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Solo piano: "NY State Of Mind" by Billy Joel


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I just added Billy Joel's "New York State Of Mind" to my solo piano repertoire. It sounds great as a ballad in F.

 

What are some other soulful pop ballads like "N.Y. State Of Mind" that work well for solo piano?

 Find 600 of my jazz piano arrangements and tutorials for educational purposes at patreon.com/HarryLikas Harry was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book."

 

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I recorded a version of "Still crazy after all these years". Like a slow jazz-gospel waltz. I changed a few chords in it...nothing too radically different...if you want I can mail you a chart w/ my re-harms. Let me know.

 

I heard a Brad Meldau version on the radio a few months back...it was nice, but I think I liked my version a bit more.

 

On my vocal Cd I did an arrangement of McCartney's "She's leaving home".

Again has a slow jazz waltz. I sent it in for the KC compilation.

I thought it came out pretty cool.

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Stevie Wonder's "Knocks Me Off My Feet" from the album "Songs In the Key of Life" is a nice ballad. It has a beautiful chord progression with alternate bass notes that form a nice moving bass line for the left hand. This makes the song interesting enough so it can be played with just a piano and singer.
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What are some other soulful pop ballads like "NY State Of Mind" that work well for solo piano?

 

I do a version of "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight" by James Taylor that feels to me to be in the same "soulful pop ballad" vein as "NY State of Mind" (that's on my playlist too...). Another of my faves is "When Sunny Gets Blue" (which I think of more as a standard than a pop ballad ... but it's definitely got alot of space for getting "soulful".)

The SpaceNorman :freak:
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Randy Newman's "I Think It's Going to Rain Today" fits right in.

 

For something well known but a little bit out of left field, you could make these work:

Elvis Costello "Alison"

Cyndi Lauper "Time After Time"

 

Wasn't it Busch who did the 6/8 gospel-infused "Let It Be" on the KC Beatles cover edition? I loved that. That was a great way to take an all too familiar song and completely refresh it.

 

 

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I've found Simply Red's "Holding Back the Years" works pretty well. Also Marc Cohn's "Miles Away" or "Strangers in a Car" (although if you want easily recognizable tunes those two probably don't qualify).

Argh... got the track numbers mixed up. For what it's worth, instead of "Miles Away" (which is a more up-beat tune) I meant to say "Saving the Best For Last".

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Elvis Costello "Alison"

 

That came to my mind as well...."What You Won't Do For Love" (Bobby Caldwell) is great.

"Oh yeah, I've got two hands here." (Viv Savage)

"Mr. Blu... Mr. Blutarsky: Zero POINT zero." (Dean Vernon Wormer)

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Great suggestions everybody, thanks! I am going to try all of your good suggestions.

 

Other possibilities might be:

 

"I Can't Make You Love Me" by Bonnie Raitt

"Bridge Over Troubled Water" by Paul Simon

"Just The Way You Are" , "Piano Man" by Billy Joel

"Your Song" , "Tiny Dancer" & "Song For Guy" by Elton John

"Cinema Paradiso" & "Gabriel's Oboe" by Ennio Morricone

Imagine, In My life, Here There and Everywhere, Hey Jude, Let It Be, etc

 

I tend to play these tunes on solo piano gigs in a gospely Keith Jarrett / John Coates Jr. sort of style.

 

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 Find 600 of my jazz piano arrangements and tutorials for educational purposes at patreon.com/HarryLikas Harry was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book."

 

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Keith Jarrett was heavily influenced and took a lot of his solo piano style from listening to the albums and performances of John Coates Jr.. Jarrett's "My Song" sounds just like John Coates Jr. So does the way Jarrett plays ballads like "Over The Rainbow". I grew up playing that style too.

 

John Coates, Jr., started playing at "The Deer Head Inn" in Delaware around 1962 and became the house piano player. Other jazz greats who have played at the Inn include Al Cohn, Phil Woods, Dave Liebman, Bob Dorough and more. Some live recordings were produced there with John Coates, Jr., leading the way, followed by Keith Jarrett and others.

 

The Deer Head Inn

http://www.deerheadinn.com/images/deerhead.jpg

 Find 600 of my jazz piano arrangements and tutorials for educational purposes at patreon.com/HarryLikas Harry was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book."

 

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Nice Billy Joel ballads, IMHO:

- Summer, Highland Falls (Turnstiles, live version on Songs From The Attic)

- Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway) (same)

- James (Turnstiles)

- Honesty (52nd Street (?))

- You're My Home (Piano Man? There's a nice live version on Songs From The Attic)

 

Those are not as soulful (nor is for instance She's Always A Woman), but they're very good songs.

 

Solo piano, or solo piano + a singer (as Harmonizer mentioned)? In case of the latter: I always liked some Joe Jackson tunes as well (though again, these are not that soulful): Be My Number Two, Breaking Us In Two, Is She Really... (yes, I like that).

 

For more "soulful" tunes, think a bit gospel... the aforementioned Still Crazy After All Those Years is a good example of such a tune.

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Jazz, cool that you're into that stuff! I loved the Deer Head Inn... but I've heard it's changed somehow now.

 

They use to open those porch doors and the sound of crickets blended with the music. I played there a little years ago in a trio with Steve Gilmore (Phil Woods' bassist then.) And you probably know Phil Woods' house is right in back of the Deer Head.

 

Bob Dorough sat in one night on another gig - kind of funny... he sang on the mic out front like a typical singer, and had me play piano. I'd never seen him sing when he wasn't at the piano. One tune I didn't know, but we started it anyway, and he sang chord symbols for the lyrics on the first chorus. Singing the melody in his trademark voice "E major 7, relative minor." :crazy:

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New York State Of Mind and Still Crazy After All These Years are two favorites I almost never get to play. I have one gig coming up where I'll get to play that sort of stuff.

 

Another favorite that comes to mind is Pat Metheney's James. They won't recognize it, but they will like it.

--wmp
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Other possibilities might be:

 

"I Can't Make You Love Me" by Bonnie Raitt

 

"Just The Way You Are" by Billy Joel

 

Bingo Jazz+! :thu:

 

Both tunes are fantastic. The changes in "I Can't Make You Love Me" with a Gospel-flavored reharm and groove makes it a killer tune. :cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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Stevie Wonder has a bunch of these. I play "Overjoyed" and "Rainbow In The Sky" with my own reharms.

 

Blue, is that "Ribbon in the Sky"?

 

Great tune with easy changes and folks never seem to get tired of hearing it. The modulations make it extremely cool. Also makes for a great wedding tune. Can be played for about 30 minutes. ;):cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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Stevie Wonder has a bunch of these. I play "Overjoyed" and "Rainbow In The Sky" with my own reharms.

 

Blue, is that "Ribbon in the Sky"?

 

Great tune with easy changes and folks never seem to get tired of hearing it. The modulations make it extremely cool. Also makes for a great wedding tune. Can be played for about 30 minutes. ;):cool:

 

Yes - Ribbon In The Sky. Another brain fart on my part.

 

Check out "Overjoyed" too. It's such a well-written song, it plays itself.

Everybody's got to believe in something. I believe I'll have another beer. W. C. Fields
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Balladeering... fun stuff on a solo gig.

 

"Scene from an Italian Restaurant" - one of my personal fave Joel ballads.

 

Something more obscure, far more challenging, but equally soulful would be Dream Theater's "Disappear" (from Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence) - yes, it's a full band arrangement, but Rudess certainly does enough under all the bombastic Portnoy chops to carry the song on his own.

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