When we sit down to play a jazz waltz, we very often begin by emulating Bill Evans or another great jazz pianist who plays jazz waltzes well. But let’s ask ourselves, how did they themselves learn how to play jazz waltzes? And, would we benefit by approaching jazz waltzes in a similar manner?
This is a fascinating topic, because the way we experience waltzes these days is far removed from how someone like Bill Evans would have grown up with waltzes.
First of all, Evans, developing his musicianship in the 1940s and 50s, would have heard many traditional waltzes. He would have heard waltzes from Broadway musicals, traditional waltzes from various cultures, and he would have played them at parties and dances with their traditional rhythms. Also, he would have danced to waltzes at wedding receptions and other gatherings, a practice which has all but disappeared in today’s culture.
By going back a ways and learning jazz waltzes with a traditional musical groove, we can gain a more complete pianistic perspective on how to then “jazz them up” a bit.
I explore this, and a lot more, on my video about the Rodgers and Hart classic “The Most Beautiful Girl In The World.”
The Most Beautiful Girl In The World: Journey Through The Real Book #242
Have fun practicing this great tune as I demonstrate on the video, and then creating your own jazz interpretation!
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