Easy Jazz Songs

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Oddman545, Feb 27, 2002.

  1. I wanna start trying to play some jazz music and I really don't know where to start. I don't have any CD's and I want to know some pretty simple songs beginning jazz songs that I could learn. Could you just list a couple of cool songs that aren't extrememly hard? Nothing too diffucult but fun to play. Thanks,
  2. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA

    (Just kidding).

    Very first Jazz tune I ever played was AUTUMN LEAVES. Although it does have a number of chord changes, they're fairly straight forward. You know your Cycle of Fourths, you're cool.

    KILLER JOE isn't a bad one because it has an ostinato figure bassline for the head (very easy to pick out), and the changes aren't too bad. You've got a little bit of funky movement in the B section, but overall, it's a safe tune.

    THE GIRL FROM IPANEMA is another tune I learned early on. While it does have some more advanced chords, there's not many, and it too is pretty straight forward.

    LADYBIRD is another good one without too many changes.

    MR. P.C. is a blues figure, but it's way up tempo.

    IN A MELLOW TONE is also a great tune for beginners. It has a lot of FOURTHs movement, like AUTUMN LEAVES, and that's an important harmony to get in your head.

    C JAM BLUES, (while we're discussing Duke), is another blues tune. The melody is easy, so you can learn that as well. Good tune to solo off of.

    While 'ROUND MIDNIGHT has a lot of changes, it's a slow song, so you can breathe.

    OLEO isn't a bad one to toy around with. While it may not be the "easiest" tune in the world, you need to know these changes. (RHYTHM CHANGES).

    RUBY, MY DEAR is a slower piece like 'ROUND MIDNIGHT.

    You might get some people recommending SO WHAT. I think this is usually recommended because, A) the song is so well known, and B) it has only two chords. I tried this song early on in my jazz days and I died. Absolutely died. Personally, I think this is a very hard tune. If you don't know how to play jazz that well, this tune leaves you out there, dangling, with nothing to hold on to. See, there's only two chords, but it's 8 bars D dorian, 8 more bars D dorian, 8 bars Eb dorian, and 8 more bars D dorian. So if you go from the final A section, back into a new chorus, you've got 24 straight bars of D dorian. Nothing changes. Can you play something interesting, melodic, and appropriate, in D dorian, for 24 bars! Over and Over? It's not that easy. Playing a tune like AUTUMN LEAVES, where you have new chords every bar, gives you a chance to get comfortable in a tune. Heck, just play 1-3-5-3 every bar until you're comfortable. But, you can't do that with SO WHAT. So personally, I advice to wait on that tune.

    Also, some might say that no song is "easy" or "hard," and while there is truth to that, I can understand what you're asking, in that I think the harmonic structure of some songs are more conducive to someone just getting their feet wet in jazz.

    So, go out, buy a REAL BOOK and a bunch of CDs, and get some AEBERSOLD, (Vols. 1, 3, 12, 47, 24, 48, 54, 56, and 70!), and have fun.

    (Teachers help. A lot.) :cool: :)
  3. An interesting thread, Oddman, and a great reply form Jazzbo.

    Learning a different style to the one you usually play has been floated on these boards many times, as a way of improving the all round musical knowledge.

    And I really like jazz: always have but have always considered it too hard to play. Perhaps I might just follow Jazzbos advice.

    Thanks :D :D

  4. beermonkey


    Sep 26, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    Never have truer words been spoken. When I was just beginning my venture into jazz, the evil bastards that I was playing with wanted to play "So What". Talk about brutal. When you have no idea what you're doing, that 24 bars of D dorian is living hell.

    Another couple of tunes that I learned early on that were both fun and easy are "Billie's Bounce" and "Now's the Time". Both Parker tunes. Both have the exact same changes.

    Learning to play the head to all these songs is a good idea too.
  5. Thanks. Well, I'm off to go see about these Cd's and some books. I haven't really played jazz at all but I've always sort of liked it, so I want to get into some of it and play some. Thanks guys,

  6. Kelvin


    Apr 30, 2000
    Here's a suggestion:

    1. All the things you are.

    Classic circle of fifths progression.
  7. grovest


    Feb 26, 2002
    Consider the following, which is a list of the tuns on Aebersold's 'Maiden Voyage'.

    Bb Blues (or any blues for that matter)
    Solar Flair
    Watermelon Man
    Song For My Father
    Satin Doll
    Maiden Voyage
    F Blues
    Cantaloupe Island
    Autumn Leaves.

