most jazz pianists consider wynton kelly to be the most swinging jazz pianist ever. an analysis of his eighth notes reveals that he widely varied his swing ratios. sometimes he had a tendency to play eighth notes closer to straight-eighth notes rather than the more traditional swing-eighth notes, and also to play more on "top of " the beat and less "laid back" than was the custom of earlier pianists. kelly also tended to play his more even eighth-note lines with a fairly staccato touch. this stylistic trait lead the way for pianists such as mccoy tyner, chick corea and herbie hancock who adopted and expanded on this concept, for a more "modern" sound.

kelly can be heard playing with this time concept on "all the things you are" at :09 seconds and :22 seconds and again at :29 seconds

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here's some of the swingingest, most relaxed jazz piano playing ever:

rare clips:

blues in f (piano solo starts at :32 seconds)

on green dolphin street (piano solo starts at 3:45)
thanks for these - i really enjoyed them.

for some reason after years of playing green dolphin street, it never occurred to me to put a ii-v into the abm7 - one of those "ha!" moments - very cool's not the ii-v i've never done, it's starting it where the i chord should be ( @ 4:32 ) that i've never done - love it:)
...simple but cool:)
sorry to keep yammering on about this, but i think it's important to note that what makes this cool is the fact that it is a surprise. if he would have done it every chorus it would have sounded ordinary.  but after stating the i chord (as the tune is written) so many times, the sudden ii chord over the tonic is a nice surprise and leads nicely into the ivm  blah blah blah
well obviously it's not a ii over the tonic, so before the theory nerds blast me - the expected i becomes a v7sus4/iv (ebsus4 - dominant of the abm)
" by dr. whack
thanks for bringing this up.
i'm still very much a novice, and don't really have a good sense of "swing".  i mean, i can play the swing 8ths, but it sounds completely the same as just playing triplets and skipping the middle one.

so, taking wynton's "rather straight 8th" idea, i did an exercize of trying different swing feels, from perfect straight 8ths, to laid back, to triplet, to dragging behind.  turns out i tend to like dragging behind (like george duke, but not quite that much).  of course, as a bit of spice here and there.  but also, it seems like switching between different swing feel for different kind of passages is very dynamic and fun to do.  it also adds so much character to the lines that's simply not attainable by varying velocities on a straight triplet based swing.  this opened up a whole new dimension for adventure!
thanks kensuguro,

i'm glad you appreciate that analysis and got something out of it!
you are the first person to respond out of many pros and students who have seen this thread here and on the other very popular forum. i think they don't get it. the supposed pros on the other forum put me down for being "too analytical". i have a good hunch their swing is not so refined.

i just finished transcribing and learning to play wynton kelly's solo on freddie freeloader, and i've enjoyed listening to his playing for years. he is such an influential player, that sometimes when i'm playing i hear some of his concepts.

i think one reason wynton always sounded so great was that he was working with really swinging players so much, cobb and chambers. how could you not swing when playing with those guys.

but the thing about trying to make a generalization about wynton's feel is that the success of his feel depends on many things. for instance the articulation of phrases. there is no rule, you must accent every upbeat you play. or you must play legato. phrasing depends largely on the contour and how you hear the line moving forward. relatedly, his use of dynamics. also the harmonic/ formal context of a phrase, all of these factors have some influence on the rhythmic articulation.

i think with something like this very subtle rhythmic nuance, it might be better to think about the what wynton was feeling when he played those beautiful phrases. i mean what was actual physical/emotional motivation behind "laying back" or playing stacatto straight eighth note lines?  

anyways, cool thread, i think i'll go transcribe some more wynton!

jazz+, are there any video or audio clips of your playing i could hear?
you know i once heard an alternate version of freddie freeloader which (i may be wrong but i don't think so) was just another take of the song from the kind of blue recording session...and the funny thing was - wynton kelly played exactly the same solo on this take as on the one from the recording. which means he either liked the solo he had just played so much that he memorised it and played it again (very unlikely) or alternatively the whole solo was preplanned. was a bit of a suprise for me that such a great player would do that.
i would love to see a video or hear something along the lines kensuguro described - eg the same piece or phrase being played straight 8ths, laid back, triplet and dragging behind.
or better yet.... "a legend in my own mind" by dr. whack!  :-)

"don't go changin'....."

hey!  i resemble that!

...and i can really swing that "don't go changin'" song - goes right into "tie a yellow ribbon" - kills em every time!
superjames, i'm afraid that you may be mistaken? i have the complete miles davis columbia recordings 1955-1961, and there's an alternate take (3rd take, false start) of freddie freeloader from the kind of blue sessions, where you can hear a few choruses of wynton kelly's solo and they're completely different from the kind of blue take that we all know and love.  

according to the book kind of blue: making of the miles davis masterpiece, there were only four takes of freddie the freeloader, and on the first two takes they didn't get through the melody completely. the third take i mentioned is the only one where there's any piano solo, and then there's the 4th, final album take.

i don't think playing exactly the same thing, or mostly the same thing is a bad thing..  i mean, a lot evans stuff is pretty repetitive isn't it? (as far as i know) i'm just guessing that for people who play the heck out of a tune, there's really little point in varying the content every single time (to a great degree) since that would exhaust the possibilities at some point.  not to mention being forced to depart from what your own preference.  but i guess if you were that great, you would be able to vary it quite a bit and still not run out of awesome ideas.

