Request for I Didn't Know What Time It Was

I would love a lesson on the great Richard Rogers song:
I didn’t know what time it was

Haven’t ever heard a solo piano version but I love versions by Sara Vaughn, Cécile McLorin Salvant and Wayne Shorter.

Sarah Vaughn with the incomparable Joe Pass on guitar and Roland Hanna on piano

Wayne Shorter

This is Cecile live with the incredible Aaron Diehl on piano.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G99FfalLFWQ (live at Dizzy’s)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88vk4h1BjvM (live in studio)

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Wow what a lovely recording! Thanks for sharing. Really would be fun to learn all the left hand voicings and nice chords to be able to accompany an on this song

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Hey guys,

Lovely suggestion!

The closest thing I’ve heard to a solo arrangement of this tune is Kenny Drew’s performance.

For the 1st 1.5 minutes he plays solo, and then his trio joins in. Check it out here:


The YouTube version cuts off towards the end, the full version is here on Spotify:


Some beautiful block chord harmony to start and lovely inner voice movement throughout… very much my cup of tea! :smile:

Kenny Drew was a wonderful pianist. I love his improv style, quite sharp and pronounced in places but still played with a delicate touch.

His son also - Kenny Drew Jr - was an extremely virtuosic and talented pianist. Unfortunately he passed away unexpectedly a few years back which was sad to see the end of such talent at a relatively young age. His recordings are worth checking out too.


We can definitely cover this tune, leave it with me :slight_smile:

What a treat. Yes. That is absolutely what I had in mind. Getting excited. Thanks Hayden for turning me on to this.

My pleasure Bryan :slightly_smiling_face:

I’m sure I’ve seen a video of Kenny Barron playing the tune too… I’m sure it’s on YouTube somewhere.

From memory, I think he plays it with his trio, but he starts of with a short solo introduction, similar to the Kenny Drew performance above.

I remember it being a video, not just a recording and I specifically remember him introducing the tune’s title “I didn’t know what time it was” and then he starts playing.

There are a number of video performance sets of Kenny Barron on YouTube… I think it’s hiding in one of those.

I’ll track it down if it does exist! :smile:

Here is Art Tatum version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hPOIoxirfs&feature=youtu.be

I am partial to the Kenny Drew version you shared but this is amazing.

Hi Bryan,

Here’s a solo piano recording of the tune by Barry Harris… Barry is one of my favourite pianists, I should listen to him more!

He’s an absolute master at block chords and 4 way close… such a joy to listen to.


Here’s the same recording on Spotify:

Barry is playing it in E Minor which is the original key and that found on the lead sheet.

From the sound of Kenny Drew’s solo introduction above, he plays it in A Minor.

When you find a recording you like, always figure out the key first using your ears. The lead sheet, iRealPro App and Transcribe App can all help you do this.

I should create a short tutorial on how to figure out the key of a recording, someone asked me a while back for that.

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So much wonderful inspiration to be taken from this recording Bryan:

His runs and fills are superhuman but there is some subtle inner voice movement toward to the start of the recording that can be easily dissected just by listening.

Enjoy :slightly_smiling_face:

Superhuman indeed. Amazing how a guy can become so great. It’s like supernatural. Here is a fun recording of the song featuring the great violinist Stephane Grappelli and the incredible McCoy Tyner.

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Beautifully unique Bryan… just what I love about jazz!

Thanks for sharing.

I’m just finalising the arrangement for this tune, I’ll be recording it when I wake up tomorrow. I’ve drawn influence from many of the recordings in this thread.

I really hope it doesn’t disappoint… firstly it’s a hard tune to arrange. Secondly, this thread now contains recordings of the tune by many of the greatest jazz piano players to ever live which is awesome, but I’m a mere mortal :smile: and these guys are the giants of the jazz world!

Anyhow I’ve put a lot of work into it so hopefully, it will be useful.

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Hayden, you are so deeply appreciated. Can’t wait. You really got on it so quickly. Thank you, man.

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My pleasure Bryan.

Here’s the audio file of the arrangement (I always record this separately from the lesson so that it can be added to the “Downloads” section of the lesson page)

I Didn’t Know What Time It Was (Audio File)

Press play to listen, or hit that little down arrow icon to download it.

I Didn’t Know What Time It Was (Midi File)

I Didn’t Know What Time It Was Midi File.mid (7.8 KB)

Stupidly I hadn’t allowed .mid file extension upload to the forum. I’ve just changed the settings so that students can upload midi files moving forwards.

In other news, it’s an exciting day for me… I’ve met a talented blues/soul pianist who is interested in teaching on PianoGroove.

He’ll be arriving here shortly and I’m going to record this lesson in front of him so he can see how it works. The idea is for him to be teaching on PianoGroove ASAP which is exciting.

I’ll get this tutorial edited and published asap, in the mean time take another listen to the recordings above and try and spot the bits of inspiration that I’ve taken from each. The Barry Harris recording was my favourite as you will probably hear.

It’s also in the same key which makes it easier from a transcription standpoint.

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Simply beautiful. I love your arrangement. This melody is so beautiful that I hate it being overplayed. I love it played lyrically, not straying too far from the melody. Of all the arrangements on this page I enjoy yours the most. Honestly, it makes me melt. Can’t wait to dive into it.

Great job, Hayden. Couldn’t be more pleased.

Wow that’s certainly a compliment Bryan! :slight_smile:


I’ll aim to have the lesson and transcription done in 24 hours.

Sometimes the transcriptions can be extra fiddly, but I’ll get the lesson done first and post the link in this thread.

Hi Bryan,

The tutorial has been published here: https://www.pianogroove.com/jazz-piano-lessons/i-didnt-know-what-time-it-was-tutorial/

It’s been added to the course on “Arranging For Solo Jazz Piano”: https://www.pianogroove.com/jazz-piano-lessons/how-to-play-solo/

I’m just about to get started on the transcription which will be finished today.

Enjoy the lesson!

The full transcription of the arrangement can be downloaded on the lesson page: https://www.pianogroove.com/jazz-piano-lessons/i-didnt-know-what-time-it-was-tutorial/

Wow, so lovely. LOVE that Stephan Grapelli / Tyner video. Which would also be a good example in any lesson on accompaniment. McCoy Tyner is so smooth in the background and the comping phrasing so nice and clean Thanks for the piano arrangement and lesson Hayden. Sweet song.

Thanks for sharing that Tyner / Grapelli piece. Bryan.

So glad you enjoyed it. You Tube is such a treasure trove. Got to see Tyner in person many years ago. His music at that time was so far beyond me. It was so wonderful hearing him in this context.

Hayden, been actively studying your new “Time” arrangement. Totally loving it. Beautiful. Thanks so much.


Yes it’s a real contrast to his usual dissonant and angular style of playing. A joy to listen to!


My pleasure… glad you liked it Lori :slight_smile:


Wow must have been an awesome experience Bryan… I love to see him live.

And awesome to hear you like the arrangement!