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  1. #1

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    I was thinking about what JAZZ tunes I should add to my chord-melody repertoire, and said to myself, I should include some songs that the general public will recognize (i.e., not Hard Hearted Hannah The Vamp of Savannah or Slow Boat to China).

    So, what would be some jazz tunes that won't go over the heads of the great unwashed?

    Right now I'm thinking of some old Chestnuts:

    • When The Saints Go Marching In
    • Sweet Georgia Brown
    • As Time Goes By


    Plus some of Sinatra's hits, but I'm really not sure if people in general will recognize these any more:

    • Theme from New York (bonus if I can play the melody + bass riff at the same time)
    • I've Got You Under My Skin
    • Fly Me To The Moon
    • My Way (not a fan of this one, and I read somewhere that Ol' Blue Eyes wasn't either)


    Am I missing some obvious ones? What other widely-known JAZZ songs would you suggest?
    Last edited by Howzabopping; 06-01-2019 at 04:25 PM.

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  3. #2

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    I just heard this in the car when I was listening to Larry Goldings Trio:



    How hip is that shit?

    Too bad the production of the album is crap--everything is super low in the mix--I had to crank my car speakers to hear anything.

    Than said--cool interpretation, huh?

  4. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Irez87 View Post
    I just heard this in the car when I was listening to Larry Goldings Trio:
    Great interpretation! Reminds me of something Don Patterson would play, circa Brothers-4. I'll have to dig more into Larry Goldings' stuff, first time I hear of him.

    And of course, I just realized that I left off the word "JAZZ" from my original post. How much of a dunderhead can I be...

    So, having edited the original post, what JAZZ tunes can I play that the teeming millions will recognize?

  5. #4

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    Never underestimate your listening audience; I play a dozen originals that I composed and taughtto the band, and every so often a total stranger says,"I can't believe you're playing my favorite song!"
    Last edited by pauln; 06-07-2019 at 12:18 PM.
    "Bent my ear to hear the tune and closed my eyes to see."

  6. #5

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    Time After Time by Cyndi Lauper-the Miles Davis version:


  7. #6

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    I'm playing a set at a art galley: the gig is more about the art and the music is to set-a-mood \ enhance the viewing of said art.

    In setting where I'm not expecting hardcore jazz fans (people that know many jazz standards) I play:

    Romantic songs often featured at wedding like Fly Me Too the Moon, The Way You Look Tonight, Got You Under My Skin.

    Songs most of us were exposed to as a child; Over the Rainbow (Oz is the most seen film for Americans).

    Songs done as covers by various generations; E.g. Georgia on My Mind and Sweet Georgia Brown. These old tunes are well known because covers were done that were popular like the Ray Charles or Willie Nelson versions etc...

    Beatles tunes; I'm playing with a pianist so we are doing In My Life and Here There and Everywhere.

  8. #7

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    Other tunes people might recognize:

    When You Wish Upon a Star
    Somewhere Over the Rainbow
    Moon River
    If Ever I Would Leave You

    The very popular movie "When Harry Met Sally" featured some great standards that might ring a (distant) bell for some folks-the ones I can remember are:
    -It Had to Be You
    -Where or When
    -Stompin at the Savoy
    -But Not for Me

    The Alec Baldwin/MEg Ryan movie "Prelude to a Kiss" features, well, "Prelude to a Kiss" sung by Deborah Harry and people often remember that when it's played.

    the movie Sleepless in Seattle also had a bunch of jazz standards in it the folks often remember, I can only recall two right now:
    -As Time Goes By
    -Wee Small Hours

    Anyhow, these are all great jazz tunes and these were insanely popular movies so the tunes won't at least come off as utterly off the wall or from outer space.
    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  9. #8

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    No one mentioned the obvious yet:

    Summertime!

    So obvious that I never took the time to learn the darn harmony--as simple as it maybe--until last night.

    A singer called it in Am--and I played movements to approximate the tune--I'm sure she knew I didn't know it.

    SHAME ON ME!

  10. #9

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    The Very Thought of You

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Irez87 View Post
    No one mentioned the obvious yet:

    Summertime!

    So obvious that I never took the time to learn the darn harmony--as simple as it maybe--until last night.

    A singer called it in Am--and I played movements to approximate the tune--I'm sure she knew I didn't know it.

    SHAME ON ME!
    True that, the other all too obvious choice is Autumn Leaves.


