Accompanying Pianist - Live Simulation Challenge

Comping Pianist

Hello! This is so exciting.
Below you’ll find a link to a new exercise for Autumn Leaves. It is an exercise for Accompanying a Singer with a Band and it can be used to simulate a live music setting; such as a jam or performance.

What Hayden and I have created is a track where I sing along to Bass and Drums (from ireal Pro). You are invited to fill that sweet space left open for the comping pianist!

By comping, you will be giving harmonic support to my singing. So…

  • You won’t need to cover the roots since the bassist has got that!

  • You won’t need cover the melody, because I’ve got that covered.

Rootless vs. Rooted

So what will you play? Rootless voicings split over two handed is a great way to go! If you already have some ii V I voicings down in this vein - than you are ready to proceed to the challenge!

If not yet mastered, than one video that can get you up to speed quickly on this is Hayden’ s video on Rootless Open Position voicings.

For more options and more help, check out this forum post:

One note I’d like to make here is that rootless voicings are preferred by Jazz Cats universally in a band situation when there is a bassist covering the low end.

But if you are much more comfortable with rooted voicings, then you can use this play along to see how it sounds to have a bassist play roots while you double in the roots in your voicings. I will admit that depending on your singer, there are times, when it’s best for the pianist to lay out the harmony very clearly which will mean using rooted voicings. Sometimes it’s even needed to get the band back on track. (this just happened at a jam recently, bassist got lost)

Personally, I think it’s important to be able to do both. The past 6 months, I’ve been playing mostly as a solo pianist either accompanying myself, or one other instrument. This is just what opportunities came to me, and from them I got so much better at my walking bass! But then suddenly in the past month, I’ve been getting more dates for my trio, so I’m back on top of my rootless, using these new opportunities to make progress in this direction.

FYI: Hayden will be releasing a video soon where you can accompany my singing with out the bass. For that version, you can work on rooted voicings and/or walking bass comping.

A Map before you Start

To give you a map before you start;

  • I start direct, singing thru the form once.

  • Then you can solo on the form once.

  • Then I sing the form in French for the last time, with a tag ending.

  • So 3x’s though in total.

For a reminder of good accompanying practices, Hayden has laid out the highlights from my course on this very skill. You can find them on the same page as this very exercise listed below.
Or you can go back to the Course Videos for more in-depth study…

For the Live Simulation Challenge…

I would recommend you really know the Tune, the changes and the rootless voicings you will use BEFORE you play along for the first time.

You see, that very first time you play along can simulate a live situation - where you truly don’t know what your singer and band will do next! So fun.
Each time you play along after that will still be very valuable for additional practice accompanying a singer in a band setting; but with a diminishing return. As you get to know this particular version, slowly but surely it will no longer give you as much of a challenge. Nor will it train you for live playing the way the first few times can.

Also, I’d recommend you record that first time you play along. Listen back to how you did and get ideas for what you’d like to do different next time. If you are feeling up for it, please post it here.

For Inspiration

For inspiration… Here’s a lovely rendition of a band doing Autumn Leaves. It is in C major (Amin), so whole step up from the key I’m singing in - Bbmajor (Gmin).

But one of the coolest things I like about this version is how they go into doubletime feel during the solos, and how that works out when the singer comes back in…

Growing Musical Conversation

I hope you enjoy playing along with this. There are more exercises like this to come; not only tracks with out bass, so you can work on rooted voicings, but also more standards to work on!

I know it’s tough these days to get to play in live settings, so I hope you’ll find these useful in getting ready for those opportunities that will come knocking. NO matter how big or small the setting; no matter for rehearsals, jams or performances, there’s something so wonderful about being in the moment, really in the moment with other musicians, riding the waves of improvisation.

As Michael Vitali, a jazz drummer on the scene here in NYC, once told me… “jam sessions are just conversations amongst jazz musicians.” So let’s talk~


this will be a FUN challenge, thank you Lyndol !
(… wow this is really difficult!! I’m stepping all over your lovely voice! LOL! )

Right on Lori! Enjoy!

Thanks for all these great tips Lyndol :+1:

I’m playing around with the second version without the drums/bass backing track.

I think it may be nice to include a metronome click as a guide - particularly for the solo section. I’ll experiment and see what works best.