How do you like your jazz harmony?

harmonicator

Member
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4,710
...in a straight-ahead, or bop context.

When someone is comping for you, do you like the harmony (what they play) less colorful so that your lines highlight the altered notes? Maybe just basic 7th chords, 1-3-5-7.

Or...do you like them to add extensions and alterations to the chords they comp to compliment what you are playing?

You can have very 'inside' soloing over colorful harmony, or you can have more colorful soloing over more basic vanilla changes.

I prefer comping to be more sparse harmonically. I think the altered (or color) notes sound better in a melodic/linear fashion over a bed of stripped down harmony...meaning basic 7th chords. And of course the "melodic idea" or motif is ultimately what dictates what the notes will be...I guess the accompanist should be able to follow that.

Of course, I suppose a great accompanist has good judgement and tasteful discretion for when to use either approach.

What sounds do you prefer, if any?
 

guitarjazz

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
22,397
...in a straight-ahead, or bop context.

When someone is comping for you, do you like the harmony (what they play) less colorful so that your lines highlight the altered notes? Maybe just basic 7th chords, 1-3-5-7.

Or...do you like them to add extensions and alterations to the chords they comp to compliment what you are playing?

You can have very 'inside' soloing over colorful harmony, or you can have more colorful soloing over more basic vanilla changes.

I prefer comping to be more sparse harmonically. I think the altered (or color) notes sound better in a melodic/linear fashion over a bed of stripped down harmony...meaning basic 7th chords. And of course the "melodic idea" or motif is ultimately what dictates what the notes will be...I guess the accompanist should be able to follow that.

Of course, I suppose a great accompanist has good judgement and tasteful discretion for when to use either approach.

What sounds do you prefer, if any?
I like them to lay out when I play.
 

Flyin' Brian

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
30,228
The less the better when comping. I play in a trio with a vocalist and still often play nothing more than 2 or 3 notes. The bass player has another and the vocalist has the rest. My job is to create a canvas that she can paint on.
On ballads with big spaces between vocal phrases my job is to outline the harmony and provide the correct leading notes for her next entry.
 

guitarjazz

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
22,397
The less the better when comping. I play in a trio with a vocalist and still often play nothing more than 2 or 3 notes. The bass player has another and the vocalist has the rest. My job is to create a canvas that she can paint on.
On ballads with big spaces between vocal phrases my job is to outline the harmony and provide the correct leading notes for her next entry.
Spoken like a pro.
There are of course various styles of comping, Freddie, latin, rootless voicings, funkaliscious. Working with a vocalist is challenging and can be a lot fun.
 

dewey decibel

Member
Messages
10,735
It's not really about the harmony. It's all about the timing. I definitely don't like someone stepping on my toes, but a guy can get away with a lot if they put it in the right place.

There's nothing better then a well versed, supportive accompanist filling things out for you. Listen to some Cedar Walton.
 

amstrtatnut

Member
Messages
12,837
I like big chords.

But I also like sparse voicings with big intervals. I also...crap, I love harmony.
 

Flyin' Brian

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
30,228
It's not really about the harmony. It's all about the timing. I definitely don't like someone stepping on my toes, but a guy can get away with a lot if they put it in the right place.

There's nothing better then a well versed, supportive accompanist filling things out for you. Listen to some Cedar Walton.

Yep the timing is paramount as well. Which always gets me back to my standard rant: You have to LISTEN!!
 

harmonicator

Member
Messages
4,710
Yes, the rhythm aspect is very important. No amount of harmonic color can save bad timing. My goal was to discuss the relationship between the melody (soloing) and harmony (comping) in jazz improv.

I guess ultimately, discretion is paramount. Maybe having ears big enough to know when to lay out....how best to respond to compliment what the soloist is playing....how to not clash with their lines, step on their toes, etc.

As far as the chemistry between the notes, not accounting for rhythm...

Say there is a D7#9#5 vamp. The soloist can imply the chord with a D altered dominant scale. The accompaniment can state the harmony with the above voicing, or perhaps just a plain D7. Maybe the tune dictates this as well. Ballads at slower tempos allow for fuller harmonies. Modal vamps, regardless of tempo, have room for stretching out with voicing.

I have just occasionally heard different players express an opinion on how they prefer to be comped, harmonically. Some like their lines to highlight the harmony of the tune more, while other maybe like to be fed more harmonic information from the accompaniment.
 

mattmccloskey

Silver Supporting Member
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5,730
Both can be nice, depending on context, timbre, volume, and timing.

I am perfectly comfy soloing over just a good bass line, and that's what I do at least 3 out of 4 gigs.

On the other hand it sure is nice to be inspired by someone who has a hip chord vocabulary and can interact with me while soloing. Sometimes that means pushing the harmony a little or simply responding to my stuff. Both directions can work.

Like in everything musical,balance and pacing are important. For example if the comping is rhythmically busier, I prefer less notes and lower volume. If the comping is more sparse and less syncopated, some 'denser' harmony can be great.

