Products featured on Pianodao are selected for review by ANDREW EALES.
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Reviewing Hal Leonard’s popular and keenly-priced Peaceful Piano Solos series last year, I concluded that,
“The Peaceful Piano Solo series is an easy recommendation, delivering a brilliant selection of contemporary favourites in a tastefully presented set of anthologies, with nicely playable editions. All the books are packed with hits from cover to cover, and there’s a book for everyone here.”
The series only becomes more compelling with the arrival of Peaceful Jazz Piano Solos, a collection of 30 standards arranged for early advanced players.
30 Classic Jazz Standards
The thirty pieces included in this collection will undoubtedly prove its compelling selling point:
- All of Me
- All the Things You Are
- Angel Eyes
- Autumn Leaves
- Blue Moon
- Body and Soul
- Days of Wine and Roses
- Easy Living
- Fly Me to the Moon (In Other Words)
- Georgia On My Mind
- It Had to Be You
- Moon River
- Moonlight in Vermont
- My One and Only Love
- My Romance
- Nature Boy
- The Nearness of you
- A Nightingale Sang in Berkley Square
- Polka Dots and Moonbeams
- Satin Doll
- Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
- Stella By Starlight
- The Very Thought of You
- Waltz for Debby
- The Way You Look Tonight
- What a Wonderful World
- When Sunny Gets Blue
Few if any of these classic songs needs any introduction, and while the collection is certainly jazzy, the emphasis is firmly on cozy ballads as opposed to boisterous boogie woogie. But what of the arrangements here?
The most important point to underline is that these are wonderfully musical and stylistically apt arrangements, each one conveying the essence of its original source material with finesse while equally following the basic brief of conjuring a relaxed (or peaceful) mood.
In most cases, the pieces are suitable for early advanced players around UK Grade 6 level; more advanced players will surely enjoy the accessibility of this material however, and find the pieces rewarding. And it’s at this point that I should also note fingering isn’t included, and that a confident pedalling technique is essential.
Some pieces are of course tricker to play than others, whether because of unpredictable flourishes, or because of their lush jazz chromaticisms. Sight-reading through the book I admit that on more than one occasion the combination of key signature and accidentals kept me on my toes!
That said, the most advanced jazzer may perhaps want to further embellish and extend the arrangements for themselves, and will undoubtedly need no permission to do so!
Having previously praised this series, there is little to add about the product itself. The soft cover is tastefully presented and the binding is durable (those who collect the series will be pleased that this is in line with the improved binding used for the Peaceful Christmas and Peaceful Classical collections).
Notation is nicely engraved, clean and super clear on the page, and there are no extras to mention. In short, this is a simple but beautifully presented publication.
If this seems a short review by Pianodao standards, it is perhaps because the series has previously been featured and is already becoming a well-established favourite. This new addition is thus a very simple recommendation as we revisit familiar and popular territory.
I have been dipping into Peaceful Jazz Piano Solos for my own relaxation and enjoyment since the review copy arrived a few weeks ago, and must emphasise that it has already brought much pleasure. This definitely isn’t a book destined to fester in the music cupboard.
I can’t close without again underlining just how fine I think the arrangements here are. No credit is given, but whoever is responsible has done a stellar job and appropriately deserves a gold star!
I doubt others will be disappointed, and in its consistent delivery of the most memorable jazz standards of the twentieth century, it is surely one of the classiest and highest achieving collections of its kind.
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