A Guide To Help You Play Better Jazz Piano

Ron Drotos

History and overview:
“Sweet Georgia Bright” is an uptempo jazz tune composed by the tenor saxophonist Charles Lloyd for his 1964 debut album, Discovery! The title is a pun on the standard song “Sweet Georgia Brown” which would have been known to all his listeners at that time.

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.)

Cannonball Adderley: Fiddler On The Roof

Charles Lloyd Quartet: Discovery!

Musical ideas and jazz piano practice tips:
Even though it’s played pretty fast, “Sweet Georgia Bright” is actually a good tune for beginning improvisers to learn. It only has a few chords, each of which is played for 2 measures at a time, and the melody has catchy, repetitive elements. It also makes strong use of the “Charleston” rhythm at the beginning of measures 1, 3, 5, and 7, which roots it firmly in the jazz tradition.

There are various approaches to improvising on the chord progression. You can use Mixolydian Modes on each chord, since they’re all dominant 7ths, or you can take a more chord-tone, bebop-based approach. The melody itself will give you many ideas as well.

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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