Skip to 0 minutes and 9 secondsLet’s just talk briefly about playing behind a soloist - so in a duo format, for example, with a sax player or a trumpet player, or something. We want to give an indication of the time. Let’s restict attention to “Satin Doll”. For example, we want to play a bass line under the soloist, but we want to add chords as well in the right hand - our voiced chords. So D minor7, G7 - we get.

Skip to 0 minutes and 51 secondsBut what I’m going to do is, I’m going to simplify the sequence for “Satin Doll”, because you can for the jazz. You’ll see, in front of you, I’m taking out the second chord, essentially, in the first 4 bars - the first bar is D minor7, the second bar G7, third bar E minor7, fourth bar A7. In the fifth bar, to keep the root the same, - instead of making it A minor7 going to D7 - I could make that Aminor7 over D going to D7, or I could make it D7sus going to D7 - pretty much the same sort of thing. That’s what I’ll do, similarly, in bar 6, D flat7sus going to D flat7.

Skip to 1 minute and 40 secondsThen some link to the top, maybe, in bars 7 and 8. When we get to the middle 8, similarly, first bar G minor7, second bar C7. Perhaps the next 2 bars just F major7. Then bar 15 A minor7, 16 D7 and 17 and 18 just G7, or something that gets you back eventually to the final A section.

Skip to 2 minutes and 16 secondsSo I’m going to play a bass line in the left hand and I going to play one chord to the bar in voiced position in the right hand, like this. 1,2,1,2,3,4.

Skip to 3 minutes and 25 secondsSomething like that where you’re playing, obviously, a bass line in the left hand and you’re putting chords down in the right hand, typically one to the bar. Another thing you can do is play four to the bar with chords in root position across both hands - so like this. I’ll do it a bit slower so that you have a chance to see what’s going on. 1,2,3,4

Skip to 4 minutes and 17 secondsWhat’s happening here is, I’m kind of using the tune in the right hand to try and suggest where the top of the chord will be. A bit like this.

Skip to 4 minutes and 31 secondsA down to G, then B down to A.

Skip to 4 minutes and 45 secondsLet’s try the middle 8.

Skip to 5 minutes and 23 secondsI might have also moved one of the notes in the left hand

Skip to 5 minutes and 31 secondsgetting down to the E. There are all kind of variations on that. That’s playing 4 chords to the bar with both hands locked together in root position. There’s another thing we can do. Do you remember when we were talking about playing rooted voicings with the blues, we used the thumb to determine the pulse. For example, in a C blues, if we use open sevenths.

Skip to 6 minutes and 7 secondsThen when we used seventh-tenths we used the top 2 fingers.

Skip to 6 minutes and 17 secondsWe can do the same sort of thing when we are playing those locked hands together and then we don’t have to play 4 chords to the bar. We can use the thumb, either in the right hand, or the thumb in the left hand, or both thumbs, or other internal fingers to indicate the pulse, like this.

Skip to 7 minutes and 46 secondsThere are lots of variations on those sorts of themes, but it gives you an idea of the sort of thing you might try doing to establish the pulse behind a soloist.

Four to the bar in root position behind a solodst

We consider playing in a duo format and how to support a soloist playing four to the bar in root position.

Share this video:

This video is from the free online course:

Learn Jazz Piano: III. Solo Piano and Advanced Topics

Goldsmiths, University of London