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  1. #1
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    Help Comping Advice Needed: How Would You Approach This Tune?

    Hi everyone - hoping for some help. How do you approach a tune like this with a piano player? I don't mean specifically this song but really any situation like it. The ensemble is piano, sax, bass, and me on guitar. The piano player is comping in a way that is pretty similar to this recording and the chords are going by so quickly I'm not sure what else to do that wouldn't basically be playing unison with him



  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Paulie2 View Post
    Hi everyone - hoping for some help. How do you approach a tune like this with a piano player? I don't mean specifically this song but really any situation like it. The ensemble is piano, sax, bass, and me on guitar. The piano player is comping in a way that is pretty similar to this recording and the chords are going by so quickly I'm not sure what else to do that wouldn't basically be playing unison with him


    It's a great question. There may be a reason they didn't hire a guitarist for that date.

    For the head, I'd be thinking about playing the melody with the horns.

    For the solo section, I'd be thinking about playing long tones (chords), but not too long. I'd also hope that the pianist might adjust his approach so that we could try to create one comping part out of the two of us. But, with this type of tune, it's difficult. Some people would take turns comping, but I've never loved the sound of that.

  3. #3
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    My ears tell me that all the space is filled without guitar.

  4. #4
    I'd do harmony to the melody. The melody starts on Eb- the 5th. I'd start on the 3rd underneath- C. Just harmonize the melody and don't play too loud. Stay out of the way.

  5. #5
    If it was me I'd lay out of the crowded heads and for comping set the guitar volume just above subliminal and play the chords going "chunk chunk chunk chunk" straight and steady, totally blended into the drum kit. If I soloed I'd consider something like a "stab chord melody", as a brief contrast to all the the others' note lines while staying with the rhythmic intensity.

  6. #6
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    Layout, trade off with piano comp'ing choruses, do your best Herb Ellis imitation playing bongo beats on muted strings, this is situation you have to make contact with the piano player and workout who's doing what when. I was at a session with Cornell Dupree on guitar and Richard Tee on piano and it was great lesson watching the eye contact going on during takes between them. With their eyes and little head nods knew when the other was going to do something and gave them room.
    No, I'm not going to give you the answer to your question. I don't want to deny you the pleasure you'll receive when you figure it out yourself. -- Bill Evans talking to his brother.

  7. #7
    Maybe discuss the perceived need for comping? Take turns. But don't be redundant. If the piano player wants that space to themselves, then you're basically seen as a horn player. The dynamics are very different with guitar vs piano, see if the band wants what a guitar can offer.
    In the recording, Tadd is holding down the beat pretty tight with accents and stabs driving a pretty straight running beat. You don't want to be filling in any more of what's left. His comping is regular and steady and very purposeful. Not much left for the imagination, so don't be in a rush to fill in any more of what's left. At best, it'll steal the effect of the comping already there. At worst it'll create conflicting mats of sound that won't inspire anyone to fight the rhythm section for a solo space.

    David

  8. #8
    Lot's of good suggestions here. Dealing with two chordal instruments is always a challenge but bop presents unique challenges.

  9. #9
    Work things out with two chordal instruments or deal with a train wreck.
    Space isn't a given. You have to create it in something that's inherently dense like bop.

  10. #10
    When in doubt, lay out.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by docbop View Post
    Layout, trade off with piano comp'ing choruses, do your best Herb Ellis imitation playing bongo beats on muted strings, this is situation you have to make contact with the piano player and workout who's doing what when. I was at a session with Cornell Dupree on guitar and Richard Tee on piano and it was great lesson watching the eye contact going on during takes between them. With their eyes and little head nods knew when the other was going to do something and gave them room.

    Any suggestions on where to find Herb Ellis doing this idea? Would love to check it out

  12. #12
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    Thanks for all the suggestions guys, lots to work on here

  13. #13
    Play groove kicks that have a lead line that works with the melody. The pianist is just playing basic chords and basic rhythmic pattern... so there is lots of room to use melodic rhythm kicks... your basically just setting up the form.... instead of playing every bar and basic changes....thing in 4 bar phrases and have tonal targets that are organized, somewhat like a horn section playing background lines during a solo. Instead of just thinking... play changes. Think like the lead line is just harmonized from the implied harmonic general area.

    The tune is basically a bebop style AABA, right. So the natural approach would be to create Blue note harmonic relationships with the basic changes... that is your groove comping licks can be organized on blue note harmonic organization. Don't worry about everything lining up perfect.... think longer phrases. (4 bar and 8 bar or Form sections).

    If you don't have any comping licks in that style, (comping with groove lead lines), here's your change to start getting them together. Most pianist have difficulty not using all their fingers and filling all the space.... so we as guitarist need to create more interesting sectional parts that might sound better.... more interesting that just playing the changes.... they're basically implied whether they're played or not.

