Chances are you got here by clicking a title
of a song within the text, maybe looking for the chart? Perhaps the recorded
music? Sorry, perhaps at some point in the future all of scores for all of these
tunes will be included in this text to augment one's learning. Wow, that would be
giant. Until then we must preserve artistic copyright and rely on published real books for the scores and recordings for
The following list of titles of popular jazz
American music is included for the aspiring creative musician, one who is seeking perhaps
new musical challenges regardless of where their musical roots are planted. And
although by no means complete, the following list of titles hopefully will give the
emerging artist a place to start an important process of discovery. The compositions
on these lists are known as "standards", thus named by their unfailing
popularity through the decades to continue to inspire new interpretations by players to
the joy of their listeners. Each of these compositions contain something unique which
contributed to it becoming a standard. A gorgeous melody, a unique harmonic scheme, a
cool turn of a phrase, a unique melodic sequence, well crafted lyrics, an important story,
perhaps creating a new view of well worn elements, all can help a composition to become a
standard. Of course, being played by American
legends also helps, of which most of the following titles are.
Learning tunes is one sure way to learn the
art of any of the American styles. And although there are numerous books of jazz
licks and patterns for jazz studies, learning tunes can probably provide some very usable
ideas as well. For what do we play when we perform? Usually tunes
right? Somehow patterns for jazz start to sound like patterns for jazz when placed
into a performance format. I guess the idea here is that in learning tunes, we
prepare a wider repertoire of pieces to perform as well as discover potentially important
ways as to how the musical elements are put together in well crafted, American jazz
compositions. Lest we forget that jazz was America's popular ( pop ) music for nearly 50
solid years, imagine that.
Is reading through songs is potentially the
best source for melodic and harmonic ideas? Absolutely. When you come across a composition
you dig, once it is under your fingers, try working it out in a different key. Easy
melodies could perhaps be run through the cycle
of fifths. This running a melody
through the cycle of fifths filter is perhaps a good idea with the 12 bar blues
heads. Can never seem to have enough blues heads on the list. If in playing a
melody you come across a nice phrase, the hook
of the tune perhaps, maybe a cool idea over a Two / Five / One turnaround, perhaps extract this motif and run it through the various filters, create new permutations of your own using the borrowed
idea as a basis.
Why would we want to do this? Well, in
preparation to improvising in any style of American music, it is easy to work on scales,
arpeggios, licks etc. Unfortunately, what we practice is pretty much what we are going to
play. So, by reading through tunes as a basis for practice, not only are we finding
potential "gems" for performance, but perhaps our improvisations will take on a
more lyrical manner, potentially making us better storytellers with our music. The idea of
filtering an idea through various cycles is based on the idea that as one gradually moves
deeper in the art of jazz, one tendency is for the music to become more fractured chromatically. Motion from half step above
or below the target chord or pitch can become very common depending on ones directions.
Knowing tunes in a few different keys, running a lick through various chromatic type
permutations, both help to sharpen ones ears and abilities towards this potential
chromaticism in advanced playing situations. Modernists of today often use a couple of
different keys per tune to increase the range of expression, using the contrast of keys
and tonalities to tell their stories. Here is a beginning list of music to explore for the
emerging, creative jazz musician. Many of these titles are callable at jam sessions and are oftentimes
requested by listeners at public jazz performances, thus they have become over the years jazz standards.
To tie into the form in music page and styles aspect of this page, these
listings of jazz titles are grouped by style with their musical form included in the brief
description. Seek an expanded list of song titles on the jazz
tunes page. Hip to the A
/ B and A / A / B / A 32 bar
The essential songs where it all can come out. The slower tempos of a ballad give time and
space for the player to think, thus to play their clearest ideas. Always try to read
through the words of a ballad to get the gist of the writing.
Sang In Berkeley Square
||a classic by any
measure, A / A / B / A form.
|Accustomed To Her Face
interesting use of tonic # 11 color. A / B form.
|As Time Goes By
||the hit from the
movie "Casablanca." A / A / B / A form.
|Autumn in New York
||a very subtle line,
a unique A / B / A / B form.
|Body And Soul
||as played by...
everybody. A / A / B / A form.
|God Bless The Child
Holiday. A / A / B / A form.
|Here's That Rainy Day
||very tender, nice
approach to the A / B form.
|In A Sentimental Mood
||among Duke's finest.
