Jazz Swing Feel – How to get it right (and You want to)

28 Comments

  1. Jens Larsen

    In the video I am using guitarists as examples. Can you come up with other instruments and have 1 triplet swing, 1 in-between and 1 even 8th note phrasing?

  2. Will Jay

    Great Jens, it don't mean a thing if it aint got that swing….. 😉

  3. eh6794

    This is something that can't be taught, especially since most of the jazz guitarists don't have it. The "swing feel," or soul, or feeling, is each guitarists own soul. This makes a guitarist a jazz guitarist.

  4. Dana Parsons

    I see the ax8 :):) Mine arrives tomorrow. Been with my axe fx II for 3 years.:):)

  5. Andreas Valkare

    Towards the end of this video you'll see and hear some (at least for me) unexpected results from people who have actually scientifically studied swing feel. Really cool

  6. Anthony Demitre

    What an amazing Wes video, has all the elements of the material we are studying here but Wes Mongomery does it so naturally what is the name of the last tune they played? The pianist is great also, I loved how they all worked out the tunes together Thanks for this one, Jens!

  7. Toro 270500

    Its very hard to notate rythms from Wes solos correctly, at least to me.

  8. Trombonology Erstwhile

    Great discussion, Jens — swing is essential to jazz and yet difficult to define; it requires an example in order to make sense. I came to jazz via the Swing Era, when solos were much more concise due to the time constraints of the 78 rpm record; though as a guitarist I've always been interested in the chordal-style soloists of the pre-Charlie Christian Era, I learned about phrasing and swing from horn players, especially trumpet players like Bunny Berigan (my favorite), Louis Armstrong and Roy Eldridge and trombonist Vic Dickenson. While I believe a truly unerring sense of what I would call "note placement" is something that you're just born with, I think by listening to, say, Count Basie, you will automatically respond to that irresistible swing his bands always had, and it will help you develop a feel for where to place your notes in the context of time.

  9. katana7xv

    The Pym Jacobs video is amazing. I think I mentioned it in a comment some months ago in the light of Wes's expert but gentle and charming sub rosa mentoring and encouraging of the musicians, particularly on The End of a Love Affair (as opposed to the chilling video of a rehearsal for a TV session, with Bill Evans all but telling a young British drummer standing in for a session not to even bother). He swings his way through End of a Love Affair – which I like better here than on his recording of it. All three of your choices are great

  10. Nicky B

    Hi Jens, I've been ĺearning to play west coast blues and I love the swing feel, Wes plays lots of eighths and mixes triplets into his phrasing too.
    A fantastic tune to learn!

  11. Lawrence Siden

    My band teacher insists that swing is just a matter of emphasis and touch (tonguing), not timing. He ridicules the triplet feel as "doo-tee-doo, doo-tee-doo"and insists he wants to hear even eighth notes, just with the right touch. He's a professional musician who's never punched a clock in his life, so I'm not going to convince him otherwise, but I recognized early on when I started playing that it's more about the ineffable "feel" and that what sounds good on a slow tempo (triplet feel) becomes impractical at a fast tempo. So I agree with your approach which I find more useful.

  12. bob blues

    Put on the music-stand up and dance-clap your hands-sing along. Another thing is the articulation within the line-the attack of
    each note- the weight of the notes in comparison to next note or the next 3 notes or the next 4 notes, and so on- the crescendo and diminuendo with in the line.
    But dancing and hand clapping and singing, that gets the swing into your body. People want to feel the music in their bodies.
    The players have to feel it before they can send it to the listener.

  13. jayden wiggins

    I think it was Mike Moreno who said that for him, modern swing feel means straight 8ths, laid way back behind the beat and accenting some of the upbeats.

  14. John Berry

    For amazing swing I would recommend you listen to Barney Kessel and in particular his live in Sweden 1973 album entitled 'Just Friends' Oy boy this guy swings you into submission!! Let me know jazzers when you've heard it.

  15. Arv H

    Thanks Jens. The dotted eighth is considered to be sacrilege and lots of eminent musicians have that commented on that. Here is an interesting video by Pat Metheney (not sure if u have seen it) on the Jazz feel.. he feels a bit strongly about it 🙂

  16. Toortog Pown

    To learn to Swing requires lots and lots of listening to get it in your gut. Listen the great bass players and notice how even their quarter note lines Swing. Swing's roots are in the Afro-Cuben rhythms that influence New Orleans Jazz and then moved on to the Swing bands in Kansas City. There is this hint of a floating 3 against 4 within the measure and why Swing can't be written the length of notes are always varying slightly. Swing has this forward motion going on and the great players you hear when playing eight notes the second eighth is slightly stronger giving the forward motion. Keep these things in mind as you listen to greats and internalize their Swing feel.

  17. Shawn 71

    I've mentioned this before, but learning the drums over the last year has helped my feel, note placement and space in my playing a lot. Coming from a rock and classical background my technique and timing on straight rhythms were already there. But drumming anything with a shuffle or swing has helped my jazz playing a lot.

    I also think someone really having their technique down and worked out is very important. I think it's hard to have good time feel if your technique is not clean and efficient.

  18. Danny Piers

    Barry Harris is my favourite when it comes to swinging; I'd recommend his recording of lolita for his type of swing – can't help tap my foot to his rhythmic phrasing. Great video!

  19. dfhwze

    Research has shown drummers automatically go from 1:1 (very fast songs) – over 3:2 (fast songs) – over 2:1 (medium tempo) – to 3:1 (slow songs) ratios. (EDITED with correction, my initial statement incorrectly inverted the tempo)

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