    Of course once you begin to develop relationships with pianists, from playing gigs etc... and the rhythm sections learns that they are a section that needs to sound like one section, you'll develop all the standard approaches of working together. Don't always just lay out, most soloist generally dig performing with guitarist who have their comping skills together, there is always more room for them.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reg View Post
    Play groove kicks that have a lead line that works with the melody. The pianist is just playing basic chords and basic rhythmic pattern... so there is lots of room to use melodic rhythm kicks... your basically just setting up the form.... instead of playing every bar and basic changes....thing in 4 bar phrases and have tonal targets that are organized, somewhat like a horn section playing background lines during a solo. Instead of just thinking... play changes. Think like the lead line is just harmonized from the implied harmonic general area.

    The tune is basically a bebop style AABA, right. So the natural approach would be to create Blue note harmonic relationships with the basic changes... that is your groove comping licks can be organized on blue note harmonic organization. Don't worry about everything lining up perfect.... think longer phrases. (4 bar and 8 bar or Form sections).

    If you don't have any comping licks in that style, (comping with groove lead lines), here's your change to start getting them together. Most pianist have difficulty not using all their fingers and filling all the space.... so we as guitarist need to create more interesting sectional parts that might sound better.... more interesting that just playing the changes.... they're basically implied whether they're played or not.

    Of course once you begin to develop relationships with pianists, from playing gigs etc... and the rhythm sections learns that they are a section that needs to sound like one section, you'll develop all the standard approaches of working together. Don't always just lay out, most soloist generally dig performing with guitarist who have their comping skills together, there is always more room for them.

    Thanks Reg! Just went and found a lot of your comping videos on youtube that are super helpful.

    So when coming up with groove based parts like what you are referring to, would you essentially look at all A sections as a measure of I followed by a measure of V? So instead of thinking I-iV / ii-V / iii-iv / ii-V at that tempo, just think I / V / I / V?

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paulie2 View Post
    Any suggestions on where to find Herb Ellis doing this idea? Would love to check it out

    I'd see him do it in clubs and once in awhile hear it on a recording, he would do it for a chorus and stop. He basically created two sounds both muted strings with left hand and then a slap on the end of the fretboard, and second sound he'd pat on strings above the pickup. I looked for a video but did see one, must be one somewhere. Herb isn't the only one to do this, but he seemed to be the one I heard doing it the most.
    No, I'm not going to give you the answer to your question. I don't want to deny you the pleasure you'll receive when you figure it out yourself. -- Bill Evans talking to his brother.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Paulie2 View Post
    Any suggestions on where to find Herb Ellis doing this idea? Would love to check it out
    Ray Crawford who played with Ahmad Jamal back in the day was a master of the bongo effect.

    around 2:48

    Last edited by mrcee; 09-12-2017 at 03:43 PM.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by mrcee View Post
    Ray Crawford who played with Ahmad Jamal back in the day was a master of the bongo effect.
    I always liked Ray's "bongos" the best.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Of what use is a dream, if not a blueprint for courageous action?"

    --Adam West, as Batman, 1966.

  18. #18
    Hey Paulie2...

    There are a few different approaches... one could be as you said, and I'm assuming your saying....
    * using the section A A B A for the spatial organization...
    * 8 bar phrases with harmonic organization of I V

    So sure that is organization... you still need organization for what type or style of I V phrasing your going to use, what type of lick or melodic phrase are you using to imply that I V etc... Blues, swing etc...

    I tend to think of functional movement as compared to I V or chords.... I think and hear Tonic, Dominant and subdominant. I expand the use of those terms... so tonic is simply the functional area that implies at rest, home. The actual type of chord isn't as important at what the tune or musical context implies as the Tonic. Same with Dominant and subdominant.

    I would think that the the Chase implies 4 bar phrases... so two per section. Which help with organization of the two phrases per section.
    Can use call and answer... tension release, any two part melodic/ harmonic usage, with the 2nd A section creating a relationship with the 1st A section that helps set up B etc...

    If you post something... I'll help develop your style... rather than just having me post some cool groove kick licks. I'll post how you might develop your ideas. I'm out of town thursday through monday... so either quickly or wait until Monday.

  19. #19
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    Thanks so much Reg, that is super generous. Let me see what I can get together (and it is no rush at all). I haven't messed with a video recording setup yet but probably time for me to get that sorted out. We're running through things again tomorrow so I will try out some of the things everyone mentions above and see how it goes

  20. #20
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    Check out Jordan Klemons's videos about comping- one string, two strings, three strings. In this video Tadd is practical.y a big band horn section by himself behind the soloists, so copping some Freddie Green 1-2 string comping notions coud be helpful. Do that for a chorus, do some harmomny lines for a chorus, lay out during the solos and let the piano handle it.

    My band is sax-trumpet-guitar-bass-drums. All of us are busy players, so I have been laying out more on heads and during solos. Drums, bass and a horn are often more than enough sound. Variety and breaking up the sound of the band is helpful in keeping the audience's attention. I also find myself opting out of solos more often, too, and just comp. Horn players all seem to have to solo on every tune...
    Beauty is as close to terror as we can well endure. -Rainer Maria Rilke

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