You’re going to a jazz jam session but you aren’t sure what tunes you should know? Me too, so I decided to do some research and came up with this list of 20 jazz standards often called at jam sessions (in NYC).
Why did I choose these Jazz Standards?
I have heard all these tunes called many times at different jam sessions around NYC so they are a good place to start for preparing for your first jam session. Each jam session and each city have different bags of regularly called tunes so I recommend you check out your local scene to best get an idea.
This list of tunes will be a frequently updated, I want to share with you the MOST common tunes called.
What about the other gazillion jazz standards out there?
Good point. There are many, many other jazz standards you need to learn. This list is simply a quick selection of tunes that you NEED to have prepared. I am sure you will discover other songs you need to know very quickly, I have a massive ‘Must-Learn’ list that I am working on and probably will be working on the rest of my life.
How do I learn these tunes?
Here are 3 simple steps to learn any standard:
1. Listen to a vocal version (Youtube is your friend)
Check out a version by Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra or Sarah Vaugh. Chet baker is good too, your main goal here is to get a feel for the lyrics and a strong sense of the melody. I would even recommend checking out the original old school broadway version if you can find it. Listen to it 10 times. INGRAIN the tune into your mind and ears. Hum along.
2. Play it
Use your ears and try and play chords along with it. What is the form? What key is most often played in? Try and play the melody.
3. Memorize it
Use a chart to help you if you need it, memorize the melody and chords. Try transposing it to different keys and positions on the neck, you should know it in two different octaves. Source a backing track and jam along or play with a recording by Wes Montgomery.
These tunes are going to be called at a jam: LEARN THEM WELL. Do all you can to get deep inside them musically.
All right let’s get to the list.
20 Jazz Standards Often Called at NYC Jam Sessions
- All the things you are
- Autumn Leaves
- East of the Sun
- Have you met Miss Jones
- I Remember You
- If I were a Bell
- I Love You
- Just in Time
- Like Someone in Love
- My Romance
- My Shining Hour
- There is No Greater Love
- The Way You Look Tonight
- There Will Never Be Another You
- What is This Thing Called Love
- Any 12 Bar Blues Head