“Lullaby Of Birdland,” Block chords, and a George Shearing story

Hey Improvisers,

I hope you’ve had the opportunity to spend some time playing music this week. (And please remember that it’s called “playing music.” Not “stressing about music,” or “always feeling you’re not good enough.” It’s playing music, with a sense of joy and purpose.)

But I digress…

Have you ever tried to play “block chords” on piano but felt overloaded by all the theory you’ve been told you have to know to get started? Things like diminished neighbor chords and such? Well, I’m here to tell you that there’s an easier way. And not only that, but this easier way is also the real way. (Diminished chords have their place, but they’re not nearly as central to the topic as has been recently presented.)

To gain a real and accurate perspective on playing with block chords, and for a fun George Shearing story, here’s this week’s Journey Through The Real Book video, featuring Shearing’s classic “Lullaby Of Birdland.”

Journey Through The Real Book #220: Lullaby Of Birdland

I hope you’ll take away from this video a good overview about the use of block chords in jazz, and maybe a few laughs regarding my (terrifying) experience of having to perform for Mr. Shearing himself!

Enjoy the journey and “let the music flow.”


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