Welcome to this course on “How To Play With Other Jazz Musicians”. These lessons will prepare you for playing in a jazz band so that you know what to expect, and also what is expected of you.
Playing in a jazz band requires you to perform different roles than that of the solo jazz pianist. One very important role is to provide harmonic support to the soloists throughout the performance. This is known as ‘comping’ which is short for ‘accompanying’.
Common Jazz Forms
We start by discussing the common jazz forms. It’s important to be able to recognise common forms to make the process of memorising tunes easier. Learning standards by memory is a gradual process, and the first tune you learn in this way is the hardest. Each one then becomes easier and you will begin to see lots of similarities in the forms and chord changes.
There are 4 common forms – AABA, ABAC, AB, & ABCD – and we explore each of them giving examples with the tunes we have covered on PianoGroove.
Numeric Harmonic Analysis
We’re now going to pick 1 tune “There Will Never Be Another You” and we’ll analyse the harmony to help memorise & internalising.
There are 3 good reasons why you should memorise jazz standards:
Firstly, if you are reading a lead sheet, or looking at a chart, then you will be losing focus and energy that should be directed at your playing.
Next, when playing in a band, you should be communicating and interacting with the other musicians. If you are concentrating on a score, then you may be missing out on much of what is going on in the band.
Finally, internalising the chord changes will help you get the most out of your transcribed lines and solos.
Open Position Rootless Voicings
One very important role is to provide harmonic support to the soloists throughout the performance. This is known as ‘comping’ which is short for ‘accompanying’.
When playing in a band, you will likely have a bass player present who will have the roots of each chord covered. This frees you up to play more interesting harmony using rootless comping voicings.
We’re going to cover some useful techniques the best possible sound from rootless voicings in an ensemble setting. We can take any rootless voicing and spread the notes over 2 hands to create open position rootless voicings.
Quartal 251 Voicing Sets
In this lesson we will combine this information to create some quartal upper structure voicings that are well suited to a comping setting. We’re going to start by outline a few useful formulas that you can apply to 251s in any key to get some great sounding two-handed comping voicings.
Red Garland Solo Analysis
When learning to play a new jazz standard. You should listen to as many different recordings of the tune as you can find. Then create a shortlist of tunes that you like the sound of and transcribe from them to pick up pieces of jazz vocabulary and other more subtle nuances of the performance.
In this lesson we explore this process using the Red Garland Trio recording of “There Will Never Be Another You”.