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Learn Jazz Piano Book 3

Learn Jazz Piano Book 3

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Learn Jazz Piano Book 3

5/5 (3 ratings)
145 pages
1 hour
Nov 5, 2013


Book 3 focuses on practical advice and strategies for learning jazz pianists. Following on from books 1 and 2, Paul Abrahams guides you through more advanced topics such as bebop blues. He then demonstrates how to navigate chord charts and play jazz standards like a pro. This book also contains a recommended listening list and advice on building a jazz repertoire.

Nov 5, 2013

About the author

I live in London, UK and have been a professional musician and composer since 1967. This series of books run alongside my online video course at

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Learn Jazz Piano Book 3 - Paul Abrahams

Published by Paul Abrahams at Smashwords

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each reader. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to and purchase your own copy.

Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

© Paul Abrahams

First published 2011

Revised 2016

Author’s note

Although this series of books can be read independently, I would recommend that certain sections be studied alongside my online video series Learn Jazz piano, which can be purchased here:

Learn Jazz Piano Online with Paul Abrahams

Each lesson package contains a 30-minute online video, together with downloadable backing tracks, sheet music and a quiz.

Wherever possible, I have indicated which video lesson relates to the text.

You can purchase books 1 and 2 of my series Learn Jazz Piano by following these links:

Book 1 Book 2

Book 4: How To Solo is also now available.





Chapter 1: Bebop blues.

Chapter 2: Rootless voicings with tritone substitutions.

Chapter 3: Decoding jazz standards.

Chapter 4: Simplifying lead-sheets.

Chapter 5: Navigating chord charts.

Chapter 6: Stride piano (2)

Chapter 7: Playing with other musicians.

Chapter 8: Working with singers.

Chapter 9: Building a repertoire.

Chapter 10: Playing without the dots.

Chapter 11: Suggested listening.

Chapter 12: Practice.

Chapter 13: Approaches to improvisation.

What's Next?

Recommended books and apps.



As in my previous books, I will continue to use American terminology. So with apologies to my fellow countrymen and women, I’ll speak of quarter notes and swing eights rather than crotchets and swing quavers.


Naming chord symbols

As no two books use the same chord symbol names, I’m opting for the following:

Naming extensions and alterations.

As the name suggests, extensions are notes played above the octave. They should therefore be referred to as 9, 11 and 13 and their respective flattened or sharpened versions as b9, #9, #11 and b13.

9, 11 and 13 are referred to as extensions and b9, #9, #11 and b13 as alterations.

If these added notes occur within a chord they should, in theory, be referred to as 2nds, 4ths and 6ths etc.

Unfortunately, the world isn’t that simple, and the same note can be described in a number of ways. For example, #11 will often be referred to as b5. Here are the possibilities:

You will also encounter + and - signs instead of # and b. The good news is that 9 doesn’t change.

If 5 is replaced within the chord, then C⁷(b⁵) is used to describe the note Gb. If b13 is also required, then it must also be shown:

C⁷(b⁵#¹¹) = C + E + Gb + Bb + F#

So, even though Gb and F# are the same note enharmonically, if they serve different functions, they therefore need to be described individually. This also applies to b13 and #5.

Having said that, many chord charts use b5 and #11 (and b13 and #5) arbitrarily. So I suggest that you get used to seeing them as the same note.

When you encounter the ‘alt⁷’ chord symbol take it to mean that you can play an altered scale over it.



Alteration: The result of flattening or sharpening an extension.

Bridge: The middle ‘B’ section of a song. Also known as the middle 8.

Comp: The piano accompaniment to another musician’s solo.

Extension: Added note not within the basic harmony of a chord.

Head: The written melody before and after the solos.

Horizontal improvisation: Only one scale is used throughout chord changes.

Interval: The space between two notes.

Key centre: The key connecting a group of related chords.

Lead sheet: Melody plus chords.

Mode: Scale that begin on different pitches of the major or melodic minor scale.

Pick-up: One or more notes, (but less than the full measure) leading into the first complete bar of a tune or new section.

Rhythm changes: Chord sequence based on Gershwin’s I Got Rhythm.

Real book: A collection of jazz tunes containing just top line (melody) and chords.

Rootless voicing: A left-hand chord that removes the root note from the bottom of the chord. It is often replaced with a 3 or 7.

Secondary dominant: A dominant 7 chord pointing to a tonic that is not in the primary key centre.

Standard: A well-known song or tune favored by jazz musicians.

Tonic: The first pitch of a diatonic scale.

Tritone substitution: The replacement of one dominant 7 with another at a distance of three whole steps.

Turnaround: A chord sequence that leads back to the start or on to the next section. A common turnaround is I – VI – II – V.

Vertical improvisation: Each new chord has an influence over the improvised notes.

Voicing: The combination and placement of notes within a chord.

Walking 3s: Linking the 3rd note of each chord.

Walking 7s: Linking the 7th note of each chord.


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