This JazzPianoSkills Podcast Episode explores using Inverted Melodic Minor Shapes melodically for improvising.
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Every JazzPianoSkills weekly podcast episode introduces aspiring jazz pianists to essential Jazz Piano Skills. Each Podcast episode explores a specific Jazz Piano Skill in depth. Today you will discover, learn, play Inverted Melodic Minor Shapes. In this Jazz Piano Lesson you will:
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Welcome to jazz piano skills. I'm Dr. Bob Lawrence. It's time to discover, learn and play jazz piano. Today you are going to discover inverted melodic shapes for the minor sound. You're going to learn how to construct inverted melodic minor shapes using ascending and descending arpeggio and scale motion. And you are going to play inverted melodic minor shapes, using enclosures in all 12 keys to develop jazz vocabulary for improvising. So as I always like to say regardless of where you are in your jazz journey, a beginner and intermediate player and advanced player or even if you are an experienced professional, you will find this jazz piano skills podcast lesson exploring inverted melodic minor shapes to be very beneficial. If you are new to jazz piano skills if you are a new listener to this podcast, I want to personally invite you to become a jazz piano skills member. 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When ever you want to get involved in make some new jazz piano friends. And last but certainly not least, you will have access to unlimited, private, personal and professional educational support. So again, visit jazz panel skills.com to learn more about all of the educational opportunities and how to easily activate your membership. If you have any questions, any questions at all, please do not hesitate to reach out. I am always happy to help you in any way that I can. Okay, let's discover, learn and play jazz piano let's discover learn and play the inverted melodic shapes for the minor sound. Last week we explored inverted melodic shapes for the dominant sound. And the week before that we looked at the inverted melodic shapes for the major sound. In both of those episodes in both of those lessons, I stated that one of the biggest hurdles, if not the biggest hurdle that all aspiring jazz pianist have to confront, mentally and physically is the ability to establish a connection, a link between harmony and melody and to do so in such a way that the to melody and harmony actually become one. I also stress that making this inseparable correlation between harmony and melody is a big time skill that begins with consciously being aware of the relationship and then knowing how to magnify it through proper practicing. So today we continue our exploration of converted melodic shapes, and we do so by placing the minor sound in the spotlight. Our goal today remains the exact same as it was two weeks ago with the major sound. And as it was last week with the dominant sound, to discover, learn and play, harmony and melody as one. Another important fact that I pointed out and stressed in the last two episodes in the last two lessons is that all musical sounds can be played harmonically, and melodically. In other words, all major dominant minor half diminished and diminished sounds can be played harmonically as a chord. Right? And as an arpeggio, or a scale. And knowing this important fact, transforms the very way in which we approach practicing, and how could it not. Instead of practicing chords, scales and arpeggios, as if they just simply exist for their own sake, to help us pursue technical proficiency. Instead, we begin to intentionally practice them as being one in the same And not only that, we begin to see and hear a single scale, and arpeggio, in relation to multiple courts, multiple harmonic shapes and sounds. Now this understanding of music is a big time revelation that literally begins your musical transformation, a transformation that takes you from music being a mechanical process, to music being an artistic endeavor, an artistic form of expression. During the last two podcast episodes, I also used an analogy to illuminate to magnify this inseparable relationship between harmony and melody. I presented a scenario of attending a classroom of kindergarteners students with a block of ice and a juggle water and then asking the children if the two items were the same thing. And of course, their answer would be no, because they have not yet developed the cognitive skills or abilities to understand that the same thing can appear in two different forms. So my point with that analogy was to as vividly as possible, established the Oneness the sameness of melody and harmony. So just as water can be both a solid and liquid, musical sound can be both a solid eliquid harmony is equivalent to the block of ice, the solid a chord. And melody is equivalent to the jug of water, a liquid and arpeggio or scale. Once you conceptually understand music in this way, you begin to see harmony and melody as being one in the same you see harmony and melody as the same thing. However, to solidify this relationship to move it from a conceptual understanding to a physical reality, you must consistently practice this relationship. And that is exactly what we have been exploring throughout this entire series on inverted melodic shapes. Okay, so today, I am going to deal with the minor sound only. We explored the major sound two weeks ago and the dominant sound last week. I will be