Comping is a lot more than just what chords or chord voicings you play. It can be very difficult to practice, but there are some things you can be aware of to perform a lot better when comping in a jazz setting. In this video I will try to highlight and describe some of these approaches.
I will also go over why being a great at comping will make you a much better soloist!
Making your jazz comp sound more blues can be a great way to vary how you interpret songs. There are several jazz standards that are great to interpret with a blues feel.
In this lesson I am going to take a part of a progression from a jazz standard and give some examples of how you can play the chords so that it sounds and feels like blues.
The Blues is a huge part of Jazz, and it is a useful if not essential skill to be able to integrate this feel into your comping. This lesson is going to give you three approaches to make comp ideas sound more bluesy. I am going to demonstrate it using the first part of the standard “There is no greater love”
Some chord voicings
To make the examples we need some chords. In example 1 I have written out 5 voicings for the first 4 bars of “There is no greater love”
You should notice that for both the Eb7 and the Ab7 I am using a #11, so they are Lydian dominants since that is what fits best in this key.
Blues is very riff based music. You probably already know a lot of the standard blues and boogie riffs on guitar that I play in the videos.
To add this to a progression like There’s No Greater Lover you need to make short melodies that you can repeat through the changes and the melodies need to be very rhythmical in the sense that they convey the groove of the tune. We are trying to communicate the feel not creating rhythmical tension on top of the rhythm section.
The melody in example is a 4 note quarter note melody, so it states the groove of the song and I have chosen a melody that is quite easy to move around the changes in a natural way. Mainly because it is the same melody for two chords and then again for the next two chords.
Since the comping approach is more about being a part of the rhythm section groove than being colour on top I also make a variation in the 4th bar. This is because that helps conveying the form of the song, this is similar to how you will hear drums set up the transition to the next part of the song form.
Riffs with repeating chords
In example 3 you will find a riff that is repeating the same chord and once in a while changing the melody note. This riff doesn’t really have a melody, but since the comping is pretty full and a lot of the subdivisions are played it is a great way to really make it clear that it is a for example a shuffle feel.
The melody is really simple since it is only two notes and then I am playing most of the 8th notes so that it is very clear what the feel of the song is.
Another thing that is part of the blues is the leading notes and the blue notes. Since we are not playing an actual 12 bar blues it is difficult to really emphasize the blue notes. We can however use leading notes or leading chords as blue notes that we then resolve. One way to do this that also uses a bluesy phrasing is to slide from a leading chord up to it’s resolution.
In the example I am sliding up from a half step under the chord.
The construction of the riff is really basic, for each chord I am also using the same voicing a half step under it and slide it up to resolve.
Putting the approaches together
As a small etude I have used these ideas together in example 5.
That was some ideas on how to make comping sound more bluesy. I hope you can use it in you own playing and that you can transfer the ideas to the songs where you need them.
You should check out my lesson on making Jazz lines sound more bluesy if you want to investigate further: Making Jazz Lines Bluesy
If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better then please feel free to leave on the video or send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you want to hear.
Most people are struggeling to find good way to develop their comping, and especially coming up with good rhythms to support a soloist in an interesting and varied way. In this lesson I am going to take a simple rhythm that everybody needs to know anyway, and I am going to show you how to develop that into more interesting rhythms.
If you play in any kind of ensemble you are probably spending more time comping than soloing, but at the same time it is ironically also a skill that most people doesn’t work too much on. This is ironic both from the point of view that we spent the most time doing this and also that if you can comp well you are asked to play much more often.
The Rhythm that I am using as a starting point in this lesson is the Charleston Rhythm. This is a good first choice to start with since it has two notes one on the beat and one off the beat, so you have a sense of the swing feel even with just these two notes..
The way I approach making variations with the Charleston rhythm you can actually do with any rhythm that you come across. Since I am concerned with rhythm in this lesson and not the voicings I’ll leave the discussion of the voicings out. I have a lot of lessons on melodic aspects of playing voicings and on different times of voicings you can check out.
The first example is the basic Charleston Rhythm through a 12 bar blues in C.
Once you can take this rhythm through the progression yourself (using your own voicings and with some freedom in making your own melodies) Then you can start working on the first variation.
Basically what is happening is that I am starting with two 8th notes instead of a quarter note, and then I took that through the Blues progression.
When you can do this you can start working on the next variation where I add n 8th note on the 2 of the bar.
So in this way we have 3 different rhythms that we can use on the C blues. Note that in all three examples I am not using the 2nd half o f the bar, and I didn’t displace or leave out part of the original rhythm. Both quite powerful options to expand this even further.
Now that we have 3 rhythms we can start mixing them up over the progression. That would be this:
As you can tell I am trying to keep the voicings and melodic ideas very simple in this lesson, you can always make this more or less complicated when really comping, when you are working on the rhythms you should probably try to keep it simple.
I hope you can use the examples I went over here to get some new comping rhythms and also as an approach to take any rhythm you already use and make variations on it and get more out of it.
You can download a PDF of the examples for later study here:
If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better then please feel free to leave on the video or send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make thme fit what you want to hear.