Composed by Errol Garner
Misty is a ballad that was composed by pianist Errol Garner in 1954. Johnny Burke later added lyrics and it has since become one of the all-time greatest and most-played jazz standards in the Great American Songbook. It also became Johnny Mathis’ signature song.
Many of the best vocalists and instrumentalists alike have recorded all kinds of different versions of this song. That means there is plenty of reference material to use when learning it!
The Nuts and Bolts
The form of the tune is a standard AABA 32-bar form and much like Body and Soul, this song includes many of the common progressions and characteristics of standards of the time. One such progression is the IV to IVm modulation that we see so often.
Additionally, the tune is in Eb – unless you’re playing with a singer who likes it in another key – and it’s likely that you are comfortable playing in this key if you’ve been working on your repertoire! So many tunes are written in these “horn keys”, so it’s a good idea to get the hang of them early.
Misty: Comping Ideas
Here you have a few basic shapes that you can use to begin comping over this tune. Be sure to move them around and learn them on different sets of strings.
Misty: Chord Melody
In this section, we have a very simple chord melody using mostly stock voicings. You may get bored of these shell voicings and drop 2/3 shapes after a while, but this is a great example of how powerful they can be.
Misty: Single-Note Solo
Players often approach ballad improvisations with lots of textures and things like that, but here we are taking advantage to give you some basic vocabulary outlining the changes. You can use this as a jumping off point for your own explorations.
Misty: Backing Track
If you’d like to download the backing track, you can do so here.
Misty: Chord Reference Sheet
As always, we have provided with a chord reference sheet containing some more shapes with extensions that you can use while comping over this tune.
-Errol Garner’s The Original Misty collection. Errol’s wonderfully lush, cascading arpeggios and chordal style is on full display here! It’s always a great idea to listen to the original composer’s interpretation.
-Wes Montgomery’s Smokin’ at the Half Note released in 1965. I’ve always loved Wes’ playing and his wonderfully unique interpretations of any melody.
-Ella Fitzgerald’s Best of Ella Fitzgerald, Vol. 2 collection released in 2015. Often referred to as the “First Lady of Song”, Ella sings a beautiful version of this tune here.
-Sarah Vaughan’s Golden Hits – Sarah Vaughan collection released in 1984. Vaughan thrills us with her beautiful voice in this classic take.
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