A Guide To Help You Play Better Jazz Piano

Ron Drotos

History and overview:
“Central Park West” is a jazz ballad composed by tenor sax giant John Coltrane and first recorded for his 1964 album, Coltrane’s Sound. Be sure to check out the whole album, since it also features several other classic Coltrane recordings like “Equinox” and his version of “Body And Soul.”

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.)

John Coltrane: Coltrane’s Sound

Joe Lovano: From The Soul

Musical ideas and jazz piano practice tips:
Since “Central Park West” is usually played at a slow tempo, it’s a good introduction to playing what’s known as “Coltrane changes.” Basically, John Coltrane found a way to visit various other keys during a ii/V/I chord progression. So, instead of playing a simple C#m7/F#7/BMaj7 progression, Coltrane inserts ii/V/I’s in D major, Ab major, and F major along the way. This is in line with his general interest in superimposing and substituting various key centers over a song’s tonic key.

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

Further links and resources:
Coltrane’s Sound (album): Wikipedia

Giant Steps. Central Park West and Modulatory Cycles
A detailed explanation of the tune’s harmony and key structure

Jazz Piano Tip #26: Central Park West

Using Central Park West as an introduction to playing "Coltrane Changes"

Central Park West: Journey Through The Real Book #55

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.

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