Skip main navigation

New offer! Get 30% off your first 2 months of Unlimited Monthly. Start your subscription for just £29.99 £19.99. New subscribers only. T&Cs apply

Find out more

Question and answer

Question and answer
A technique that’s particularly useful when playing in root position is “Question and Answer” dating back to the hollers and chants of the plantation field. We have a phrase, and then you answer it. We’ve already met it in “Autumn Leaves”.
That’s playing it in time. Of course, you can play it out of time.
We’re going to have a look at a tune now and we’re going to give it a question and answer treatment. The tune is Dave Brubeck’s “In Your Own Sweet Way” - one of my favourite tunes. Before we do it, I though you might like to know, in a sense, why I’ve chosen this tune.
I’ve been a promoter all of my life - or a large part of my life. I’ve run 10 jazz festivals and one of the artists I’ve booked most of all is the British jazz pianist John Taylor. I think most people would agree that John Taylor is our finest jazz pianist and although I’ve never had lessons as such from him, I’ve spent quite a lot of time with him discussing jazz and him playing for me. I’ve found that very inspiring.
During my years of promotion I put John Taylor on playing solo piano - in fact I was the first to do it and he’s done quite a lot of concerts now solo piano and did a number for me. In those concerts, not surprisingly, he played his own compositions - wonderful composer - and he also plays compositions by Kenny Wheeler. Kenny Wheeler the wonderful jazz trumpeter who I think is Britain’s finest jazz composer, even if he is Canadian. I don’t think there was ever a solo concert when he didn’t play Kenny Wheeler’s “Everybody’s Song But My Own” which I hope we’ll look at later.
But he also played 3 standards: Cole Porter’s “Everything I Love”, Irving Berlin’s “How Deep Is The Ocean?” and Dave Brubeck’s “In Your Own Sweet Way”. John wouldn’t play those tunes if they didn’t have some special depth in them, so we’ll have a look at them during the remainder of this course. We’ll have a look at “In Your Own Sweet Way” next. But before we do that I just thought you might be interested to know that I met Dave Brubeck once. In fact I’ve sung with him, but that’s another story. I asked him about this tune, because it’s one of my favourites and more or less every jazz pianist of note has recorded a version of it.
I said “How did it come about?”. He said that he was working - I think it was in a club - with Paul Desmond and they were just playing standards. Desmond, after a while, said he was a bit bored with playing standards couldn’t Dave compose some tunes. He said in one interval he composed 2 tunes, one of which was “In Your Own Sweet Way”. Quite amazing - and thank goodness we have intervals in this music of ours - “In Your Own Sweet Way”

We investigate another technique which is particularly useful in root position called “question and answer”.

This article is from the free online

Learn Jazz Piano: Advanced and Solo Playing

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now