A Guide To Help You Play Better Jazz Piano

Ron Drotos

History and overview:
“Confirmation” is a “must learn” jazz tune, but maybe not for beginners. But once you can play “Autumn Leaves,” “Blue Bossa,” and a few others, give it a try!

The tune is one of the earliest Charlie Parker compositions, and no one knows for sure when it was composed. Wikipedia gives the date as 1946, but there are reports that Parker was playing it a year earlier, in 1945, in California. Some sources say that it may even have been composed a few years earlier, when Parker was playing with Jay McShann’s band.

In any case, the tune has all the hallmarks of Parker’s early burst of creativity. It’s full written-out (unlike many later pieces in which Parker simply improvised a bridge), and has a unique chord progression. (The chords are actually related to the “Parker’s Blues” changes used in tunes like “Blues For Alice,” but are constructed to fit a standard 32-bar song form instead of a 12-bar blues.)

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.)

Charlie Parker

Any study of “Confirmation” begins with this recording.

Michael Brecker (audio with transcription)

Check out how well pianist Chick Corea plays drums on this. Yes, drums!

Frank Morgan: A Night In The Life: Live at The Jazz Standard, Vol. 3

Featuring pianist George Cables

Musical ideas and jazz piano practice tips:
The melody to “Confirmation” is a challenge to play on piano! (I have a feeling that it ‘fits’ a saxophonist’s fingers much better than a pianist’s.) A bass-playing friend of mine once played a concert at Yale University with bebop pianist Barry Harris. When my friend suggested that they play “Confirmation,” Harris replied, “Yes, but you have to play the melody!” Now for the record, I’m sure that Barry Harris could play the melody to “Confirmation!” My friend and I thought that he was making a point about how difficult it was, and perhaps wanted to see if this young bass player could so it! (And yes, he played it very well on upright bass!)

Learn Charlie Parker’s sax solo from the Omnibook and sing along with it as you play. This is great ear training and will help you mentally “hear” your way through the chord changes as you improvise your own solos.

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

Further links and resources:
Confirmation: “Let’s Jam Together” video playalong

Jazz Piano Tip #37: Confirmation

Here's a very simple LH technique that sounds GREAT on bebop tunes!

Confirmation: Journey Through The Real Book #70

Practicing Jazz Piano For A Continuous Melodic Line
This is an effective way you can practice “Confirmation” and similar tunes

10 Ways To Learn Bebop Piano

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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