A Guide To Help You Play Better Jazz Piano
History and overview:
The 1942 song “Dearly Beloved” was written by Jerome Kern, who also composed “All The Things You Are.” The lyrics are by Johnny Mercer. It's a great tune and fun to improvise on!
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.)
Sonny Rollins: Our Man In Jazz
John Coltrane: Sun Ship
Nancy Wilson: Newport Jazz Festival, 1987 (video)
Musical ideas and jazz piano practice tips:
As a jazz vehicle, “Dearly Beloved” combines modal improvisation with playing over chord changes. The tune is in two halves, with the first 8 half alternating between the Dm and G7 chords. This is the modal part, and you can basically solo using the piano’s white notes (D Dorian and G Mixolydian). Then the chords resolve to the CMaj7 tonic chord and move afterwards using very traditional functional harmony.
The effect is exciting, as the “tension” builds up during the modal sections to be “released” with each resolution to C major. Have fun exploring this for yourself as you solo on “Dearly Beloved.” (It’s also interesting to listen for this on the recordings above.)
Enjoy the journey, and “let the music flow!”
Further links and resources:
Dearly Beloved playalong track
Dearly Beloved: Journey Through The Real Book #85
The Best Way To Use The Real Book
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