when oscar and gene play, they often will literally pound out some chord voicings where they play a fistful of keys in each hand.  i'd like to know what they are doing and if anyone has looked into it and seen a pattern of what they are doing and/or what sounds best.  please don't answer here if you are not familiar with oscar and gene.  this is not a general chord voicing question.

(i'm not trying to be rude, i'm just trying to be as specific and direct as possible)

also, i have read on this forum a lot about chord voicings and the theory behind it, and i practice them and everything.  but i'm specifically looking for knowledge about when oscar and gene really pound at the piano, not the delicate chord voicings.

here's what i've figured out so far from my personal transcriptions and tracks i've listened to:
in the right hand, they usually play an octave, but i am unsure of what they fill in the middle fingers with.  often, gene will play the melody with an octave instead of a single note line, and he usually adds a note or two in the middle fingers, but i'm not sure what it is.  usually, i'll just do the octave and play the 5th with my middle finger when i try to do it like him.

the left hand is the one i have the hardest time figuring out.  at first i thought it was octaves also, but i don't think that's the case.  usually, the chords are some kind of dominant 7 chords, but i think i hear a lot of 9ths and 10ths in there.  for example, if it were a g7 chord, i think i would hear an f,a,b in the left hand.  i'm really not sure.

if you want a good example of what i mean, look at this video, particularly the last couple minutes of it:

but if you know gene and oscar, you should know what i'm talking about.

the reason why i ask is that when i try to emulate this style, it doesn't sound quite as full when i pound away.  this is probably because i'm playing too many of the same notes (octaves in both hands).  and when i fill in the middle notes, i don't have much rhyme or reason behind it.
There are 8 comments, leave a comment.
i'm familiar with a lot of these recordings -- i think it's usually doing just a rootless voicing with octaves and a few color tones in between in the rh.

for example, a g7 might sound, if you were trying for a gene harris/les mccann sound, from the bottom up, f-a-b-e-f-b-g.  you can always alternate this sound with a half-step above.  

while it doesn't really make sense intuitively, you'll eventually be able to hear the different qualities that different chord tones add between octaves in the rh, especially when dealing with major 7 chords.  personally, i wouldn't worry too much about the notes themselves, as long as the general sound is right and you're emphasizing everything a tempo.

i think you'll find the exact notes and everything are already transcribed in various books and so forth -- but you shouldn't need to buy any of those, if you listen *very* carefully to the passages you want to cop.
thanks for your explanation.  i was thinking the same thing, as i've been trying this.  that is, not to worry about the specific notes but listen and play it enough to recognize the sounds that are being used.

i have to train myself to start using more sophisticated voicings when i pound away a bluesy climax, so that it sounds fuller.  for the most part, here is what i'm doing now:
in the left hand, i'll play the full chord, for example, for g7, i'm doing f-g-b-d (nothing special).  in the right hand, i'll play an octave for whatever melody line i'm going for, and probably just a fifth in between, like g-d-g.  it works for now, and i get my point across, but as you can see, it's a little simplistic and could definitely use a little more color.  my friend would laugh at me because i'm playing 3 root notes (g), one in the left hand and two in the right.  but whatever, i'm practicing.
one of the keys for *me* is to stretch beyond an octave in the rh -- usually including the seventh in the thumb, as in the plain-jane example i gave above.  i find it gives a fuller sound, and it's also pretty well-represented in the "literature" (the records of people who use this style).  i don't know that the ancient "rule" of orchestration about not doubling notes really applies in *practice* -- that's pretty much the standard, if you transcribe what people are doing.

if i'm not mistaken, gene harris also uses on very rare occasions the infamous "thumb glissando" -- the thumb covers two or three notes, while the upper (pinky) finger holds a usual tremolo, as you hear on old-school blues piano records (lloyd glenn, charles brown, even otis spann on a few recordings) and also on some hammond organ recordings (as in jimmy smith with the leslie on and a number of higher stops pulled out).

if you get into playing organ or something, and put the leslie up, you really can get away with just letting your fingers curl under between the pinky and thumb, but i wouldn't advise it on the piano, except in spiritus.  on the other hand, a lot of piano players really did use this style (primarily bluesmen) -- it's just not in the vein you're talking about and it's traditionally a three-note chord kind of thing.
"stretch beyond an octave in the rh"
i don't know if i understand what you are saying here.  are you saying to span more than an octave in the right hand?  from everything i've heard, i thought that more often than not, the thumb and pinky are an octave apart, with some filler notes in between in the rh.

you know what would be really helpful for me?  if we could dissect the climax of "can't help lovin dat man" on the ray brown trio album "live at the loa".  it's probably gene's best climax.  do you have that recording? if not, i can send you a clip of the climax and we can analyze it.  if i just went through that one clip with someone else, i think it would help me immensely.
it's the same as red garland block chords but they might add some extra notes when it's comfortable.

