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#1133982 - 01/15/09 01:24 AM Re: Best jazz pianist *not* classically trained
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21693
Loc: Oakland
 Quote:
Makoto Ozone is a another fine jazz pianist who had no "formal" training so to speak.
When I met him, he was studying a Mozart Concerto.
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#1133983 - 01/15/09 01:35 AM Re: Best jazz pianist *not* classically trained
etcetra Offline
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Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
I read that he's recently studying classical piano with a teacher.. but from what I know he did not have classical training growing up.. he played mostly by ear. i guess I should make it clear that a good number of jazz pianists did not have an extensive conservatory-level classical training.

I am not really for or against classical training.. i think its good if it's something you want to learn, I just don't like people who says you have to do classical in order to jazz, or people says that you shouldn't do classical if you want to do jazz, everyone is different.

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#1133984 - 01/15/09 06:03 AM Re: Best jazz pianist *not* classically trained
pianobroker Offline
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Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 4309
Loc: North Hollywood CA.
etcetera,I'm glad you decided to respond to my post eight months later \:D It's been so long I wonder if my views on this subject remain unchanged. Probably so!. A few additional thoughts come to mind.
You have to admit,a classically trained musician whom desires to make that transition to playing jazz is gonna approach this task with a whole different perspective than one whom initially relies on his ear with minimal technique and proficiency in the beginning years as a growing jazz musician. The classically trained musician is at an advantage and at the same time a disadvantage in learning and playing the true essence of jazz. The classically trained musician hopefully has reached a certain proficiency level whereas he can hack through an Oscar Peterson transcribed solo,hopefully getting a grasp on what Oscar is doing initially through imitation. The "green jazz musician"in the beginning does not have the facility or technique to even attempt this route in the beginning. His only knowledge base is off the street through his own creativity and improvisation. Of course,he learns from mentors along the way.The disadvantage of the classically trained musician and there are exceptions to the rule is many have a hard time "swinging " because his approach is the same approach as to learning a Beethoven Sonata.
Now with one that is learning to play on the street one can't even imagine learning and playing an Oscar solo transcription. I can imagine for many classical pianists,one's idea and perception of playing Jazz piano is playing Gerhwin's Rhapsody in Blue. I remember years back going to see a so called jazz pianist at a local after hours jazz hang out for musicians. Though this pianist had the chops and technique of the masters,he among his peers gained minimal respect as a jazz musician. Creativity almost always gains more respect over virtuosity.
I actually have respect for blues pianists in that though limited in their facility,one has to rely on "feel". I've seen more so called jazz pianists that can't play the blues to save their life. I've seen more jazz guitarists out of Berklee that can't play guitar.I rather play with Stevie Ray Vaughn than some guitarist in the college stage band. My advice,Move out of your parent's house into a local rooming house to live the life as a jazz or blues musician giving true meaning to playing the blues as a jazz musician.
\:D
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#1133985 - 01/15/09 08:33 AM Re: Best jazz pianist *not* classically trained
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
pianobroker,

i wrote this in a different post, but studying jazz at school can be quite frustrating, mostly because you do so much classical stuff that you spend very little time on jazz. You read through chord changes and solos, and a lot of times you forget to use your ears.

I heard a story about this very famous jazz bassist.. he will give you a free lesson but he ask you to bring a real book that you are using. And the first thing he does is tear the real book apart and tell you never to use it again.

I know that is kind of extreme, but it takes very different skill to, let say transcribe/play Oscar Peterson's solo by ear without writing it down than to study it out of a transcription book.. classical training can prepare you technically but it will not prepare you for that kind of learning by ear.

I agree that the best way to learn is to go out there and play.. but I guess the problem is that there are less and less place where you can go and play.. my teachers talked about how they used to be more places to gig and cut their teeth, but now there's less and less..

My teachers also told me The school i used to go to had midnight jam sessions all the time decades ago, now there are hardly any, partly because the whole security situation makes it harder to find a room that late.

unfortunately, school is all they got for some people, and its not easy finding that kind of enviroment..

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#1133986 - 01/15/09 05:42 PM Re: Best jazz pianist *not* classically trained
MonksDream Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/08/08
Posts: 101
Loc: Vancouver, BC
etcetra, I totally agree and sympathize with your comment about lack of places to go and play. The only way to learn how you will sound with a group is to play with one and there are precious few places to do that.

I go to a number of "jam sessions" here in town but the repertoire (safe Real Book tunes) and the logistics of being a piano player (bring your own gear? play the beat-up Wurly?) make them less than ideal, though much appreciated.

