As jazz musicians, we need to be learning lots of jazz standards. It’s incredibly important to know the standard repertoire so that you can fully understand the jazz language.
But jazz music covers a fairly wide range of sub-genres, such as dixie, bebop, and other cultural styles as well such as Bossa Nova. It’s important that we are learning songs from all of these different categories in order to understand jazz language to the fullest.
I often find that on the bandstand, jazz waltzes get overlooked. I for one, am guilty as charged. Tune after tune is called, and it seems not a jazz waltz is on the horizon. But there are many beautiful jazz waltzes to be learned and they add a different feel and variety to your set list.
If you’re going through the jazz repertoire you know, and find that jazz waltzes are few and far between, this list is for you. This should help get you started on some that are important to know, and should get you headed in the right direction. There are many to learn, but for the sake of not leaving you overwhelmed, here are 9 that I suggest.
You can click on any of the titles to learn more, get chord charts, play-alongs, and listen to recordings.
Alice In Wonderland was written by Sammy Fain for the 1951 Disney classic Alice In Wonderland. Bill Evans arguably brought this song to popularity in the jazz world with his incredible recording on the 1961 Sunday at the Village Vanguard.
This is easily one of my favorite jazz waltzes. Jitterbug Waltz was written by pianist Fats Waller in 1942. The original version was recorded with a Hammond B3 which would later become a popular instrument in jazz.
Bluesette was written by harmonicist Toots Thielemans. It became an international hit in the 1960’s and was originally recorded with him whistling the melody along with a guitar.
This is definitely an important one to know. Footprints is a tune written by the great saxophonist Wayne Shorter. It first appeared on his 1966 record Adams Apple.
5. All Blues
Another very common jazz waltz. All Blues was written by Miles Davis for his 1959 best-selling record, Kind Of Blue. It is a 12 bar blues with a V7 to bVI7 to V7 in bars 9 and 10, a signature of this tune.
Up Jumped Spring is a tune written by the great trumpeter Freddie Hubbard. I find this one to be a lot of fun to play!
7. Ugly Beauty
This may not be the easiest of songs, nor the most common, but this is a good jazz waltz to work on. Ugly Beauty was written by the great innovative pianist and composer Thelonious Monk. It was recorded on his 1968 record Underground and is the only waltz he ever wrote.
This one seems to be a favorite among jazz musicians. Someday My Prince Will Come is a tune written by Frank Churchill and lyrics by Frank Morey. The tune was written for Walt Disney’s 1937 animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
West Coast Blues was written by the genius of jazz guitar, Wes Montgomery. This tune first appeared on Wes’ 1960 album, The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery.