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  1. #1

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    Anyone have experience with these? Any tips or tricks? I am kind of nervous about being so "exposed" all night, along with playing unaccompanied solos.....

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  3. #2

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    It's more important to be solid behind the singer than interesting. You don't need to pull out your hippest voicings, keep the rhythm and harmony 100% correct and let the singer shine. For solos I mostly keep to chordal stuff since unaccompanied single note stuff feels like the rug got pulled out from under the music. I think of those chordal solos as sort of shout chorus type lines from a big band - you don't need complicated or fast melodic content on top. Just clearly thought out and executed riffy ideas that keep the form and momentum going.

  4. #3

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    That's SUCH good advice Drbhrb ! brilliant !

    (you need to work on your name tho)

  5. #4

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    Drbhrb's advice is definitely very sound. I play duo with a vocalist a fair bit and I do like to throw in a fair bit of single line work but I do comp for myself in between lines.

  6. #5

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    Listen to dr's advice--it's good. However, unless you're a very advanced player, I would forget about the solos completely and focus on a few, select, tasty licks(if any) before, during and after chord changes as she's singing. I did a gig in ancient times( mid70's) with a teen-aged Latin female vocalist who was well beyond her years musically in style, sophistication and a personal sound. I was very conservative in my playing and played simple chords with much more breathing room than I do today. It was a terrific success since she carried the show with her terrific sound. So,it's really not your show . . . it's hers and the bottom line, in my opinion, will be very musical if you keep that in mind. Good luck on the gig and good playing . . . Marinero

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paulie2 View Post
    Anyone have experience with these? Any tips or tricks? I am kind of nervous about being so "exposed" all night, along with playing unaccompanied solos.....
    I use a looper to record the chords while the singer is singing. Then, I use that loop to accompany myself for solos.

    I have been doing these types of gigs for years.


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  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by drbhrb View Post
    It's more important to be solid behind the singer than interesting. You don't need to pull out your hippest voicings, keep the rhythm and harmony 100% correct and let the singer shine. For solos I mostly keep to chordal stuff since unaccompanied single note stuff feels like the rug got pulled out from under the music. I think of those chordal solos as sort of shout chorus type lines from a big band - you don't need complicated or fast melodic content on top. Just clearly thought out and executed riffy ideas that keep the form and momentum going.
    I agree. Singers usually do not appreciate hip voicings. They need to hear their melody notes in your chords.


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  9. #8

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    Yes,but be careful not to actually PLAY the melody.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marinero View Post
    Listen to dr's advice--it's good. However, unless you're a very advanced player, I would forget about the solos completely and focus on a few, select, tasty licks(if any) before, during and after chord changes as she's singing. I did a gig in ancient times( mid70's) with a teen-aged Latin female vocalist who was well beyond her years musically in style, sophistication and a personal sound. I was very conservative in my playing and played simple chords with much more breathing room than I do today. It was a terrific success since she carried the show with her terrific sound. So,it's really not your show . . . it's hers and the bottom line, in my opinion, will be very musical if you keep that in mind. Good luck on the gig and good playing . . . Marinero
    Providing a vocalist do the solos, scat style and whatnot? Otherwise the songs will be rediculously short. Not good.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hep To The Jive View Post
    Providing a vocalist do the solos, scat style and whatnot? Otherwise the songs will be rediculously short. Not good.
    Hi, Hep,
    That would be certainly true to a hardcore Jazz audience who came to listen to the music. But, to the average crowd, there's no need to make each song into a music masterpiece. For example, people that do lounge gigs, hotels, weddings as "background music," while people are eating or drinking as the main event, short and simple always wins the day. In most cases they are not listening. A few years ago, I did a very prestigious Classical gig at a renowned country club for a wine festival. Tuxedo pants, shirt, etc. The PA system was first-class at the event. There were easily 300 plus people in one large banquet room and growing. I began the first set on low volume and ended the set on high. By the beginning of the second set, you could not hear the music above the crowd's chattering roar. And, the din of the crowd overpowered everything in the room. As a joke to myself, I turned off the mic and kept playing. People would walk by and smile. Some would say they enjoyed the music. I couldn't hear myself playing. Socrates said "Know Thyself." A good musician says, "Know Thy Crowd." Thanks for the reply . . . and, good playing . . . Marinero

