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Keys or Guitar for a jazz ensemble?

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Discussion Starter #1
Gday guys,

I guess this is kinda similar to hgrail's post, but anyway here goes:D ...

I'm 14 . So's my bass playing friend. We're both experienced at soloing etc., and we've got another friend who plays drums (not the rock crap but JAZZ!!!:cool: :!: ). Do you think it's necessary to have a 'chord playing' instrument: ie. piano/keys or guitar? Or any other? Please put your preference in the poll - guitar or keys...

Thanks lots,
 

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it is not necessary but it makes things a little less " saxophone oriented" if you add to the trio. You need a powerful horn player to take the entire space otherwise. Trio music can be dull otherwise.
Well there should have been a third option ....both(?) a piano (hammond organ?) and a guitar.
 

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i think a usual piano´s sound can easily become uninteresting if it´s not played interestingly enough.

so i´d prefer an electric piano with several sound choices to spice up things a little. or, of course, an organ. or a guitar!
 

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Keep your options and your minds open on that decision and go looking for a good player on either instrument. Don't rule out vibes, either. Or even accordian. Some great jazz has been played on accordian. When you find the right player, the band kind of defines itself.

Few jazz groups have successfully formed without a chordal instrument. Probably the most notable is the Gerry Mulligan Quartet. You need a strong bass player to get by without it, and the horns work harder. Your chordal player should be able to comp and solo.

Until you find someone, keep practicing.
 

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...on Al Playalongs (I use them everyday!) :)
 

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All things being equal, probably a keyboard player would be my choice for a strictly jazz ensemble. However if you want to branch out a bit into blues or old school R&B, a guitar might be more suitable, especially if the guitarist is also a good singer. Or, even better, use both keys & guitar.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
just a quartet

milandro said:
Well there should have been a third option ....both(?) a piano (hammond organ?) and a guitar.
Milandro,
I only want it to be a quartet. One or the other... I will also only have access to a keyboard, no organs or anything...:(
 

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I have access to any number of organs..but I refuse to use them as the removal might kill me.

(Pause for big yuks)

This is one area where getting a quality keyboard pays off in the long run. Few have the space, muscle or time to drag along a piano, Hammond B3, jazz piano and so on. With a good keyboard and quality amp, you can get all of these in one package.

If I was putting together a small group, I'd start with keyboard, add a bass with a competent player, and then field the drums. Once that was done, it's time to add a horn (before a guitar). Then, perhaps a guitar, but not before.
 

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powellnselmer said:
Gday guys,

I guess this is kinda similar to hgrail's post, but anyway here goes:D ...

I'm 14 . So's my bass playing friend. We're both experienced at soloing etc., and we've got another friend who plays drums (not the rock crap but JAZZ!!!:cool: :!: ). Do you think it's necessary to have a 'chord playing' instrument: ie. piano/keys or guitar? Or any other? Please put your preference in the poll - guitar or keys...

Thanks lots,
To appeal to wide audience, I think a chordal instruments is important. Otherwise, things can get a bit avant garde sounding. However, if you want to get experiemental, no chords would let you take it anywhere you want. The average audience might not appreciate it as much though.
 

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powellnselmer said:
Milandro,
I only want it to be a quartet. One or the other... I will also only have access to a keyboard, no organs or anything...:(
If it's one or the either, IMHO a keyboard would be better than guitar. As has been said you'll have more options in types of songs and music to play and can appeal to a wider audience. If each are played properly, bass, drums, sax and keyboard would cover almost all areas you need to cover. A guitar will make a good fifth.
 

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powellnselmer said:
Milandro,
I only want it to be a quartet. One or the other... I will also only have access to a keyboard, no organs or anything...:(
I am sorry to say that even just the word " keyboard" makes me cringe, there has been a time I accurately chose my CD's by avoiding (almost) anything with a keyboard in it or, G-d forbid, programmable drums :shock: . I truly loath these things! However if you use a synth-keyboard as a replacement for a piano-organ-vibes or whatever, I guess, if you must...... :twisted: it is ok, I should think (I have a beautiful Kawai piano CA5 whith good sampled sounds and a real piano keyboard with the right weight and action....it does exist also in a more transportable version).

Also Hammond has caved in yeas ago and produced Hammond organs which didn't require to be as strong as as horse to carry them (I remember the days in the late seventies when I had an organ player with a " portable" L 100 .Gee....... that thing was heavy....I played the traverso flute I wasn't use to carry heavy stuff! We had to carry that thing with 4 of us).

Playing a quartet will no doubt be better with a piano than a guitar.
 

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You say you and your friend are experienced soloing. In a trio with no chordal instrument, you'll have to be able to play solos that really outline the chord changes, or it will sound avant garde, as someone above said. The reason the Gerry Mulligan group worked is that you could hear the changes in his solos. No offense, but you're probably not able to pull that off consistently yet.

That said, get started as a trio to get some visibility. You'll probably attract a keyboard or guitar player. If you're lucky enough to find more than one to choose from, do some jams with all of them (individually). It should be come apparent which one to choose. Better to choose from the players you have, than to pick an instrument and insist that the fourth player play it.
 

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Morry said:
Also, it will probably be easier finding a keyboard player with some jazz chops that it will a guitarist.
Too true, so true.

Put the word out for both. If you're lucky, you'll get enough responses that you can spend some time auditioning and brainstorming. Play with each and see what develops.

In a band that going to last any time, it is important to find people that you can work with. Either instrument could be great in a small combo. As with so much, it's not the instrument, it's the player - hopefully a musician (not always the same thing).

I still remember my first high school horn band (early '70s). We covered Chicago, BS&T, Cannonball Adderly, Cold Blood, White Elephant... - great fun! Our instrumentation included sax, trumpet, trombone, guitar, keyboards, bass, and drums. We were fortunate to have all played together in jazz bands both in and out of school before we formed our own "garage" band. It was such great fun and a wonderful learning experience.

G'luck!
 

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What I like about a guitaris in this equation is 1) portability 2) space 3) variety of textures and attacks 4) intonation, detuning, bending options 5) more contemporary or "rockish" sounds, and 6) there seems to be a sonic quality to a guitar that interacts with the overtones of a sax that an electronic keyboard is unable to reach. That is not to say that a good keyboardist cannot do all or most of those things in any situation. But, often, I find guitarists execute it on a more "organic" level.

Go with what sounds right to you though.
 
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