The Evolution of Solo Jazz Piano

While looking around for something else, I came across these two videos, “The Evolution of Solo Jazz Piano, Parts 1 and 2.“ They are a look at 24 jazz pianists. Twelve are from the traditional style, and twelve are from the modern style. They were made by Bill Dobbins in 1990. All are variations on a theme based on the harmonic progressions of the standard “All of Me.” They’re well worth tucking away and dipping into from time to time.

According to an internet blurb:

Bill Dobbins is professor of jazz studies at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, where he teaches the jazz composing and arranging courses and directs the . . . Eastman Jazz Ensemble and Eastman Studio Orchestra. As a pianist, he has performed with orchestra and chamber ensembles under the direction of Louis Lane, Pierre Boulez, Lukas Foss and Frederick Fennell, and he has performed and recorded with such jazz artists as Clark Terry, Al Cohn, Red Mitchell, Phil Woods, Bill Goodwin, Gary Foster, Dave Liebman, John Goldsby and Peter Erskine. . . . From 1994 through 2002 Mr. Dobbins was principal director of the WDR Big Band in Cologne, Germany, and he headed the jazz studies department at the Hochschule für Musik in Cologne from 1998 to 2002.

Part one covers:

Scott Joplin
Jelly Roll Morton
James P. Johnson
Willie “The Lion” Smith
Earl “Fatha” Hines
Thomas “Fats” Waller
Teddy Wilson
Duke Ellington
Art Tatum
Meade Lux Lewis
Pete Johnson
Jimmy Yancey

Part two covers:

Thelonious Monk
Bud Powell
Oscar Peterson
Erroll Garner
Lennie Tristano
Bill Evans
Clare Fischer
Jimmy Rowles
Cecil Taylor
Chick Corea
Keith Jarrett
Richie Beirach

It’s amazing how Dobbins can pretty convincingly cover all these styles of playing. I thought this might be of use/interest to you. It was for me. Enjoy! :musical_keyboard:


Yay. Such a great find Scott and Thanks very much for listing down the covers too! Wow as well on his detailed explanations - and wonderful performances. Awesome!

This is brilliant Scott, thanks for sharing.

That was an absolute pleasure to watch and learn. I wish there had been more “overhead” shots of the keyboard. My favourite was Teddy Wilson but that was probably because it was so close to the style my dad played when I was growing up. It certainly shows the vast range of styles and interpretations available to the solo pianist, which is my particular interest.
Thanks for posting!

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Thank you @scott1, awesome videos!

I really recommend for all to check out Bill Dobbins better, not only he’s a great pianist and has excellent albums of his own, he is a true encyclopedia of Jazz music, and has written great transcription books etc.