Comping means “to accompany”. In our case, it means that those chords can be used when accompanying a soloist who is improvising over the song “Blues For Alice”, commonly referred to as “Bird Blues” chord changes. Each diagram represents a full measure, except when slashes are written above the chord—in which case those slashes represent the number of beats for that particular chord.
Blues for Alice (Part 3/6) - Comping studyThe circled dot on the Gm7 (final turnaround) is an optional replacement for the bass note. Most of the chords in this study have the root in the bass, except for the diminished 7th chords used as substitutions for some of the Dominant 7 chords. It that case, the dim7 substitutions give us a 7(b9) sound.
Also, note that the Bb7(9) in measure 5 is a Dm7(b5) which is a common substitution. The study can be played with a pick, with your fingers (classical style) or with pick and fingers. Just watch for unwanted notes when strumming.
Since no particular rhythm is indicated, you can play those chords either long and sustained, or more staccato. Variations are always welcome, as long as you respect the 12-bar form, of course...
Also, make sure to bring out the top note of all those chords: after all, that is where the voice-leading is important.
Blues for Alice - List of Jazz Chronicles
- The melody
- 3-note voicings
- Comping study (this chronicle)
- 4-note groupings
- An arpeggio study
- Improvising with quarter notes only
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Note from The Guitar Channel
If you are looking for an excellent Jazz guitar teacher, I highly recommend Bruno. He produced many Jazz chronicles in French for La Chaîne Guitare which were highly appreciated by the Backstage Pass subscribers. I also took a Skype lesson with him once (read the story about it in this article) and it was a lot of fun and very useful to help my play better and increase my vocabulary on guitar.