Tag Archives: jazz repertoire

When playing with other musicians you need to build up a jazz repertoire of essential jazz standards.

Playing without the dots

Playing without the dots

Playing without the dots

Why you should memorise tunes

Sheet music is just information, it’s not the music itself. The more you read what’s in front of you the less head room you’ll have for creativity. Playing without the dots opens up your ears!

Which tunes should  I learn?

This, of course, is very much up to you. But I’ve chosen the following 12 songs for the following reasons:

  1. They are easy to learn.
  2. They are popular and likely to come up when playing with other musicians.
  3. Your list should contain well known standards, at least one in 3/4, a blues, a ballad, a Latin tune in straight time and a song form that follows the Rhythm Changes structure.

12 songs to learn

1)  Autumn Leaves

Thi is the first standard I give to my students due to its simple construction.

Usual key: Bb major
Form: AB = 16 bars
Map: Very easy to learn as it just flips between II-V-I major and II-V-I relative minor.

2) C Jam Blues

A very simple blues.

Usual key: the clue’s in the title.
Form: 12 bars
Map: Can either be played with the 3 basic chords or with an added II-V at bars 9 and 10.

3) I Got Rhythm

This chord sequence is known as Rhythm Changes and is based on this song by Gershwin

Usual key: Bb.
Form: AABA = 32 bars.
Map: The A section is mostly a I-VI-II-V turnaround but with a move to the subdominant (IV) at bar 6. The B section consists of 4 dominant 7s that follow the circle of 5ths.

4) Blue Bossa

This simple sequence has a Latin feel.

Usual key: C minor
Form: 16 bars repeated.
Map: Only 2 keys to learn: it’s mostly in C minor but bars 9-12 flip to Db major.

5) All Of Me

A very well known standard, often sung.

Usual key: C major
Form: AB = 16+16
Map: Remains in original key with a foray into the relative minor.

6) Bye Bye Blackbird

A traditional ‘singalong’ but listen to the Keith Jarrett version for inspiration.

Usual key: F major
Form: AB = 16+16
Map: A section remains in the original key. B section contains some II-V’s.

7) Fly Me To The Moon

Often sung, popularised by Sinatra

Usual key: C major
Form: AB = 16+16
Map: III-VI-II-V-I-IV as in ‘All The Things You Are’ but then moves to the relative minor.

8) Satin Doll

An Ellington standard. Ramsey Lewis recorded a very accessible version.

Usual key: C major
Form: AABA = 32 bars.
Map: kicks off with a pair of ascending II-V’s. B section moves to F major.

9) What Is This Thing Called Love

Another popular standard with a conventional AABA structure.

Usual key: C major.
Form: AABA = 32 bars.
Map: Unusual in that the A section starts with a minor II-V-I in F minor.
As usual, the B section moves to a new key, this time Bb major.

10) Yesterdays

A Jerome Kern ballad in a minor key that contains a circle of 5ths

Usual key: D minor.
Form: AB = 16+16
Map: After staying in D minor for a while it moves though the circle of 5ths from bar 9 – 12 before returning to the key signature.

11) Beautiful Love

Another tune in a minor key with an AB structure.

Usual key: D minor.
Form: AB = 16+16
Map: Sets out with a II-V-I in D minor then switches to its relative major.

12) Some Day My Prince Will Come

Here’s your opportunity to play in 3 time. This tune is a Bill Evans special.

Usual key: Bb major.
Form: AB = 16+16
Map:Stays in the same key but throws in some diminished chords.

 

Jazz Repertoire: essential standards part 3

Jazz Repertoire: essential standards part 3

Building your jazz repertoire: part 3 of essential standards

Here’s my final list of suggestions for your jazz repertoire. These are all standards that you should become familiar with.

Although I’ve listed 14 tunes, I suggest you at least learn What Is This Thing Called Love, Softly As In A Morning Sunrise and Yesterdays.

For more of a challenge, take a look at Stella By Starlight.

So here’s the final list. If you wish to catch up with previous lists, scroll down the page.

