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Devices for playing “Satin Doll” in root position

Devices for playing "Satin Doll" in root position
We’ve looked at “Satin Doll” using 2 note voicings and then using 3 note voicings. What I want to do in this section is give you some idea of the sort of things I might play. Now I haven’t written out for you a version in root position because I would probably never play the same thing. I’d use elements which were the same, but they would differ depending on the context - who I’m playing with - whether I’m on my own, playing with a rhythm section. Even with a rhythm section you can play in root position. Really I don’t want to be too definitive.
I want to give you the ingredients of how to play in root position, but this is an introduction to playing in root position, so I don’t want to go through everything in great detail. You’ll need to look at the piano as well as the music to probably get what I’m saying in this section. Let’s have a look at playing the tune.
Right, the first thing I might do with that 3 note voicing is to move some of the inner voicings, as well, to match the tune. If I play the top in thirds - I might do that. Then the next chord - so instead of just playing that, I’m adding the E. What is that? It’s just our old friend the thirteenth voicing for G7 but it’s shared between two hands, because the root and the seventh is played in the left hand and the tenth, the thirteenth and the tune is played in the right hand.
Then the same thing up a tone
except I can do some chromatic anticipation getting up to that E minor
Another device which I like to do is to play the root like this and then the tune over the top.
First of all the chords have been simplified. In the previous version we had split bars A minor7, D7. This is just D7 for a whole bar, and similarly the next bar is just D flat7. So you’ve got the root and then I’m just playing a standard ninth in the left hand, but I’m adding another note maybe in the right hand so the chord is more even between the 2 hands. In fact, I can also include the third an octave higher - even though, generally speaking, repeating the third is not a good idea - but it doesn’t sound too bad in this context. Again, you have to use your own judgement whether you like it or not.
And then you don’t have to, but I’m moving the inner voice there. Instead of - we had one bar C7, and a split bar E minor7, A7 to get us back to the D minor7, what we’re doing, I’m suggesting here, is to go C7 and go down chromatically, B7, B flat7, A7. So that B7 gets us to B flat7. What’s B flat7? B flat7 is the flat five substitute of E, so that we have E, A going to D minor. So we’ve got flat 5 substitute which is B flat, then we’ve got A - as A.
Whether you play minors or majors, as we’ve said, one of the rules of the Clock of Keys says either as long as it doesn’t clash with the tune. So we’ve got this … What I might do is, depending on the context, maybe just take my ninth shape and take it down chromatically.
Second time bar, we’re going up - sorry - C7.
Let’s move to the first bar of the middle 8. We’re going to play G minor7. If I take the first inversion and share that between the 2 hands and put in a fifth here, I get this chord. In fact, I can thicken it up even more by getting the thumb to play 2 notes - the C and the D. We’ve got the tune is also repeated below so we get that. What’s happening here? We’ve got the ninth shape and we’re sharing it between the 2 hands with the root.
We’ve just got the fifth tenth version of F major7, and there’s the fifth and the major seventh and we go up to a G minor7, then a G sharp diminished, then an A minor7. Now the same thing again,
and then
What other ways did the way I played it yesterday differ from the way I’ve given you some ideas so far about “Satin Doll”? Well the first thing is I had an introduction. It goes like this.
This chord …
just a triad in the right hand and in some circles it’s known as “drop 3”, because you take the tune and the bass note - you drop it 3 in the scale.
Then I’ve got a little colour note there … so it’s just a dominant - we’re on the dominant getting ready to start the tune. The piece is in C. We’re doing the dominant which is therefore G. That’s the introduction. How about the other place - the end? Well the end consists of doing that
3 times
and now, this time
Some chord of C - C7. I’ve chosen sharp nine there. How about in the middle? Well when I played yesterday it was in a quintet context - with a rhythm section as well - I played a little device that Oscar Peterson uses which goes
I call that sound a “plink” sounds that goes plink plink,
plink, plink. Anything else? Yes.
Everybody who wanted to had a solo. Then we had a bass solo, but there was a standard lick into it. I mean, whether this is due to Duke Ellington originally, or Count Basie, or some other artist, I’m not sure. I certainly know people do it. The lick goes at the beginning of the A section
That lasts 4 bars and then the bass player has a 4 bar solo. Then the same again for the second A. Then the bass player has a solo through the middle 8 and then, for the last time, we play that - something like -
(Singing) Hah, I didn’t get it in in time. Then again play the A section. During the middle 8, as a pianist, I would play some light chords behind. Playing chords behind a soloist is called “comping”. We’re going to look at comping later. When we get to the middle we do something like (singing and playing)
Then we’ll play the tune. If I was playing it in root position I could choose between playing it here - or here, lower. Again, I can use some of those roots if I want to.
Again, when I’m playing on my own I don’t always have to have a rooted version. I can still play chords in the middle of the piano, but I need more roots to, sort of, centre it - to make it clearer. I’ll finish of this section by letting you hear a version of “Satin Doll” played some years ago by myself and my close friend and colleague Tony Roberts. I live in West Dorset now. I moved to West Dorset to be close to Tony so that we could make some music in the latter years of our life.
When I first set up my recording studio we got together and recorded some well known jazz standards to make a demo to give to places like pubs and restaurants, and so on, the idea of what we could do in order to get some work. We really just did it without any discussion because we have been playing together for many years. We might have done 1 or 2 takes of each tune and you can hear a version of “Satin Doll” which Tony and I recorded.
It’s not quite the same as playing on your own, obviously, because you’ve got the horn player playing the tune as well, but you can hear some of the devices that I used there which we’ve been discussing. There’s some places where I put in roots and then play chords in the middle of the piano - a sort of um-chick thing, but not so regularly.
There’s other places where I just play in the middle of the piano as though I have a rhythm section.
After a while I need to put some roots in. There are other sections where I’m playing 4 to the bar
maybe it’s 4 to the bar behind Tony. There’s other sections where I am playing a bass line
We’ll discuss bass lines a little bit later, but it will give you some idea of some of the devices which we’ve been talking about - how I employed them here. As I say, we did it just to get a demo together quickly. I think you can hear some errors in my playing but, nonetheless, it should give you some insight into things we have been taking about up to now.

Considering different devices that can be employed for playing “Satin Doll” in root position.

You can download the chart for “Satin Doll” referred to in the video, together with “riff” in PDF format, as well as the mp3 of the track with Tony Roberts at the bottom of this step.

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