A / A / B / A form.
||top of the list for
career players, interesting chord progressions and very well balanced form. A / B / C
||as clearly A / A / B
/ A as it gets perhaps. misty jamm loop
|My Foolish Heart
||as nice as they get,
a very soaring written line in the B section, A / B / with an extended coda.
|My Funny Valentine
||perhaps the most popular
of them all on that special day for lovers of February 14... A / A / B / A form.
and Only Love
cool and emotionally deep bridge, which is rare, as the A section is usually the best line
in the tune. A / A / B / A form.
||John Coltrane's tribute to his partner, reflective
and tidal in it's flow. A / A / B / A form.
are not in Kansas anymore, gorgeous, vanilla, diatonic major scale line. A / A / B / A
To A Kiss
and joyous, Duke at his best. A / A / B / A form.
classic not to be overlooked. A / A / B / A form.
Duke Ellington in the approach to the A / A / B / A form.
to bring into the modern sounds of things. A / A / B / A form.
Can Really Hang You Up The Most
crafted, a bit obscure, but a gorgeous read non the less. A / A / B / A form with a few
classic mix of blues and Broadway. 16 bar A / B form.
Low, Sweet Chariot
as the hills, nice to know tunes that EVERYONE in the room should know, brings everyone
together. 16 bar A / B form.
||very popular and
nicely crafted. A / B form.
|What A Wonderful
||nice closing tune
for a gig. A / A / B / A form.
|When Sunny Gets Blue
||easy tune to
interpret a couple of ways, bridge can swing nicely after a ballad A section. A / A / B /
|When I Fall In Love
combination of a mostly diatonic line and a rather challenging set of chord changes for
blowing. A / B form
||need we say more. A
/ B form.
jazz players jazz, the most demanding of the American musical forms of expression,
pioneered in the late 30's, bebop continues today to challenge even the most advanced
||hard to believe it's
a 12 bar blues form.
||granddaddy of them
all the tunes. A / A / B / A form.
||need a new
challenge? A / A / B / A form.
||very swinging bebop.
A / A / B / A form.
written, one classic motive. A / B form
|Now's The Time
||a bebop classic. A /
A / B / A form.
|Scrapple From The
ahead, bebop fun. A / A / B / A form.
||nice and casual
bebop tune. A / A / B / A form.
tunes. Can a career player ever have enough blues heads under their fingers?
||in 3 or 6 / 8,
probably changed the world's view of jazz and the blues to "cool."
combination of elements.
||enter the blue
||starts in the minor,
solo's in major and back to minor.
||tricky head but
|C Jam Blues
||use 2 pitches and
enter into the swing thing.
|Straight No chaser
elasticity to the line.
||16 bar blues in the
|Sunny Moon For Two
pentatonic 12 bar blues lick over dominant 7th chords.
major and minor 3rd in the line.
Nova / Latin Songs. Ever since percussionist Chano Pano from Cuba joined Dizzy
Gillespie's septet in 1948, Americans have been digging the Latin influence in their
beloved jazz. The Bossa Nova sounds originated in the 60's and have evolved to be more
popular today in the Samba groove, in essence still a Bossa Nova feel but twice as fast.
||a bit into the
harmonic minor color. A / B with a coda
||very cool and
swinging bossa nova. A / A / B / A form.
||obscure, simple and
reflective. A / B form.
|Girl From Impanema
granddaddy of all the bossas, classic use of the form and harmony. A / A / B / A form.
||a bit more modern in
the writing. A / A / B / A form.
||one of the coolest
combinations of Latin to swing tunes in the biz. A / A / B / A form.
|Once I Loved
||very soaring and
passionate line, very well crafted. A / B form.
|One Note Samba
||fun, pop bossa. A /
A / B / A form.
|Samba De Orpheo
||very much a bossa
dance extravaganza. A / A / B / A form.
||bright and to the
point, passing tonal centers. A / B form.
difficult but worth the effort. A / A / B / A form.
|Watch What Happens
||quite a bit of
challenging chromatic motion. A / A / B / A form.
