A Guide To Help You Play Better Jazz Piano

Ron Drotos

History and overview:
“I’m Beginning To See The Light” is one of Duke Ellington’s lighter “pop” tunes. It was written in 1944 and has been recorded by many artists over the years, some of whose recordings of it have reached the top of the charts.

It’s a nice song, and is often performed by non-jazz singers who want to add a few catchy jazz songs to their repertoire. (Nothing wrong with that!) Dedicated jazz musicians have played it too, of course, and I’ve linked to a wonderful recording by pianist/arranger Clare Fischer below. If you don’t know his work yet, be sure to give it a listen.

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.)

Duke Ellington

Natalie Cole: Take A Look

Michael Bublé

Clare Fischer: America The Beautiful

Musical ideas and jazz piano practice tips:
When learning a song like this that’s so strongly associated with vocalists, it’s helpful to get to know a few of the more popular vocal renditions, such as the recordings I’ve lined to above. This way, you’ll know what type of accompaniment to play the next time a singer asks you to play it “like Natalie Cole does it.”

When you’re listening to Clare Fischer’s arrangement (above), listen to how his inner voices give a unique color to the harmonies. In both his composing and with his piano playing, Fischer expanded and further developed the linear arranging techniques used by Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, and Gil Evans, as well as by 20th century classical composers such as Stravinsky and Shostakovich. Lots of accomplished jazz pianists, including Herbie Hancock, have acknowledged him as an influence, and studying his music will give you many fresh new ideas.

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

Further links and resources:
Clare Fischer: Wikipedia

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