A Guide To Help You Play Better Jazz Piano
History and overview:
“There Is No Greater Love” is so heavily associated with bebop and post-bop musicians that I was surprised to learn that it was composed as early as 1936. The song was composed by Isham Jones, with lyrics by Marty Symes, and was recorded by Jones’ orchestra. It’s one of those ballads from The Great American Songbook that is usually interpreted by jazz musicians at a medium swing tempo.
Definitely learn and memorize the tune, as it’s a jam session favorite and you’ll feel more comfortable playing it if you prepare well in advance.
Recommended videos/recordings: (add link to Isham Jones recording)
(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.)
Sonny Rollins: Way Out West
Miles Davis: Four and More
Herbie Hancock piano solo. Perfectly constructed.
Stan Getz and Kenny Barron: People Time
Musical ideas and jazz piano practice tips:
If you want to get really good at playing “There Is No Greater Love,” spend some “quality time” with Herbie Hancock’s solo (on the Miles Davis “Four And More recording which I’ve linked to above).
When I was in college, I learned this solo inside and out. I sang it and got so that I could feel each phrase exactly as Herbie played it. Then, I figured out the notes and played it myself on piano, repeating each phrase dozens of times before moving on to the next and eventually stringing them together. It was only after I could experience for myself how wonderfully Hancock’s solo unfolded that I started writing down the notes on music paper. By that time, I had internalized the solo so well that it comes out in my playing to this day, whether I’m thinking about it or not.
This type of transcribing is an invaluable way to learn the jazz language and become the jazz pianist you want to be. And Herbie Hancock’s solo on “There Is No Greater Love” is one of the most perfect jazz piano solos ever recorded. Any time you spend with this great improvisation will be time well spent.
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
Mastering The Real Book: A 10-week Skype Intensive for Jazz Pianists
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