Jazz Piano Voicings: 9th Chords

Autumn In New York - Jazz Piano VoicingsJazz Piano Voicings: Your Ticket To Tune Enhancement

If you are already a ProProach member, you know that we took a good look at that 1-7-3-5-9 jazz piano voicing early in the program. We later acknowledged how this voicing can serve as a nice foundation for others. In addition, you’ve discovered that when learning a new chord structure, an important step we want to take when it comes to really making it a part of our playing is to incorporate that voicing into actual tunes. Yes, in this program, we learn voicings but we also see how to use them.

Well, I would like to invest a few moments to take a look at yet another way the jazz piano voicing mentioned above can be used to add some enrichment to a melody of a well-known standard. Let’s put our attention on Vernon Duke’s Autumn In New York. This ballad, written in 1934, has been a favorite of many and really lends itself to utilizing voicings in so many ways.

Specifically, we are going to add some appeal to that very first melody note of measure #1 of the song. Please notice that this note is the 9th of the G-7 chord. As you can see, the top note of our voicing is a 9. How convenient!
Those engaged with ProProach know that our examples in the program consist almost exclusively of graphics and videos, without using the staff. So, even if you’re not a reader, this program can be especially helpful. However, for this particular example, we’ll illustrate for you readers out there.

This is what the beginning of a lead sheet for the tune might look like:

Jazz Piano Voicings - 9th Chords

Application Of This Jazz Piano Voicing

As you can imagine, we have a number of choices available to us when it comes to harmonizing this melody with those given chords. This one really works well. Applying the 1-7-3-5-9 jazz piano voicing to this melody note really adds some nice flavor to the first couple of beats. Also, another nice effect is achieved by “rolling” this voicing from bottom to top (playing the notes quickly one at a time) with the sustain pedal:

Jazz Piano Chord Voicings - 9th Chords

On beat #3, the A-7 comes into play. Using a portion of this same voicing works well, too. We can simply play the 1-7 with the left hand along with the melody note C, which is the 3rd of the chord. We actually have a special lesson in ProProach that is dedicated to making more use of voicings we learn by using segments of them to accommodate melody notes in this way. Let’s face it… it’s all about being able to apply these great sounds within the context of tunes we play.

I hope you find more and more places to make use of this jazz piano voicing in this tune as well as favorites of yours. Remember, you don’t need to be a “jazz player,” per se, to make use of beautiful sounds voicings like this one and others we acknowledge in the program. A little at a time, you can really enhance your piano playing, adding more and more colors to that “chord voicing vocabulary” of yours!