Playing Wayne Shorter’s “Ana Maria” on piano

Wayne Shorter’s “Ana Maria” is one of the best jazz tunes ever written. Lyrical and expansive, it was written during the early 1970s yet isn’t limited by musical style or cultural era. It is timeless.

But none of this makes it any easier to play! “Ana Maria” moves through a constantly shifting maze of tonal centers, each one leading logically to the next, while always remaining fresh to our ears. And what a gorgeous melody! It’s phrases move with wave-like motion, never repeating in quite the same way twice. In this sense it has more in common with Cole Porter’s “So In Love” or “Begin The Beguine” than with most other standard tunes that jazz musicians enjoy playing.

Yes, the song has musical challenges, but the rewards are great. It’s a tune that rewards effort, and it may very well take a few years before it becomes natural for you to improvise over. This is all the more reason to start learning it now, or revisit it if you’re practiced it before.

Here’s a video I made of “Ana Maria,” as part of my “Journey Through The Real Book” series. I hope it inspires you to learn this great tune!

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