Jazz Hits for Piano Duet – Eight Arrangements for One Piano, For Hands
Arranged by Jeremy Siskind
Having been much impressed by Jeremy Siskind’s earlier volumes for Hal Leonard, including the standout Double Agent! Piano Duets, I held very high expectations for this publication. This volume features eight songs, including some of the most legendary hits in jazz history made famous by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holliday.
Siskind’s arrangements conveys the spirit of these classics incredibly well. He keeps to the soul and harmonies of the pieces in their most iconic performances, and manages to make them work in the piano duet medium. You might think that a song like “Fever”, famously covered by Peggy Lee in the late 50s – a memorable vocal accompanied by a slinky bass and finger snaps – might not translate so well to piano duet given its sparseness. However, Siskind’s creative arrangement – complete with instructions for the players to click and slap the underside of the piano keyboard – makes it an effective and very entertaining transcription.
“Blue Skies” manages to capture the spirit of Ella Fitzgerald’s incredible scat vocal, and Siskind’s arrangement of “Come Fly with Me” makes it feel like Sinatra’s band is all there between the two pianists. They’re simply great demonstrations of the art of effective arranging for the piano, finding the balance between conveying the notes and spirit of their originals, yet making them work for the intended level of intermediate pianists without overloading them.
The primo/secondo parts are quite evenly matched. As a more specific gauge for Australian teachers, the arrangements are technically possible for those around the Grade 4 level. Adult learners will no doubt connect with these memorable songs. There are plenty of syncopated rhythms, and explorations of swing and soul that should appeal to the younger/teenage pianists, too. A most highly recommended volume.