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#1133987 - 01/15/09 08:14 PM Re: Best jazz pianist *not* classically trained
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
MonksDream,

When i went to school I was in LA.. there were jam sessions if you look for them.. but from what I was told its nothing like what it used to be.

I am surprised to hear that some of my teachers weren't very good at all when they started.. but they were able to play 5 nights a gig and get better that way.. Of course they practiced, they had an enviroment where they could play all the time if they wanted to.

I remember few of my friends i had in schools used to find a way to open the rehearsal rooms and jam, it was fun, I just thought.. it would be like that all the time.

i guess the only thing you can do is keep on playing and make things happen for yourself. I wish you good luck.

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#1133988 - 01/15/09 08:42 PM Re: Best jazz pianist *not* classically trained
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
btw the reason I am not all that crazy about classical training is because when i started college, I had a classical teacher, who basically told me that I won't be doing much jazz while I am in college.. I will be doing classical so that when i get out of school I would be ready to play jazz..

It was bogus, I could have acquired chops from transcribing and doing jazz stuff.. I quit after one semester and i was glad.. I knew friends who went through the program and it was ironic.. I wasn't as technically proficient as they were, but they all envyed me for the kinds of lines/idea I was playing. most of my friends from that school stopped playing jazz after college.

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#1133989 - 01/29/09 03:49 AM Re: Best jazz pianist *not* classically trained
nitekatt2008z Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/08
Posts: 552
Although mainly known as a jazz organ player, I don't think Joey DeFrancesco had any formal training in classical instruction, other than what he picked up from his father who was a pro organist himself. Also in an interview, Joey stated he is not a good sight reader at all and relies on his ear.

Another fine jazz pianist in the bay area and a staff psychiatrist, Denny Zeitland was not classically trained.

I was not classically trained at all and didn't even work on any Bach until I went to Berklee. I actually had no desire to learn nor listen to any classical music until I went to school there and then really got into Bach, which helped me learn hand independance, reading and fingering. I dabble with Mozart, Bach, Chopin, but only for study, not to perform or master it. I'm not disciplined enough to struggle through all that work. My classical guru is Glenn Gould, the real Bach master and Horowitz.

katt

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#1133990 - 01/29/09 06:12 AM Re: Best jazz pianist *not* classically trained
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
nitekatt2008z,

I am kind of the same here.. I started music late, and right now I just want to focus mainly on jazz stuff. I would like to learn Chopin etudes and Beethoven's Waldenstein sonata.. etc in the future, but I don't see my self practicing them 5 hrs a day for 4 months to play them at a performance level.

I was surprise to hear that Kenny Werner didn't go very far in classical (according to an interview). I guess its different for everyone

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#1133991 - 01/31/09 06:23 PM Re: Best jazz pianist *not* classically trained
swingal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/05
Posts: 1094
Loc: England
Reference, on the subject of jazz pianists that had formal training. I rate the Japanese pianist, Makota Ozone as one of the best current classical trained players. Try and obtain the DVD duo, with him and Garry Burton Vibes, cannot recall the title this moment.

If you like the great Beethoven Sonatas, there is a new DVD out of Daniel Barenboim playing the complete piano sonatas in Berlin, I have vol.2, of 2 at least.EMI Classics.

Erroll Garner never learned to play the piano classically and only by ear in any case jazz plus his popular song 'Misty'. Conversely, Fats Waller did and mostly on the church organ originally. One of the greatest jazz composers ever, his compositions are still common to most people, having stood the test of time.

swingal,

PS; The Beetoven compositions I like greatly but will never be able to play them as I'm only a 'by ear player' and jazz solely,cannot read a note of muisic.

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#1133992 - 01/31/09 06:48 PM Re: Best jazz pianist *not* classically trained
jasnicklv Offline
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Registered: 01/31/09
Posts: 27
Loc: las vegas, nv
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#1133993 - 01/31/09 10:41 PM Re: Best jazz pianist *not* classically trained
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
swingal,

From what I read about Makoto Ozone, he did not have classical training growing up.. he played mostly by ear. It's only much later in his life that he started studying classical music seriously.

I also read about how oscar peterson had classical lessons from his sister, but his ears were so good that he picked up most of the music by ear.


Janicklv

I think the great classical composers we know all transcribed, they had excellent ears.. its funny how many of the college students can play very demanding repritore, and yet at the same time they have hard time learning simple pop songs by ear. Not only that, a lot of people seem to play the pieces and they don't seem to really know what is going on as a composition.

