A Guide To Help You Play Better Jazz Piano

Ron Drotos

History and overview:
Clifford Brown’s classic composition “Daahoud” is typical of the “hard bop” style. Energetic with a hard-driving rhythm, it’s influenced by bebop but a little different at the same time. By this time, many of the original beboppers were moving in slightly different directions. Some of them morphed bebop into hard bop, with it’s slightly more controlled, yet harder edge. Others, such as pianist Horace Silver, were returning to a more basic, blues-based “riff” concept in their music. Third Stream, which fused classical and jazz was also an emerging force during this period.

The Clifford Brown/ Max Roach group was founded by bebopper Max Roach and his young “discovery,” Clifford Brown. Max was the big name at the time, and it’s a measure of his generosity that he offered to share the spotlight with the then-unknown young trumpeter in this way. The group made their debut recording in 1954, which included “Daahoud.” The album’s fresh sound has influenced countless jazz musicians over the years.

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.)

Clifford Brown and Max Roach

Ray Bryant Trio: Jive At Five

Phineas Newborn, Jr.: Here Is Phineas

Ahmad Jamal: Chicago Revisited

Musical ideas and jazz piano practice tips:
The chord progression during the ‘A’ Section to “Daahoud” is more complex than that used in most standard bebop tunes. It uses a lot of ii/V’s, but they’re connected in ways that anticipate the tunes that John Coltrane would be writing in a few years’ time. The ‘B’ Section, on the other hand, is pure bebop.

I suggest that you practice “Daahoud” as a slow ballad, both while playing the melody and while improvising. Once you can internally “hear” how the chords move from one to another and you can improvise clear melodies, then try it at a medium, and then fast, tempo.

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

Further links and resources:
Clifford Brown, Daahoud, and Ears
An analysis of the original recording of “Daahoud”

Daahoud: Journey Through The Real Book #79

Daahoud playalong track

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