Recently I noticed the limits in learning to play like I’ve described above. It has occurred to me that since I am not pursuing music in college, or really in any professional sense after high school, I may want to switch my focus on what I’m trying to play. If given the opportunity I would certainly continue to gig and play in small groups but to me, this kind of playing takes real chops that come from real practice and real experience, and frankly I’m worried I’ve got too much going on to develop that ability. In all honesty, I have and will have other priorities than music that will keep me from delving into music in a way that I could be successful as I would want to be playing jazz in small groups and gigging, and I’m okay with that. This does however inevitably mean that I’ll learn solo jazz piano if I want to continue to play jazz piano in a fruitful way at all. Being able to actually sit down and play great arrangements of the standards when I tell people I play jazz piano hasn’t really been but now will have to be a priority.
Here’s where we run into a problem with how my jazz education has prepared me -that rootless approach just doesn’t sound good on its own. I learned Red Garland’s version of It’s Almost Like Being In Love, and when I tried to pass it as solo piano, it just didn’t sound great. Red Garland plays in a trio on the recording, meaning there is a bass player present, leaving Red free to use his typically punctuating left hand rootless comping. It’s a great sound in a trio, but on its own it just doesn’t sound great. Of course I can just hit the bass note a couple octaves below and do a sort of stride piano thing, but that gets old and just isn’t varied enough.
When trying to arrange a song for solo piano I have realized that nearly all my go to voicings are rootless and more appropriate for ensemble playing. My left hand feels underdeveloped, the smooth bass movements sweeping across the lower octaves in 10ths I can’t seem to incorporate. I have a lot to learn, and I’m excited to partake on this new journey in my education.
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