There are 2 aspects of learning jazz chords on piano: coming up with good voicings on your own, and looking at written chords and knowing exactly what they are.
Even though these may sound like separate skills, they actually work together to help us become fluent with the jazz vocabulary. In this respect it’s like learning a language: we’re able to construct sentences when we write or speak and we can also read and understand what others are saying to us. It works both ways.
But with jazz, a lot of aspiring pianists can do one better than the other. It’s great to be able to play tunes, but you’ll also learn a lot if you can sit down with a written transcription or arrangement and instantly know what each chord is, even if chord symbols aren’t indicated.
Since it helps a lot to see someone else do this, I’ve made a video for you where I open a book of Art Tatum jazz piano transcriptions and analyze the chords. I explain exactly what I’m thinking as I show you how to look at complex chord voicings and identify the underlying chord structures. Once you see me explain the process and do this a few times you’ll be able to do the same.
Here’s the video:
How To Identify Jazz Chords From Sheet Music
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