———————————–

Lover Man

Composer: Jimmy Davis

Date: 1941

Form: AABA

Usual key: F

———————————–

My Funny Valentine

Composer: Richard Rodgers

Date: 1937

Form: ABC

Usual key: C minor

———————————–

My Romance

Composer: Richard Rodgers

Date: 1935

Form: AB

Usual key: Bb

———————————–  

Perdido

Composer: Juan Tizol

Date: 1942

Form: AABA

 ———————————– 

Secret Love

Composer: Sammy Fain

Date: 1953

Form: AABA

Usual key: Eb

———————————–

Softly As In A Morning Sunrise

Composer: Sigmund Romberg

Form: AABA

Usual key: C minor

———————————–

Star Eyes

Composer: Gene De Paul

Date: 1943

Form: AABA

Usual key: Eb

———————————–

Stella By Starlight

Composer: Victor Young

Date: 1944

Form: ABC

Usual key: Eb

———————————–

There Will Never Be Another You

Composer: Harry Warren

Date: 1942

Form: ABAC

Usual key: Eb

———————————–

What Is This Thing Called Love

Composer: Cole Porter

Date: 1929

Form: AABA

Usual key: C

 ———————————– 

What’s New

Composer: Bob Haggart

Date: 1939

Form: AABA

Usual key: C

 ———————————– 

Yesterdays

Composer: Jerome Kern

Date: 1933

Form: AB

Usual key: D minor

———————————–

You Don’t Know What Love Is

Composer: Gene De Paul

Date: 1941

Form: AABA

Usual key: F minor

 ———————————– 

You’ve Changed

Composer: Carl Fisher

Date: 1941

Form: AABA

Usual key: Eb

———————————–

You can find my full list of suggested jazz repertoire in
Learn Jazz Piano, book 3.

Jazz repertoire
Book 3

Building a Jazz Repertoire part 1: The Blues

Building a Jazz Repertoire part 1: The Blues

Building a Jazz Repertoire part 1:
17 essential blues tunes.

When building a jazz repertoire there’s no better place to start than with the blues. Notice that blues compositions are not confined to the jazz musicians that we associate  with the genre. We have everyone here from Miles Davis and Charlie Parker to Mingus and Monk. The following  17 tunes are essential to building a jazz repertoire and I suggest that you at least make a start by listening to some recordings.

Some blues tunes have a very simple construction, such as C Jam Blues and Blue Monk. Then there are others, like Blues For Alice, that consist of a more complex bebop sequence full of II-V’s.

Notice also that blues tunes are not confined to 4/4 time. For example, All  Blues is in 12/8 and West Coast Blues is in 3/4.

This jazz repertoire is particularly relevant for those of you planning to play with other musicians. These tunes come up all the time. However some, such as Bag’s Groove, are very easy to learn.

Building a jazz repertoire should be an integral part of your practice. How many tunes do you actually know?  It’s all to easy to study each new tune in depth but then forget your previous pieces.

So here are 17 blues tunes. Try to familiarise yourself with at least the 6 essential titles followed by *.  For beginners, I’d save Blues For Alice for later.

All Blues *

Composer: Miles Davis

Time signature:12/8

……………………………………………….

Au Privave

Composer: Charlie Parker

……………………………………………….

Bag’s Groove*

Composer: Milt Jackson

……………………………………………….

Bessie’s Blues

Composer: John Coltrane

……………………………………………….

Billie’s Bounce

Composer: Charlie Parker

……………………………………………….

Blue Monk*

Composer:Thelonious Monk

……………………………………………….

Blues For Alice*

Composer: Charlie Parker

……………………………………………….

Blues March

Composer: Benny Golson

……………………………………………….

C-Jam Blues*

Composer: Ellington

……………………………………………….

Freddy Freeloader*

Composer: Miles Davis

  ……………………………………………….

Misterioso

Composer: Monk

  ……………………………………………….

Mr. P.C.

Composer: John Coltrane

……………………………………………….

Nostalgia In Times Square

Composer: Charles Mingus

……………………………………………….

Now’s The Time

Composer: Charlie Parker

……………………………………………….

Straight No Chaser

Composer: Monk

……………………………………………….

Tenor Madness

Composer: Sonny Rollins

……………………………………………….

West Coast Blues

Composer: Wes Montgomery

Time signature:3/4

……………………………………………….

You will find the complete list in book 3 of Learn Jazz Piano, chapter 9:
Building a jazz repertoire.

Here’s the link to  book 3

building a jazz repertoire
Book 3