St. Thomas by Sonny Rollins
This bright, tropical jazz arrangement is great for beginning jazz pianists
Jazz Piano Lesson Overview
This jazz piano lesson focuses on St. Thomas, written by saxophonist Sonny Rollins. It's considered one of the easier jazz standards to play, so a great choice for beginning improvisers to learn; however, any jazz piece should be considered a challenge for beginning piano students.
St. Thomas sounds like upbeat island music, so keep that in mind when you're improvising: Make sure that you don't play anything that sounds too dissonant or bluesy. Chord tones for C and G work great.
The materials for this lesson include a PDF of our original arrangement, plus videos to help you learn how to play, and then improvise with, St. Thomas. Additionally, here are some tips and a handout for left-hand comping.
Listen to the original song, as performed by Sonny Rollins and his band:
Michel Camilo Version
This version, by Michel Camilo, includes an excellent introduction to transcribe:
Play Along Version
Once you've got the basic melody down, you can jam with this version: