Getting to know more jazz tunes

How long have you been playing the same 1 or 2 songs? If it feels like you’ve been playing them “forever,” then you need to move laterally and start playing a wider selection of tunes.

While it’s necessary to practice and play a tune until we know it well, most aspiring pianists tend to get bogged down and stuck on one or two songs. Do you ever feel like you’ve been working on “Autumn Leaves” or “Blue Bossa” to the exclusion of everything else? If so, it’s just a matter of opening The Real Book to another page starting to become familiar with another tune. The great news is that the more you do this, the easier it gets!

This week I’ve been hard at work on my Jazz Pianist’s Ultimate Guide To The Real Book. I’ve added pages for 9 new tunes, and these will help you get into each one. The main reason I’m doing this is because nothing like it existed when I was coming up. Aside from a friend or older musician suggesting that I “learn Autumn Leaves,” there really wasn’t much in the way of introduction to these great tunes. So I’m putting these pages together to help introduce you to the jazz repertoire, as if I’m right there, telling you what you need to know in order to get started.

Just click on one (or more) of these song titles to get a sense of where the tune came from, some musical ideas and practice suggestions, and some of the classic recordings so you can hear how other musicians have played them.

If you want to learn a beautiful, classic ballad:
Penthouse Serenade

One of Bill Evan’s swinging tunes:
Peri’s Scope

A Miles Davis blues:
Pfrancing (No Blues)

A pretty advanced Wayne Shorter composition:

A complex tune by Charles Mingus:
Pithecanthropus Erectus

A fast and lively tune played by Gary Burton:
Portsmouth Figurations

One of Duke Ellington’s best ballads:
Prelude To A Kiss

Another tune that Wayne Shorter composed for Miles Davis:
Prince Of Darkness

A gorgeous ballad by composer/arranger Gordon Jenkins:
P.S. I Love You

Have fun getting to know these tunes. After you check out each page, be sure to open The Real Book and play through the tune 🙂

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