Jazz is a specific music genre that is typically played using the piano but also guitar to some extent. However, for you to understand jazz fully, you need to be acquainted with several jazz musical pieces to learn how this genre differs from the others and how this is linked with blues. By listening, you’ll also be familiar with the tunes and sounds of jazz piano chords.
Learning jazz piano chords is important if you want to be a master jazz pianist because it will assist you in excelling in improvisation — the core element of jazz. After tedious lessons and practice, your aim should be: to create a free-flowing harmonic and melodic jazz piano musical piece. It is like being able to compose a piece of music with a new set of chords different from the original piece, all through the power of auditory skills.
Jazz pianists concluded that in learning how to play jazz piano, you have to master chord voicing. This is more complicated than the usual piano chords you see like a flat (b) or a sharp (#), and a number or a letter in all 12 keys. The first phase of chord voicing is learning the four basic chords, namely the minor, major, augmented, and diminished. I assume that you are already familiar with the basic chords of a piano before you start with your interest in jazz.
Jazz piano chords are a few variations of minor, major, and the 7th chord. A 7th chord may either be a semi-tone (example Cb) or higher (example C#).
Going back to chord voicing, the most basic of all is the shell voicing, which is characterized by the jazz piano chord’s root, 3rd, and 7th which are called the guide tones. A sample key C shell voicing progression is D-7 G7 Cmaj7. As soon as you have mastered the root tones, you can begin chord voicing progression by doing the 4 notes voicing, or seldom called the closed position or Mehegen voicings, which include bottom notes. As your learning progresses, study two-handed voicings and the final and advanced component — the fourth voicing. Fourth voicing is also called quartal voicing and played on the pentatonic scale.
I know it is challenging to visualize the chords without an actual piano sheet, but at least you have an idea about the steps you need to accomplish in order to learn jazz piano. I suggest as you begin to take piano lessons, study the theories, chords, notes, alternations — everything, by heart so that when it’s time for you to level up in jazz piano, it won’t be so hard.