modeling everything today using C minor, C minor in root position, C minor and first inversion C minor and second inversion and C minor in third inversion. And again, if you are not familiar with inversions, or you simply need a quick refresher, then I would recommend spending some time with the jazz piano skills curriculum. Specifically course four that deals with each of the 12 minor chords in root position, and inversions. You can watch video demonstrations which which you will find to be very helpful. As I always like to say a picture is worth 1000 words. These videos will help you a ton. So let's begin with C minor in root position. C, E flat, G and B flat I am going to play the C minor sound melodically in my right hand using ascending and descending arpeggio and scale motion. I want to quickly mention that two weeks ago when playing the inverted melodic major shapes I used contemporary shell voicings in my left hand when playing the arpeggios and scales and my right hand and last week, I use traditional shell voicings when playing the dominant arpeggios and scales in my right hand. today. I'm going to return to using contemporary shell voicings in my left hand as I am playing the minor harmonic shapes melodically. Now again, you can you can choose to use any voicing you wish because our focus is going to be completely on our right hand and the plane of inverted harmonic shapes melodically and again, if you need to do some voicing study, then spend time with jazz piano skills courses 17 through 26. those courses will help you thoroughly learn traditional and contemporary left hand shell voicings, I am going to approach playing the C minor sound melodically as an exercise, no improvisation. In fact, I'm not going to try to do anything fancy at all. I want to focus on playing the shape melodically in time and using a proper jazz articulation and feel. So I'm going to begin with ascending and descending arpeggio motion. I will repeat the shape several times. So I can accurately assess my consistency. And then I will begin to play ascending and descending scale motion. Again, focusing on playing the shape melodically in time and using a proper jazz articulation and feel. And once again, I will repeat the shapes several times. So I can accurately assess my consistency. So let's bring in the ensemble. Let's check it out. And then we can talk about it. Here we go. No big deal, right? Well, I say that but to be perfectly honest with you the ability to play ascending and descending arpeggios using the proper jazz articulation and feel so that they actually sound like an improvised melodic line instead of a technique exercise is a big deal. which prompts me to ask you a very important question. Do you know how you sound? Do you know how accurate your jazz and articulation feel are? Well, if not, then I want to encourage you to begin recording yourself on a regular basis. Now you do not need You do not need any fancy equipment. You do not need any expensive audio gear. All you need is your cell phone. Pull it out and hit the record button. That's it. That's all you need to do. record yourself and then sit back and listen to your plane. I promise you will begin hearing aspects of your plan that you didn't even realize existed. You will definitely hear some good You will hear some bad, and you will hear some ugly. But now, don't panic. This is true for all of us for everyone. We all when we sit back and listen to ourselves play away from the instrument, we hear things that we do not like. And this is precisely how we discover what aspects of our plan that need improvement. I cannot stress enough, I cannot stress to you enough just how important it is to take the time to record yourself, do it, the payoff is huge. Now, all of you regular jazz panel skills listeners know that I always begin the process of practicing the shapes of a sound melodically using ascending and descending arpeggio on scale motion from the bottom note of the shape to the top note of the shape. And I play the shapes as exercises. In other words, no improvisation no doodly, no rhythmic variations, I play straight up and straight down the shape. That's it period. And in doing so, playing the harmonic shapes melodically as an exercise with no messing around. It allows me to digest the sound and the shape, conceptually, orally and physically. And as you have heard me stressed in previous podcast episodes at least 1000 times that all three must be actively engaged and in sync with each other in order for progress to occur. Okay, now, with that being said, let's move on to the next harmonic shape, C minor in first inversion, E flat, G, B flat, and C. Now, I just said that I practice the harmonic shapes of sound melodically using ascending and descending arpeggio on scale motion from the bottom note of the harmonic shape to the top note of the harmonic shape. So in this case, my first inversion arpeggio motion will begin with the bottom note E flat and end with the top note C. And my scale motion will do the same. Begin with the bottom note E flat and end with the top note C. And as I did last week, and the prior week, the week before that, I'm always going to remain faithful to the harmonic shape when playing the arpeggios and scales. In other words, my scale will use only the notes that fall in between the bottom note of the harmonic shape and the top note of the harmonic shape. So in this case, my scale is going to play my C minor scale is going to go from E flat to C. And that's it. In doing