back the swing issue, i found that when i lag behind, i tend to play the 8th sets closer to a straight 8th, to compensate for the lag.
so if the time was subdivided into 8 notches, a straight 8th would be:
and a normal swing would be
and a lagging one would be
of course, this is a very crude representation, but just thought it was interesting.  i definitely need to play with this some more tho, because when i concentrate too much on controlling the swing i start playing autopilot lines or forget the changes. lol

also, there's definitely a "this sort of feel is good for: " kind of relationship, like, a straight 8th-ish feel is great for continuous 8ths, but a lagging feel might be good for a pickup line heading into an emphasized phrase. (i guess that's obvious)  anyway, cool stuff.

absolutely!  it's great to analyze this stuff while you're not playing.    it's probably best to forget about it while you are playing - the goal is for the benefit of your analysis to emerge naturally and spontaneously.

i know for me, how i swing or groove at any given moment is a product of the current situation - whether it be how much coffee i've had, who i'm playing with, the current tempo of the tune, etc...i'm feel quite sure wynton kelly wasn't thinking about where he was putting things - he was just playing how he felt at the moment.

~just my thoughts
speaking of bill evans' swing eighths, a study was done that not surprisingly revealed that he rarely played a pair of eighth notes alike with the same swing ratios. another study also showed that miles davis varied his swing ratios, and that he frequently delayed the first note of each pair of eighth notes by some milliseconds and then synchronized the second eighth note with the drummer's swing eighths being played on the cymbal. it is a common device to "lay back" or play behind the beat with jazz melodies.
dr what> perfectly understood.  i was just consciously trying to control my playing as a practice.  it would be so unexpressive and strange if i kept one swing feel an held it.  actually, after i consciously tried to keep one swing feel for a chorus or two, i realized how much we unconsciously express by changing the swing feel for all the different contexts and emotions.  of course, still doesn't make my bad playing any better, but still, it was one of those eureka moments.

i practiced the same line in different swing feels, so if anyone's interested i can post them.  i wonder if it's possible to upload it here as an attachment?  just keep in mind it's still my first year, so don't get your hopes up too high.
here we go:
normal swing based on triplets

straight 8th with minimal swing..  sounds strange

straight 8th with a little more swing

upbeat 8th is very late

both downbeat and upbeat 8th is late

not a virtuoso performance i know, but you get the point.  tune is from joy of improv book 1, line based on nordis changes.
hepcatmonk, yeah i might have got it wrong, this is based on hearing a song on the radio about 3 years ago. i swear that at the time i heard coltrane, miles, wynton kelly et al playing a version of freddie freeloader. at the time i started listening to it i actually thought it was the kind of blue recording version, because wynton's solo was identical..but after a little while i started noticing little differences..and then the other solos were different, so it must have been a different version. i swear that is what i heard...possibly i had had a few drinks and i'm delusional...i don't think so though
that's a hard tempo to swing at, it's kind of slow and the drum machine kind of sucks the life or groove out of it. most guys would start playing sixteenths or triples at that tempo instead of eighths because it's hard to make swing eighth notes sound really good at slower tempos, that's why we don't do it on ballads. have you got an aebersold play-along. those cds have good real jazz drummers on them and that and could help you a lot. the too perfect mechanical drum machine feeling kind of kills the swing from the start. the drum machine makes the groove sound boring.

anyway, regarding the clips, i would like to hear you try playing in between your "normal swing based on triplets" and  your "straight 8th with a little more swing" phrasing. and not too laid back or it gets somewhat sleepy with that drum machine. also a tiny little bit more accent on the "+" maybe, but be careful not to over accent.
thanks for the clips kensuguro !
gordon> no prob, i do wished i could play better, but i'm still learning.  it does take a bit of courage to know i suck and still post on a forum full of maniac players tho.  figured i'd never get better if i was shy about my lack of skill. heh.

jazz+> thnx for the input.  my teacher keeps telling me to go slower and slower during lessons, down to 60 something.. which really breaks down the line into unconnected individual notes.  maybe good for scrutinizing, but ya, it's probably better to practice at more comfortable speeds for usual practice.  i was beginning to wonder why it was so hard to make anything sound cool at 120bpm.  i guess gut feelings aren't so wrong after all eh.

all this gets me thinking about all the aspects that make up the tone of my playing.  good stuff, good stuff.
one thing i could add to this discussion is-the concept of a jazz time feel being "elastic"  and the adjustments each member of the group makes to synchronize thier own feel into an ensemble swing addition to the post linked above there are some others where this type of thing was dealt with..check "search"........
great link smg
interesting thread, which i'm joining very late. in my opinion, one aspect of swing that i think has been overlooked is that it's not just the quaver feel that determines whether something swings or not - it's the choice of notes too.

you can have the greatest quaver articulation in the world, but if your lines don't have the 'correct' pattern of tension and release in them, they won't swing. i hear this often in changes playing, when players just float around using a single scale over a bunch of chords, without  'dipping in' to the chord tones - eg: playing c major scale indiscriminately over dm7, g7, cmaj7.  

sound familiar?
hi tim,

interesting what you just said "but if your lines don't have the 'correct' pattern of tension and release in them, they won't swing" can you offer any direction in terms of what the correct pattern should be or what common patterns are?

thanks again,

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