garland's trademark block chord technique, a commonly borrowed maneuver in jazz piano today, was unique and differed from the methods of earlier "block chord" pioneers such as george shearing and milt buckner. garland's block chords were constructed of three notes in the right hand and four notes in the left hand. the right hand played the melody in octaves with a perfect 5th placed in the middle of the octave (a 5th above the lowest note of the octave) even when it seemed to not suit the harmony. the 5th played in the middle of the octave becomes virtually inaudible when the chord in the left hand is played simultaneously, but the added 5th gives the voicings a particularly rich, distinctive and slightly out-of-tune character. garland's left hand played four note chords that simultaneously beat out the same exact rhythm as the right hand melody played. but, unlike george shearing's block chord method, garland's left hand chords did not change positions or inversions until the next chord change occurred. it's also worth noting that garland's four note left hand chord "voicings" occasionally left out the roots of the chords which later became a chord style associated with pianist bill evans. red garland's "block chord" method had a brighter quality, a slightly more dissonance, and added a fullness to the upper register compared to the mellower george shearing block chord sound.
jazz+ thanks for that explanation.  so red garland was the primary influence for this style that oscar and gene use so much?

if i read that correctly, then it pretty much means that what i've been doing is essentially the same thing.  the main difference is that i usually will not leave out the root in the left hand, but everything else is the exactly what i was thinking (and hearing?).

let me sum it up and tell me if i'm correct, let's do the g7 chord again:
--so, the right hand will play and octave, with the 5th in the middle, g-d-g

--the left will play the g7 chord completely.  f-g-b-d

is that right?  and as i get better, i can practice leaving the root out and adding color to the left hand by playing 9ths and stuff as i deem appropriate.

this is cool and very helpful.  is there anywhere else i can find more detail about the red garland technique other than listening and transcribing?
at slower tempos garland slightly rolled the right hand.

for the left hand g7 voicing tend to leave out the root and add the 13th or 9th:

f b e


f a b e

so, basically they use the standard left hand three note or four note rootless voicings to sound jazzier than plain f g b d.
Please sign in to post.

Jazz Piano Notebook Series
Scot Ranney's Jazz Piano Notebook, Volume 1 - jazz piano tricks of the trade

Volume 1 of this educational jazz piano book contains 15 jazz piano exercises, tricks, and other interesting jazz piano techniques, voicings, grooves, and ideas Scot Ranney enjoys playing.

buy pdf version - buy coil binding version - videos

Scot Ranney's Jazz Piano Notebook, Volume 2 - jazz piano tricks of the trade you can use today

Volume 2 has 14 jazz piano exercises and tricks of the trade, and quite a bit of it is Calypso jazz piano related material, including some Monty Alexander and Michel Camilo style grooves. Jazz piano education is through the ears, but books like this can help.

buy pdf version - buy coil binding version

Tim Richards' Jazz Piano Notebook - jazz piano tricks of the trade

Volume 3 contains 12 jazz piano exercises and explorations by the acclaimed jazz piano educator, pianist, author, and recording artist Tim Richards.

Tim wrote the well known "Exploring Jazz Piano" and "Improvising Blues Piano" books and has several others to his name.

buy pdf version - buy coil binding version

Jeff Brent's Jazz Piano Notebook - jazz piano tricks of the trade

Volume 4 is by Jeff Brent, a jazz pianist, composer, teacher, and author of "Modalogy" and other acclaimed jazz theory and education books. In this book Jeff shares detailed analysis of transcriptions of live performances. He covers everything from the shape of the songs to the tricks and licks he uses in improvised lines to the ideas behind his lush chord voicings.

buy pdf version - buy coil binding version

Most Recent Discussions
Scale in Calderazzo solo
Scale in Calderazzo solo
What is (s)he playing there?
Volume 5 of Scot Ranney's "Jazz Piano Notebook Series" is up and running!
How to Develop Your Improvisation from Beginner to Advanced
Big Chief

Oh Tannenbaum for Jazz Piano
Volume 5 of the "Jazz Piano Notebook Series" is Available!
LearnJazzPiano.com File Downloads News
One Hour of Relaxing Piano Music
Jeff Brent's Jazz Piano Notebook
Fundamentos Físicos del Sonido

Top Sheetmusic Picks

Jazzy Christmas Arrangements
Cocktail Piano
Best Songs Ever, 6th Edition
Christmas Medley
Moana Songbook
Late Night Jazz Piano

Jazz piano education is cool.

be the main character in your own story

Rock on. Follow your passion.

Sign In

privacy policyterms of serviceabout • 50,659 messages 63,069 accounts 54,963 logins
LearnJazzPiano.com Copyright © 1995-2020 by Scot Ranney • website software and design by scot's scripts
LearnJazzPiano.com is For Sale - Serious Inquiries Only