Comping in a trio setting is a critical skill for the jazz guitarist. Chord selection, locking in with the rhythm section, playing in different meters, establishing the harmonic texture and character of the tune -- these are all crucial responsibilities.
Play your way through the 10 comping performance studies in Mimi Fox’s Jazz Trio Comping course and you’ll be well-equipped to hold up your end of the bargain in any rhythm section, on any jazz bandstand.
Mimi will guide you through performance studies based on the most commonly-encountered jazz changes in a variety of feels, tempos and keys. Along the way, she’ll show you a a wide range of comping techniques, chord voicings, rhythm patterns, and harmonic approaches.
For each of the 10 comping performance studies, Mimi will first perform the parts over a backing track followed by a detailed analysis and application summary.
Staying Home - ”For those new to jazz and jazz comping, these changes are a great place to start! They move through basic one, six, two, five chords and then the B section goes to the four chord. Remember that though these voicings may be new to you, there is usually a more familiar chord in the same area of the neck (such as a triad) that can help you locate the new chords. For more experienced players, you can challenge yourself with all of these chords by adding the more complex voicings that I gradually add as the piece develops. There's a lot that can be gleaned from getting these basic changes under your belt...transposed to other keys for example, you can apply these voicing to scores of tunes with similar changes. The most important thing that you should take away from this performance is the way that I'm locking in with the rhythm section.”
Completely Blues - ”This performance study has 4 basic chords so there is a lot of opportunity for embellishment and rhythmic variety. Two important concepts that I demonstrate in this lesson concern double stops (intervals) and voice leading. Both of these concepts can lead you to some very cool and rich harmonic ideas! One of the things you should notice immediately when listening to this performance is how often I'm sliding into a given chord from a half step below. This approach adds color and is stylistically very important. Plus, it's fun and sounds hip! What you play does not have to be complicated to greatly enhance the over all sound. Sometimes I am simply adding a 9th or an 11th to the chord and it creates added color very elegantly. The jazz rhythm section is essentially a kind of altruistic democracy where everyone contributes for the greater good of the group sound and cohesion. Your fellow musicians expect you to contribute richly and abundantly to make this happen!”
No Greater Changes - ”It's super important to find as many versions of a tune as possible to listen to when you are first learning a new piece. There are so many great recordings available and it's easy to access through YouTube, iTunes, etc. There really is no better "teacher" than all the great musicians and all the wonderful music that is out there! I try to always stay open and absorb all the cool versions of different songs. This helps me to feel fresh when I'm playing. You never know where inspiration will come from so please keep an open mind! Try to figure out what I'm doing in this performance to build the intensity and generate excitement as the piece unfolds. What do you notice? Use of double-stops (intervals), more complex rhythms which highlight the more dense voice leading? Dynamics? Some bluesy fills? You'd be correct if you noticed any/all of this!”
Shorter Steps - ”The changes of this classic Wayne Shorter piece are a lot of fun to play over. Before you can play a strong solo, it's critical that you are able to play a strong accompaniment part. Listen to different versions of this classic piece to hear how different artists approach it. Not just in terms of the turnaround chords, but in terms of different grooves, styles, feels. I actually recorded this piece on a 12-string acoustic on my album Standards. Very different feeling than other versions, but still the same great tune. Notice how much space I leave in the beginning of this performance; the bass/drums are playing a cool groove. I'm just filling the spaces in between. I start with some fingerpicked chords and then gradually get more complex rhythmically and harmonically.”
Funky One Four Five Jam - ”This is a simple piece with only 3 chords. Bet you didn't think a jazzer like me could play so few chords and be so happy! Ha! Truth is, it's really great to play simple songs sometimes. This gives us an opportunity to improvise and be creative in a very pared down musical setting. It's always important to lock in with the rhythm section, but especially in a such a simple piece. It's critical to simplify your ideas and let the music carry you. If you can't play well over three chords, it makes no sense to play over a song with fifty chords. In this performance, notice how sparely I'm playing for the first part of it. Letting the bass/drums propel me and fitting my part into/around their parts. If there was a soloist playing, this would provide a great cushion for them to launch their solo. I gradually increase my volume as I expand the chordal and rhythmic ideas and get more complex.”
