A Guide To Help You Play Better Jazz Piano

Ron Drotos

History and overview:
“I Love You” is a medium tempo Cole Porter tune that’s one of the most commonly performed “popular standards” in The Real Book. By “popular standards,” I mean those songs that were written as pop songs, sometimes by way of the Broadway stage or Hollywood musicals.

I this case, the song comes from the 1944 Broadway musical Mexican Hayride. The show may be forgotten, but the song certainly isn’t. It’s one of Cole Porter’s jazziest pieces!

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.)

Jo Stafford

Many jazz musicians first heard the song “I Love You” from “pop” recordings like this

John Coltrane: Lush Life

Bill Evans Trio: New Jazz Conceptions

Mulgrew Miller: The Art of Solo Jazz Piano (video)

Musical ideas and jazz piano practice tips:
One fun practice idea for a tune like “I Love You” is to improvise with motifs from Cole Porter’s melody while you take your solo.

You can study how Porter developed his motifs as a model to use when you’re improvising. The melody begins with a bold drop of a major 7th. Then, there’s a short stepwise phrase. As you look forward through the rest of the page, notice how the entire melody is constructed from just these two musical “cells.” Isn’t that amazing? Yet it sounds natural and free-flowing. This is our goal as an improviser. To make whatever musical techniques we’re using sound natural and free-flowing. Give it a try, and then come up with some motifs of your own.

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

Further links and resources:
I Love You playalong track

I Love You: Journey Through The Real Book #163

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