The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
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  1. #1

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    Hi guys,

    I'm wrapping up things with my two bands here and then my wife and I will start traveling for as long as we like it (I have to keep working while on the road).

    Anyway, from now on I want to focus on comping in a duo, guitar and vocal. I'm working my way though Martin Taylors course on Truefire (excellent!) and Tim Lerch's Chordal Improv course, but does anyone of you have other courses or books in mind that I should check out? My skill level is early-intermediate I'd say.

    I'm also listening to the great masters now. The album with Joe Pass and Ella is a great source of inspiration, but maybe you guys have more albums in mind that I should start listening to. My wife is into scatting as well, so that's good. I also have a looper that I could (but prefer not to) use.

    looking forward to your advice

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    You can basically do whatever you want as long as it's chordal and you keep time. I'd say practice your command of inversions while having the top note be lightly melodic. That's what I work on as an intermediate. You can do stuff that's fully melodic but the bread and butter is chordal stuff. You can also work on bass playing mixed with chord stuff.

  4. #3

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    The great guitarist Larry Koonse has a very informative two-video bundle on MyMusicMasterclass on just this subject, accompanying a vocalist. Well worth $32.

    Link: Larry Koonse - Jazz Guitar Lessons 1, 2 & PDF - Masterclass Bundle

  5. #4

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    I don’t think you will find a book or course…maybe. There have been several threads on this forum dealing with this subject.

    As a newer example here is Bill Frisell backing up Charlie’s daughter Petra Hayden.


  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joeontheguitar View Post
    Hi guys,

    I'm wrapping up things with my two bands here and then my wife and I will start traveling for as long as we like it (I have to keep working while on the road).

    Anyway, from now on I want to focus on comping in a duo, guitar and vocal. I'm working my way though Martin Taylors course on Truefire (excellent!) and Tim Lerch's Chordal Improv course, but does anyone of you have other courses or books in mind that I should check out? My skill level is early-intermediate I'd say.

    I'm also listening to the great masters now. The album with Joe Pass and Ella is a great source of inspiration, but maybe you guys have more albums in mind that I should start listening to. My wife is into scatting as well, so that's good. I also have a looper that I could (but prefer not to) use.

    looking forward to your advice
    advice?

    it’s best if you know the song. If you don’t be wary of extensions. The melody must be supported

  7. #6
    Thanks David. I noticed the video's are roughly 30 minutes each. Does it cover enough subjects in that short amount if time?

  8. #7

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    I think the way Cecil Alexander comps in a duo is great and uncomplicated, here mostly straight fours with stabs.


    I’d also advise learning to do it with a pick, if that’s how you normally play. Fingers are cool, but you should also be able to link it to what you normally do, in my opinion. I also think the Joe Pass bass thing can sound a but naff sometimes, depending on the situation and player.

  9. #8
    I'm also working on my walking base and in the simple tunes I can pull it off now. Adds a lot of swing to the songs. The thing is, when you start a song like that, you more or less have to do it in the complete song. I also see players that use some kind of 'half' walking base.

  10. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Miller View Post
    I think the way Cecil Alexander comps in a duo is great and uncomplicated, here mostly straight fours with stabs.


    I’d also advise learning to do it with a pick, if that’s how you normally play. Fingers are cool, but you should also be able to link it to what you normally do, in my opinion. I also think the Joe Pass bass thing can sound a but naff sometimes, depending on the situation and player.
    Thanks! That's a good one and very feasible.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joeontheguitar View Post
    I'm also working on my walking base and in the simple tunes I can pull it off now. Adds a lot of swing to the songs. The thing is, when you start a song like that, you more or less have to do it in the complete song. I also see players that use some kind of 'half' walking base.
    I started by doing that but tbh, I now feel it’s a bit unnecessary to play upbeats all the time. A little goes a long way.

    Learning to organise your chords so that the bass notes produce a strong bassline (ie one that contains a lot of steps) has been really helpful.

    Remember that what ever texture you use has to be continued to some extent in your solo. If you play walking bass all the time you can paint yourself into a corner, unless you can actually play like Joe.

    Get good at placing chord on the swing and of 2 and 4. That will help with the swing. Again a little goes a long way. You are there to provide a solid bass, and too much syncopation can actually get in the way.

  12. #11

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    It's not technically a duo, there's some upright bass involved, but this record with Barney Kessel has long been a blueprint for accompanying a vocalist


  13. #12

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    KISS principle...and for once, roots on the bottom are totally cool.

    That 4 to the bar/stab thing Cecil is doing is timeless and will never be frowned at by a vocalist.

    The sparse Frisell stuff sounds easier. It's not, and you have to have a very good rapport with the vocalist to pull that off.

    Walking bass is a nice trick, but you better be good at it. Anything short of really good walking bass on guitar is a trick better reserved for the practice room. I used to do Falling in Love With Love (as a 4/4 swing) with a vocalist, and do the whole first A as walking bass (no chords) but I had that part worked out EXACTLY. Then once we went into the second A it was all 4 on the floor to keep the pulse going, and I knew better of my own skills to think I was going to go back to any of that walking!

