A Guide To Help You Play Better Jazz Piano
History and overview:
“A Child Is Born” was composed in 1969 by Thad Jones. Lyrics were later added by Alec Wilder. Musically, it’s one of the great modern jazz ballads. Although the original recording is a big band arrangement by the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, the song works very well when played by a small group as well. It’s very tender, and reflects the title in the way it’s usually played.
Here are some recommended recordings/videos:
(for international readers who may not have access to these YouTube links, I’ve indicated the original album names wherever possible so you can listen to them on music streaming services, etc.)
Thad Jones and Mel Lewis Orchestra
Tony Bennett and Bill Evans
This album is a beautiful, relaxed session by a group of seasoned professionals who by this time hadn’t anything to “prove.” Note that they play the tune in 4/4 time, instead of the original 3/4
Dee Dee Bridgewater: In Montreux
Musical ideas and jazz piano practice tips:
“A Child Is Born” is in two halves. They begin the same way but take different directions musically, with the second half arcing higher both melodically and emotionally. You can effectively mirror this high point in your solo, too.
To begin improvising on it, first practice the two repeating pairs of chords that form the basis of the tune: BbMaj7 - Ebm6/Bb and Gm7 – D7alt. The altered dominant scale (D Eb F Gb Ab Bb C) sounds great over the D7 chord. After you’re comfortable soloing over those, then improvise through the whole form, and enjoy how the harmonies unfold differently in each half.
Enjoy the journey, and “let the music flow!”
Further links and resources:
A Child Is Born: Wikipedia
A Child Is Born: Journey Through The Real Book #63
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