Ahead Jazz / Swing. I might be the only person who calls these tunes straight ahead,
oftentimes they are simply called jazz. The straight ahead thing is from when I was at
school, and of course anything can swing, well ...
|A Foggy Day
||classic show tune. A
/ B form.
|All The Things You
||nice line and cycle
of changes for emerging artists. A / B.
||simply a tune nearly
every jazz player knows. A / B form.
||children's song with
a huge swing potential. A / B form
||very cool straight
ahead jazz. A / A / B / A form.
||classic from the big
bands, dearly loved by the up tempo enthusiasts. A / A / B / A form.
||a bit of a
challenge, well worth the effort. A / A / B / A form.
|Days Of Wine And
||pop tune often
requested in the lounge. A / B form.
|East Of The Sun
||a bit obscure but
cool, nice tune with a vocalist. A / B form.
vehicle for the emerging artist. A / B form.
|Fly Me To The Moon
||big swing in a
sequential line. A / B form.
level of the harmonic challenge after exhausting Two / Five motion, very interesting in
composition and a real burner as recorded by John
Coltrane. Through composed form.
often with a Latin feel to swing. A / B form.
Met Miss Jones
exciting with a bit of a brighter tempo. A / A / B / A form.
embraced by many jazz artists. A / B form.
|I Let A
Song Go Out Of My Heart
telling it like it is. A / A / B / A form.
nice story with a sequential melodic line. A / B form
minor composition, fun for extended soloing. A / B.
but cool jazz. 27 bar A / B / A form ( ballad ).
joyous melody with nice modulating changes for blowing. A / A / B / A form.
pop tune, one of Alfalfa's faves. A / B form.
||epic sound, swing built
right into the line. A / A / B / A form.
|Like Someone In Love
challenging in it's harmonic scheme. A / B
||a real challenge for the
next level once comfortable with the Two / Five / One harmonic motion. A / B form.
|Moonlight In Vermont
||pop tune embraced by the
jazzers. A / B form.
|My Favorite Things
||show tune of profound
beauty and poise. A / A ' / B form.
||classic line with the
swing built right in. A / B form.
|On A Clear Day
||bright, brisk and fun. A
/ B form.
||pop / rock tune great
for the dancers. 12 bar blues.
|On The Sunny Side Of The
||old time American
classic. A / A / B / A form.
|Out Of Nowhere
||interesting melody and
use of the form. A / B form.
|Peggy's Blue Skylight
||as "urban" as
jazz from the 60's can get. A / A / B / A form.
|Pennies From Heaven
||old time standard from
the 20's. A / B form.
||cool dance number. A / A
/ B / A form.
||classic Duke Ellington.
A / A / B / A form.
||soaring line with a
rather complex harmony. A / B form
|Smoke Gets In Your Eyes
||cool standard. A / A / B
/ A form.
|Someone To Watch Over Me
||Gershwin classic. A / A
/ B / A form.
|Stella By Starlight
||a very well crafted
tune. A / B form.
|Stompin At The Savoy
||has the swing built
right in. A / A / B / A form.
||a sophisticated way to
get there. A / B form.
|The Way You Look Tonight
||nice sequential melody
line. A / A / B / A form.
|They Can't Take That
||old classic standard,
very nice hook. A / A / B / A form.
|When The Saints Go
||want to be in that
number? then learn this tune, just kidding. A / B form.
|When You Wish Upon A
||very gorgeous tune in 3,
maybe the band needs a waltz number? A / A / B / A form.
And on and on... All of these
tunes were played by all of our heroes, so very cool. Look for recordings of your
favorites. Are you hip to doubletimerecords.com?
Are you writing out any of your own ideas to create your own tunes? Need some
manuscript? Click manuscript to print some.
Hopefully at some point, the written music and a midi sound file will be included in this
text for all of the above titles. Now wouldn't that be cool learning format?
- "The man who does not read
good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them." Mark Twain