As I’ve said before, one of my motivations for learning the piano was to be able to play the music of Ludovico Einaudi. However, I’m aware that if I only play this style of music then I will miss out on a whole range of music and skills. My teacher often compliments me on my touch when it comes to playing gently, but I want to become as rounded a player as possible. I also feel that there are whole genres of music that I like to listen to but never seem to play. I have therefore decided to learn some jazz. I have a love/hate relationship with jazz. I don’t really know the intricate differences between the different styles, but I know that I prefer the more melodic styles. The progressive, or bebop jazz makes me cringe. I’m sure that this is probably my failing, but I just find it uncomfortable to listen to. There are large parts of jazz though that I like. There have also been some great jazz pianists over the years: Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk and Herbie Hancock to name a few. Another was Billy Taylor, who died just a few years ago in 2010, aged 89. He spent his career not only composing and playing, but also teaching and promoting jazz. In 1963 he composed the iconic tune – I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to be Free. The song has been covered by many artists from the Lighthouse Family to more recently Emeli Sande, however the definitive recording has to be the 1967 Nina Simone version.
In the UK, the tune is used for the titles of the BBC’s Film programme, and it was here that I first heard it (back in the Barry Norman days). It is this track that I have decided to learn. I have a fantastic version of the music in my ‘Great Piano Solos – The Black Book’ see this video of this arrangement. I took this to my last lesson and my teacher played it through perfectly, despite her having strained her right-hand little finger whilst practicing a difficult accompaniment the day before. Suffice to say that with all my fingers ‘working’ I struggled with even the basic parts of it. We spent a good 5 minutes of the lesson going over the timing for one single bar. In the end I had to ask my teacher to play whilst I recorded her on the phone so that I can replay it at home.
I’ve only spent about twenty minutes on it so far, so I have a long way to go, but it is such a great piece that I am really enjoying learning it. I have linked to the great man playing. Enjoy.