On A Clear Day: 3 Ways 2 Play 4 Piano

Musicians who are also Educators have a burning desire to create, perform, and share ideas with others, which can be tough during these times of quarentine due to COVID-19. Fortunately for me, I’ve been self isolating along with my musician husband who happens to be a very fine jazz bassist. True Confession: We don’t normally practice together unless a we get a concert/gig which involves both of us. Since all our gigs got called off we were clamoring to play some music – (Plus RKC was in a most agreeable mood to answer my birthday request to put on the tux he would normally have worn singing basso profundo in the cancelled Choral Society Concert last night, and played along with the idea of #FORMALFRIDAYS)

Today’s topic is how to play the tune On A Clear Day, using 3 different registers on the piano.  Over the past couple of days I’d been working out voicings with a slight reharmonization of this cheerful tune to help lift spirits. The first video demonstrates a solo piano version. See how I’m voicing chords with mostly roots on the bottom, playing in the middle and lower range of the instrument:

The next video begins in a higher range of the piano in my right hand. My left hand chords still contain mostly roots on the bottom, until the upright bass joins in. At this point I changed the chord voicings by moving my LH closer to the middle range of the piano. Since the bass instrument is playing the roots of the chords while filling out the low end sound this allows me to play inverted or rootless chords – sometimes adding extensions like the 9th or 13th in my LH voicing. Don’t expect this concept to fly immediately from your head into your fingers! Changing chords from the way you’d normally play them into new voicings is like learning a new language at first – it took me lots of practice in all 12 keys, so be patient with yourself as you learn a new skill:

Here is a rough copy of the chart we were working from, just in case this might be helpful (trust us, it looked about this clear from our viewpoint too):

Very special thanks to my partner in life & music Robert Kim Collins for his wonderful swinging bass contributions to this video (even dressing up so dapperly in his TUX), and a big shout out to Chef Charles who contributed to making the whole evening a charming formal event by cooking these: