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I've been listening to Naima but I can't get near to playing it yet..

What are some simpler soulful ballads to learn and play? I like this style of playing.
 

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Generally speaking, I'd have to say *no* ballads are simple. Even the ones that have "easy" melodies and simpler chords are difficult to play really well. But that shouldn't stop you or me or anyone else from trying. When I was getting started, I really loved to play "Solitude" and "God Bless the Child." They're "easy" as far as the melody and chords go, and playing those tunes slowly was a fun way to practice tone, intonation, and thinking melodically. Come to think of it, I still love playing those tunes, and they're still challenging.
 

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The simplest one I know is "I Can't Help Falling In Love With You" (Elvis) Even so, you have to watch out for that first note.
 

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"That's All" is one of the easiest. The melodic repetition and the form make it easy to learn, and the changes are easy to follow and improvise to. Pete, that is probably the most sexy and sultry tenor sound I have ever heard. I purchased that album some time ago, but haven't listened to it in a while. This reminds me to go back and give it another listen.

 

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The Nearness of You.

Check out Michael Brecker's version, with James Taylor.
 

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This Hal Leonard book:

Jazz & Blues - Tenor Saxophone
Play-Along Solos for Tenor Sax
By Jack Long

Has a great selection of really nice ballads with terrific backing tracks.
 

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My best, so I guess it's my easiest is "I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face." I play it in Dm. The melody isn't too hard, and once you get that down, it's pretty easy to start improvising all over the place, from there.
 

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I guess my question would be: define 'simple'.

Do you mean just a simple head to learn ?

Or do you mean a tune with both a simple head and easy changes to solo over ?
 

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Generally speaking, I'd have to say *no* ballads are simple. Even the ones that have "easy" melodies and simpler chords are difficult to play really well. But that shouldn't stop you or me or anyone else from trying. When I was getting started, I really loved to play "Solitude" and "God Bless the Child." They're "easy" as far as the melody and chords go, and playing those tunes slowly was a fun way to practice tone, intonation, and thinking melodically. Come to think of it, I still love playing those tunes, and they're still challenging.
Heh. I'm working on Misty for an audition later this month, and there's times where I'd rather try to transcribe Kim. Ballads can be unforgiving if your tone and intonation aren't right, and they will chew you up and spit you out over all the little inflections and nuances in a way a more technical piece doesn't.
 

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Have to second "You Don't Know What Love Is." No need to improvise on that one. Just play it slow and breathy.

Another would be "Body and Soul." Some players memorize the classic rendition to throw in the odd measure or two. Sounds tacky to me when that's done. Again, just slow and straight ahead.

And "Never No Lament," played extra, extra slowly on alto is very nice. Wish no one ever added the Don't-Get-Around words to it.
 

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First question: what is simple? Second question: how do you define ballad? If you go on Youtube and just type in "backing track", you'll get a few thousand songs including ballads from Let it be (Dot.zero do a nice tenor sax rendition of that one) to Time after Time and once you are there, Youtube will take over anyway and select more songs for you than you probably will ever care to listen to - not to mention play. But the point is that just by doing random stuff that you are not familiar with, you are not stuck in a framework of "prior knowledge" and that will help you develop your own style more than anything else.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6xdFcJjs7c
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmrme4ulxIY
 
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