I am a piano player but am new to jazz; I am classically trained. I have recently began playing jazz however and was curious as to what rhythms to use for comping. I know the rhythms are on off beats and down beats but I am not sure where to start.
Here are the basic jazz comping rhythms for 4/4 time with swung eighth notes.
The Dotted Quarter Rhythm
This rhythmic pattern can begin on beat 1. It is often repeated over two bars, but not always. Notice that the first chord is sustained, and the second is not.
It also sounds great to displace this rhythmic pattern to later beats, including the up beats:
There's no limit to which beat you could begin this pattern on.
The Half Note Rhythm
Like above, this pattern also involves comping with two chords per bar of 4/4 time. Liked before, you can start this pattern on any beat, but it really sounds good when played on the up beats. In this pattern, the two chords are usually quick "jabs" that aren't sustained and can be played staccato.
Four to the Floor
This is a classic style often attributed to Freddie Green. It's characteristic of an older style of jazz. It entails playing a chord on every down beat.
Two Eighth Notes
Another common rhythm is to play chords on back-to-back eighth notes, starting a down beat. This is a very flexible rhythm that can be combined with other patterns. I've shown a couple examples below of how you can apply this.
Longer comping rhythms also exist. These can be helpful to practice when you're starting out. Here are two good ones to begin with. You'll probably notice some of the elements above appearing in these longer patterns.
When I studied at SJS (SwissJazzSchool) we had to write all combinations of 8/8 in a bar e.g. 111311 and notate them singing and counting the rhythm in swing: daba daba-a-a daba etc. da was on- and ba was off beat. I found this was a very useful, helpful and creative task.
Then the same exercise analog with 16th notes, all possible combination and variations, the sum is always 8.
This practice enables you to sight read any binary rhythm.
The problem that musicians with a classic education have, are not the problems of learning comping patterns but performing the right groove with a perfect feeling.
That’s why you have to listen a lot to other jazzers analysing their playing singing along with daba daba dabap bap bap etc) The