Immersing yourself in jazz standards

When learning any type of music, it’s vitally important to immerse ourselves in every aspect of the songs we play and the musicians we admire. Not only does this help us improve faster than we may realize, but it also exposes us to recordings and musical interpretations that we might normally miss. And who knows, the next thing you hear may change your musical life forever.

By “pre-judging” everything we come across, we’re not only limiting our current enjoyment but also our future progress.

As many of you know, one of the big ways I’m personally growing as a musician and trying to help others do the same is by writing The Jazz Pianist’s Ultimate Guide To The Real Book. I started putting it together back in October and at the time of this writing I’ve published pages for 274 out of the 400 tunes in The Real Book. I hope to finish by the end of the summer!

This is a labor of love for me. I’m revisiting each tune, in alphabetical order, and discovering some new ones. (I grew up with the original edition of The Real Book and many of the tunes are different in the current version.)

For each tune, I’m providing a good, solid introduction to the history and type of tune it is. Whether it’s commonly played at jam sessions or a little out-of-the-ordinary. Whether singers or instrumentalists typically favor it. I include anything that I would tell you in person that I think will help you “get your bearings” with learning it.

For me, perhaps the most fun part is listening to a bunch of recordings and linking to the best and most influential ones. We learn so much more from listening to several recordings of a particular song than if we just listen to one!. I also give some musical insights and jazz piano practice tips that broaden your approach to each tune and give you a lot to work with.

I’ve published 5 new pages this past week. Here they are:

One Finger Snap
A lively early Herbie Hancock tune

One Note Samba
One of the essential Bossa Novas

Only Trust Your Heart
A beautifully melodic tune by Benny Carter, who is definitely worth getting to know more about. Check out the evocative intro that Diana Krall plays!

I avoided this Wayne Shorter tune for years (it’s difficult!). But writing this page finally got me to start learning it!

This is one of the rare melodies that Charlie Parker revised after his initial recording. Listen to the live version I’ve linked to, where Miles Davis mistakenly plays the “old” version while Parker plays the “new” one. We can hear history in the making!

Take a few minutes and go through one, or all, of these pages. You’ll be spending your time wisely by immersing yourself in the history, culture, and variety of interpretations for some of the best of the jazz repertoire.

Have fun, and good luck with your music!


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