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Jose Reyes

The Musical Force of the Jazz Pianist

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Which musical instrument does the listener anticipate the most when listening to a classy Jazz tune? The most dominant sound presence of all the musical instruments used in Jazz is the trumpet, the saxophone, the drums, and any other instruments that sound very similar to them. There are numerous instruments as essential as these, but are less visual or may I say, less attractive to the ones I mentioned and take a “back seat.” Not too much is spoken about the double bass or the piano unless they are featured in a “Trio” type of atmosphere. These wind and percussion instruments do attract more attention but would sound “meaningless” and unimportant without, let’s say, the bass and the piano. They are just a tiny part of the greater cause and are implanted inside the musical composition that governs “how” the tune will be played. The musical composer is the most knowledgeable of the “original “ song itself because they were the ones who wrote it and the ones who “own” it.  Now when it comes to Jazz, musical composition is on another playing level. Jazz compositions, original or non-original (will explain after), award the listeners with gift boxes of improvisations and they are known as “solos.” Solos are specific “spaces” that are cleverly placed by the composer so all the musicians performing the piece can take advantage by expressing themselves in their unique manner. This strongly empowers the musician with the “freedom” to influence and enhance the composition by taking it to different heights so the listener can passionately explore. Of course, this “solo” path includes the responsibility of returning to where they came from without overshadowing the rest of the band members. The Jazz composer lays out the main road for the band members to take and the end goal is to keep within all the restraints the composition offers, if any.

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These improvisational inspirations only prove why Jazz has so much of an emotional effect on the listener. The instrumental communication between the musicians surely make a big impact and helps create these beautiful, joyous sounds. Most of the time (almost always) the piano is used to “compose” the tune. The piano is the ultimate tool to achieve the ultimate composition and is the most versatile, not even close! Composing with a piano helps to take you to a much higher level. This explanation I found helps describe it in more detail:

From MusicTheory.com:

My songwriting instrument of choice is the piano.

I like writing with acoustic and electric guitars, but the piano is my most powerful tool.

Let’s talk about the 3 main advantages of songwriting with the piano- even if you aren’t much of a pianist.

You Can Write Melody And Chords At The Same Time. The piano is the only mainstream instrument that easily allows you to write the melody and chords at the exact same time. 

You can with any “keyboard” such as an organ or harpsichord, but you probably aren’t songwriting with those very often are you?

And, yes, technically you can do this on guitar if you are proficient enough.

But most of us aren’t that skilled with guitar improvisation. On the other hand, you can improvise melody and chords on the piano with only rudimentary piano skills…Continue here

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This particular article above, along with the ones that are listed below, will help the readers here to further understand the advantages of composing with a piano. Now, if one couples the fundamental ability to play the piano with additional extensive “classical” training, you will have the supreme expertise to create the most valued works of art ever. I could not be any closer to the truth when you combine this professional ability to compose with a piano with the “improvisational” nature of Jazz music. This is why Jazz pianist are by far, the most versatile song composers of any genre. I feel the versatility of the piano has been established and universally accepted by the musicians themselves and confident enough to continue ahead in directing the readers here to the best explanation of the “essential” elements of music I could find.

From Skoove.com

In music, certain fundamental components, known as the elements of music, serve as the essential building blocks for all musical compositions. These elements provide the framework within which the rich tapestry of melodies, rhythms, and harmonies is constructed, offering both composers and performers the tools to communicate their artistic vision.

Understanding the musical elements is crucial for anyone learning to play the piano or any other musical instrument. These elements are more than just theoretical concepts; they are the very aspects of music that give it form and character. From the simplest melodies to the most complex symphonies, the musical elements are present, guiding the creation and interpretation of music.

2 Responses

  1. Thank you Jacquelyn for your comment and I did look into your promotional link(s). Although you’re an exceptional pianist and I completely respect your professionalism, I must say that I cannot broadcast your music on Jazz Con Class Radio. Your album will be more in demand with other radio stations, it just doesn’t fit in with my objective and my listener’s taste. I suggest you tune in more frequently to Jazz Con Class Radio so you could understand exactly what I’m talking about. Besides that, I do not broadcast most contemporary Jazz musicians because I have no space for it. There are many great Jazz musicians out there but I simply have no room for them. Other Jazz stations, some that were very prominent before, are dangerously “lowering” their standards to please the taste of those who actually “believe” that “Smooth” Jazz is considered the same. These stations are unsuccessfully trying to hold on to the old guard of Jazz music by sacrilegiously “mixing” real meaningful classic/traditional Jazz with this Smooth SHIT! This is why Jazz Con Class Radio exists and prospers! This is also one of the main reasons why I wrote this article. Thank you so much Jaquelyn for reinforcing my intentions concerning the Jazz pianist and their unmatched and unrecognized genius. Sadly their musical achievements are taking a back seat to this “smooth” crap and are slowly fading away. This is why you have Jazz Con Class Radio and why I placed “KEEP JAZZ ALIVE” on my website.

  2. As a jazz pianist and composer myself, I truly appreciate this insightful and informative post. I also appreciate you mentioning that a piano can seem to “fade away” in the sonic background in a larger jazz ensemble but you then encourage listeners to educate themselves in order to hear beyond a just the dominant sounding instruments in a musical ensemble. As you mention, “Jazz pianist are by far, the most versatile song composers of any genre.” In order to illustrate this point, I created my first full-length album that features my jazz background but pushes the boundaries of genre and utilizes a jazz rhythm section with my piano and keyboard playing and vocals. I would love your thoughts on my new release, “Flown,” which features jazz musicians such as Marvin “Smitty” Smith, Christian Galvez, René Camacho, Tony Austin and more. You can hear it on all streaming platforms.

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"Hi José Reyes,
I have been listening to your radio broadcasting for some time and I can assure you without a doubt that your jazz program is the best on the entire network. I hope you could keep it for a long time without advertising and maintaining the quality that characterizes you. My girlfriend and I heard you from Basque Country in Spain with great pleasure for our ears and our senses. That's why we congratulate you and thank you!"

- Rober- (Spain)

"After searching across the web for the best jazz station, I found Jazz Con Class Radio. Hands down, the best jazz music anywhere. Why you ask? The focus on the best jazz music ever recorded, combined with the depth of artists and tracks played. I have heard so many tracks that I have never heard before, it’s mind blowing what Jazz Con Class Radio plays that other stations don’t. Mr. Reyes, your station is a national artistic treasure!"

- Steve - (USA)

"Jazz music is something incredible as the sky. It always sounds the same but you hear it differently every time as you tune in. It' s cool to hear classic jazz from old times, tunes from 40-70era always sound way better then any from 90-2000s era. No advertisements on the radio is great too, only nice, flawless jazz."

- Julianas - (Lithuania)
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