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  12. #11

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    Old TV themes --
    Flintstones (Rhythm Changes)
    The Odd Couple (Neil Hefti)
    MASH Theme
    "Don't worry about that. Everybody talks about finding your voice. Do your homework and your voice will find you." - Branford Marsalis

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Sherry View Post
    Old TV themes --
    Flintstones (Rhythm Changes)
    The Odd Couple (Neil Hefti)
    MASH Theme
    And the MASH theme can be adapted very easily to mesh with "Autumn Leaves."
    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  14. #13

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    Star Trek (Out of Nowhere)

  15. #14

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    I've been thinking about In With the In Crowd ala Ramsey Lewis ever since I saw it played at Don Draper's party in Mad Men.
    Super jive-ass swingin' hip if you ask me. Right in there with Green Onions! Folks my age and older remember the top 40 version. It got a lot of air play middle of the '60s.

  16. #15

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    The girl from Ipanema was a big hit in the 60's.

  17. #16

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    A mix of what became big hits for Louis Armstrong or Eva Cassidy - although most of these are ballads
    Some of Dave Grusin's film music - although mostly pop
    Something Blues Brothers - although mostly blues/soul
    Some ragtime - which is not jazz
    Maybe some Crusaders like Street Life - although this is almost disco
    Maybe some classical music - like:


    Maybe some bluegrass - like:


    It depends also on your band setting and where you want to take your audience. You can also take a known hit of some kind and experiment. One fine example is The Tennessee Waltz as played by Alma Cogan - technically not a waltz but probably the most popular version.

    All bad suggestions (not jazz), sorry - but it was fun trying to find some.

  18. #17

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    The only song that I can think of that hasn't been mentioned yet is My Funny Valentine

  19. #18

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    What means "jazz songs"? it means any song you play jazz in. Something like Norwegian Wood is a modal jazz tune, if that's the way you approach it, while Something is a standard ballad, and And I Love Her is a modal ballad. All of the Burt Bacharach tunes are well-constructed, interesting, and ripe for jazz interpretation: Walk On By is another modal tune that people know and love. Take 5 is a real jazz tune, and quite easy to play once you internalize the rhythm. But the fact is that any "standard" style tune is a jazz tune when played by jazz musicians. Unfortunately, not much is available from the past 3 decades or so that have enough harmonic meat to excite a jazz player, but there are a lot of pop radio hits that people will recognize and that will be good vehicles for improv. The jazz standards of the 50s are somewhat overplayed, even though they are excellent tunes, so it's definitely a smart move to explore more recent fare. I've had great reception with reggae treatments of tunes such as What A Wonderful World and Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, both are well-known, and both provide good melodic and harmonic structure to blow over. There also are several popular standards that can be altered: Summertime, Shadow of your Smile and Charade all work well in 5/4 time, for instance. Don't bring the Real Book to the gig, it's a snore.

  20. #19

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    Well we don't want to turn this into the 'why are there no new standards thread' but yeah.... Or another 'here's some actually recent/genx/boomer/whatever pop tunes you can play as jazz.'

    I used to have this misconception as an earnest young dweeb getting into jazz that jazz musicians played jazz tunes written by jazz musicians.

    Then I realised my mum knew them from musicals haha. I guess the Julie Andrews/John Coltrane thing tipped me off...

    The confusing thing is some of the tunes we play *have* been written by jazz musicians, and here anything from Time Out will probably work... Other then that, no-one knows about that shit. You may as well play originals.

  21. #20

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    Surrey with a Fringe On Top?

  22. #21

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    Actually, you know the biggest honest-to-god Jazz Tune written by a Jazz Musician that normal people might know, off the same Wes album - Misty.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by jameslovestal View Post
    I'm playing a set at a art galley: the gig is more about the art.
    Well, what's the art then? That's important.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Star Trek (Out of Nowhere)
    Yes. I posted a clip on that somewhere on the forum a few weeks back.
    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  25. #24

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    Someday My Prince Will Come
    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  26. #25

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    Some Cole Porter tunes? Many are widely known and much more "jazz" (than my previous suggestions) Many of them them are even in Real Book, i.e. jazz.

  27. #26

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    Amy Winehouse did a few tunes that some younger folks might recognize eg- Round Midnight



    Will

  28. #27
    I've often found that the attention one gets from an indifferent audience for playing a 'recognizable" tune is fleeting at best. They might perk up for a moment, but that's it.With jazz groups, I've had better luck keeping an audience engaged by crafting a set with a variety of keys, grooves, tempos, intros, endings, harmonic densities, dynamics, solo order, backgrounds, shout choruses, and any other orchestration you can put together.

