A Guide To Help You Play Better Jazz Piano

Ron Drotos

History and overview:
“Quiet Now” is a beautiful jazz ballad by the pianist Denny Zeitlin. Zeitlin composed the tune in the mid 1960’s and recordings by Bill Evans have made it a “standard.”

Even though it’s played slowly, the musical form of “Quiet Now” is complex enough that you’ll want to play some simpler pieces first, before learning it. But once you can play “Misty,” “Peace,” and a few other jazz ballads, give “Quiet Now” a try. It moves through a lot of harmonic territory and will give you a good, and very rewarding, challenge!

Recommended videos/recordings:
(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.)

Bill Evans: At The Monteux Jazz Festival

Denny Zeitlin: Bill Evans – A Tribute

Musical ideas and jazz piano practice tips:
One of the first things you may notice about “Quiet Now” is that the chords change frequently. They change every 2 beats for most of the piece and in some measures, they change every single beat. It’s pretty relentless! This means that although the tempo is slow and the music is gorgeous, there’s a lot to think about. Adding to the complexity is the fact that the 2nd ‘A’ Section is a repeat of the first, but transposed up a whole step (it begins on Bm7 instead of Am7 like the beginning).

This is a lot to process, and it’s best to practice the chords in small sections until they become comfortable and your ear starts to mentally “hear” them better.

Notice how, after the huge number of modulations throughout the tune, it resolves to the key of C major at the end. So… what key is the tune in? C major? A minor? Nothing? I was confused about this until I noticed that there’s a standard ii-V-I resolution to C major in measure 4. This, along with the same pattern in m. 27, serves to unify the key structure just enough to place the overall progression in the key of C major, even though it certainly doesn’t stay there for very long!

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

Further links and resources:
Interview with Denny Zeitlin

The Best Way To Use The Real Book

How To Learn Jazz Piano
A podcast to help you learn jazz piano more effectively

Take a Free Jazz Piano Lesson

Mastering The Real Book: A 10-week Skype Intensive for Jazz Pianists

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