A Guide To Help You Play Better Jazz Piano

Ron Drotos

History and overview:
“Coral” is an early Keith Jarrett ballad that’s been recorded by vibraphonist Gary Burton as well as guitarist John Scofield. It’s a short piece with a tuneful melody that contains a surprising modulation from Bb to B major halfway through.

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 Scofield: As Long As You’re Living Yours: The Music Of Keith Jarrett

Gary Burton and the Berklee All-Stars (1985)

Musical ideas and jazz piano practice tips:
If you want a tune that doesn’t have too many notes to learn, this is it! “Coral,” at only 8 measures long, is perhaps the shortest composition in The Real Book.

Jarrett puts a lot into these few measures, however. The chord progression starts out with a seemingly typical ii/V/I in Bb major, but Jarrett adds a little spice by putting in a D chord with Bb in the bass instead of a straight BbMaj7. (The BbMaj7 comes 2 beats later. You can think of this chord as either D/Bb, or as a BbMaj7(#5). Either way, it adds a little “pizzazz” to the phrase and interest to the tune.

There’s also a sudden and unexpected shift to the key of B in m.5, so this is a good tune to play if you want to become comfortable playing in B major.

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

Further links and resources:

Coral: Journey Through The Real Book #72

Transcription of Mick Goodrick’s guitar solo on “Coral” (It sounds great when played on piano too!)
From Gary Burton’s album, The New Quartet. Includes commentary by Pat Metheny.

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