コンピングを素晴らしくする5つのスキル(By Jens Larsen)

Jens Larsen氏が語る「コンピングを素晴らしくする5つのスキル」を翻訳しました。




The most fun part of playing jazz is playing with others and in the band. Shape the music together while you're playing and when you're comping. That is a huge part of what you're doing, but a lot of the most important things about comping are not taught in online lessons and not found in books on chords. So that's what I want to talk about in this video: things that I learned mostly from the people that I played with. I've also found some great stories from some amazing musicians that really explained this well.


1. Play The Chords(コードを演奏する)

Comping is not just about the chords, but you still need to be able to play them and get the harmony across. Otherwise, the last thing you'll hear on the gig is, "You're fired!" For any song that you need to play, you, of course, need to have voicings for all the chords, and you also need to have a basic understanding of what extensions are available for those chords in that song.


To be able to do this on the spot, then focus on building a practical and flexible chord vocabulary instead of learning complicated chords as grips that are sometimes difficult to play and that you can't really do anything with. This isn't complicated. If you have a B flat seven like this one, then throw away the root, reduce it to the core, so basically just the third and seven, and then sit down and look at all the other options that are available around this so that you have sort of a small scale that you can use to improvise with when you're comping with that chord.



and if you approach chords and songs like this, the next skill is going to get a lot easier. Check out how Near Felder explains it because I think he really nails it. And I think comping is kind of similar. Like, you have to be able to tell the story of the song without anybody else.


And then, when you're up there with everybody else, you can subtract as much as you need because it's all complete. You know, you have the big picture in there. You're not just playing chords. You're not thinking of it as, you know, just feeding chords to a soloist. You're thinking of it as you're playing the song. It has melody. It has shape. It has dynamics. It has a story.


So that's been a key for me. I think to keep the people I play with happy is like they want me there because I make them sound better. Hopefully, I make the music sound better. The bands sound better. That's why I'm there, not because of, like you said, virtuosity.


That's great, but maybe not necessary all the time. I very often have students telling me about how they're practicing chord inversions, but it's actually pretty rare that they talk about how they're practicing comping.


2. Make It Into Music(音楽にする)

And there is a way to work towards playing music and not just feeding chords to a soloist.


When you practice, you need to play the song and make the music your priority. You're not just a robot interpreting a page in iReal.



Essentially, that's, of course, what iReal is. You want to spend some time practicing comping on a song and make that feel good and sound good. You need to go beyond just playing a 251 or practicing voicings and instead also work towards playing entire songs. There, you can really work on making melodies in your comping, take riffs through the progression, and make it into music.


3. Communicate With The Band(バンドとコミュニケーションを取る)

Most comping lessons talk about how you should listen to the soloist, but actually, I think something else is at least as important, maybe even more important. Because when you're comping, then you need to get what you play to work with the rest of the rhythm section and especially with the drummer. Check out how Luis Ness talks about this. Listen to the rhythm section, for example, like Wynton Kelly, Jimmy Cobb, and Paul Chambers. You would hear quite a bit of interplay going on.


And in particular, pianists' left hand or comping figures, Philly Joe Jones and Red Garland will be another example. There are many, many examples. They just come to mind right away. As Morgue was talking about, there's a specific kind of symbiotic relationship between drums and piano that is often overlooked, especially when guys are in their own world.


I was pretty lucky that I got the chance to play with some drummers that really explained this to me early on, and it is actually a bit strange that it's not talked about more, also because it really makes comping and playing together so much more fun with the rhythm section. You can choose to be repetitive, play sustained chords, be busy, sparse, loud, or soft. And this is really a huge part of how the music sounds. Of course, you're also listening to the soloist and the bass player, but most of this happens when you lock in with the drummer, and I really think that this is the backbone of any great rhythm section.


The way you start working on this is really with listening, and personally, I really like the Wynton Kelly Trio. Actually, I think Louis Ness talks about this as well, and you can check those out with Miles. And there are also a few albums with Wynton Kelly where they're really playing well. But there are many great examples, and in my opinion, most of the good ones are piano, not guitar, which may be a painful truth in the middle of a guitar video.