so, I illuminate the interwoven relationship between the harmonic shape, the inverted shape, and the melody. I begin to see them as one. So let's bring in the ensemble and play the C minor sound melodically in first inversion. And again as I did with C minor sound and root position, I'm going to begin with ascending and descending arpeggio motion. I will repeat the shape several times so I can accurately assess my consistency. And then I will begin to play ascending and descending scale motion. And again, focusing on playing this shape melodically in time, no doodling and using a proper jazz articulation field. And once again, I will repeat the shape several times so I can accurately assess my consistency. So let's check it out. Then we can talk about it. Here we go. Now keep in mind, just as we did with the major and dominant, inverted melodic sounds, we are dealing with four note shapes. So therefore we have four distinct options to get under our fingers, root position, first inversion, second inversion and third inversion. I want to get a handle on each of the shapes melodically using ascending and descending arpeggio and scale motion while focusing on the harmonic shape. And as always, I want to do so while playing in time and using a proper jazz articulation and feel. So let's tackle C minor now in second inversion, C. Sorry, G, B flat, C, and E flat. And again, as I did with the C minor sound and root position, first inversion, I am going to begin with ascending and descending arpeggio motion. I will repeat the shape several times so I can accurately assess my consistency. And then I will begin to play ascending and descending scale motion. I started to pick up I do the same thing right. Regardless of the inverted shape, regardless of the shape I'm practicing, I'm always applying the same approach. I'm going to focus on playing the harmonic shape melodically in time using a proper jazz articulation and feel and once again, I will repeat the shape several times so I can accurately assess my consistency. So here we go. Let's check it out. Then, as always, we can talk about it. Here we go. Again, I want to stress that I practice the harmonic shapes of sound melodically using ascending and descending arpeggio on scale motion from the bottom note of the harmonic shape to the top note of a harmonic shape. So in the case of the second inversion, which I just played arpeggio motion started with the bottom note G and ended with the top note E flat and the scale motion did the exact same thing. It began with the bottom note G anded. With the top note E flat. Remember, always remain faithful to the harmonic shape. When playing arpeggios and scales. The scales will use only the notes that fall in between the bottom note of the harmonic shape and the top note of the harmonic shape. Right So in other words, you're not going to be playing the entire scale. But nevertheless, that scale fragment will illuminate the correlation between harmony and melody. It will help us begin to see them harmony and melody as one. Okay, the final harmonic shape for C minor in third inversion is B flat, C, E flat, and G different harmonic shape, same melodic approach. I begin with ascending descending arpeggio motion repeating the shape several times, in order to accurately assess my consistency, then I will begin to play ascending and descending scale motion. Again, focusing on playing the harmonic shape melodically in time using a proper jazz, articulation and feel and once again, I will repeat the shape several times. So I can accurately assess my consistency. I keep pounding this approach home to you, right, we have to have a formulaic approach that we can replicate from sound to sound, from chord to chord, from key to key, right. So that's why I keep pounding this process home. So let's check it out. Let's bring the ensemble and let's check out C minor and third inversion. And then we can talk about it. Here we go. Now that we have practiced each of the C minor harmonic shapes melodically reposition, first, second, and third inversions. It's time to musically camouflage the arpeggios and scales, as we did last week with the dominant shapes and as we did two weeks ago with the major shapes, and once again, why is it important to artistically camouflage, arpeggios, and scales. It's important because of two essential musical facts that you must know. Number one, there are only two types of melodic motion found in music, arpeggio and scale motion. Number two, there are only two directions, a melodic line, a scale or an arpeggio can travel up or down. It's so important that you truly conceptually and physically absorb these two musical facts that we have two types of musical motion. And we have two types of direction. Right and allow these facts allow them to govern your practicing. In other words, your practice approach should always illuminate harmony and melody is one. And it should always encompass the two types of musical motion, arpeggio and scale and the two directions that the motion can travel up or down. Bottom line if you are not practicing in this manner, you will never arrive at a point where you can begin to successfully camouflage, arpeggios and scales. And if you do not discover and learn how to artistically camouflage, ascending and descending arpeggios and scales, then your plane at best your plane at best is going to sound like you're simply going up and down. arpeggios and scales. Now, one way professional jazz musicians successfully camouflage the arpeggios and