    For solo guitar, check out Taylor Roberts and Jake Reichbart, they do good renditions of current pop songs. I think that's the way to go if you want to play recognizable tunes. I don't know if you get much more traction with As Time Goes By than Slow Boat To China with an audience of 'civilians'

    PK

  29. #28

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  30. #29

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  31. #30

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    Actually thinking about it, the tune that people always go for in a big way is All of Me, Hep’s favourite....

  32. #31
    Great recommendations everybody, thank you so much!

    Now that I think about it, another Sinatra hit that people may recognize would be Strangers in the Night.

    Also, Strike Up The Band was the tune for the intro sequence of Warner Bros or some other movie studio, wasn't it?

    ...and yes, what is a jazz tune, anyway? One imagines there exists this Platonic form of the Great American Songbook in the sky, held by Ella Fitzgerald. But which tunes are in that book, therein lies the rub...

  33. #32
    Interesting. For background gigs, my approach is always: If the song swings, people are going to dig it to the extent they notice at all. I've gotten good responses with groove tunes that people may have heard but couldn't name: Mercy, Mercy, Mercy/Watermelon Man/Song for My Father/Sugar or even Moanin'. If management tells me to cool it, I'll give 'em "Girl Talk" or "Manha de Carnival" because they're both quietly soulful and highlight the guitar well.
    I guess if i were to play a hospice/retirement home, which I probably should volunteer to do soon, I'd lean on Jerome Kern because his compositions are so wonderful, and if someone recognizes one or two as a "Sinatra" tune that'd be a bonus.

  34. #33

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    Peg O' My Heart

  35. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by Howzabopping View Post
    ...what is a jazz tune, anyway?...
    If someone says, "I don't know, I think maybe it has too many notes," THAT'S a Jazz tune!

  36. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Actually thinking about it, the tune that people always go for in a big way is All of Me, Hep’s favourite....
    Well, yea, I don't mind All Of Me, except I'm not gonna do the melody as my solo haha. But otherwise ok, a little boring but ok... I can rock'nroll it, so I don't mind.

    Any jazz tune I can rocknrollize is fine. Stomping At The Savoy, Dinah, Exactly Like You- great, and people love it.

    OTOH you can sarcastically say my 'favourite' is Inner Urge. If you wanna kill the civilians it works.

  37. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by dickbanks View Post
    If someone says, "I don't know, I think maybe it has too many notes," THAT'S a Jazz tune!
    Ok, I had to make that Joe Pass joke based on that thread about Pass not being all-that etc...

    But I do believe that when playing for civilians (non-musicians), it is best to focus on melody, repetition, tension \ release and not playing too-many notes.

    I observed this when seeing Tal Farlow, Barney Kessell, Mundell Lowe, etc... back in the 80s: The first set would be more towards civilians. By the third set, it was much more like a jam with burning solos over bop \ riff based type tunes. Once at Donte's in Hollywood CA, Lowe was about to start the 3rd set. There were only about 5 tables with customers and on three of the tables (one being mine), the gal with the guy was asleep! Lowe said something like 'you're all guitar players,,, right,,,', and we all said YEA! So he asked us what we wanted to hear. I asked for his song Far From Vanilla; He laugh and said, Ok.


  38. #37

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    Everybody knows Stardust.

  39. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell View Post
    Everybody knows Stardust.
    That would be number one on my list ! "When I Fall In Love," The Nearness of You," ; "Someone To Watch Over Me," ; " I Left My Heart In S,F." ; "My Favourite Things" and "Moon River."

  40. #39

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    Is it time for some ' musicians-only ' standards jokes ???

    I was looking for PB's joke about the guy who couldn't remember the bridge to 'Over the Rainbow', but found this instead :



    Enjoy !

  41. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by gtrplrfla View Post
    That would be number one on my list ! "When I Fall In Love," The Nearness of You," ; "Someone To Watch Over Me," ; " I Left My Heart In S,F." ; "My Favourite Things" and "Moon River."
    Stardust is indeed a great tune, but my guess is that it isn't known by most people today with the Hoagy tune Georgia on my Mind being a lot more well known since the song has stayed 'current' in movies and on T.V.

    Same with Nearness of You. One of my missions in life is to turn people on to Hoagy Carmichael - his music, his work in film, his recordings etc....