  14. #13

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    Mr. Bruce Forman's advice about comping with a singer is simple:

    1) Don't play too loud

    2) Don't play too fast

    3) Don't play the melody



    I think that the type of voicings, alterations and/or chords substitutions depends by the singer's musical level/talent. When I accompany another player/singer I think: "Play always for him/her....don't play for yourself.".

    ettore Quenda.it - Jazz Guitar - Chitarra Jazz

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by equenda View Post
    Mr. Bruce Forman's advice about comping with a singer is simple:

    1) Don't play too loud

    2) Don't play too fast

    3) Don't play the melody
    As usual, Bruce is right.

  16. #15
    Lots of good advice in this thread, for which I thank you all.
    More advice is of course still welcome by the way.

  17. #16

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    Let the singer set the tempo! This rule TIMES TEN.

    Stay swinging, stay grooving! No rubato, except in an intro or as the singer specifies.

    Bass lines are cool for spots where there is a gap in the vocal line. Be able to slide in and out of walking bass in a smooth way.

    Don't get too "out" with your harmonies. There is a time and place for that, but...

    Remember that the singer is boss, as far as your audience is concerned. (Possibly unfortunate, but that's show business.)

    Smile (that's show business).

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by David B View Post
    The great guitarist Larry Koonse has a very informative two-video bundle on MyMusicMasterclass on just this subject, accompanying a vocalist. Well worth $32.

    Link: Larry Koonse - Jazz Guitar Lessons 1, 2 & PDF - Masterclass Bundle
    Since Koonse is out of Southern California, I have seen him many times. I really enjoy how he works with vocalist; E.g. just a bass, a vocalist and Larry on guitar. Thanks for posting this!

  19. #18

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    Lots of good advice for lots of different personalities each with something unique to bring to the table.
    For me it helped that I know the tune so well that I could play it solo, chord melody style with a metronome. That's certainly not the way I want to play but it's a real time practice to working with something outside of yourself.
    If you have the tools to be able to listen (know the tune aurally, off book and by ear), be aware of that is needed (know your own abilities to be able to use them to ADD only what is needed), and obey the forces of another presence (like the metronome), then serve the music and flatter the singer.

    I don't believe there's any formula, but with a confident footing, you can be solid for the singer and everything you learn from other sources will serve the player you are.
    Good luck and have fun.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Miller View Post
    I think the way Cecil Alexander comps in a duo is great and uncomplicated, here mostly straight fours with stabs.


    I’d also advise learning to do it with a pick, if that’s how you normally play. Fingers are cool, but you should also be able to link it to what you normally do, in my opinion. I also think the Joe Pass bass thing can sound a but naff sometimes, depending on the situation and player.
    Cecil sounds great there. Chord voicings aren't exotic and there's a lot of Freddie style 4 to the bar. But, in addition, the time-feel is excellent, the chord stabs are perfectly placed - swinging and relaxed at the same time, he keeps the voicings moving (like Freddie) with great voice leading and he has a nice pedal for the bridge. Conceptually, it's not difficult, but the execution can be challenging.

    The bottom line: however you comp, keep the time feel strong.

  21. #20

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    Well, chords and basslines are not the only fruit. You can also comp with a melodic line. Try harmonising the head she'll be singing on guitar. Probably best for the vocal line to be the highest pitch but not absolutely written in stone. Try doing it isochronously (i.e. using same note lengths) though for long notes you might also want to play a couple or three so as to provide a bit of movement as contrast.

    It's good practice in that you'll need to be able to play the tune proper so you'll have an idea of where a good harmony line can be found (i.e. pretty much in the same place...). Not suggesting you do this all tune, but maybe a chorus or so?

  22. #21

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    You are supporting the vocalist, so a lot has to do with what's comfortable for them.

    Some vocalists can handle more complicated/abstract accompaniment that can change styles, break up the rhythm, mix chords with solo phrases, etc, but often you have to stick to a very specific and precise rhythm.

    I use a looper with such gigs, for variety. So in some tunes I'll record the chords while playing the head, then loop them and solo, then instantly go back to playing chords. Then I'll do some tunes traditionally as solo jazz guitar, or sometimes I just add a percussive part, etc..

  23. #22

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    Sometimes it’s fun to comp with just a bassline. That said, you better be good at playing basslines!

  24. #23

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    I've had a bit of experience comping with a vocalist. I always did alright when she was singing, I mixed up accompaniment styles over songs, etc, but I really found it hard keeping the groove going when soloing. That was always the hard part.

    And here's the piece of advice I always give on this forum and elsewhere in answer to this question:

    Once I couldn't make a gig with a singer, so got a dep. Then my date cancelled, so I thought I get a sneak peak at what this guy was doing with "my" singer. I stood at the back and felt sick. This guy was amazing - all over the place, great chops, great solos when needed, etc. The next day the singer asked me if I was free for the next gig, and I sheepishly mentioned what I'd done, and thought she would want to hire that guy from now on. She said: "I'd much rather have you". "Why?". "Because you listen!".

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar;[URL="tel:1235623"
    1235623[/URL]]Cecil sounds great there. Chord voicings aren't exotic and there's a lot of Freddie style 4 to the bar. But, in addition, the time-feel is excellent, the chord stabs are perfectly placed - swinging and relaxed at the same time, he keeps the voicings moving (like Freddie) with great voice leading and he has a nice pedal for the bridge. Conceptually, it's not difficult, but the execution can be challenging.

    The bottom line: however you comp, keep the time feel strong.
    I agree it’s ALL about the rhythm
    Always keeping a good time feel going no matter what ….

    the better the time feel the singer has …. the easier they are to comp for