Jazz Waltz Studies

jazz waltz

The Jazz Waltz

The jazz waltz is a great feel to master, and someone who did just that was Max Roach. You can hear him play one on this Sonny Rollins classic, ‘Valse Hot‘, from the album Sonny Rollins plus 4 (1956). It’s written in 3/ 4, to indicate three beats in the bar, and counted as triplets to make it swing: 1+a 2+a 3+a. 

Max Roach

Jazz Waltz Exercises

In this blog post, I have decided to share one of the worksheets I use when teaching my students how to play swing in 3/4. There are 8 exercises in total, which you can either play individually or join up to form a piece.

Throughout, the bass drum should be played fairly lightly, i.e. ‘feathered bass drum’.  (I have only written bass drums on beat 1, but theoretically you could place them on all the beats.) The ride cymbal pattern differs in some of the exercises. However, for the most part it is like the standard 4/4 swing with beat 4 missing. Snare drums are added in different positions to work on lefthand independence and help develop a comping style of playing.

Listen to Valse Hot to get a real sense of the feel. If you’d like to book an in person or online lesson with me to go over these patterns, just get in touch!

Jazz Waltz Studies

And Finally...

If you’ve found this post useful, let me know you’ve got on. Can you name any other Jazz Waltz tunes?

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