scales is they do it with the insertion of enclosures lower and upper neighboring tones and those enclosures those lower and upper neighboring tones being placed around specific target notes, which was the approach we used two weeks ago to camouflage the major or arpeggios and scales. And we used it again last week to camouflage the dominant arpeggios and scales and it's the approach we are going to use again today to camouflage the minor arpeggios and scales. And if you recall two weeks ago, I added an enclosure around the first note of the major shape using an eighth note rhythm. Last week, I added the enclosure to the second note of the dominant shape using a triplet rhythm. And today, I am going to add enclosures to the minor shape using once again, a classic eighth note rhythm, an eighth note feel. But did you did you catch what I just said? I said, I'm going to add in closures with an S as in plural as in multiple as in more than one. Now, this may be another aha moment for you. And again, it certainly was for me when I first realized that I could add enclosures to any note within the shape and use various rhythms. And not only that use more than one enclosure to play any harmonic shape melodically. Wow. Talk about camouflaging arpeggios and scales are camouflage and becomes more and more intricate. It begins to sound more and more like jazz. But before we dig in, as I did last week, as well, it's important that I take just a second to explaining closures and closures. Approach the selected target note using a lower neighboring tone one half step below the target note followed by an upper neighboring tone, the closest diatonic note above the target note followed by arpeggio or scale motion of sound. Now, enclosures do not have to always follow this rule of thumb as I, as I expressed last week, and in fact, I would encourage you to trust your ears always and make musical decisions based on sound and not on theory. I had a teacher who used to constantly remind me that if it sounds good, it's good. And if it sounds bad, it's bad. In other words, trust my ears. Regardless of whether or not regardless of whether or not what I'm hearing is theory theoretically correct or not. Okay, so C minor in root position, I am going to add in a closure around the first two notes the shape, I'm going to add in closer to the first note of this shape. And the second note of the shape. Of course, I could be creative here as well, I could select the first and the third notes of the shape or the second the fourth note so the shape or or the third and the fourth notes of the shape, you get my point. But for today, I'm going to focus on adding and closures to the first and second notes of the shape. So the Notes See the first note of the root position C minor shape will use the lower neighboring tone one half step below, which is the note B and the first diatonic note above which is the note D. And the second note on the ascending side will be E flat. And the second note, E flat will use a lower neighboring tone of one half step below, which is the note D and the first diatonic note above which is the note F. Okay, and after placing the enclosure around these two notes, I will then proceed with ascending arpeggio motion so it's going to sound like this. Okay, now, on the descending side, my enclosure remains the same around the note C, but the second note on the descending side is B flat. So my lower neighboring tone is going to be the note a, my upper neighboring tone is going to be the note C. So now my enclosures sound like this around C followed by B flat and then descending arpeggio motion, the bottom note of the shape. So the ascending arpeggio with both enclosure sounds like this And the descending arpeggio sounds like this. The scale motion is going to sound like this ascending and descending, it will sound like this. Okay, so we have ascending descending arpeggio and scale motion, utilizing enclosures around the first two notes of the shape on the ascending side. And the first two notes the shape on the descending side. So this should be a lot of fun. So let's bring the ensemble in. And let's check this out. Here we go. Wow, would I tell you, our camouflaging is becoming more intricate, and beginning to sound more and more like jazz. Likewise, as our camouflage and becomes more and more intricate, you can really begin seeing and hearing just how important it is to be able to see harmony and melody as one. In doing so I am capable of developing some very, very nice and iconic jazz vocabulary for improvising. So now let's continue the fun and utilize the same the very same formulate process. However, this time focusing on the minor sound in first inversion. So the first two notes are going to be E flat and G on the ascending side. The first two notes on the descending side, E flat, and C. Okay. So on the ascending side, I'm going to place an enclosure around my E flat and around my G flat I mean around my G. So my arpeggio is gonna sound like this now. And descending is going to sound like this. always going to the top note of the inverted shape, or to the bottom note of the inverted shape. Right. So on the ascending side C minor is in first inversion on the descending side, C minor is actually in second version. So my scales are going to sound like this. And on the descending side, very nice. So let's bring the ensemble in and let's listen to our arpeggios and scales using enclosures on the first two notes of the inverted C minor shape. So here we got Let's check it