A Guide To Help You Play Better Jazz Piano

Ron Drotos

History and overview:
“Dizzy Atmosphere” is one of the first bebop pieces. It was recorded in 1945 at one of Dizzy Gillespie’s early recording sessions as a leader. Gillespie was a very organized bandleader and this is reflected in the song’s musical arrangement and in the clarity with which the group played the tune at that initial recording.

As great as it is, I wouldn’t say that “Dizzy Atmosphere” is an “essential” tune to learn. (“Confirmation,” Anthropology,” and Scrapple From The Apple” would come before it.) Learn those tunes first, and then come back to “Dizzy Atmosphere” and share it with your musical friends!

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 and Dizzy Gillespie

Steve Coleman: On The Rising Of The 64 Paths

Musical ideas and jazz piano practice tips:
“Dizzy Atmosphere” is meant to be played fast. Very fast. It featured a riff-based melody during the ‘A’ Sections that can easily be repeated rapidly, and then a challenging, more typically “bebop” melodic line during the bridge.

Harmonically, the chords are “Rhythm Changes” with a twist in the form of some chord substitutions during the bridge. Rather than begin on the expected III7 chord (C7 in the key of Ab), the bridge surprisingly starts on a D7 chord (#IV). It then simply descends chromatically, using all dominant 7th chords, until we get down to A7 which acts as a bII7 tritone substitution (for Eb7) which brings us back to the home key of Ab major for the last ‘A’ Section.

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

Further links and resources:
What are jazz “Rhythm Changes?”

Dizzy Atmosphere: Journey Through The Real Book #92

Charlie Parker on Dizzy Atmosphere
A transcription and analysis of Parker’s classic solo

10 Ways To Learn Bebop Piano

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