A Guide To Help You Play Better Jazz Piano

Ron Drotos

History and overview:
“Someday My Prince Will Come” is perhaps the jazz waltz to learn! One thing’s for sure, it’s probably the most commonly played, so be sure to learn it well and memorize it so you’ll be prepared when someone calls it at a jam session.

The song was originally was featured in the soundtrack to Disney’s movie Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs in 1937, but didn’t catch on in the jazz world until pianist Dave Brubeck included it on his album Dave Digs Disney. Miles Davis and Bill Evans followed suit and the tune became the jazz standard it is today.

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.)

Miles Davis: Someday My Prince Will Come

Dave Brubeck: Dave Digs Disney

Bill Evans: Portrait In Jazz

Musical ideas and jazz piano practice tips:
Jazz Waltzes can be a bit tricky to play from a rhythmic perspective. Play them too “straight” and it doesn’t sound like jazz anymore. But if you put too much emphasis on the syncopations, your listeners may not hear it as a waltz anymore. (This actually happened to me when I was first starting out. I was accompanying a vocal group on a jazz waltz and I must have been emphasizing the ‘and’ of beat 2 so much, that one of the vocalists correctly told me that it sounded like I was playing “in 2.”)

One solution is to intersperse some measures that are clearly “in 3” and you’ll strike a nice balance. Enjoy the journey, and “let the music flow!”

Further links and resources:
Someday My Prince Will Come (album): Wikipedia

Jazz waltz: Wikipedia

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