A Guide To Help You Play Better Jazz Piano

Ron Drotos

History and overview:
“(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons” is a great tune that’s probably played more for ballroom dancers and such than as a straight ahead “jazz tune.” It has a beautiful melody and the chords are pretty easy to learn. The song was composed in the early 1940s by Deek Watson and William Best.

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.)

Nat King Cole

Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli

Bobby Hutcherson: For Sentimental Reasons

Musical ideas and jazz piano practice tips:
It’s really good to learn at least a few songs like “(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons” that are a little outside the “pure jazz” repertoire. They’re actually pop songs from the pre-rock era, and are now considered part of The Great American Songbook.

A lot of aspiring jazz pianists are pretty good at playing bebop licks, blues, and may even be able to hold their own on a ballad. But something’s missing in their playing. The jazz musicians of the past had an advantage in that the songs they were improvising on were “in the air.” Sometimes literally: on the radio and being played by live musicians on real instruments. Today, songs like “(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons” mostly exist on paper, in places like The Real Book. This is fine, and yes, they come “alive” when someone plays them. But we don’t hear them around us anymore. Now, we can’t go back in time and we can’t change our culture on a big scale. But each one of us can listen to these great songs and make them part of our lives. Spend a few minutes enjoying the recordings I’ve linked to above. Then open your Real Book and play the melody. Then the bass line. Then the melody and bass line together. Then the melody and chords. Then the bass line and chords. Then all three together. Then improvise on the tune. Then pretend as if you’re playing for dancers, hundreds of them, like jazz musicians did “back in the day.” Even great bands like those led by Duke Ellington and Count Basie played at dances for their entire careers. And this isn’t easy. You have to keep the rhythm or they can’t dance!

Immersing yourself in the music like this will bring your piano playing to an entirely new level. Enjoy the journey, and “let the music flow!”

Further links and resources:
(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons: Wikipedia

(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons: Journey Through The Real Book #124

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