Weekend Chops Builder: 150 Standards Everyone Should Know

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[This article originally appeared in Keyboard in 1982.]

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Two interviews that appeared in the music press recently got me to thinking. The first was the cover story on saxophonist Phil Woods in DownBeat; the second, of comparable importance, was the cover story on Bob James in Keyboard [Jan. '82]. Both men, experienced in jazz for several decades, noted that the new crop of players tends to be deficient in repertoire. Too often, younger musicians don't know the tunes that are still the common currency of players in all styles of jazz.

There are different but interrelated reasons for this neglect. Woods holds the music publishers responsible for not being sufficiently interested in reprinting traditional material in stage-band arrangements. As a result, students in the music schools, which have become the principle training grounds for young players, may not encounter "Night And Day" until after they graduate.

Bob James points out that modal jazz has created a de-emphasis on the older tunes, as traditional harmony itself has come to seem less important. He sees no harm in this trend, considering it to be the inevitable march of history.

My own observation of the scene is quite to the contrary. Although I agree that not only jazz but popular music in general has been fleeing from the discipline of chord changes, I believe that a musician, and in particular a pianist, is gravely under-prepared if he or she embarks on a career based primarily on the Dorian mode. Sooner or later someone is going to ask you to play "Stardust."

The following is a beginning list of tunes that working musicians are likely to encounter at some time. I have limited it to those titles that have been vehicles for improvisation by generations of jazz players, excluding recent instrumental pieces. I have, however, included some relatively new pop songs, which have quickly become musicians' favorites.

Of course, such a list could be literally endless; I'll add another 150 tunes next month. There is also a much wider area of pop and show tunes which have only a peripheral association with jazz, but which a well-rounded pianist will certainly have to deal with at one time or another. I hope to compile these titles in subsequent columns, as well as to suggest some ways that the novice jazz musician can learn to work with them.

After You've Gone
Ain't Misbehavin'
All Of Me
All The Things You Are
Almost Like Being In Love
April In Paris
As Long As I Live
Autumn Leaves
Back Home Again In Indiana (Donna Lee)
Basin Street Blues
Bernie's Tune
Bewitched, Bothered, And Bewildered
Blue And Sentimental
Bluesette
Blue Skies
Body And Soul
Caravan
Cherokee
C Jam Blues
Close Your Eyes
Come Rain Or Come Shine
Confessin' That I Love You
Cottontail
Crazy Rhythm
Darn That Dream
Do Nothin' Til You Hear From Me
Dream Dancing
Embraceable You
Emily
Fine And Dandy
Fly Me To The Moon (In Other Words)
A Foggy Day
Have You Met Miss Jones
Here's That Rainy Day
Honeysuckle Rose
How Deep Is The Ocean
How High The Moon
I Can't Get Started With You
I Can't Give You Anything But Love
I Cover The Waterfront
I Cried For You
Idaho
If I Could Be With You One Hour Tonight
If I Had You
I Got It Bad
I Got Rhythm
I Hear A Rhapsody
I Hear Music
I'll Get By
I'll Remember April
I Love You (Weill)
I'm Getting Sentimental Over You
I'm Through With Love
In A Sentimental Mood
Indian Summer
Invitation
I Only Have Eyes For You
I Surrender, Dear
It's All Right With Me
I've Found A New Baby
I've Got The World On A String
Jada
Jitterbug Waltz
Jumpin' At The Savoy
Just Friends
Just One Of Those Things
Just You, Just Me
Keepin' Out Of Mischief
Laura
Lazy River
Let's Fall In Love
Li'l Darlin'
Limehouse Blues
Love For Sale
Lover Come Back To Me
Lover Man
Lullaby Of Birdland
Lullaby Of The Leaves
The Man I Love
Mean To Me
Memories Of You
Misty
Mood Indigo
Moon Glow
Moonlight In Vermont
Muskrat Ramble
My Blue Heaven
My Favorite Things
My Funny Valentine
The Nearness Of You
Nice Work If You Can Get It
Night And Day
On Green Dolphin Street
On The Alamo
On The Sunny Side Of The Street
Out Of Nowhere
Over The Rainbow
Perdido
Poor Butterfly
Prelude To A Kiss
Rose Room
Satin Doll
Secret Love
The Shadow Of Your Smile
She's Funny That Way
Skylark
Someday My Prince Will Come
The Song Is You
Solitude
Sophisticated Lady
Speak Low
S'posin'
Stardust
Stella By Starlight
St. Louis Blues
Stompin' At The Savoy
Stormy Weather
Sugar
Summertime
Sweet Georgia Brown
Sweet Lorraine
S'Wonderful
Take Five
Take The 'A' Train
Tea For Two
Tenderly
That Old Black Magic
That's A-Plenty
Them There Eyes
There Is No Greater Love
There Will Never Be Another You
These Foolish Things
Three Little Words
Undecided
Watch What Happens
We'll Be Together Again
What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life
What Is This Thing Called Love
What's New
When It's Sleepy Time Down South
Whispering (Grooving High)
The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise
Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams
Yesterdays
You Go To My Head
You're Driving Me Crazy
Yours Is My Heart Alone
You Stepped Out Of A Dream
You Took Advantage Of Me
You've Changed