A Guide To Help You Play Better Jazz Piano

Ron Drotos

History and overview:
“Chega De Saudade” was composed by the composer/pianist Antonio Carlos Jobim in 1952, and is one of the earliest bossa nova songs. Bossa nova is a gentle musical style from Brazil which combines jazz harmonies with Brazilian rhythms. I was saxophonist Gerry Mulligan’s assistans in 1987-88, and I remember Gerry telling me about a conversation he had with Jobim from around that time. They had discussed the mutual influence of jazz and bossa nova. Jobim told Mulligan that the Brazilian creators of bossa nova had been influenced by Mulligan’s “cool jazz” recordings of the 1950s. Mulligan then told Jobim about how much the American jazz musicians of the 1960s were, in turn, influenced by the bossa nova. It’s amazing to see this interplay of influences between cultures!

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.)

Antonio Carlos Jobim

Check out how beautiful Jobim’s single-note piano solo sounds over the string background.

Dizzy Gillespie, 1966 (video)

Joe Henderson: Double Rainbow

Musical ideas and jazz piano practice tips:
The song had an unusual form that works perfectly here . It’s long and is divided into halves, with the first half in D minor and the second in D major. (It’s also the only tune I’ve ever recorded while playing an alto flute, but that’s another story!)

If you find that “Chega De Saudade” is a little long to practice in its entirety at first, then start by treating it as 2 tunes: one in minor and the second in major. Practice and memorize them separately and then put the two halves together, into one long song. It’s beautiful to hear how the minor turns into major, midway through the longer composition.

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

Further links and resources:
Bossa Nova: Wikipedia

Chega de Saudade playalong track

Chega de Saudade: Journey Through The Real Book #59

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