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people who play only rhythm or only lead .. discuss

Wim GlennWim Glenn oƃɐɔᴉɥƆModerator 503
edited October 2013 in Welcome Posts: 1,013
1. Do you have to be a good rhythm player to be a great lead player?
2. Do you have to be a good lead player to be a great rhythm player?
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Comments

  • Charles MeadowsCharles Meadows WV✭✭✭ ALD Original, Dupont MD50
    Posts: 432
    It would seem hard to be "great" on an instrument while not being able to play both.

    As I have mentioned before that I am a big Angelo fan. But some his most interesting stuff is the rhythm he plays behind the other instrumentalists, a good example being his playing behind Tim Kliphuis on the Live at Djangofest NW album.
  • AmundLauritzenAmundLauritzen ✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 236
    I think having an abundant chord vocabulary can help ones lead playing. The obvious reason is chord soloing, but a lot of gypsy jazz players carve their lines out of, or around chord shapes. So it can help with visualization, organization and understanding where the line comes from harmonically.

    IMO the best thing is to specialize, like Stochelo and Nous'che. Hono Winterstein and Johnny Rosenberg come to mind as rhythm-only players. That is a judgement made solely because I have never heard them play lead. For all I know, they can be burnin' lead players. But lets make assumptions for the sake of discussion.

    I'd say be prepared to get by in any situation, but choose one area to excel in.
    I personally focus on lead guitar in the Dutch style because I feel that style is underrepresented in the younger generations. It's a difficult style to play, with lots of downstrokes. So it takes most of my practice time. But I still try to practice rhythm enough to be able to support a soloist.

    Similarly, for someone to really excel in rhythm guitar they'd have to make that their priority.

    All it takes is to look at the who's who of gypsy jazz. The best lead players are mainly playing lead, while the best rhythm players almost exclusively play rhythm.
    There are only so many hours in the day.

    I do not believe being good at lead is necessary to be good at rhythm or vice versa, but it certainly can't hurt and there is undoubtedly some "cross over knowledge" happening.

    My 2 cents
  • anthon_74anthon_74 Marin county, CA✭✭✭✭ Alta Mira M 01
    Posts: 560
    I believe you must be at least a good Rhythm player to be a great lead player.

    I don't know about vice versa. I suspect there are many rhythm players who are quite good but don't play lead at all, but I would be surprised if there are many or any great lead players who aren't at least very competent at rhythm. I just think, in order to really enhance the rhythm as a lead player, you must have a good feel for the rhythm.

    my thoughts

    Anthony
  • To be a great rhythm player, you have to know your lead player(s). I don't think you need to know a lick of lead.
    To be a great lead player, you should be at a minimum a good rhythm player.
  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,040
    i think it's a very difficult question to answer , and the answer can change depending on how you define "good" .

    I personally care about musicianship, and that's something you cannot know from listening to a player; it's something that you discover when you play or work with said player.

    For example, there are lots of gypsy players who only play rhythm, who have an excellent sound, and decent groove, and the songs they know, they might play them well, but if you work with them and try to teach them a song, forget it, it'll take hours... I'm not too interested in working with people like that, maybe jamming could be fun (as long as we play the tunes they know)

    and then the other way around there are lots of lead players who can play nice sounding solos, they've definitely worked on some cool stuff, but when it's their turn to back you up, the tempo is inconsistent, volume not good, it just isn't grooving, and that's no fun either.

    As far as the gypsy culture goes, generally speaking , those who play only rhythm are generally the ones who were not good enough to play lead, that happens quite a lot.. Again this is a generalization, and there are obvious exceptions such as nous'che rosenberg who plays in the style of fapy. So ,i t's the same scenario as i described above, the songs they know how to play, they do it well, but it takes them forever to learn a new tune no matter how simple.

    Furthermore, there are some players who provide a nice steady groove but I personally don't like their choices in voicings . I admit that now i'm nitpicking, but I listen to so much classical music that to me, every tiny detail counts... To me, just because a song has an Am chord, doesn't mean you can play Am6, or Am7 or AmXY interchangeably. When I play rhythm, I choose my voicings according to so many factors:

    1) the soloist's style, if it's an old school swing player (like Fapy), I'll generally use simple triads
    2) if it's a roots gypsy player (like Tchavolo), I'll use the famous GJ voicings
    3) if it's a modern player, I might favor 7th chords

    I also try to voicelead my chords, I don't jump randomly jump from one voicing to another, i try to find chords that have a sense of direction...

