Steely Dan’s classic album Aja is one of the cds that permanently stays in my glovebox – there’s something about the tunes that make it ideal listening for driving home…
Steely Dan’s classic album Aja is one of the cds that permanently stays in my glovebox – there’s something about the tunes that make it ideal listening for driving home from gigs and trying not to fall asleep when you’re on the M25 at 2am…
One of my favourite moments on this record is Bernard Purdie’s playing on ‘Home At Last’, which features some serious shuffle groove. Here’s the man himself explaining (or, more accurately, ‘splaining) the Purdie Shuffle.
If I ever find myself in a bad mood, I watch some Bernard Purdie. The man is a comedy genius.
Continuing the previously aired topic of lick recycling, here’s another borrowed lick that gets a workout from two great fretless players, Jaco Pastorius and Pino Palladino. The phrase in question…
Continuing the previously aired topic of lick recycling, here’s another borrowed lick that gets a workout from two great fretless players, Jaco Pastorius and Pino Palladino.
The phrase in question originates in Igor Stravinsky’s ‘The Rite of Spring’, composed in 1913. Listen to the opening line played by the bassoon:
Fast forward to 1977, and Jaco’s phenomenal solo on Weather Report’s ‘Havona’. Listen out for the third phrase of Jaco’s solo (at 2:51) and you’ll hear the Stravinsky lick:
Another Jaco recording from the same year shows him borrowing the same lick from Stravinsky again, this time on Joni Mitchell’s ‘Talk To Me’. The third phrase of Jaco’s intro melody should be recognisable by now…
The next link is slightly more tenuous as it’s not a direct note-for-note insertion of the ‘Rite of Spring’ melody, but whenever I hear Pino Palladino’s opening melody on Paul Young’s ‘Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home)’ I can’t help but be reminded of the Stravinsky/Jaco phrase:
Here’s the transcription of the phrase in question, first Jaco’s lick from ‘Talk to Me’ (the line has been written down an octave for ease of reading):
Pino’s part from ‘Wherever I Lay My Hat’ shows similarities in both note choice and phrasing:
In fact, Pino admits the Stravinsky quote in this interview. I love his reaction to hearing the tune on the radio for the first time:
All the examples mentioned feature the lick in the context of a major chord, where it outlines a major 7 sound. It could be applied in other areas – play the lick in C against an F major chord and you’re instantly implying a Lydian (major 7#11) tonality.
Just a brief one this time as things have been rather busy of late in preparation for heading off to Norway tomorrow for a week of gigs with Jamie Abbott….
Just a brief one this time as things have been rather busy of late in preparation for heading off to Norway tomorrow for a week of gigs with Jamie Abbott. This is what happened when we went out there last September; hopefully, this one will feature more of the same (if you’re allergic to bass solos, stop watching at 2:45):
The real point of this post is to bring up the concept of recycling. There’s nothing new under the sun, and all players have ‘borrowed’ ideas from other musicians at some point. Sometimes this manifested in subtle ways, such as tone, phrasing or use of certain articulation that reflects the influence of another player. On other occasions, licks are transplanted in a ‘copy and paste’ fashion, which is what we have in the following transcriptions.
The first transcription is Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons ‘December ’63 (Oh What a Night!)’. Check out the Ab major lick just before the D.S:
Now take a look at the last four bars of the bridge of Cee Lo Green’s ‘Forget You’, featuring bass courtesy of Pino Palladino:
Notice something about the lick over the D7 chord in the third bar?
It’s pretty much a note-for-note reproduction of the ‘December ’63’ lick. Rumbled!
That’ll do for now, the next instalment will feature more lick recycling courtesy of Pino, Jaco Pastorius and Igor Stravinsky…
I recently got a call from a fellow bassist asking if he could borrow a bass for a recording, on the basis that he needed something with a bit more…
I recently got a call from a fellow bassist asking if he could borrow a bass for a recording, on the basis that he needed something with a bit more ‘grunt’ than his jazz bass. As I’ve known the guy for a good few years (we regularly cover for each other if one of us is double-booked) I agreed – I was actually quite flattered to have gear that is deemed desirable by other players. I dropped the bass off with him and went on my way…
On the night after the session, I get a call from said friend. I duly ask how the recording went and how the bass sounded. This is the response I get:
“Well, that’s actually why I’m calling… I didn’t use the bass in the end because I somehow managed to leave it on a train…”
For a second I thought I’d somehow misheard him, but no. He left it on a train.