Another tip is also to start checking out how drummers teach comping because I think we can really learn something from that. Maybe that could be a complete other video. In fact, let me know in the comments.


4. Don't get in the way(邪魔をしない)

When I was still just getting started with jazz, then one of the first people that I really liked for the way that they could comp was Rosal Malone. I'd heard him playing behind Diana Krall and used a lot of that to figure out how to play behind singers, something that he does amazingly well.


I also got to hear the trio live with Diana Krall, Ben Wolfe, and Ross Malone. And actually, at that concert, Russell took the solos so far out but still kind of managed to bring us back home safely. And that concert really blew my mind with harmonic things that sounded great but where I had absolutely no idea what was going on. But Rosal Malone also learned the hard way and made some mistakes along the way, as you can hear in this story about the first time that he played with Sonny Rollins.


My enthusiasm got in the way. I played too much. I never forget we were playing this one tune, and he stated the melody, and then he started to solo, and I started playing all of this stuff behind him. And Sonny took the horn out of his mouth and shot me or looked like, which scared the living daylights out of me. I mean, when Sonny Rollins looks at you like that, he had on his glasses, he had on his sunglasses, but I could see the ray. I'm like, "Oh, oh my god, man. I just messed up here."


This is, of course, a very common problem when you learn to comp. You're overplaying, you're practicing all these things, and you can do all the stuff with the chords. And then when you're in the band, you want to use everything at once, and you just end up ruining the whole thing. Comping is really like a conversation. You don't open up a conversation by, for example, listing 25 amazing and unknown facts about sheep.


So, just like talking to other people, this is about getting that connection with the rest of the band that I already talked about


5. When To Push/ When To Support(プッシュするべき時とサポートするべき時)

Another somewhat mysterious aspect of comping is communicating with the soloist and especially figuring out when to push with more things in terms of density, rhythm, and harmony, or when just to lay back and supply a foundation for the soloist to play over.


When I've been playing as a sideman, then I was actually often quite surprised by how this was very different from soloist to soloist. And it really has nothing to do with the level of the one playing. And this is really about trying to feel if the soloist is comfortable or not. It's a little bit vague, but you do want to be aware of it and sort of play something, listen to how they react and how that feels.



As a soloist, this is definitely something that I've experienced when playing gigs. Also, I remember one time when we were preparing for an exam of a friend of mine who's a horn player, and a part of that preparation was that we played a concert in a cafe. Now, this was with a bigger band, so I was more of a horn player myself, and there was also a piano player.


Later in the set, we were playing a standard that I knew really well, so I decided to start re-harmonizing it a little bit later in my solo because I could take a longer solo. Now, the reaction of the piano player was not exactly what I expected because he chose to, then when I started to change the chord, play the original changes but then really loud and clearly as if he was trying to correct what I was doing or sort of pointing to that these were the changes that were being played at this point.


And I never talked to him about it, so I don't really know why he did that. It could also be that he was just not listening or that he thought I was messing it up. Sometimes these things happen when you're improvising like this, when you're working with interaction like this.


I remember a master class from Michael Brecker while I was studying where he talked about how he didn't really like playing with Herbie Hancock anymore because when he wanted to play something that was really outside, he would start something, go really into space, and Herbie Hancock would just play something that made it sound completely inside.


So just so that this doesn't become a huge misunderstanding on the internet, I think Michael Brecker was somewhat joking about this because he actually made records with Herbie Hancock after having said this, and he was just talking about how it is to play with somebody who's really interacting and sometimes how that also changes sort of the effect of what you're playing.


It is something that I mostly picked up talking to the people that I played with. This is, of course, a great way to learn this, but you also have to be a little bit careful because sometimes when you talk to people, they don't really know how to explain things, and then they'll just give you some myth about how it's supposed to work, and that's not going to help you at all.


Especially as a jazz beginner, there are a lot of things that you need to learn, but don't fall for stories that promise to be a magic solution to all your problems because they'll waste your time. And this video covers some important examples of that.



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