    That's personally how I like to do things. I don't know him too well but I think Samy Daussat plays rhythm that way too (and he gets tons of rhythm playing gigs, and is an amazing soloist in his own right)

    My favorite rhythm players tend to be the ones who have some concept of lead and theory. One of my absolute favorites is Romain Vuillemin, he s a roots style player (Alsacian) in his lead and rhythm playing but the difference between him and others, is that he learns songs so freakin quickly, you don't even have to call out the chords to him, you just show him one or two choruses, and bam ihe's got it! That's not something you'd know from just listening to him play...



    And being a rhythm player means being at the service of the soloist, something that many people fail to understand; in that instance, the soloist is always right even when he's wrong (!) but hopefully you play with a good soloist that doesn't screw up too much (hey it happens to everyone).

    That's why I really loved playing with Romain and also the current guy in my touring band, Chris Bezant. They're very very open to comments. No rhythm player is perfect, and it happens that everyone might slow down here or speed up there... With those guys you just tell them to watch out, and they'll concentrate and adjust accordingly. Chris, for example, doesn't have the typical Gypsy sound that I like (he mutes his 2 and 4) nor does he give much thought to his voicings, but i'd really rather much have him than a guy who's got the sound I like but who is uncooperative on stage (and I've been through many of those).

    I have to say that I really love the parisian jam sessions, because most of them are very well balanced , great lead players who can play great rhythm too, it's no one wonder everyone is so good there, it's the best environment for learning this style of music
    ShemiMarkA
  • PassacagliaPassacaglia Madison, WI✭✭✭✭
    edited August 2013 Posts: 1,283
    Great topic, and I can't contribute anything that hasn't been articulated so well, guys, thanks for the thoughts. Dennis, you offered a ton there, as usual. A very mundane question:
    it's no one wonder everyone is so good there, it's the best environment for learning this style of music

    Have I painted too broad a brush in thinking of Paris as a particular "sound," and a bent to reject allegiance to "old-school," Denis? Meaning, if one really likes Fapy, the Limbergers, Pigalle44 (can't believe I spaced them), Nous'che's rhythm....yes, this is a leading question, but why not Holland...without knowing more, Amsterdam, for instance?
    pas encore, j'erre toujours.
  • Russell LetsonRussell Letson Prodigy
    Posts: 211
    Moving around the "great" part (that's a separate kind of judgment) and not limiting the question to gypsy jazz, it's pretty clear to me that you don't need to play any kind of lead at all to be an adequate rhythm player, and it has been my observation that most competent pro-level lead players can play competent rhythm, if only because their work has required them to do so. I have yet to encounter, among the players I have had workshops and lessons from, one who could not work in a rhythm section in a dance band. And the strongest players I've encountered personally have been very fine rhythm players indeed.

    Now, my experience is rooted more in American than gypsy swing (and dance-band playing in particular), but despite the attention paid to the theory and practice of la pompe in its various incarnations, I'd say that to swing is to swing.

    And not that I'm any great shakes, but I play only rhythm, and I'm told I'm pretty adequate.

    (I live in Minnesota. We aspire to adequacy.)
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Posts: 2,703
    Examples of great rhythm and lead (IMO) are Adrien and Gonzalo as evidenced by Classico.

    I distinctly remember seeing Gonzalo years ago at the Healdsburg Luthiers Festival when he played only rhythm for Jorgenson (never took a solo) and thinking he was a great swinging rhythm player (I'd say though, a bit different style than he typically uses now) but also thinking I bet he would make a great lead player just based on his apparent dexterity and right hand technique at that time and sure enough....
  • PassacagliaPassacaglia Madison, WI✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,283
    dennis wrote:
    My favorite rhythm players tend to be the ones who have some concept of lead and theory. One of my absolute favorites is Romain Vuillemin, he s a roots style player (Alsacian) in his lead and rhythm playing but the difference between him and others, is that he learns songs so freakin quickly, you don't even have to call out the chords to him, you just show him one or two choruses, and bam ihe's got it! That's not something you'd know from just listening to him play...



    Shown here, for anyone interested (Romain on lead):



    Denis, I know you're busy with Rino's CD (!), but can you tell me (us) a bit more of Romain's story? Does he now play dedicated lead anywhere, or is he still primarily playing accompaniment in Ritary's trio?

    And yes, (my) endless question....how'd he learn?
    pas encore, j'erre toujours.
  • Bob HoloBob Holo Moderator
    Posts: 1,241
    Romain plays both rhythm & lead very well. In fact, about 7 months ago he had me make him a guitar intended to be even more of a lead guitar. He also plays electric quite well and though I've never heard him play rock - a few friends have told me he can do that as well. Talented guy & about as nice as they come.
    You get one chance to enjoy this day, but if you're doing it right, that's enough.
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