A Guide To Help You Play Better Jazz Piano

Ron Drotos

History and overview:
“Agua De Beber” was composed by the great Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim, who was one of the inventors of the Bossa Nova style. Different people play bossas in different ways, ranging from pop-influenced to jazzy, and from mellow to more rhythmically exciting. Listening to the recommended recordings below will give you a good sense of the various ways that you can interpret bossas.

Here are some recommended videos/recordings:
(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.)

Astrid Gilberto

Whenever you learn a bossa nova, it’s a good idea to listen to at least one Brazilian recording of the tune. Astrid sings the melody in a way that’s pure and authentic.

Eliane Elias

Listen to how well Eliane and her trio listen to each other.

Tania Maria

I love how Tania Maria has her own, exciting approach to the piano. She’s truly “being herself” and not trying to play like anyone else. As the saying goes, “Compete with no one, and no one can compete with you.”

Musical ideas and jazz piano practice tips:
The three performances above illustrate the wide range of tempos and rhythmic feels that are possible with a Bossa Nova, even as played by Brazilian musicians themselves.  I've always found that Brazilian musicians enjoy my playing if I just "keep my ears open" and play something that fits the groove.  Just like when playing swing rhythms, you can sometimes play bossa novas very rhythmically, and at other times you can "float" over the groove.

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

Further links and resources:
Agua De Beber (Water To Drink): Journey Through The Real Book #5

The Best Way To Use The Real Book

Wikipedia (Bossa Nova)

Agua de Beber playalong track

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