View Full Version : Comping Ideas

05-04-2004, 12:48 AM
I've been playing around with the chords with Autumn Leaves, and could not come up with interesting rythmic ways to play the chords. So far, I've tried to play on beats 2 and 4 only, which sounded okay, but a bit monotonous. I'm assuming that even with chords, you swing if you're playing them in "eighth notes".

05-04-2004, 07:53 PM
Hi Jeff

Comping with jazz tunes, IMO is something that's going to come down to feel/experience. I've had the experience of playing some of the same tunes with two groups, one group, I faired pretty well, the other I did NOT. - it was the group w/the piano player that killed me, he was good.

There's likely some people here that could write out some rhythmic ideas but, it seems like these would be more, or less successfull depending on the group you're playing with.

The best thing I've come up with, so far is to listen (play along with) as many recordings as possible. Oscar Peterson (w/ Herb Ellis) is a good example. You can hear How they play it as a trio and then, Throw on the Ella Fitzgerald w/Oscar P. and see how they play the same songs, with a little different "flair"

Some day, I hope to become, fairly good at this.,............some day ;)

G' luck

05-04-2004, 09:46 PM
I kind of knew that that was going to be the answer :D

I actually bought a Bill Evans album just yesterday. I think I'll pay more attention to his comping. Thanks for the reply. :)

05-06-2004, 08:40 PM
Don't play on 2 & 4. Play on 2+, 4+ (but of course not always). Those accent swing more. The music is already implying 2 & 4, so no need to repeat it in your comping.

The best bet is to study the masters. Listen to anyone playing on a Miles album. He picked the greatest compers in history. Red Garland and Wynton Kelly, for example. Both pianists played with him in the 50's. Pick up these albums:

Miles Davis "Someday My Prince Will Come" -- Wynton
Miles Davis "Relaxin' " -- Red

Or any of the Red Garland trio albums, like "Garland of Red" and check out what he's doing. Listen to his left hand when he plays melodies and solos; it's always rhythmic and punchy.

Of course, as already noted, Oscar Peterson is one of the best too.

Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea both have more advanced comping techniques. I wouldn't deal with them until you get a handle on the more inside style.

05-09-2004, 01:45 AM
Alright; thanks for the suggestions. I'll definitely look into those albums.

John Tuohy
05-10-2004, 08:12 PM
You could also look into buying Barry Galbriaths book "Chord Comping" from Jamey Aebersold. I have been studying out of this book for a while, and it has some great rhythmic, harmonic and melodic comping ideas which you can immediately insert into your playing. However, doing this book wont make you the worlds greatest comper , but you can get a lot of ideas out of it.

John Tuohy

Doug McMullen
05-10-2004, 11:35 PM
I second the Barry Galbraith book. It's a good one, and IMO a pretty challenging book. But I think the main thing to do, to practice comping, is to actually COMP... meaning, acCOMPany a melody.

Don't just practice playing Autumn Leaves in chords; make a tape of yourself playing the head -- comp to that. That's how it's done.

To lengthen the practice tape, take a few choruses where you solo based on the melody (just play the melody in heavily embellished form) -- comp for that.

There are two poles of comping -- there's "laying down a groove" where the comping is a rhythm section that lays down a fairly independent swinging carpet of chord + rhythm that the soloist then dances on. And the other pole is the jazz comp as interplay, as conversation, the soloist leads and the accompaniment follows -- it can be almost phrase by phrase, and in some cases, especially in duets the accompaniest is sort of a subordinate soloist -- where the accompaniment includes a sort of instrumental commentary on what the soloist has just done. Joe Pass w Ella Fitzgerald is a great example of this.

Funky, fusion and uptempo instrumental jazz tend toward the 'groove carpet' comping style. Anything down tempo or with a vocalist tends toward the more conversational style of comp... but of course there's lots of room for mixing it up. In a combo setting the bass and drums might groove while the piano converses with the soloist.

Rock and Pop musicians tend to think primarily in groove terms, so if you come from a rock pop background, definitely listen to some ballad stylings for the conversational thing... almost any (good) pianistvocalist who accompanies him/herself will fall into the conversation-between-instrument-and-voice-style on downtempo tunes.

For Autumn leaves, listen to Jim Hall + Ron Carter do Autumn Leaves... that collaboration is a recognized _monument_ to classy soloing w comping. Warning, the Jim Hall + Ron Carter duets have made more than one jazz guitarist fall to his knees crying out bitterly "that's it! That's the sound in my brain! I want to sound like THAT!"

Good luck,


05-11-2004, 04:31 AM
OK, I'll start to record myself and try to play over that. Do you know the name of the album that the Jim Hall+Ron Carter's version of Autumn Leaves is in? Thanks.

05-11-2004, 07:30 AM
alone together (http://www.reviewcentre.com/reviews45788.html)