Carnaval Changes - ”While this song is almost always played in the key of A minor (a very guitar friendly key because of the open strings, harmonics, ease of hand positions, etc.), I strongly recommend that you transpose this piece into other key areas. In this performance, one of the things you might notice is that I use a hybrid picking technique instead of using just my pick or just my fingers. This technique is obviously very comfortable for me, but you should feel free to play fingerstyle (with no pick) if it's more comfortable for you. The main thing is to realize the value and beauty of the acoustic guitar when it's played in this fashion. By picking rather than strumming, the beauty of the individual strings and the natural resonance of the wood is striking. Best thing you could do to improve your playing in this style of music would be to move to Brazil and live there for several years (!) absorbing all the master guitarists playing in this bossa nova/samba genre.”
Brazlian Girl - ”A question that might occur to you is why I have chosen to play this piece in 7/4 time. This is a good question! I will answer this with a question for you: why not?! Jazz musicians constantly challenge ourselves to explore new avenues of musical development. By taking a song that I have played hundreds if not thousands of times and putting it into a new time signature, it will force me to dig into the piece in a new way. Plus, it's really fun to see how this change of meter effects the groove and everything that I play over it. I recommend that you try taking some of your favorite songs and putting them into 5/4 time, or 7/4 time, etc. Simply taking a tune that is generally played in 4/4 time and turning it into a waltz will challenge and inspire you in new ways. At about 3:50 in this video segment, I'm demonstrating how to add scale tones to your chords. I'm in the key of Gb major for this particular part of the song. The industrious student would be well advised to take this idea and transpose it to other keys!”
Two, Five, One, Six Vamp - ”There are so many thousands of songs in all genres that make use of this progression that it's hard to know where to begin! From simple folk songs to the Great American Songbook, from rockabilly to sambas, see how many songs you can come with! And as with all the material in this course, best to transpose it into other keys for maximum value. Fortunately, with only four chords, transposition is easy! As in the other videos, I'm starting simply and then gradually adding voice leading and more rhythmic ideas as the piece develops. In general, this is a good roadmap for comping behind a soloist. Start simply and then gradually get more complex as the soloist develops their ideas. When you are working with someone that you are musically familiar with, eventually you will be able to develop a kind of telepathy. This way, you will not only be able to not only accompany them with sensitivity and logic, you will be able to anticipate what they might do. You will also spur them on by playing interesting ideas under them.”
12-Bar Minor Blues - ”There are many, many songs that utilize the chordal structure of a minor blues (some are 12 bars, some are 16 bars, but they all follow the same basic pattern). Once again I hope you will notice that I'm starting very simply with my comping chords and as the performance develops I gradually get more intricate. Even if you just learn a few of the voice leading ideas I'm using here, it will spice up your comping quite a bit. All of the chord voicings that I'm using here are moveable shapes. This means that you can play them in any key, and of course this is a fabulous idea for your practicing! Having the capacity to play in any key is not only a very marketable skill to have as a musician, it increases your fretboard awareness and will help your single line playing as well as your total musicianship. It may seem ironic that becoming a strong accompanist will enhance your soloing but it's true!”
Rhythm Changes - ”Some of the great songs that are based on rhythm changes (the title comes from the great Gershwin song, I Got Rhythm), include Anthropology, Oleo, and the Flintstones theme song. This is a very important progression to be able to play in any key. Transpose the pattern to the keys of G, C, and F to start with, then gradually go through other keys. Many songs use bits of the rhythm changes chords (such as one, six, two, five progressions), so it's critical to understand this progression in any key and any context. Practice these chords at a very slow tempo and then use a metronome to increase the tempo a little at a time. The B section of rhythm changes has dominant chords moving up in fourths just like a blues. D7 goes to G7 and so on. This means that if you come up with some nice voice leading for rhythm changes (as you hopefully steal all my ideas!), you can, of course, incorporate these ideas into a blues or any other piece that utilizes the same chord structure.”
Mimi will explain and demonstrate all of the key concepts and approaches along the way. You’ll get standard notation and tabs for all of the Comping Performance Studies. Plus, Mimi includes all of the rhythm tracks for you to work with on your own. In addition, you’ll be able to loop or slow down any of the videos so that you can work with the lessons at your own pace.
Grab your guitar and let’s comp some changes with Mimi Fox!