out. Yes, as we have done the past two weeks and we are doing this week as well, we are using a formulaic approach to create patterns to help us develop jazz vocabulary. Remember, formulas, to patterns to improvisation. Or another way of stating this practice process is conceptual understanding, to physical development, to musical creativity. And if you are a regular listener to jazz piano skills, you know that I never stop preaching this message. I never stop preaching this process. Your conceptual understanding determines your physical development, and thus your musical results. It all begins upstairs mentally, before it can come out downstairs physically. Ultimately, it is your mind your mental approach to music that escorts your hands and ears to new musical ideas. And this is precisely why I constantly remind all of you all jazz piano skills listeners, that if your conceptual understanding of music is incorrect or skewed in any way, even the slightest way, your physical development, your musical results will be severely limited or simply non existent. Another important point that I always like to make having a formulaic approach to creating patterns to help us develop jazz vocabulary allows us to easily replicate the process not only from sound to sound from chord to chord, but within the harmonic structure itself. I stressed this last week and I want to stress it again today. So please, please listen very carefully. If you cannot replicate your practice approach for the jazz piano skill you are studying. From sound to sound from chord to chord from key to key, then your practice approach is severely flawed. give this some serious thought. And always seriously critique your study and practice approach. Okay, let's move on to exploring the minor sound. On the ascending side, second inversion, G, B flat, C and E flat. Our target note is G and on the descending side, it's going to be G flat, C, B flat, which is actually C minor in third inversion. So we're going to place our enclosures around the first two notes of the shapes right. So on the sending side, we're going to place an enclosure around our note G and around the note B flat and then follow it with arpeggio motion to the top of the shape, which would be E flat, or we're going to use scale motion right. Then on the descending side, we enclose our note G again our target note. And then the very next note of the shape is going to be our E flat. Close that followed by arpeggio motion down to the B flat which is the bottom note of the shape. So now we get this arpeggio motion. Now scale motion. Very nice, right? So let's let's do this. Let's bring the ensemble back in. Let's listen to ascending and descending arpeggio and scale motion using the note G as our target note, right, which places our C minor in second inversion on the ascending side. And places are C minor in third inversion on that descending side. So this is going to be fun. Let's Bring the ensemble in and check it out. Here we go. I want to point out as I did last week, that I am playing these examples today using the Temple of 140, which is actually a pretty snappy temple 140 I would encourage you actually to start at much slower tempos and 140 85 101 10. Now the play alongs that are included in the play along packet that you can use for practicing. I actually have them starting at 120, then 141 60 and 180. But I would certainly encourage you to practice at slower tempos, indeed, right is so important that you never, ever, ever sacrifice time, feel and articulation for speed. So start slow, it's a very bad trade off, that only sounds musically it's horrible when you sacrifice sound, and articulation for speed. So please keep that in mind. And don't fall into this trap that so many students do. Okay, now let's move on to our next minor shapes the next minor shapes with our target note being the seventh of C minor, which is the B flat, so that's going to place C minor in third inversion on the ascending side, B flat, C, E flat and G and it's gonna play C minor in root position on the descending side, a flat, B flat, and C. So we're gonna place our enclosures around the first two notes of each of those inverted shapes. So we're going to start with ascending side. So we're going to enclose our B flat, and then our C followed by arpeggio motion to the top note of the shape, which is G, so it's gonna sound like this. Very nice, the scale motion will sound like this. Now on the descending side, we enclose our B flat again. And now we're going to enclose our G followed by arpeggio motion down to C. Right, or scale motion. Those are B flat. Those are G and now scale motion. So in time, descending arpeggio motion is gonna sound like this. Scale motion. Very nice. So let's bring the ensemble and let's place these lines, these melodic harmonic shapes. Let's place them into a musical context and using enclosures to camouflage our our scale and arpeggio motion. So here we go. Let's check it out. Fantastic, wow. Now, I want to take just a few minutes as I did two weeks ago with the major shapes and last week with the dominance shapes, to pull back the curtain for you just a little bit so that you can hear where all of this minor pattern practice is going. And to do this, I'm going to play a 251 progression C minor seven to F seven f dominant seven to B flat major seven, so that you can hear these minor patterns within a musical context, right within a progression. I'm going to begin with arpeggio motion when playing the 251 progression. And I'm going