The Jazz Standards Book

2 minute read

I’ll explain it here quickly if you do not know what Jazz Standards (JS) are. If you do, you can skip this paragraph. JS are music compositions that the Jazz community has adopted as the base and origin of Jazz. So, every Jazz player knows a lot of those in the same way that a rock player knows famous rock tunes or a pop player knows some of the pop hits of all times. But Jazz being Jazz, they take it to the max. Jazz musicians use JS a lot for improvisation in jam sessions.

Because of how Jazz works, there are endless versions of every Jazz standard. If you do not know, let me quickly explain how it goes. When many Jazz musicians get together, they call out one of the Standards and start playing the tune with the leading player doing the initial and well-known melody. Then, they repeatedly play the song’s chord progression while every musician takes a turn to improvise on top of it. After that, they play the main melody again, and the song ends.

book cover Last Christmas, I got Ted Gioia’s “The Jazz Standards” book. The book lists arguably the more popular Jazz Standards with explanations about their history. After every tune, the author recommends some versions worth listening to. As I read the book, I started creating a playlist with some of those versions, but I did stop after a bit. Now I’m retaking that job, and I’ll keep adding versions for every JS I read. The Playlist will be huge at the end because the book contains around 250 Standards, and for everyone, I’ll include between 5 and 10 versions. But I hope we will have a nice collection of some of the best JS versions at the end.

For now, it will include six, but It will grow fast!

  • Stella by Starlight
  • Blue Bossa
  • All of me
  • Caravan
  • Autumn leaves
  • Have you met Miss Jones?

If you love a version that is not included, please tell me! Do not hesitate to say hi for any comment or recommendation. I’ll be thrilled to chat with you. E-mail, Twitter or Signal are OK.

I’ll keep you posted with new updates on the playlist.

Why Jazz?

I haven’t always been a fan of Jazz, and it has been only the last ten years that I have been interested in it. Before, I listened to pop and rock and much classical music.

I play the guitar, and around 2010 I discovered Wes Montgomery and George Benson. I did like their music, which opened the door to more and more Jazz. Now it is, by far, my preferred music to play and listen to.

I’m more into old classics than new types of Jazz. I do not enjoy experimental Jazz nor understand much of the fusion scene. That is probably the reason why the standards sound so lovely to me.