Why Freddie Green Worked Well with Pianists

There are definitive and fundamental reasons why Freddie Green's part rarely clashed with the pianist, be it Basie or others.

  1. He played straight four to the bar rhythm. His rhythmic placement of the chords in each measure was always predictable.
  2. The length of each chord was quite short, leaving room for sustained chords from the piano.
  3. The tessitura of his "lines" was quite small, typically, from E below middle C, to G above middle C....just over an octave.
  4. His "chords" consistent of one or two clearly sounded notes. The remaining strings were muted and provided percussive timbre.
  5. His time was impeccable.
  6. He did not play extensions of the chord. An occasional 9th was as "far-out" as Freddie went.

Freddie laid down a very predictable "comping landscape" that was easy to maneuver through by the pianist. Listen to Basie. He did not comp four to bar (leaving that to Freddie) and he avoided the middle register of the piano (leaving that pitch range for Freddie). Freddie set his musical boundary and stayed within his boundary, thus making his style a favorite of jazz pianists.

Michael Pettersen
May 2006

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