Playing “502 Blues” by Jimmy Rowles

Have you ever played Jimmy Rowles’ tune “502 Blues?”

Jimmy Rowles, although not a household name, is an important jazz pianist whose playing you’ll benefit from getting to know. Although he played instrumental jazz with many greats including Lester Young, he was very much in-demand as a vocal accompanist. He accompanied Sarah Vaughan and Carmen McRae among other famous jazz vocalists of his day. Rowles as also renowned for knowing more jazz standards than anyone else.

“502 Blues” isn’t actually a blues. Rather, it’s a jazz waltz and I’m not actually sure why it’s called “502 Blues.” But somehow the title fits the music and it’s a lot of fun to play.

Wayne Shorter recorded the most famous version of the tune on his album Adam’s Apple, which features Herbie Hancock on piano. Get to know this version and you’ll be on your way to learning to play it yourself. It’s in the Real Book, and here’s a video I made with some tips on what scales to use and how to generally approach the tune:

502 Blues: Journey Through The Real Book #119

Enjoy the journey, and “let the music flow!”


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