hi,
how can i improve my piano comping ? it's one of the hardest (and important) part of piano playing that almost nobody seems to care about...  

who has any nice suggestions about how to comp nicely and effectively with piano accompanying a soloist and in a group & big band ? any books, methods ? any special advices or exercise to practice to improve comping?
thanks!
ste
There are 4 comments, leave a comment.
i agree.  i would say, think like you are a drummer.  the best compers aren't necessarily great because of what they play, but where they play it.  it's all about how you make things fit.  there are no rules to comping, and, if you practice out of a book or something, your comping will sound like it was practiced out of a book.  you have to completely succumb to the moment, and let the music guide you; otherwise, you will end up just playing chords and not really serving the moment.  

one of the best ways to improve comping is to play along with records and try to mimic what the pianist is doing(obviously, only do this on records where the comping is good).  you don't necessarily need to transcribe the comping(although, this isn't a bad thing to do), but  just try to get the essence of what the pianist is doing.  to become a great comper, i think you have to really let go of yourself and your tendencies, and live with the moment.  experiment.....be willing to fail.  good compers:

wynton kelly - kind of blue
chick - all i can say is "you're everything"
kevin hays(probably the best comper on the scene today......check out the stuff w/chris potter)
geoff keezer
nat king cole
count basie
etc.
monk!
just be careful when following dalty52's advice b/c monk is not for the faint of heart, his comping is very far out.  

really try to feel where the soloist breaths and accent that. also pay attention to dynamic thats really important.  

don't be afraid to vary the size of your voicings either. going from thick texture to thin texture can be very effective if you use it right.
there is a certain element of comping that can never truly be "practiced," in the sense of working it out on your own, exercises, methods, etc., and then later applied to a group situation. there all kinds of voicings and tricks you can practice to put more tools in your bag, so when you want a lighter, spacier voicing, you've got a tool for that, and when you want heavier, denser voicings, you've got something for that too, etc. but when it comes to actually accompanying someone, in a live situation, what is really needed is a truly spontaneous, responsive, flexible mindset. it's kind of cliche, but it really does all come down to listening.

as an accompanist, your absolute number one job is take make the soloist and/or band you are accompanying sound as good as possible. there is a sort of spiritual/selfless aspect of group improvisation, or any kind of group music making, of surrendering your own ego's need to sound good, and focus on the greater sound of the band. when i first started going out to a lot of jam sessions i think i made the same mistake a lot of rhythm section players make, i was so worried about whether or not
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