A Guide To Help You Play Better Jazz Piano

Ron Drotos

History and overview:
“Deluge” was written by saxophonist/composer Wayne Shorter of his 1965 album “Juju.” Shorter was a member of the Miles Davis Quintet at the time but recorded a series of albums under his own name on the Blue Note label.

“Deluge” is an interesting tune to play, although it’s not really one of the more popular Wayne Shorter pieces like “Speak No Evil” or “E.S.P.” But if you’re looking for a great tune that’s a little bit “off the beaten path,” then “Deluge” would be a good choice.

Here are some recommended recordings/videos:
(for international readers who may not have access to this YouTube link, I’ve indicated the original album name so you can listen to the recording on music streaming services, etc.)

Wayne Shorter: Juju

Musical ideas and jazz piano practice tips:
Like other tunes that have chromatic chord progressions, like Monk’s “Well You Needn’t” and “Epistrophy,” “Deluge” will take some time to get comfortable with. (You can’t play many of those ii/V licks you’ve practiced!)

To begin with, I suggest that you take a deep breath and simply play the opening chord, Ebm7, and listen. Take in the sound of the chord, with no hurry, as if you’ve never heard it before. Then play it again, and listen. Does any one note pop out at you? If so, play it in your right hand. Does that note want to go anywhere? Is it the beginning of a 2 or 3-note melodic motif? Can your hear anything in your mind that goes over that chord? If so, play it. If not, keep playing the chord until you do hear something. (It’s simply a matter of time until your musical imagination tells you to play something.)

After this, repeat the process with the next chord, the EMaj7(#11). Listen to it as you did the Ebm7 chord and see what happens. Then listen to the two chords in sequence and see how they can be connected melodically. This is a powerful way to practice and can be applied to other tunes as well, even one’s you may have played for years!

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

Further links and resources:
Juju (album): Wikipedia

Transcription of Wayne Shorter’s tenor sax solo on “Deluge” (w/ audio)

Deluge: Journey Through The Real Book #88

The Best Way To Use The Real Book

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