He offers to stump up the money for a new bass if mine doesn’t get recovered. It’s worth mentioning at this point that the bass in question is a 1980s Japanese Fender Precision, so not the easiest thing to replace. Since I bought it (for a very reasonable price) a year ago it’s become my main gigging bass for all occasions.
So, after much apologising by my friend it turns out that the bass was left on a Friday evening train heading into London. He’s tried to get in touch with the lost property office but they’re shut for the weekend. Cue what feels like the longest two days ever waiting for Monday morning to come around.
7.30am Monday and I’m waiting for news on the bass. It transpires that there’s a backlog in lost property and I won’t find out if my bass has been found until the next day. Cue much swearing and speculative searches of eBay/Gumtree to see if anyone’s nicked it and is trying to make a quick sale.
Tuesday I’m in a studio recording some Motown stuff (I can’t think of a date when an old P-bass would be more appropriate, but such is life.) When tracking is done I leave the studio and turn on my phone… I soon get a phone call from my friend informing me that the P-bass was safe and sound and that he was on the way to pick it up for me. Cue massive relief, no more sleepless nights and (marginally) less hair loss.
All this leads me to the following question: Should I refuse to lend out gear in the future? Quite probably.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted any fresh transcriptions, so here’s Nate Mendel’s line from Foo Fighters ‘Learn To Fly’. There’s Nothing Left To Lose was one of my…
It’s been a while since I’ve posted any fresh transcriptions, so here’s Nate Mendel’s line from Foo Fighters ‘Learn To Fly’.
There’s Nothing Left To Lose was one of my favourite albums as a teenager, and although I don’t really think of Nate as having a massive influence on my playing he definitely has some great lines. ‘Stacked Actors’ has some great playing on it:
Anyway, here’s the part for ‘Learn To Fly’. Nothing too complicated going on… enjoy!
Firstly, a belated Happy New Year to one and all. My one and only resolution for 2011 is to keep this blog updated with fresh material – my annual stats…
Firstly, a belated Happy New Year to one and all. My one and only resolution for 2011 is to keep this blog updated with fresh material – my annual stats email from WordPress tells me I got something in the region of 14,000 views last year, which shows that I should really pull my finger out and reward visitors with something more than a bi-yearly update!
Part of the reason for the lack of pre-Christmas posts was that in mid-November I got a call offering me a series of gigs with a pop/classical artist that required me to play both electric and upright bass… Now, although I’ve been dabbling with double bass ever since I left university I’d never really ‘taken the plunge’ and this seemed like the perfect excuse to begin studying the instrument seriously.
Initially, I thought the gig would be a roughly a 50/50 split between upright and electric, but once I got the charts it became clear that I’d be playing a lot of double bass, including some bowing which was completely new territory for me. I had roughly 3 weeks to get my playing in shape, so I locked myself away in a rehearsal studio. Here’s how my November looked:
As might be expected, it was a tough few weeks. Getting to grips with the bow (awful pun intended) was probably the biggest challenge, as my first attempts resulted in a sound I can only liken to a whale being abused… After a few days, I gradually began to get the hang of things and found that my sound improved a little every day.
Spending that amount of time and effort on such a fundamental aspect of the instrument was a hugely humbling experience; I’ve been playing electric bass for over a decade, so I tend to take the process of playing for granted, but on upright I found myself having to learn a completely new set of skills in order to make the most basic pieces sound passable.
Once I’d started to get over the initial issue of handling the instrument, I found myself totally absorbed by the double bass. Although it’s a much more physically intensive instrument than the electric bass the effort is worth it – the sound and feel of the instrument make it rewarding to play, especially for certain styles of music (playing walking lines on an electric bass now feels wrong).
On a practical note, the following things made moving into the world of doubling easier:
Resources for the novice doubler
-There are some excellent instructional videos around. I found Andrew Anderson’s series on bow technique massively helpful:
– In terms of method books, I sought advice from Franz Simandl (UK link | US link) and Rufus Reid (UK | US) – When it came to the actual gigs, my trusty Radial Bassbone saved my life on a nightly basis by letting me maintain control over the switching, output levels and EQ of both instruments.
Here’s how the setup looked (due to snow-based travel complications the double bass and the speaker cabinet were both hired for some of the gigs):
I’d like to leave you with a final thought- every time I think my arco playing is improving, I listen to Edgar Meyer and remind myself of the mountain I still have to climb. Sometimes it’s good to remind yourself that you suck.