this feels like a dumb question, (and i've searched around for the answer) but here goes.  when i play some tunes solo, i sometimes use a mixture of stride style, using four note voicings.  this works ok in slower tunes, or playing a half time feel when there are fewer chord changes, but not so well as things get faster or more complicated.  do stride players use four note voicing usually, or should i learn to use 3 (or two) note voicings?  do i just need to keep at it?
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hi, are you talking about the left hand, right hand or both combined.
oscar peterson, fats waller, art tatum and duke ellington constantly varied the voicing texture. for the left hand harmonies  in 10ths there are 3 main sounds that these players use. 2 note 10ths, 3 note tenths and 4 note tenths. most players use four note tenths exclusively at slower tempos, but for people with giant hands you can play them at quicker tempos (ala oscar). for the right hand anything goes, but many stride players use octave triads for voicing important melody notes.  
these are the basics and for the best pianists they are just the bare minimum of techniques available.
you should definately start transcribing to get a better a sense of this style.
"do stride players use four note voicing usually, or should i learn to use 3 (or two) note voicings? "

yes!
3 note or 2 note or even 1 note! the 1 note is usually the 10th (like broken 10ths).

quite often the tonic chord is done with the root on beat 1 and then on the next beat just 3rd and 5th or even just root and 3rd.
4 note voicings in the lh aren't usually played on the downbeat.  so, like, think of stride as "boom-chick, boom-chick", you would not play 4 note voicings on the "boom", however, on the "chick", it is quite common to play 4 note voicings.  on the boom, either play a single note, or, if your hands can reach, play 10ths, sometimes with the 7th or 6th in the middle(i.e. c, bb, e for a c7 chord......or even e, bb, g).
so, to take up dalty52's terminology, if you play 4 note voicings on the "chick", that is "quite common". but in many circmstances it is also quite challenging, and might be overdoing it harmonically - i gather from jazz+ that 3 or 2 notes are commonly played, which was as i suspected. right?
i have to disagree with dalty52. 4 note walking tenth voicings are a part of the tradition just as much as the "boom, chickj" bass chord sound. fats waller originally pioneered this sound. but gdslick, we can talk about concepts all day, but it's not going to help you much until you start studying actual examples in arrangements.
well, it is challenging, however, fats waller and james p. johnson were masters of the instrument so they "rose to the challenge".  if you check out their stuff, you'll actually find that, on the upbeat, they play 4 note voicings most often.

to practice this, i would suggest finding a repeating pattern that you can play over and over in the left hand; maybe using a single note bass line.  repeat the pattern over and over(just the left hand by itself) and focus on connecting the bass note with the chord that follows.  remember, you are the upright bass in this situation.  if you do not connect the bassline, it will end up sounding cheesy(which is what usually happens when cats try to play stride).

it is really hard at first, because the bass note seems so far away from the upbeat chord!  however, if you listen to fats, these two entities are really connected.  instead of thinking about how far the chord is away from the bass note.........think about how close it is :o)  and then, try to keep your hands as close to the keys as possible whilst you move from one to the other.  it should almost feel like you are moving your hand in a completely horizontal fashion.  also, make sure you relax!  there should be zero tension in your arms and wrists.  none.  nil. someone should be able to come over to where you are playing and, with very little force, pull your hands off of the keys.  you will not be swinging at all if you have tension.

try playing along with fats on "handful of keys", or the intro to "i've got a bran' new suit", and you'll get a good idea of how to approach the idiom.
i would also note:

if you look at pictures and videos of fats, he is always really relaxed looking....... all smiling w/his cigar and martini.  check out this video:



this is art, and not really stride(although it hints at it a couple of times), but look at how relaxed he is, and how it looks like his hands are barely moving at times.   it's much more horizontal than up and down.
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