  12. #11

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    I agree, the first rule is that it is not your show so play accordingly and support the singer Some thoughts from my own experience:

    1. Take advantage of freer, rubato playing for intros (you can shine there) but be sure to lay down clear time in the bar before the singer comes in. You may feel the time well before that but with some singers you need to be blazingly obvious. Same holds for harmonic interpretation. Use intros to go places surprising but be sure to bring back to more vanilla sounds a bar or two before the singer is to come in. Too many times I felt I set up a singer with an interesting intro but to see them miss the cue and I have to cycle back again to set it up in vanilla terms (I, VI, II, V). Sigh.

    2. Work on your two feel and "four on the floor" Freddie Green approaches and oscillate them as a band would (e.g. 2 feel in the A sections and four on the floor in the bridge). If you play an archtop roll that volume down to get that nice airy rhythm sound.

    3. There are many tunes with opening verses that are pleasing and novel (Autumn Leaves is an example). Incorporate them if you can and you will stand out from other duos.

    4. Soloing without a looper leaves you pretty naked on the bandstand but it is helpful to the audience and yourself if you don't completely abandon reference to melody and root movement. If you stray to far the audience may be lost and feel they are lstening to a guitarist play random stuff up there. As players we hear a lot of harmonic movement in our heads that others don't so keep melody in mind. Also, it is helpful for singers because they want to know when to come back in and if you are too abstract they will miss cues.

    5. For soloing, chord solos are your friend but you don't need to be too dense with the chordal stuff.

    6. Two note line improvisation (faux contrapuntal) like Jimmy Wyble are a workable alternative to the nakedness that comes with playing single note lines all by your lonesome....

    7. Listen to Joe Pass playing solo guitar without a band. His playing as a treasure trove of ideas.




  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by drbhrb View Post
    It's more important to be solid behind the singer than interesting. You don't need to pull out your hippest voicings, keep the rhythm and harmony 100% correct and let the singer shine. For solos I mostly keep to chordal stuff since unaccompanied single note stuff feels like the rug got pulled out from under the music. I think of those chordal solos as sort of shout chorus type lines from a big band - you don't need complicated or fast melodic content on top. Just clearly thought out and executed riffy ideas that keep the form and momentum going.
    Great stuff to keep in mind!! Thanks

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    Yes,but be careful not to actually PLAY the melody.
    I was definitely doing this in rehearsal the other day on accident....

  15. #14

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    The important thing to remember is the audience is focused on the singer,not the guitarist! Just keep the train moving and start simple until you feel comfortable enough to venture out.
    Remember the audience no matter what you personally feel isn't aware of the missing players.

  16. #15

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    I have been duo-ing with a singer for several years. If your musical partner is anything like mine, be prepared for this:

    1) "I don't feel so good today - can you take it down a half step?" Or a whole step.

    2) "I don't feel so good today - can you sing the next one?" Or the next three or four.

    3) "I wanna set the tempo," she whispers. "Count it," I whisper. She counts it, and I play. One line in, she slows it way down, or speeds it way up.

    With all that and a lotta other stuff, she sings great and audiences love her.

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thoughtfree View Post
    I have been duo-ing with a singer for several years. If your musical partner is anything like mine, be prepared for this:

    1) "I don't feel so good today - can you take it down a half step?" Or a whole step.

    2) "I don't feel so good today - can you sing the next one?" Or the next three or four.

    3) "I wanna set the tempo," she whispers. "Count it," I whisper. She counts it, and I play. One line in, she slows it way down, or speeds it way up.

