A Guide To Help You Play Better Jazz Piano

Ron Drotos

History and overview:
Filled with love and heartbreak, “Angel Eyes” is one of the classic torch songs. It’s a slow ballad with lyrics that speak of lost love.

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.)

Frank Sinatra: Only The Lonely

In a way, Sinatra’s “Angel Eyes” is the only one you’ll ever need.

Tommy Flanagan: Lady Be Good… For Ella

Chet Baker:

Dave Brubeck Quartet: Angel Eyes

Listen to the ways in which Brubeck reharmonizes the tune, adding his personal harmonic touch during his opening solo piano chorus. Even an occasional chord of your own choosing can go a long way toward creating your own, unique version of a jazz ballad like this.

Musical ideas and jazz piano practice tips:
The beauty of a ballad like “Angel Eyes” is that you can play it either bluesy or lyrical. Or both! Here’s a video I made to demonstrate this for you:

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

Further links and resources:
Angel Eyes: Journey Through The Real Book #16

The Best Way To Use The Real Book

Angel Eyes: Wikipedia

Playing Jazz Ballads a la Frank Sinatra and Billie Holiday
This is a great way to bring both blues and lyrical playing into your renditions of jazz ballads like “Angel Eyes.”

5 Things Jazz Pianists Can Learn From Frank Sinatra

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