There have been many famous boogie woogie pianists emerge over the years, and although this style of music dates back to the early 20th century we are still seeing it (or hearing it) flourish today.
Jools Holland has been a dominate figure in the world of boogie woogie piano for well over 20 years and shows no signs of stopping. He is also a very unique artist as he continues to collaborate with world famous musicians and singers, whether on stage or in a recording studio.
Never satisfied with just playing solo or with his orchestra, Jools Holland continues to merge his own style with other artists and create new and exciting music, along with the amazing cover versions of old classics and modern greats.
If you would like to learn how to play like Jools Holland, here’s a fantastic tutorial to get you started with one of his signature boogie woogie left hands…
Jools Holland – left hand boogie
Here is the first bar in the key of C of a 12 bar blues structure:
The notes above are situated two octaves below middle C. You can also play this an octave higher if you wish, but typically this is where Jools Holland plays it. Use your 5th finger (little finger) for the C, and your 1st (thumb) for the G. This then allows you to use your 3rd finger (middle) for both the E flat and the E.
Although it may seem incorrect to use your middle finger for both the E flat and the E, this is correct and will allow you to play this quickly as intended by sliding off the E flat each time to get to the E.
Here’s how 4 bars of this sounds, including a slow and fast version:
How to play 12 bar blues and boogie woogie
After learning to play the first 4 bars in C as above, you’re now ready to change chords and continue to bars 5 & 6. This will now mean that you are going to play the same but in the chord of F. Here’s how it looks for just one bar, but remember that you play this for both bars 5 & 6:
Your hand needs to remain in the same position using the same fingers, and you are simply moving your arm to the right to play the same thing on the chord of F. For bars 7 & 8 you return back to the chord of C and play the same as you did for bars 1-4.
If you would like to learn more about how the 12 bar blues works, please follow the below links for a full in-depth guide on the chord structure –
How to complete the 12 bars
Finally, you need to learn how to play this awesome Jools Holland left hand boogie on the chord of G, and like before you are simply going to move your hand position to the G and use the same fingers. Here is what it looks like –
You can play this for bars 9 & 10, or alternatively you can play this for just bar 9 and use the F chord for bar 10. To complete the 12 bars you need to use the original C section for bars 11& 12.
And here is how the full 12 bars sound when put together:
To see Jools Holland teach this to an interviewer, here’s a great clip showing how even an absolute beginner can play this – and you can too!