A Guide To Help You Play Better Jazz Piano

Ron Drotos

History and overview:
“Time Remembered” is a great jazz ballad by pianist Bill Evans. It has a similar lyricism and harmonic outlook as Evans’ more famous composition “Blue In Green,” but it’s longer and more complex. If you enjoy playing Evan’s ballads, have a look at some of his medium tempo tunes like “Peri’s Scope” and “Waltz For Debby.”

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: Unknown Session

Chick Corea: Bill Evans - A Tribute

Musical ideas and jazz piano practice tips:
“Time Remembered” reminds me of Chick Corea’s “Crystal Silence” and Wayne Shorter’s “Infant Eyes,” in that all three are jazz ballads with “roving” harmony. By this, I mean that the chord progression is determined more by the change of color between chords than by any traditional patterns of functional harmony.

Evans starts with a Bm7 chord with the 5th, F#, in the melody. Then he does something wonderful: the harmony shifts up a half step to CMaj7 while the melody keeps holding out the F#. Play this a few times and simply “take in” the sound. Its wonderful, right? The CMaj7 brings in an expansive feeling, while the F# in the melody, which is the #11 of the CMa7 chord, add a little spice at the same time. Evans is also showing us how to connect these chords without having to outline the harmonies. Use this as a clue when you’re improvising your own `solos.

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

Further links and resources:
The Best Way To Use The Real Book

Bill Evans: The Creative Process
This is an excerpt from an excellent video where Evans was interviewed by his older brother, Harry. He demonstrates some points at the piano.

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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