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Skip to 0 minutes and 7 secondsYou’ll see next to my piano I have my laptop and on it I have the Aebersold playalong track which we have been working on. This is connected to some speakers which are next to the piano so that when I use the playalong track I can play the piano with it. When I hit the space bar … then I start the playalong track, and then when I hit the space bar again I stop the playalong track at that point. What we are going to do now is to play my version of “Now’s The Time” using a playalong track and voicings in the left hand.

Skip to 0 minutes and 50 secondsThere are two positions for the left hand: a lower position and an upper position, like we had for the C blues. In fact, because we are only going to use chords in this general area the voicings which we use are the other way around. That is to say, with the C blues the higher voicing was the thirteenth shape first of all. We are going to find that the lower voicing for the F blues is the thirteenth shape like this. So our lower positions consists of the thirteenth voicing for F7, the ninth voicing for B flat7 and the ninth voicing for C7. That's going to be the lower position. Then the upper position is going to be

Skip to 1 minute and 33 secondsthe other way around: the ninth voicing for F7, the thirteenth voicing for B flat7 and the thirteenth voicing for C7. We are going to play one chord to the bar. We usually play the chord on the first beat of the bar, but when we get towards the end, because the tune is syncopated, it’s probably easier to lock the two hands together - to play the left hand with the right hand. Technically that will mean that the left hand comes out on the “And” of the fourth beat of the previous bar. But don’t worry about that. Just for the moment play what feels comfortable for you. Let’s just recap again what our blues chords consist of.

Skip to 2 minutes and 14 secondsThe first bar is F7, the second bar is B flat7, then home again, home, two chords of B flat 7, home, home, C7, B flat7, home, home. Let’s have a go …

Skip to 3 minutes and 4 secondsSo that final phrase is … and likewise … those are coming down ahead of the first beat of the bar. Right, now let’s use our lower voicing position to play the blues and let’s move the blues down to the middle of the piano. That turns out to be more difficult because the thumbs are fighting for the same note.

Skip to 3 minutes and 36 secondsIf you are finding it difficult then just separate out the hands again and play the tune an octave higher. But I actually think it sounds better - the blues - in the middle of the piano. This is where I would play it in voiced position. Take for example the very first bar … What we do is when we play that second D we move the thumb out of the way to enable us to do it, because the tune has to win … moving the thumb out of the way. Let’s have a go …

Skip to 4 minutes and 43 secondsSo we have played “Now’s The Time” with our playalong track

Skip to 4 minutes and 47 secondsusing voiced position in the left hand: upper voicings first of all and lower voicings secondly.

Playing "Now's The Time" using an F blues playalong track

This is a key step since we take a first look at using a playalong track to play with in voiced position, which is the central mechanism used in the rest of the course.

You can download charts for the voiced skeletal blues sequence in F in the two positions in PDF format at the bottom of this step.

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This video is from the free online course:

Learn Jazz Piano: I. Begin with the Blues

Goldsmiths, University of London