One essential step that many players skip when learning jazz waltzes it to play then straight, as traditional waltzes.
Although it may be tempting to plunge right in with your favorite Bill Evans-style jazz waltz rhythm, take a moment to play your favorite ¾ tune as a traditional waltz. You know… 1-2-3, 1-2-3, with an “oom-pah-pah” left hand pattern,
One of the reasons why players of the past such as Bill Evans played jazz waltzes so well is that they had so much previous experience playing straight waltzes and even dancing them because waltzes were such a big part of the popular culture at the time. People danced waltzes at wedding receptions, and straight waltzes were heard daily in Broadway shows, movies and in restaurants. This provided the jazz players a solid point of departure with which to base their jazz interpretations on.
Since we don’t necessarily get the same waltz experience these days in our culture, we need to seek it out. And one way it to play waltzes the original way, and then begin to “jazz them up.”
Check out how I demonstrate this on “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music, and then try it yourself:
My Favorite Things: Journey Through The Real Book, #244
And here I am reading the Prelude from my book The Inner Game of Piano Improvisation. It’s an open letter to you, as a pianist, and readers are saying that the book gives them a renewed sense of what they’re capable of accomplishing at the piano.
Enjoy the journey!
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