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Jazz piano

Music Sound

Jazz piano

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Cover from album by Bud Powell. Cover from album by Bud Powell.

Jazz piano refers to various styles of piano playing used by jazz pianists. Like jazz itself, jazz piano is part of the music history of the U.S., dating back to the Smooth jazz, Cool jazz, and Free jazz, played by numerous jazz pianists including Chick Corea, Bill Evans, Red Garland, Herbie Hancock, and Wynton Kelly, Thelonious Monk, and McCoy Tyner. More recent jazz pianists include Miles Black, Bill Charlap, Cyrus Chestnut, Marcus Roberts and Mark Birnbaum.

Role in Ensembles

When accompanying other instruments (called 'comping'), the piano fulfills both a rhythmic and harmonic function. But the piano can also be a primary melodic instrument, for example in a trio with piano, bass, and drums, or in larger ensembles when soloing. The role that the piano plays varies greatly among groups, songs, or even sections in a song. Many jazz musicians disagree about what role the piano should play, epecially while comping; such heated debates are common among both amateur musicians and famous jazz pianists.

How Jazz Piano is Played

Jazz piano requires different skills from classical piano. Since jazz is not written out in detail the way classical music is, the individual pianist needs an extensive knowledge of musical vocabulary: chords, melodic material, and "jazz theory" (which does not necessarily refer to book knowledge).

Jazz theory identifies many different combinations of notes as being the same "chord". The details of which notes to play, and in which range to play them, are left up to the pianist. The decisions are made based on the range of the other instruments playing, the style of music, and the particular sound or feeling desired on a given chord. Jazz pianists (and guitar players as well) refer to voicings, different ways of playing a given chord.

Generally in soloing, the theory is that the piano can be broken up into three sections. The lower being the bass, or representing an acoustic bass player, the middle is the piano, more for chords and the melody, and the high end of the piano is the horn section. The combination of the three sections is the most basic form of theory for the jazz piano.

See also

Home | Up | List of jazz genres | Bebop | Jazz genres | Jazz standard | Jazz poetry | Block chord | Ethno jazz | Fake music | Jam session | Jazz band | Jazz funeral | Jazz guitar | Jazz piano | Jazz royalty | Modal jazz | Rhythm section | Ska jazz | Vocalese

Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.