Skip main navigation

Exercises and Listening

Exercises and Listening
I hope you’ve enjoyed this session and found it more accessible than the last couple of sessions - playing waltzes in jazz. In particular, we looked at 4 and the first 2 are important because you have the chance to play them with a playalong. However, you might want to have a look a bit more at playing some of these tunes with a colla voce introduction or with an introduction in root position, or playing them solo in root position and trying to improvise on them, and looking at different ways of ending them.
You might even consider playing them at different speeds with your playalong, in particular, playing them a bit faster - which is obviously more challenging - usually, to play something faster. I should think the exercises are pretty clear. The key thing is to play “Someday My Prince Will Come” and “All Blues” with the playalongs. If, as I say, you can do in addition some root position playing, some solo playing, even some solo improvising, it’s only going to be of benefit to you. I’ve gone to quite a bit of trouble to try and follow this up with some YouTube tracks, and some tracks from recordings that I have done in my - well that I’ve been involved in.
Of course, I don’t know when you’ll be watching this video and whether there will still be these tracks which are available, since I imagine they come up and they’re taken down. I don’t know if there are issues of copyright, and so on, that are relevant. Anyway, the list I’ve got here is “Someday My Prince Will Come” - there’s Bill Evans live playing it in 1979. Then a really intriguing YouTube video - I don’t know where it comes from, whether it’s a festival or a concert or something - but it features Chick Corea on piano and a Japanes alto sax player called Sadao Watanabe and then a rhythm section.
I’m not sure if one is able to get enough time to identify who the rhythm section is. They start playing “Someday My Prince Will Come” and then Hiromi Uehara takes over from Chick Corea. Well Hiromi is one of the biggest names in Japanese jazz - perhaps in world jazz - a phenomenal player. Also, she is followed in turn by Austin Peralta on piano who was something of a child genius. He had recorded 2 CDs by the time he was 16. Sadly he died, probably from drugs, a year ago at the age of 22 - a great loss.
At the end of this program another piano player comes and joins Chick Corea and it runs out when the two of them are playing together. I don’t know who it is but it looks like it’s probably someone famous - is all I can say. If you’re interested in that you might also want to look at Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock playing “Someday My Prince Will Come” together, although they play it in 4, not in 3. They play it on piano first and then on various keyboards. I’m not sure how successful that is but it’s intriguing to watch it. There’s a wonderful version by Keith Jarrett - as all his versions are wonderful. Then I include a track of mine.
It’s from an album called “What’s New” and this was the very first album that was recorded in my recording studio. My son Mark, Mark d’Inverno, joined me and we hired in a rhythm section for the day of Ben Taylor on bass and Lee Miller on drums. The two of us recorded the same tunes to see how they would turn out as an exercise of something to do with the recording studio. Eventually I put mine together in an album called “What’s New”. What was new, of course, was the recording studio and the trio, since we’d never played together before. This is quite intriguing because, as I remember it, we just said let’s play this track and whatever happened happened.
In particular, I think you’ll find that I trade what’s called “8s” with the drummer - so I play for 8 bars then the drummer plays for 8 bars, I play for 8 bars then the drummer plays for 8 bars - that’s 1 chorus. Then I trade 4s for a whole chorus, then I trade 2s for a whole chorus. I’m not sure he was expecting that, but that’s how it turned out.
At the time, I didn’t know that much about recording and the mikes I had weren’t as sophisticated as the ones I’ve got now but, even so, I think you’ll be interested to see how it is I go about playing this tune, given that you’re beginning to now know the sort of ingredients I put into a performance. We move on to “All Blues”. You’ve got the original track - track 4 from the “Kind Of Blue” album, 1959 - with all the key personnel.
Then I’ve got one quite a number of years later, 2011 I think it is, when he is in his electric phase and it includes Bill Evans, but not on piano - another Bill Evans who plays soprano saxophone - Steve Grossman on tenor, Chick Corea on keyboards, Dave Holland on bass and I’m not sure I can identify the drummer.
In the year 2000 I put together a group to play tribute to the epoch-making 1959 album “Kind Of Blue”. The very first gig that we did was recorded for the Southampton Jazz Society, as it was called in those days and, even though it was our first performance, I think it turned out really well. The idea was to try and recreate the original sound of the sextet but for us to do our own solos, but in the spirit of the musicians of that era. That came out as an album called “A ‘Kind of Blue’ Tribute”. The personnel I’ve got written down for you.
Then we turn to “It’s A Raggy Waltz” and on YouTube you can find a track from - not “Time Out”, the most famous, probably, album - but Time Further Out”. There’s one there which was made in 1961 with the canonical quartet of Dave Brubeck on piano, Paul Desmind on alto, Eugene Wright on bass and Joe Morello on drums.
I’ve also included, just out of interest: bass player Ben Taylor and I sometimes get together for a “blow” and we record our sessions in the recording studio and I’ve given you one of those tracks when we’re playing “It’s A Raggy Waltz” together. Finally, “Everybody’s Song But My Own”. I’ve given you a YouTube address for Kenny Wheeler with John Abercrombie on guitar, John Taylor on piano, Palle Danielson on bass and Pete Erskine on drums. This is from a festival in Hungary, in Budapest, in 1992. Then a track from a wonderful album called “Like Song, Like Weather” recorded in 1998, Norma Winstone on vocals with John Taylor on piano.
They do a superb version of this with words, I think, written by Norma Winstone. Then someone’s recorded the John Taylor Trio at St George’s in Bristol in 2006. That’s got Palle Danielson again on bass but this time the British drummer Martin France. Finally, I’ve included a track from a concert which I did with Tina May on vocals and Stan Sulzmann on tenor. This is an early track from the album with Stan Sulzmann and my favourite London trio consisting of Andy Cleyndert on bass and Winston Clifford on drums. Here we are also playing “Everybody’s Song But My Own”.
What I didn’t say was that in 2009 I happened to get the names of Ben Taylor on bass and Lee Miller on drums and we’ve now been together for 5 years. That’s my current trio, and my current quartet, and my current quintet. I love playing with these guys and perhaps we’ll hear some more about them later.
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