Being inspired to learn a particular song

Hey Improvisers,

What do you do when you look at the leadsheet for a tune you’ve never heard? Well, if you’re like most people, you probably turn the page and look for something more familiar.

Yet, this approach, while understandable, also limits us. Part of the challenge is that the days are long gone when jazz standards were popular songs. It didn’t take a lot to get Miles Davis to enjoy playing, say, “If I Were A Bell,” because the song was a big hit during the 1950s when Miles recorded it. He heard the song everywhere, and was inspired to play it himself.

This phenomena has happened to me a lot, and I’d like to share a stunning example with you.

In 2001, I watched Quincy Jones, on TV, receive his Kennedy Center honor. Part of the evening was a concert, where Jones was surprised by seeing and hearing a variety of musicians perform a tribute for him.

The standout was Jones’s long-time friend Ray Charles, who performed a song which I had never before heard, titles “My Buddy.” This song hadn’t been heard in our popular culture for many decades, yet once I heard Ray Charles’s simple-yet-stunning rendition to his friend, I immediately learned it myself.

Do yourself a favor and check this one out:

Ray Charles – My Buddy (Love you Quincy) at Kennedy Center Honors 2001

And, if you’d like to hear me play it as a jazz piano solo, you’ll find it here:

My Buddy: Journey Through The Real Book #243

Perhaps you’ll now be inspired to learn it yourself. It’s one of the easiest tunes in The Real Book.

Have fun!


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