    With all that and a lotta other stuff, she sings great and audiences love her.
    Been there! The count in can be the most treacherous part of a gig with an inexperienced singer. I played regularly with a singer with the annoying habit of turning and facing the other direction right after the start of the count so you couldn't see or hear her. It got better after a few gigs when it dawned on me that she counts in almost every song at the same tempo. She also would sometimes accelerate or decelerate the count as she was doing it (while turning away). That was fun. good singer though.

  18. #17

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    I always remember one of my dearest mentors during my formative years. He played string bass with Charlie Barnett's big band on the road for years as well as a 30 year stint with the Chicago Lyric Opera and local gigging. When I asked him about a female vocalist I was booked to do a gig with as a duo who was a "p.i.t.a." he said: "the most successful female singers were dumb and beautiful . . . if they could sing it was a plus." Of course, he was being being humorous when considering Billie, Ella, Sarah, Nancy, Dinah, but the one's I have worked with in the past(not by choice) were always very temperamental and unduly arrogant. The best female vocalist I ever worked with was a teenage, Latin female vocalist I referred to in post #5 who was a natural as well as a sweet human being. It might just be the luck of the draw. Good playing . . . Marinero

  19. #18

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    male vocalists are every bit as crazy and irresponsible as female, in my very long experience, especially at the lower levels. On the other hand, most high-level pros know what they want and need, and how to convey it, and are smart enough to know that dissing the accompanist can result in some unpleasant surprises during the gig. serious vocalists generally work with a consistent music director who learns their foibles and frees them to not have to think about anything except singing. the best accompanists are also those who listen and react best. for those here looking to become adept accompanists, try accompanying your own singing, even if you never plan to sing in public, it's a great start.

    it's also valuable to consider this fact: a singer has no instrument to hide behind or blame for problems, and many are just plain scared to pieces; this often translates to arrogance or other negative behaviors. I have often found that positive reinforcement makes for a much smoother show, such as stating upon meeting that "I am looking forward to working with you" or "I've heard great things, can't wait to start".

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roberoo View Post
    Been there! The count in can be the most treacherous part of a gig with an inexperienced singer. I played regularly with a singer with the annoying habit of turning and facing the other direction right after the start of the count so you couldn't see or hear her. It got better after a few gigs when it dawned on me that she counts in almost every song at the same tempo. She also would sometimes accelerate or decelerate the count as she was doing it (while turning away). That was fun. good singer though.
    yeah ... been there too !
    i love backing up singers generally tho

  21. #20

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    Tempo change insanity from my vocalist partner at a show last week. Every song, she would “conduct” me with her left hand, faster, then slower, then faster, then slower. OK, I give up - let’s play everything rubato for gosh sake...

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thoughtfree View Post
    Tempo change insanity from my vocalist partner at a show last week. Every song, she would “conduct” me with her left hand, faster, then slower, then faster, then slower. OK, I give up - let’s play everything rubato for gosh sake...

    Hi, T,
    I might tolerate that behavior a couple times a night if it were done discreetly but if she acted like Wizzo the Wizard conducting the band on Bozo's Circus, I'd tell her to find another accompanist and good luck on her career. Hope you enjoy the clip. Good playing . . . Marinero


  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paulie2 View Post
    Anyone have experience with these? Any tips or tricks? I am kind of nervous about being so "exposed" all night, along with playing unaccompanied solos.....
    That’s a really good question.

    I remember being freaked out about this first time.

    The secret is to not to try to do too much. Mostly chords and a couple of single note runs is fine. If you know it’s ok to keep it simple it’s easier to build things up.

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    That’s a really good question.

    I remember being freaked out about this first time.

    The secret is to not to try to do too much. Mostly chords and a couple of single note runs is fine. If you know it’s ok to keep it simple it’s easier to build things up.
    good trick: for the first couple tunes, don't try and go from comping to soloing. Just comp for a chorus by yourself first. play some rhythm guitar, stomp your foot.

  25. #24

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    Hey wow glad people appreciated my advice. I do a lot of these gigs and they've become my favorite gigs to play. I enjoy being in a supportive role and you also get to shape almost all of the feel, arrangement, etc. Very rewarding. It's also the easiest type of gig to sell to a restaurant or bar.