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Piano charts/books background music

Tony Bennett

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Pardon me if this has been discussed, or provide a link please. But does anyone know of some good piano books for playing background music? There are some clubs around my area with pianos, but very few decent piano players. I used to play some of these gigs back when I was a kid, but I always got real bored with what I had to play, and thus drank large amounts. It is my intention to put together a few binders of music and go after the dollars that seem to just be laying there waiting. I like to take the slower mellow sections out of classical pieces, so Im fine there. But I need some decent jazz charts or something. They can be pretty basic and I can improvise or of medium difficulty. Just some nice basic easy listening stuff, I dont need wow the pants off of anyone.


Thanks Much.

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This is a very good question because I have been thinking about doing some solo piano work too. I have the music books but really wonder what people in these places want to hear nowadays.



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

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Aaron & I play as a two piece. If things are slow, people are eating, he breaks a string or what not Ive been playing a few songs on my own. My brother was saying boy, people really pay attention when you play on your own, when youre not just pounding chords. Which was a bit insulting as I try to do more then pound chords when playing in group, but I caught his drift.


I really dont know how picky a person has to be, as long as you play well. I just dont want to bore myself. There are some songs Ive played enough times in various bands that I have no problem turning them into Muzak. Do a little medley of say Dear Prudence/ Day after Day & Let it Be. It would be lost on most people, but those who pick up on it would find it cool I think. Throw in a couple of Chopin Nocturnes for legitimacy. Its just the Jazz section of my repertoire that I think Ill find myself lacking.

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Here's something I ran across a while back that might function as a starting point:


From an article published in The Jazz Piano Stylist magazine titled "Surviving The Jam Session"


"17 tunes every jazz musician should know for jam sessions:


All Blues (G)

All The Things You Are (Ab, starts on F-7)

Autumn Leaves (G-, starts on C-7)

Blue Bossa (C-)

BLUES - Major: Billie's Bounce (F), Blue Monk (Bb), Straight No Chaser (F)

BLUES - Minor: Mr. P.C. (C-)

Body and Soul (Db, starts on Eb-7)

Confirmation (F)

I Got Rhythm (Bb)

I'll Remember April (G)

Night In Tunisia (D-, starts on Eb7)

On Green Dolphin Street (Eb, sometimes played in C)

Stella By Starlight (Bb, starts on E-7 b5)

Take The A Train ©

There Will Never Be Another You (Eb)

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If you want to add some jazzy sounding stuff, I'd stick with the ballads and the blues. Giant steps, confirmation, and Dinah Lee are great tunes for a jazz concert, but they don't belong in a background music setting, at least not with the audience you're going to get at most restaurants. Ballads and blues blend into the background much better than a bebop tune will.



"Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face"

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I play a couple of times a week at a local restaurant/bar that has piano and bass duos every night. It is a four and a half hour gig (really long, but great for building up chops!). I have found that the patrons enjoy the well known standards and an occassion Billy Joel type of tune. I use Chuck Sher "Standards Real Book" quite often. Hal Leonard has some artist series book dedicated to famous players such as Billy Joel, where you can pick out some other tunes. Also www.musicnotes.com is a great resource for purchasing popular tunes. By changing up the rhythm on the pop tunes (such as making them a bossa nova) you can make them interesting vehicles to improvise on.

My best advice though is to talk to the patrons, especially the regulars and simply ask what tunes they would like to hear. It will probably be a few times when you will have to say "sorry, I'll get that one" but if you go out and find that tune, it will quickly buildyour book. I can name the favorite tunes of most of the regulars which translates to more tips. Some might call this "prostitution," but I personally enjoy the fact that I am playing that the audience enjoys.

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Tony, do you want books with _all_ the musical information or do you just want lead sheets - chords and symbols?

No guitarists were harmed during the making of this message.


In general, harmonic complexity is inversely proportional to the ratio between chording and non-chording instruments.


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Originally posted by Tony Bennett:

Thanks for all of the information guys. Dave, I would prefer all of the musical information. Got some good ideas for me?

George Shearing has a few booksof his own stylings of well known tunes. They're not too difficult and sound great. I'm sure your local library has some of them.

No guitarists were harmed during the making of this message.


In general, harmonic complexity is inversely proportional to the ratio between chording and non-chording instruments.


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