Playing It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing) as a jazz piano solo

Have you ever noticed how each style of music has its own special “groove,” or rhythmic feeling?

It’s like a unique frequency, and in a way, this groove is what distinguished one genre from another.

A reggae song and a pop tune may have exactly the same chords, but they sound (and feel) totally different.

Groove…. Feel….. Vibe…. Rhythm… Flow….


Yes, swing. The term “swing” is usually used when referring specifically to jazz, where the 8th notes are slightly (and deliciously) uneven. But “swing” can also be used in a looser sense, to mean a certain relaxation and flow in the groove.

The members of The Rolling Stones rock band will often refer to how their music “swings.” One of my all-time favorite quotes is when their guitarist, Keith Richards, was asked about the newer rock bands. He replied that they knew “how to rock, but some of them forgot how to roll.” He’s speaking about swing.

Duke Ellington knew how to swing as well as anyone, and he wrote a song to prove it. “It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” was composed way back in 1931, right at the beginning of the Swing Era, and this is the type of music that has inspired generations of jazz musicians ever since, as well and the early rockers like Chuck Berry and yes, The Rolling Stones.

It’s a fun tune to play and I’ve made a video to show you some pianistic possibilities you can try yourself, including some ways to personalize your interpretations.

You can check it out here:

It Don’t Mean A Thing: Journey Through The Real Book #192

Have fun with your playing, and “let the music flow!”


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