How to deal with both guitar and piano in a band?

There are some special considerations that need to be taken into account when guitar  and piano, both play in a band. The problems encountered were that piano and guitar often have the same function. They also generally fill the same frequencies and when comping together the separate interpretation of chord tensions and rhythmic ideas just made mud. It is very helpful to listen to as many guitar/piano recordings as we could find. here under is a short list of albums to check out further down and if you go to Guitaraddict web site, you will find  a transcription  of Jim Hall comping for Bill Evans.

Ideas for piano and guitar to work together.

  • Most important is to listen. Listen hard to what is going on.
  • The next important is communication between the guitarist and pianist. Before the gig you can discuss strategies, during the gig you can use eye contact and signals.
  • An easy solution is to take turns comping. Perhaps the piano plays over one soloist and guitar over another. Remember not to “hog the puck”. (Ok, you caught me, yes I am a Canadian and a hockey reference was bound to happen sometime)
  • Guitar can play “Freddie Green” style (playing quarter notes 4 to the bar) while the piano adds splashes and accents.
  • Freddy Green style doesn’t work so well on piano, but the pianist could play a repeating rhythm. This would allow the guitar to either join the rhythm or compliment it.
  • Guitar or piano can lay a chord on the one of every bar and let the other comp freely. The held chord should be very generic and not contain too many tensions. (3 note voicings are good for this.)
  • It helps to have a working knowledge of both piano and guitar voicings. This will help you predict what may be coming.
  • You can work out the same voicings and rhythms over sections. This sounds really cool and so you should try it sometime.
  • When comping for a piano solo, the pianist could leave out the left hand leaving room for the guitar to pick up the harmony.
  • Single note lines, counter melodies, background shots and guide-tone lines are all great as long as you don’t get in the way and are musical about it.
  • Guitar can be the higher part of a piano type block chord.
  • In Latin tunes, the Guitar usually plays ostinato (repeating rhythms) style and piano is more freely improvised.

Transcription of Jim Hall’s comping over Bill Evans solo on My Funny Valentine (see GuitarAddict site). If you want to hear how great piano and guitar can sound together and get some great ideas, This is THE album: Undercurrent.
Further Listening

  • Bill Evans/Jim Hall: Undercurrent
  • Bill Evans/Jim Hall: Intermodulation
  • Andy LaVerne/John Abercrombie:  Andy LaVerne and John Abercrombie in Concert
  • Andy LaVerne/John Abercrombie:    Where We Were
  • Dr. Lonnie Smith/John Abercrombie:    Afro Blue
  • Pat Metheny/Brad Mehldau: Metheny / Mehldau
  • Pat Martino/Joey Defrancesco: Live at Yoshi’s
  • Jake Langley/Joey Defrancesco: Diggin in


the full post here

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