A Guide To Help You Play Better Jazz Piano

Ron Drotos

History and overview:
The full title of this 1940 Rodgers and Hart song is “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered.” It was composed by Richard Rodgers and lyricist Lorenz art for their 1940 Broadway musical, Pal Joey. It’s very famous as a musical theater song as well as being a favorite among jazz instrumentalists and vocalists.

“Bewitched” is one of those classic Real Book tunes from what is now known as The Great American Songbook, which are popular songs from the pre-rock era of the 1920s – 50s. At the time, jazz musicans would basically choose “pop tunes” to play with a jazz rhythmic feel and improvise over. The listening public could follow their improvisations fairlywell because they all knew these songs from the Broadway stage and the radio.

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.)

Lena Horne: Give The Lady What She Wants

Brad Mehldau: Songs

Oscar Peterson: The Complete Songbook 1951-1955

Musical ideas and jazz piano practice tips:
Play the melody to “Bewitched, Bothered, And Bewildered” and listen to how beautifully it unfolds. Composer Richard Rodgers was a master at using motifs, which are (usually) short phrases that can be repeated and transformed at make a longer musical structure. The main 3-note motif, which begins the first full measure, appears upside-down, or inverted, at the beginning of the bridge. See where else you can find the motif as you play the tune a few times.

After this, try using a single motif as the basis for your improvised solo. Begin by playing around with the motif from the melody, and then invent your own motifs to improvise with. Adapt them for the various chords, and extend some to become longer phrases. Not only will this help your soloing become better, but you’ll soon begin to hear the use of motifs in solos by your favorite jazz musicians. Keith Jarrett, Sonny Rollins, Wayne Shorter, and Oliver Nelson are a few jazz greats who are particularly known for their motivic soloing.

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

Further links and resources:
Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered: Wikipedia

A history of the "Bewitched" with video links to classic vocal performances

Jazz Piano Tip #25: Bewitched

How to use motifs when soloing on ballads

Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered: Journey Through The Real Book #29

The Best Way To Use The Real Book

How To Learn Jazz Piano
A podcast to help you learn jazz piano more effectively

Jazz Piano Video Course
This extensive, well-sequenced video course will get you playing jazz standards with a sense of flow and fluency.

Jazz Piano Lessons via Skype
Personal guidance from an expert, caring teacher. Beginning through Advanced.

Take a Free Jazz Piano Lesson

Previous Song           Table of Contents           Next Song

Learn the 5 Essential Left Hand Techniques with my free ebook: Left Hand Techniques for Jazz Piano
You'll also get my weekly jazz newsletter with practice tips and inspiration