A Guide To Help You Play Better Jazz Piano

Ron Drotos

History and overview:
“Hello, Young Lovers” comes from the time when a composer would write a song and then many musical artists would “cover” it. Although that still happens occasionally today, pop musicians generally write their own material or perform songs that were specifically written for them.

The songwriting team of Rodgers and Hammerstein composed “Hello, Young Lovers” in 1951 for the Broadway musical The King And I. Everyone from pop singers to jazz musicians to Motown groups like The Temptations have recorded their own versions. It’s a beautiful song and sounds great when played as an uptempo jazz number.

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.)

The King And I: 2015 Broadway Cast Recording

Hank Mobley Quartet: Another Workout

Musical ideas and jazz piano practice tips:
The first thing you’ll notice about “Hello, Young Lovers” is it length. It’s a long song! It’s still basically a standard AABA form, but each section is 16 measures long instead of the more common 8 measures in length. There’s also an 8 measure coda at the end.

This expansive form doesn’t make the tune more difficult to play, but it does mean that you’ll need to pace yourself while improvising. Don’t play everything you know in the first 16 measures because then you’ll have no place to go. Your solo won’t build or remain interesting if you say everything you want to say right away. Let your musical ideas develop naturally and remember that you have a whole journey ahead of you. You may want to introduce a new melodic motif at the bridge or switch to block chords in order to provide contrast at that point. It’s also like telling a longer story instead of a quick anecdote. The longer story may include contrasting characters and/or plot twists.

The “story” analogy is a good one. In fact, earlier generations of jazz musicians would often refer to their soloing as “telling a story.” Go ahead… tell your story!

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

Further links and resources:
How To Learn Jazz Piano
A podcast to help you learn jazz piano more effectively

Hello, Young Lovers: Journey Through The Real Book #151

Jazz Piano Video Course
This extensive, well-sequenced video course will get you playing jazz standards with a sense of flow and fluency.

Jazz Piano Lessons via Skype
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