I do find something strange about how piano is taught.. it seems a little unbalanced, but considering the fact that classical pianists practice 5-8 hrs a day.. maybe its important that they are that specialized.

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#1133994 - 02/03/09 11:17 AM Re: Best jazz pianist *not* classically trained
jasnicklv Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/31/09
Posts: 27
Loc: las vegas, nv
I agree with RafaelSF's pix of Nat Cole
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#1133995 - 02/04/09 09:06 PM Re: Best jazz pianist *not* classically trained
MonksDream Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/08/08
Posts: 101
Loc: Vancouver, BC
 Quote:
Originally posted by jasnicklv:
I agree with RafaelSF's pix of Nat Cole---IF Cole indeed did not start with classics. Cole may be simplistic, but he captured the essence of voicing, pacing, comping, et al.

James [/b]
Nat "King" Cole simplistic??!! How can that assessment appear in the same sentence as "he captured the essence of voicing, pacing, comping, et al."? Try playing through his version of "Indiana" or "The Man on the Little White Keys". Marvels of economy? Yes. Simplistic? Nope. The same applies to Thelonious Monk.

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#1133996 - 02/05/09 09:44 AM Re: Best jazz pianist *not* classically trained
jasnicklv Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/31/09
Posts: 27
Loc: las vegas, nv
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#1133997 - 02/06/09 05:39 PM Re: Best jazz pianist *not* classically trained
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3167
 Quote:
Originally posted by nitekatt2008z:

Another fine jazz pianist in the bay area and a staff psychiatrist, Denny Zeitland was not classically trained. [/b]
 Quote:
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Denny Zeitlin is a jazz pianist born in Chicago, Illinois on April 10, 1938.
He originally had classical piano training,[/b] but then switched to medicine.
Which story is correct?
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#1133998 - 02/06/09 08:19 PM Re: Best jazz pianist *not* classically trained
jasnicklv Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/31/09
Posts: 27
Loc: las vegas, nv
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#1133999 - 02/06/09 08:22 PM Re: Best jazz pianist *not* classically trained
jasnicklv Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/31/09
Posts: 27
Loc: las vegas, nv
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James

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#1134000 - 02/07/09 03:29 AM Re: Best jazz pianist *not* classically trained
BJones Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/08
Posts: 1043
Loc: Queens, NY
The strongest similarities between classical and jazz piano are their similar, general pedagogy, they're both played on pianos, and the materials for general musical construction are very similar, the same 12 tones, the same gravitational tendencies of their 12 tone system, etc.
The approach is where you'll find the biggest difference. What makes them nothing alike is the differing premise in which the classical and jazz pianist approaches the piano. Their vastly different purposes that make jazz and classical piano polar opposites.
Classical pianists are sinlgemindedly dedicated to "play the heads" of others. They are selfless, their main goals to reproduce the music of whose compositions they study and perform.
Jazz pianists should be singlemindedly dedicated to play "thier own head". They should be selfish in their pursuit of id-driven (id, as in bringing the subconscious thoughts to the surface and then as sound in the air) communication, with themselves and others.
Classical players are apt to play regimentedly practiced pieces perfectly, with nary a thought, their training doing the performing.
Jazz players should strive to exhibit spontaneity, musical ideas building as they play in a feedback type of loop, each idea giving rise to more music, the jazz pianist must be present consciously in the creation at all times.
Technically, the technique of a jazz player must be maleable and open to fingerings that would be quite unorthodix to the clasical players, because spontaneous lines may not fall easily into the classically trained, Hanon-Czerny trained hand.
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#1134001 - 02/07/09 07:51 AM Re: Best jazz pianist *not* classically trained
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
Also I think when jazz musicians play classical pieces, their main goal is to understand the music as a composition and draw ideas for their improvisation, whereas classical musician's focus is in "perfecting the piece". I don't want to say they are two different worlds, but there is a big difference between them.

I met so many competent classically-trained musicians who just couldn't improvise. I asked them to just freely play whatever came to them with no harmonic/rhythmic context, and they just couldn't. they just don't know what that means..they kept on asking me what to do.

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#1134002 - 02/07/09 12:04 PM Re: Best jazz pianist *not* classically trained
BJones Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/08
Posts: 1043
Loc: Queens, NY
 Quote:
Originally posted by etcetra:
Also I think when jazz musicians play classical pieces, their main goal is to understand the music as a composition and draw ideas for their improvisation, whereas classical musician's focus is in "perfecting the piece". I don't want to say they are two different worlds, but there is a big difference between them.

