A walking bass line is often an effective left hand shuffle technique. Most walking bass lines contain a combination of steps and jumps. This style of playing is technically advanced, and difficult for players to master. Plus, some shuffle feels lend themselves to more widespread movement in the left hand line (more leaps).
A simpler left hand pattern that incorporates more leaps involves creating a walking bass line that only incorporates the root and the fifth of the cord. Place your pinky on the root of the chord and you thumb on the pitch one octave above this. Place you index finger on the fifth of the chord found between this octave. Now, create a simple pattern that incorporates these pitches and fills the measure with constant quarter note movement. One example of a pattern would be playing four quarter notes in a 4/4 song that consist of the lower root, fifth, upper root and back to the fifth for each measure.
The order and register of the pitches can vary to create divers and interesting patterns. Passing tones can also be incorporated to walk between root tones. These passing tones are most effective when they are placed on the beat just before the next root. The pattern used in this example song (Not By Sight) consists of playing the lower root, upper root, fifth and then the lower root again. A passing tone of G is used to connect the root motion between Am7 and F.
In addition, this example song contains a G/B, which is a G chord in first inversion (containing the third in the bass). Since the third of this chord is the bass tone, it must be included in the shuffle pattern. In a case like this, the simplest technique is to play an octave of the third (since it is the bass tone) and place your index finger on the root that is found between this octave. The fifth is omitted in this pattern.
The right hand can play many things while being accompanied with this type of left hand style. In solo jazz piano playing, the right hand can play the melody of the song or an improvised solo. In group playing (where as singer or additional instrument is covering the melody) the piano can play comp chords in a variety of rhythmic patterns. Varity is a key element to creating musicality and maintaining interest. Short stabs with plenty of open space can be complemented by measures of more full rhythmic patterns. Flashy right hand fills can also be inserted sporadically throughout the arrangement. This is especially effective at the ends of phrases where the voice or solo instrument is resting. The fills in this arrangement consist of riffs that are mainly derived from the C blues scale.
This Learning Music With Ray video discusses a basic application of left hand shuffle piano patterns. In this lesson, I provide a step by step demonstration (and explanation) of the left hand shuffle piano pattern found in my arrangement of the original song Not By Sight. I also provide a chord analysis and explanation of chord voicings used throughout the lesson. However, the primary focus of the lesson is to demonstrate the application of the left hand shuffle piano pattern.