Tuomo's Recommendations for Pianist/Albums

Hi PianoGroove Family!

I wanted to start a thread where I share my most favourite pianists and their recordings, with some fun and useful related information!

First, I’d like to point out how important listening to records is. I feel that with practicing harmony, jazz language, tunes and rhythm is of course crucial, we can’t learn the essence of a particular musical style without hearing at least as many hours of music as we practice. I have many times compared it to a child’s ability to learn to speak; just by listening, going from no understanding to being absolutely fluent, no need for grammar (theory/analysis).

I hope you enjoy this thread, feel free to add comments, questions, album suggestions etc.!

-Tuomo

1 Like

Bud Powell - ‘Jazz Giant’

This album was recorded in two different sessions 1949 and 1950, with the following personnel:

  • Bud Powell – piano

February 23, 1949, tracks 1-6.

  • Ray Brown – bass (except track 4 – Powell solo)
  • Max Roach – drums (except track 4 – Powell solo)

February 1950, tracks 7-13.

  • Curley Russell – bass (except track 11 – Powell solo)
  • Max Roach – drums (except track 11 – Powell solo)

Tracks I’d recommend to start with:

  • Celia
    (here transcription of the first chorus)
    Celia Transcription.pdf (41.5 KB)

  • Cherokee

  • I’ll Keep Loving You
    This one is a Powell original, a beautiful ballad worth checking out!

  • April In Paris
    This one has an amazing solo piano introduction, where you can hear the Art Tatum influence in Powell’s playing

2 Likes

Haha, I was surprised because I didn’t read your entire post before I went to Spotify to listen to the album. I only saw that the album was from 2001, so I was expecting a bit more modern playing. Instead, what came out of my headphones was something much older.

I listened to the song “Celia” first. Thoughts: The intro has an interesting, even slightly oriental rhythm. The melody of the song is interesting, almost as if it were a solo played to a different song. Lots of embellishments and accents. Thanks for the transcription of the solo, it was nice to follow along with while listening.

The solo starts nicely with a break and a piano run. There is so much to learn from in here. Bud accents the offbeats strongly, while I naturally place the accents on the downbeats. The accentuation is really strong in places and the rhythm swings, almost sounding like it’s going to fall apart. The solo phrases are not usually started on the root note of the chord, but he starts on other intervals like 3rd, 7th, 9th. The start of the phrase has been moved to the offbeat. Similarly, he cleverly places the turns of longer phrases on the offbeats, so they don’t sound like 1-2-3-4 arpeggio exercises like mine. :slight_smile: In places where the chords change in sequence, Bud uses chromatic patterns that he cleverly modifies as he moves them up or down. He comps very sparingly and surprisingly softly with his left hand. And almost all of them also hit the offbeats. Interesting!

Thanks for the music tip, @Tuomo

1 Like

Wynton Kelly - ‘Wynton Kelly!’

Wynton Kelly! was released on the Vee-Jay label in 1961. Additional performances from these sessions were released as ‘Someday My Prince Will Come’.

This album is an excellent documentation of Kelly’s distinctive style, swing feel and overall trio sound.

Personnel

  • Wynton Kelly - piano
  • Paul Chambers(tracks 3–5, 7 & 8), Sam Jones (tracks 1, 2 & 6) - bass
  • Jimmy Cobb - drums

Tracks I’d recommend to start with:

  • Come Rain Or Come Shine

  • Autumn Leaves
    Can you figure out the reharmonisation appearing in the 3rd bar of the form?

  • Joe’s Avenue
    Nice Joe Zavinul blues with a bridge (12- bar blues works as A section, form is AABA)

3 Likes

Hey @Tuomo ,

Thanks for the new artist/album recommendation! I really enjoyed the ballad “Make The Man Love Me”. Beautiful melody! It was interesting to hear how much Wynton uses dynamics when playing the melody. It almost sounds like singing. The left hand provides a calm and unobtrusive accompaniment in the background.

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Tommy Flanagan - ‘Eclypso!’

Eclypso was released on the Enja label in 1977. This was my first jazz album, and I would say probably shaped my own playing the most.

“His lines, phrasing, and creative solos, plus his interaction with bassist George Mraz and drummer Elvin Jones, won the album rave reviews”. - Ron Wynn, AllMusic

Personnel

  • Tommy Flanagan - piano
  • George Mars - bass
  • Elvin Jones - drums

Tracks I’d recommend to start with:

  • Denzil’s Best
    (solo transcription)
    Denzil’s Best Transcription.pdf (57.7 KB)

  • Relation At The Camarillo
    Nice Charlie Parker blues, with a cool intro

  • Confirmation
    Probably one of my all time favourite solos!

1 Like

Bill Evans - ‘Portrait In Jazz!’

One of Bill Evans’ most notable albums, it is also the first of only two studio albums to be recorded with his famous trio featuring bassist Scott LaFaro and drummer Paul Motian.

“Portrait In Jazz - Evans’ fifth record as a band leader - gets you every which way. At its least great, it is merely brilliant… But what makes Evans extra-extra-special is the way his playing drags you in and shares the vulnerability at its core. Oh, the humanity!”. - Danny Eccleston, Mojo

Personnel

  • Bill Evans - piano
  • Scott Lafarro - bass
  • Paul Motian - drums

Tracks I’d recommend to start with:

  • Come Rain Of Come Shine

  • Autumn Leaves (take 1)
    Transcription:
    Autumn Leaves Transcription.pdf (65.2 KB)

  • Confirmation
    When I Fall In Love
    Bill Evans at his best; playing a ballad

  • Blue In Green (both takes)
    Trio version of the well-known tune, pay attention to the time feel and tempo!