I met so many competent classically-trained musicians who just couldn't improvise. I asked them to just freely play whatever came to them with no harmonic/rhythmic context, and they just couldn't. they just don't know what that means..they kept on asking me what to do. [/b]
Pretty close. Classical pianists play by musical analysis then muscular memory and rote, whereby successful jazz-improvising pianists play by instinctual ingraining.
Instant composition, played in the moment (the highest form of jazz improv.) never occurs via rote and muscular memory. The engine is always revving, never idling.
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Some recent improvisations:

Cool School Chopin:

http://www.mediafire.com/?d1yc1mmitew

Improvisations:

http://www.box.net/shared/bjv6yc34oo

http://www.box.net/shared/8lmc3hzikl


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#1134003 - 02/08/09 04:11 AM Re: Best jazz pianist *not* classically trained
swingal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/05
Posts: 1094
Loc: England
Some jazz pianists were never trained at all. They played by ear and had the ability to memorize the piece and play it in their own style and as jazz, often.

I never had any lessons though I took my young sister to the teacher near where we lived and sat there listening. When we got home I could remember the piece and help her when she went wrong all by ear. I never learned to play by the score nor could I read it. I started when about 4 and my mother showed me how to pick out a tune, she was quite proficient at pure ear only playing.

It is a matter of memorizing the 12 notes and their sounds and playing improvisations based on the song in the subconscious memory. Not an over night, easy success story but many years of constant practice.

Erroll Garner made a complete career of playing completely based on the above means.

I just look at the piano keyboard and each key has its sound.

swingal

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#1134004 - 02/08/09 04:12 AM Re: Best jazz pianist *not* classically trained
swingal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/05
Posts: 1094
Loc: England
Some jazz pianists were never trained at all. They played by ear and had the ability to memorize the piece and play it in their own style and as jazz, often.

I never had any lessons though I took my young sister to the teacher near where we lived and sat there listening. When we got home I could remember the piece and help her when she went wrong all by ear. I never learned to play by the score nor could I read it. I started when about 4 and my mother showed me how to pick out a tune, she was quite proficient at pure ear only playing.

It is a matter of memorizing the 12 notes and their sounds and playing improvisations based on the song in the subconscious memory. Not an over night, easy success story but many years of constant practice.

Erroll Garner made a complete career of playing completely based on the above means.

I just look at the piano keyboard and each key has its sound.

swingal

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#1134005 - 02/08/09 05:29 AM Re: Best jazz pianist *not* classically trained
swingal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/05
Posts: 1094
Loc: England
On the matter of Art Tatum may I suggest you visit WIKIPEDIA and type in Art Tatum. They write a very clear history of Art's life.

Many of the great musicians of our recall seem to have had a hard time. How sad isn't it ?

swingal

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#1134006 - 02/08/09 06:57 AM Re: Best jazz pianist *not* classically trained
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
swingal,

That is very true about a lot of the older musicians, I know Chet Baker couldn't read music, and people like stan getz is more into following their ears than charts.

But I think the trends have changed since then, a lot of people have classical training, and jazz is taught in more of a formal setting.. most of us were taught to use abersold rather than follow our ears. .and a lot of older musicians are not happy about that because that is not how they learned. It's an interesting dilemma, and in some ways I like the ear approach better.

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#1134007 - 02/20/09 07:21 PM Re: Best jazz pianist *not* classically trained
Happy Birthday Wilson Fraz√£o Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/06/09
Posts: 24
Loc: Portugal
I think you don't have to care with that nowadays, just learn the piano and try to be versatile...
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#1134008 - 02/21/09 04:49 PM Re: Best jazz pianist *not* classically trained
swingal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/31/05
Posts: 1094
Loc: England
Topic: Best jazz pianist *not* classically trained.

To stick to the subject precisely Erroll Garner is tops in my opinion. Not only was he non trained but his style was unique and very hard to copy. In fact I have never heard anyone play like him.

A gem and a true ear player in all aspects of jazz. I play his DVD and other tapes very frequently. I have met him and the world was at a great loss when he passed away at a very young age just like Fats and others too. The jazz lifestyle is very hard on health I think.

swingal

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#1134009 - 02/21/09 06:45 PM Re: Best jazz pianist *not* classically trained
daviel Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/14/07
Posts: 933
Loc: Waxahachie, Texas
Erroll Garner was a genius.
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