A Guide To Help You Play Better Jazz Piano

Ron Drotos

History and overview:
“Sometime Ago” is a lyrical jazz waltz by Sergio Mihanovich. It’s become a favorite of many jazz pianists mainly due to the Bill Evans recording I’ve linked to below.

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: You Must Believe In Spring

Michel Petrucciani: Darn That Dream

Musical ideas and jazz piano practice tips:
“Sometime Ago” begins modally with CMaj7 alternating with Dm7/C. Another way to look at it is that there is a C pedal tone under the first 6 measures. After this, the chords become more traditionally “functional.” That is, they function less modally and more in terms of their position in the scale, with ii/V relationships predominating.

It’s interesting to view this shift in how the chords are used in view that it was composed in the early 1960’s. The tune combines the “new” modal sound of the time with the more traditional functional chordal relationships of the swing and bebop eras.

As a improviser, enjoy moving from one style to the next in your solos. Have fun with the modal freedom of the CMaj-Dm7/C section, and then play the remaining chords as you would any other jazz standard from that time. This “built-in contrast” will help keep your solos varied and interesting.

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

Further links and resources:
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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