to play nothing melodic over the five chord nothing melodic over the one chord, I'm going to place my undivided attention on the two chord. And the melodic shapes the patterns that we just established. So here's 251 in the key of B flat major, using camouflaged ascending and descending arpeggios, applied to the harmonic shapes of the minor sound, root position first, second, and third inversion, inversions with enclosures placed around the first and second notes of the shapes want to play each shape a couple times. So here we go, I'm going to slow down the template just a little bit 120 so that I'm not moving through the shapes and the enclosures too quickly, I want you to hear them. So here we go. Let's bring the ensemble in. And let's check it out. Pretty darn cool. I love it. Now, you can really begin to hear the formation of melodic motifs, these little ideas that are eventually going to flow into longer musical and melodic phrases right that flow into the five chord that flow into the one chord and more about that next week. But for right now let's do the very same thing but this time use scale motion. So once again, when playing the 251 progression in the key of B flat, I'm going to play nothing melodic over the five chord and nothing melodic over the one chord. Again, I'm going to place my undivided attention on the two chord on the C minor and the melodic shapes the patterns that we just establish so so here's to five one in the key of B flat major using camouflage ascending and descending scales applied to the harmonic shapes of the minor sound. Again, root position, first inversion second inversion and third inversion, right with enclosures placed around the first two notes of the shapes All right. So once again, I'm going to be playing at a tempo of 120. So that I'm not moving through these ascending and descending scale shapes, too quickly, I want you to hear them. So here we go. Let's check it out. What can I say? At this point, I don't need to say anything right because all three podcast episodes all three podcasts lessons, one exploring the inverted melodic major shapes, one exploring the inverted melodic dominant shapes. And now this one, exploring the inverted melodic minor shapes, you can really begin to see you can really begin to hear and experience how jazz musicians go about practicing improvisation. How jazz musicians practice creativity. Now your job is to apply everything we just explored using the C minor chord, the C minor sound to the remaining 11 minor chords. Now remember, when you are using formulaic approaches to practicing jazz piano skills that can easily be replicated. It gets easier and faster from chord to chord from sound to sound, so no need to panic, you can do this. Wow. As always, we have covered a ton of material in just a very short period of time. Right I always try to keep these podcasts within an hour. But last week, I outlined five takeaways from the podcast episode from the podcast lesson that are vitally important for you to conceptually and physically digest. And they are so important that I want to take a moment again right now to go through them. So number one, you should always be thinking about practicing sound. When practicing music major dominant minor, half diminished and diminished. Number two, you should always practice sound using the only two types of motion that exists in music, arpeggios and scales. Number three, you should always practice sound using the two types of musical motion, arpeggios and scales. Moving in the only two directions a melodic line can travel ascending and descending, up or down. Number four, when practicing melodic ideas based upon sound, motion and direction. You must be consciously aware of your sense of time your jazz feel and articulation. These are essential jazz piano skills that need to be front and center always when practicing. Don't forget record yourself. Number five. When practicing the camouflaging of arpeggios and scales, you must have a formulaic process to add various approaches such as enclosures, so that you can easily replicate the camouflaging. From sound to sound from chord the chord from key to key. Once again, these five points are vitally important to your musical success. spend time thinking about them and incorporating them into your daily practicing. Well, I hope you have found this jazz panel skills podcast lesson exploring inverted melodic shapes for the minor sound to be insightful and of course to be beneficial don't forget if you are a jazz piano skills member, I will see you online Thursday evening at the jazz piano skills masterclass. 8pm, central time to discuss this podcast episode lesson, inverted melodic shapes in greater detail and to answer any questions that you may have about the study of jazz in general. Again, as a jazz piano skills member, be sure to use the educational podcast packets for this podcast lesson, and the jazz piano skills courses to maximize your musical growth. Likewise, make sure you are an active participant in the jazz piano skills community get involved and contribute to the various forums make some new jazz piano friends. As always, you can reach me by phone 972-380-8050 extension 211 by email Dr. Lawrence, Dr. Lawrence at jazz piano skills.com or by speakpipe found throughout the jazz piano skills website. Well, there's my cue. That's it for now. And until next week, enjoy the inverted melodic shapes for the minor sound. Enjoy the journey. Most of all, have fun as you discover, learn and play jazz piano