Thursday, July 10, 2014

Page o' coordination: Elvin waltz, with 16th notes

An big part of the Elvin Jones “thing” (if we must think of it that way), which doesn't get talked about much, is 16th notes. People instantly think Elvin >>> triplets!, but he played a lot of 16th notes, too. So,  introduce them into our familiar POC-thing, we'll use the vamp from our original Elvin's Afro-waltz page, plus a variation, with an extra bass drum note at the end.

In jazz, 16th notes are played legato, and not swung; play them evenly, but don't articulate them crisply, as you would in funk. You can generally play the left hand very softly here. You can swing the 8th notes triplet-style, the way we usually do them, or put them on a 16th note grid— again, keep it relaxed if you're going to do that. But don't feel that because you're embellishing or comping with 16th notes here and there, you need to shift your entire grid to a 16th note subdivision— you don't. Depending on the tempo, you can experiment with accenting the left hand in different places— with these exercises on the &, or on the 'a'. It sounds better if you don't accent in the same place all the time.

This isn't a great set of exercises for this, but at very slow tempos, you could actually experiment with swinging the 16th notes, making a double time feel by putting them roughly on a 16th note triplet grid. To be clear, usually when you do this you would be considered to be “playing double time”, rather than “swinging 16th notes”, even though they are actually the same thing. Just be aware that jazz musicians don't arrive at double time by saying “Hey, I'm going to swing some 16th notes here.”

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