    By the way, if you're wondering what the heck an Aebersold book is all about, here's the deal: Jamey Aebersold publishes a bunch of instructional material for jazz players. Each book usually has a theme for the tunes on it, and comes with a CD that is recorded in stero with the bass on one side and the piano and drums on the other. That way, for a beginning player, you can cop the line of the pro on the CD or cut him out and 'play along' with the piano and drums. Also cool is that all of the tunes are printed in bass clef, so if you can read bass ledger you can also learn all the heads.

    Good luck with your jazz studies.
  8. why do thread ever continue after ed answers them:confused:
  9. Bassstud1

    Bassstud1 Supporting Member

    Sep 23, 2001
    LaPorte Indiana USA
    I'm not a Jazz musician but the band I play in plays a version of "Take Five". A beginners 2 Chord song and we do some very interesting things with it. I'm not a jazz musician, but I do feel very jazzy when we play this tune. Just my 2 cents. Have a great day and PRACTICE.
  10. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Yeah, Ed, you're right. But don't forget what it's like to be starting out. Think back to your first days playing, hanging out with Buddy Bolden and just learning how to play jazz. Which would you rather start with, SHAW NUFF and NEFERTITI, or AUTUMN LEAVES and IN A MELLOW TONE? You have to start somewhere with jazz, otherwise the journey looks too insurmountable. I mean, yeah, having HUGE ears is key, hearing what every instrument is doing, playing in the moment, for the moment, playing a tune in any jazz style, or tempo, or playing it in any key, those are all things that are musts, but you can't just start doing all those things. I mean, you've been playing jazz since Magna Carta days, so you don't have to worry about just getting through a chorus, and not missing a change, you could get through any chorus, in your sleep. But some of us still get lost on NEFERTITI. So, when you're starting, first learn walk, then learn fly. (No pun intended).

    This is why, in my original post, I mention a teacher. You just have to have a teacher or some structured lesson type situation when learning jazz. This isn't 1947 52nd St. where you can just go watch the big dogs play from 8pm to 6am every night. You need someone to help guide you along.
  11. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY


    Thanks, you just made my day.

    By the way, have you checked out Ed's solo on WEST END BLUES from his 1934 release "YOU DON'T KNOW WHERE ONE IS" ? It goes, "BWEEP-BLAP-BA-DOO-BOP...BA-SKITTLE-DE-DOO-WAA", etc. Smokin' stuff, really...

  12. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    I've looked for it. They're not releasing it anymore, but a friend said he saw a version released in Japan, so I'm gonna check it out.


    Man! Most of the cats in those days where like, "BA-DUM-DUM-DUM-DE....DA-DA-DOO-DA." That really blows my mind.
  13. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    Teachers are great, that's why i always recommend getting one. My whole point was that it's about learning how to deal with some basics, not really about learning a song to play. Learning where to put your fingers on the instrument to play AUTUMN LEAVES in Bb major is one thing, learning how to hear music in your head when you see or hear a C-7 going to a F7 is another....

    Point taken Ed, but starting out by putting your fingers on the instrument and "pressing buttons" if you will eventually, with additional work, get you to a place where you can recognize the relationship between the music in your head and the music that ultimately surfaces out of your instrument.
  14. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    ...there's yer answer-
    The Blues.

    Aebersold has a decent Blues book(I think that particular volume even has an accompanying 'bass book' available).
    I know it's a "put your finger here, put your finger there" approach...Caveat: I'm NO Jazzbo; you did ask for a "basic" approach to get started, however.

    Are the Channel Cats still in Huntsville?
  15. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    BTW, what style of Jazz are you listening to & 'sorta liking'?
  16. I don't know. I've just listened to a couple songs on the radio and thought they were, cool. I really don't know though.
  17. Easy jazz... I think thats a contradiction in terms. ;)
    Try some Jazz Blues. Its probably the best place to start. A 12 bar jazz blues walk is a good intro to playing jazz.
  18. I've been bored lately so I bought Ed Friedland's bass builders book "Jazz Bass". Other than listening to The Crusaders and some Weather Report, I know squat about jazz. I just got it today so I'm not very deep into it yet.
    I followed the book as I listened to the accompanying cd. He seems to do a good job of explaining the structures of jazz, basics of building walking bass lines, playing in different time signatures, different jazz styles, and basic soloing. He also covers intros and endings, and covers playing with other musicians a bit. There are play along examples for everything covered in the book, as well as 7 songs you can play with.
    It's not written in tab so that could be a negative if you don't read or want to learn to read.
    I wish I'd bought it years ago. Of course, teachers are great too.
    Hope this helps ya. Good luck!