About the only thing I don't like is if they insist on lots of non altered extensions on functioning dominants played in an overt manner. Basically like playing loud footballs of big honking dominant 9 or 13 with the 5th still in there when I want to create some tensions. It just sounds too cowboy for me.
 

dewey decibel

Member
Messages
10,735
Thinking more about this- I think an important aspect people miss is they're focusing on each chord, individually. Coming up with a strategy that way (not surprising as many do the same when soloing). But we're talking about jazz standards, right? The whole game is connecting the chords. And of course the soloist can do that all on their own, but it can really help to have some of that done for you. And think about it, if some of that's already being done that opens up what you can do as a soloist, right?

What I'm talking about is simply voice leading. I've noticed a lot of guitar players don't think this way. A lot of guys see Cmin7 on a chart and go to their favorite grip, regardless of what else is going on. The way I see it, your comping should be able to stand on its own- no soloist, no bass. Not saying it needs to be super intricate or anything, just that it should have a little melodic movement happening in the upper notes. That movement can be all 3rds and 7ths, doesn't have to be complicated. Or you can move to 6ths and 9ths or even altered tones, doesn't matter. But basically connecting one chord to another by moving the highest voice either a half step or whole step, or by keeping that note the same and changing one below. What it shouldn't sound like is this chord voicing to that chord voicing. It should sound like music.
 

guitarjazz

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
22,397
Thinking more about this- I think an important aspect people miss is they're focusing on each chord, individually. Coming up with a strategy that way (not surprising as many do the same when soloing). But we're talking about jazz standards, right? The whole game is connecting the chords. And of course the soloist can do that all on their own, but it can really help to have some of that done for you. And think about it, if some of that's already being done that opens up what you can do as a soloist, right?

What I'm talking about is simply voice leading. I've noticed a lot of guitar players don't think this way. A lot of guys see Cmin7 on a chart and go to their favorite grip, regardless of what else is going on. The way I see it, your comping should be able to stand on its own- no soloist, no bass. Not saying it needs to be super intricate or anything, just that it should have a little melodic movement happening in the upper notes. That movement can be all 3rds and 7ths, doesn't have to be complicated. Or you can move to 6ths and 9ths or even altered tones, doesn't matter. But basically connecting one chord to another by moving the highest voice either a half step or whole step, or by keeping that note the same and changing one below. What it shouldn't sound like is this chord voicing to that chord voicing. It should sound like music.
It's laid out perfectly, musically, in the Galbraith comping book and hardly a word to interfere with just playing what he wrote.
 

guitarjazz

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
22,397
Not sure how I'd post them I'll say that the voice leading is so perfect that you could split the voices out and have perfect horn section parts. It's not an expensive book plus the CD is Barry and Milt Hinton. Can't beat that!
 

Lucidology

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
27,185
...in a straight-ahead, or bop context.

When someone is comping for you, do you like the harmony (what they play) less colorful so that your lines highlight the altered notes? Maybe just basic 7th chords, 1-3-5-7.

Or...do you like them to add extensions and alterations to the chords they comp to compliment what you are playing?

You can have very 'inside' soloing over colorful harmony, or you can have more colorful soloing over more basic vanilla changes.

I prefer comping to be more sparse harmonically. I think the altered (or color) notes sound better in a melodic/linear fashion over a bed of stripped down harmony...meaning basic 7th chords. And of course the "melodic idea" or motif is ultimately what dictates what the notes will be...I guess the accompanist should be able to follow that.

Of course, I suppose a great accompanist has good judgement and tasteful discretion for when to use either approach.

What sounds do you prefer, if any?
A while back when I watched a Jimmy Bruno lesson youtube … he spoke of not wanting a keyboard player to play extensions of the chord when accompanying him because it doesn't allow him as soloist to create tension/release lines in his solos …that in fact, it creates a "white out" effect …
So he will actually ask the accompanist to play just seventh chords without all altercations. Especially of 5th and ninths

I always keep this in mind when playing in anything larger then a trio .. because over the years the difference is so evident to my hearing now… understand audibly exactly what Jimmy meant by the 'white out' effect …
 

harmonicator

Member
Messages
4,710
A while back when I watched a Jimmy Bruno lesson youtube … he spoke of not wanting a keyboard player to play extensions of the chord when accompanying him because it doesn't allow him as soloist to create tension/release lines in his solos …that in fact, it creates a "white out" effect …
So he will actually ask the accompanist to play just seventh chords without all altercations. Especially of 5th and ninths

I always keep this in mind when playing in anything larger then a trio .. because over the years the difference is so evident to my hearing now… understand audibly exactly what Jimmy meant by the 'white out' effect …
Yes! This is what I was getting at. The redundancy created when the accompanist uses extensions (or alterations) that are already in your lines. When improvising, I like to make the harmonic decisions and have the accompaniment keep it more simple in terms of voices. Seems to have a better sound to me.

Although in another context, like a chord melody ballad, I love hearing all the voices move in and around one another.

Lots of good points made in the thread. I'll have to check out that Galbraith book.
 




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