One of the first things a jazz pianist should learn to do is navigate left-hand voicings. Learning to voice chords is VERY important for pianists looking to sound like an authentic jazz musician. Left-hand voicings are the first thing I usually touch on when my students are tackling a new tune. If you know the left-hand voicings, then you can play the melody or an improvised solo with your right hand. Also, you can use the left-hand voicings to make two-hand voicings using the “Expansion Technique.” Keep reading.
Here is a pdf of ii-V-I Rootless LH Piano Voicings in all 12 keys. This should prove useful for teachers and students alike. Knowing these voicings in the context of a ii-V-I progression is important for jazz pianists when they are soloing or playing the melody.
The “Expansion Technique”
These left-hand voicings can also be turned into two-hand comp voicing. All you have to do is move the second from the bottom note up an octave in each voicing. Play two notes in your left-hand and two notes in your right hand, and you will have some nice, stock chord voicings you can use right away to comp behind someone else’s solo. I call this the “Expansion Technique” because it expands a closed left-hand voicing into an open two-hand comp voicing.
For example, the first two measures are left-hand voicings for a ii-V-I in C. The second two measures use the “expansion technique” to create two-hand voicings.
This pdf of stock left-hand voicings, when combined with the “expansion technique,” gives you the tools to be able to voice 75% of the chords you will encounter as a jazz pianist (at a functional level, that is. You should be continually expanding your vocabulary of chords and voicings). I give this to students who need a jump-start crash course in chord voicings. Feel free to use the pdf and to share with others!