Playing “April In Paris” like “back in the day.”

“April In Paris” is a great tune to play with a medium/slow stride left hand. This isn’t a style that’s played much anymore, which is a shame because a lot of jazz pianists are missing out on something very special.

If we went back to the 1930s, 40s and 50s, we’d hear this kind of playing everywhere. It was one of the most common ways to play the popular songs of the day on piano. A medium/slow stride feel isn’t something that you can’t pick up in books, however, so I’ve made this video to show you how it sounds and feels. This style is best learned from actually watching someone play it, to get a sense of its physicality.

When I first started playing jazz, I was fortunate enough to study with two pianists who formed their playing style during the late30s/early 40s: Billy Taylor and Hale Smith. I would watch in fascination as they’d each sit down at the piano and play tunes like April In Paris and Body And Soul with the most relaxed left hand stride imaginable. For me, this was a real, direct connection with en earlier era of jazz that is only available to us now on recordings, but I was hearing it live, in person, from about two feet away from me!

I’ve tried to pass this along to you, on this video, which is #19 of my “Journey Through The Real Book” series.

Good luck, and enjoy!

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