Jazz Piano (55+)

The piano is a glorious instrument that has played both supporting and leading roles in the world of jazz. Its sound has evolved from the early days of boogie-woogie and ragtime to the chord-drenched stylings of Bill Evans and Brad Mehldau. Superstars have led the way, including boogie-woogie maestros such as Meade Lux Lewis and Pinetop Smith, big band virtuosos like Duke Ellington and Count Basie, stride masters such as Fats Waller and Willie “The Lion” Smith and jazz singer/pianists such as Nat King Cole and Nina Simone.

Our survey of jazz and “the most beautiful piece of furniture ever built” will also include today’s artists, among them Fred Hersch, Jessica Williams, Chick Corea and Diana Krall.

Note: Back by popular demand, from spring 2012.

Please note that enrollment in this course is reserved for adults 55+.

Currently not available for registration.

What will I learn?

Week 1: Early jazz piano

Joplin, ragtime, boogie woogie and stride piano.

Week 2: Big band piano

A special kind of playing mastered by Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Earl Hines, Jay McShann, Mary Lou Williams, Toshiko Akiyoshi and Maria Schneider.

Week 3: Pianist superstars and icons

Headliners known for their dazzling technique, leadership ability and charisma. Art Tatum, Fats Waller, Erroll Garner, Earl Hines, Dave Brubeck, Mary Lou Williams, George Shearing, Oscar Peterson, Ahmad Jamal, Bill Evans and Thelonious Monk.

Week 4: The great accompanists: Solo, latin and blues piano

These great players specialize in totally different yet demanding talents. Teddy Wilson, Ellis Larkins, Paul Smith, Jimmy Rowles, Hank Jones, Oscar Peterson, Ralph Sharon, Tommy Flanagan.

Week 5: Singer pianists

Great singers who are so often their own best accompanists (and take out the middleman). Nat Cole, Blossom Dearie, Shirley Horn, Diana Krall, Nina Simone, Michael Feinstein, Bobby Short, Rose Murphy, Harry Connick Jr., Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles.

Week 6: Today’s piano stars

There is no shortage of talent today and they deserve our support. Herbie Hancock, Cyrus Chestnut, Jessica Williams, Marcus Roberts, Chick Corea, Fred Hersch, Bill Charlap, Renee Rosnes, Brad Meldau, Keith Jarrett, John Stetch, Michael Kaeshammer.

How will I learn?

  • Lectures
  • Discussion (may vary from class to class)
  • Papers (applicable only to certificate students)

How will I be evaluated?

For certificate students only:

Your instructor will evaluate you based on an essay, which you will complete at the end of the course. You will receive a grade of “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory.”

Textbooks and learning materials

Reading material (if applicable) will be available in class.

If you're 55+, you may take this course as part of

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