-hand, you don’t have to stay in that position, you can change it, especially when it comes to setting up a II-V-I, taking you to a different tonal centre. So we use the upper voicings. Now we come to the middle eight. So we’re going to play 13th for D7, 9th for G7, 13th for C7, 9th for F7, and then it’s back again.

Skip to 2 minutes and 12 seconds Then we’re going to go up.

Skip to 2 minutes and 17 seconds So remember how you should think of playing jazz piano with a rhythm section, which is what we’re mostly concerned with. You think of the roots as going down first – everything is built on the foundation of the roots – and that’s played or implied by the bass player. Then we have our chords in the middle of the piano to give us our harmonic content, and then over the top of that we add the right hand with either the tune or the improvisation. Now what’s important, of course, is the rhythm section needs to play in time. But in a way, the left hand has to be right. The left hand has to be in time, too.

Skip to 2 minutes and 55 seconds You can’t add or subtract beats with the left hand. So in a sense, it’s more important at this stage that you get the left hand right, and you add the right hand either playing the tune or improvising. And playing this particular tune – at least the version I’ve written for you – is not particularly easy because it’s quite syncopated. And if we’re going to play regular patterns with the left hand – as an exercise at this stage – then it’s not the easiest thing to play the tune over the top of it. Let’s start off just by playing the voicings. And we’ll play it, first of all, legato. 1, 2, 1, 2, 3, 4.

Skip to 3 minutes and 51 seconds Middle eight.

Skip to 4 minutes and 1 second Last eight.

Skip to 4 minutes and 15 seconds Right. Let’s now try doing it stabbed. 1, 2, 1, 2, 3, 4.

Skip to 5 minutes and 7 seconds Now I should add that I’ve actually slowed this down from the Aebersold version, I think by 80%, because it’s probably a bit too fast for you at this stage. I you can play it at that speed, that’s great, and you can aim towards increasing the speed. And with Audacity, you can vary the speed, as I showed you. Although the problem with Audacity is you have to, in a sense, apply the slowdown, and then typically save it. I actually use a system called Transcribe. As a system – and as it sounds like – it’s a superb system for working on transcriptions of solos. I recommend it highly. And it’s not very expensive.

Skip to 5 minutes and 52 seconds I don’t know the exact price at the moment, but it’s less than 100 pounds. And I think it’s a really wonderful system. It has a slider on it for the speed. So at the moment I slid it down to 80% to give us a chance to get our chords in.

Using upper voicings for "I Got Rhythm"

Using upper voicings in the left hand for playing “I Got Rhythm”. Reference is made at the end of the video to the system Transcribe.

The playalong I have provided for “I Got Rhythm” is available at the end of the Exercises (step 1.14) and also here.

Don’t forget to right click on the mp3 file link “here” if you want to download it (see Step 1.1).

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This video is from the free online course:

Learn Jazz Piano: II. Improvising on Jazz Standards

Goldsmiths, University of London