Jazz Piano Book

The Jazz Piano Book


Learn Jazz Theory
The most highly acclaimed jazz piano method ever published! Over 300 pages with complete chapters on Intervals and triads, The major modes and II-V-I, 3-note voicings, Sus. and phrygian Chords, Adding notes to 3-note voicings, Tritone substitution, Left-hand voicings, Altering notes in left-hand Stride and Bud Powell voicings, Block chords, Comping …and much more! Endorsed by Kenny Barron, Down Beat, Jamey Aebersold, etc.

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Learn Jazz Theory(r/piano)

Here is a good summary of four note rootless voicings and Here is a more complete chart.

I start all of my students off with these. The voicings generally take about 1-3 months to get in your fingers (mostly muscle memory). Around 6 months you’ll be able to plug them into lead sheets without too much thought, but you probably won’t be able to do it in real time. Around 12 months you really won’t have to think about them any more. They are a great place to start with voicings because they give you a great sound in a compact one-hand format. Remember that the bass player is covering the root of the chord, so you are more concerned about 3,5,7,9,11,13.

The most two most important things in jazz are keeping your place in the form and playing in time. You can have the hippest voicing but if it’s not in the pocket, it’s going to sound awful. Likewise, you can have the coolest, most innovative improvisation, but if you’re lost in the form, it’s not going to flow over the changes.

Play with a metronome, ALWAYS. Explore play-along tracks, Jamey Aebersold books being the most well-known. There are also great online resources for play-along tracks. Check out here for a great place to start. These are also fun.

Get started on ear training yesterday. It’ll help a lot. I like this trainer as it has a lot of things tailored towards jazz musicians. It has some simple play-along tracks too.

If you need something basic just to get by for now (while learning the voicings I linked above) then really start to learn the thirds and sevenths of chords. These are called guide tones and they are all you really need to define a chord. Try playing an A3 and an E4 in your right hand over an F2 in your left hand. There’s a nice voicing for the Fmaj7 you listed above. It sounds a whole lot cooler than FAC and will get you started thinking about splitting your voicings up to use more of the keyboard. You want to get to the point where you see a chord on the page and you instantly know what the third and the seventh of the chord is. Make sure you get the correct third and seventh:

  • Major7th Chord: Major Third, Major Seventh | C E G B
  • Minor7th Chord: Minor Third, Minor Seventh | C Eb G Bb
  • Dominant7th Chord: Major Third, Minor Seventh | C E G Bb

Learn those combinations and see if you can get through a lead sheet naming thirds and sevenths as you go.

There’s really a whole lot more I could write about the topic, but this might be enough to get you started.

If you have specific songs that you need help with, don’t hesitate to ask. I would be happy to work out some simple arrangements/voicings/solos with you.

Good luck!


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Mark Levine

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Sher Music Co.

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The Jazz Piano Book

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Learn Jazz Theory

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