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Famous jazz songs to play on piano: Our top 7!

Jules, in Music insights
Aug 19, 2022 | 4 min read

Are you learning to play the piano? How about starting with some easy jazz standards? Here are 7 famous jazz songs to play on the piano.

1. Take the A train – Duke Ellington

This tune is hugely popular and considered a jazz standard written by Billy Strayhorn in the 60s. It was inspired by the new train service in New York and became the signature piece of the Ellington Orchestra. Mostly played in the key of C.

Famous songs “Exactly Like You”, “The Girl From Ipanema” and “So Danco Samba,” have the same chord changes if you transpose each into the key of C.

Make sure to create business cards beforehand!

Cm | Cm | Ab7 | Ab7 | Dm7b5 | G7alt | Cm | Cm

2. Isn’t she lovely – Stevie Wonder

A great jazz cover and an easy song to play for beginners. Stevie Wonder uses a chord progression that is usually used in Jazz. He also uses a lot of extension in the harmonies which is what makes this song rich.

It’s in the key of E major.

C# minor 7 | F#7 | B7sus4 | E major 6

3. Moanin – Jazz Messengers

“Moanin'” was first recorded by Art Blakey’s band the Jazz Messengers in 1958. It has been recorded numerous times and has become a jazz standard under a more specific genre called hard bop.

Check out this discussion by futurelearn.com which breaks down the song and explains what makes this a Jazz standard.

Bb | F minor | F major | Db | Ab | E  | Gm | G

4. The way you look tonight – Jerome Kern

The way you look tonight was written in 1936 and became a classic jazz and pop vocal song. Made famous by Fred Astaire from the film Swing Time written  – which is another jazz standard. This song is the classic A-A-B-A which means verse 1, verse 2, bridge and verse 3.

5. Fly Me To The Moon – Bart Howard

Do we even have to convince you to try to play this song? We are sure you know this classic! Written by Bart Howard made famous by singers like Frank Sinatra and Peggy Lee. With some versions have a more bossa nova tinge, while others have a swing tempo and an even 4/4 signature.

A | D7 | G7 | Cmaj7 | F | B7

6. Summertime from Porgy & Bess by George Gershwin

Do we even have to convince the key of A minor, is the composition of George Gershwin? Distinctive medium swing/shuffle groove is usually performed with ensembles. A lot of his music have become jazz standards and people have given it a try to make their own rendition of it.

7. My funny valentine

Cm | CmMaj7 | Cm7 | Cm6

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