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3/4 Basslines

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Shoehorn, Mar 17, 2008.

  1. Hi all,

    In my repetoire class at college my teacher has given us a 3/4 chart for summertime. He wants it played more modally ala coltrane but he's pretty nonspecific about what I need to do as a bass player in this setting rhythmically. I've gotten good advice as to when to switch from a dotted quater note groove to walking but otherwise I've been told I'm free to do just about anything within the tonality.

    I have very little experience playing both modal jazz and a more open 3/4 feel. Could I get some advice on constructing basslines rhythmically? I do plan to transcribe some Garrison and Reggie Workman stuff but I've got a pile of homework to do first.... I should be doing that now...
  2. mix up the use of triplets and duples. get away from any blues scales. minor is always dorian (major 6). Have fun.
  3. That's good advice. Something I do when playing tunes in 3 is, once the time and feel are established through the head and as we get deeper into solos and group improvisation, to approach 2 bars of 3 as 1 bar of 6. Feeling things this way allows me to open up and explore more rhythmic ideas over bar lines and traditional weigh points in the form. When I reach that point I'm grouping bars together in an odd/even fashion. Then, if everyone is there, I can wind up internally feeling a triplet pulse and playing anything anywhere as bar lines melt away. It's important though that mentally you know where the tune is.
  4. Both ideas above are great. Keep in mind that EVERYTHING you do is dependent on what the other guys are doing. If you have a really busy and/or dominant drummer, your lines will likely need to be simpler. Playing in one with the occasional dotted quarter might work in that situation. Listen to the original Coltrane My Favorite Things. Steve Davis plays a very simple bass part but it works great with the rest of the band. If you have a solid, time keeping drummer, you have a lot more room to weave more complex lines. As a more extreme example, check out Scott Lafaro on the Bill Evans Vanguard recordings. Paul Motian holds the time down and Scotty is all over the place (in a good kind of way). Technically, they weren't playing modally on the 3/4 tunes but the concept of the approach would work the same way on a modal tune.

    Chances are you'll be somewhere in the middle of those examples.

  5. A lot depends on the group, but as for playing more simply with a busier drummer and vice-versa, it depends on how tight you are.
  6. Thanks for the advice guys. I was actually starting to lean towards subdividing in 6 instead of three but I wasn't sure if that was cochure.

    No fear Eli, I definately am not one to over use the blues scale.

    Oh, and it's most definately Jimmy Garrison not Steve Davis on My favorite things but he does lay down sick stuff.
  7. Jimmy Garrison didn't join the Coltrane band until '61. The original studio version of My Favorite Things (the one that you always hear) was recorded in October 1960 with McCoy, Elvin and Steve Davis and released on Atlantic records. Davis is one of those guys who completely disappeared after his stint with Coltrane. He was replaced by Reggie Workman. Workman was only with the Band a short while and was replaced by Garrison in '61. The band with Garrison recorded MFT many times in a live setting. Most versions are 20+ minutes long.

    mark the historian
  8. Jason Hollar

    Jason Hollar It Don’t Mean A Thing... Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2005
    Pittsburgh area
    Don't listen to Scott Lafaro! :bag:

    I think the Coltrane recordings might be a better place to start -- especially My Favorite Things. The bass plays lots of pedal tones under the 3/4 feel...drummers love that.
  9. Menacewarf


    Mar 9, 2007
    :mad: :bawl:
  10. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    KC Strings
    Jason, This may need further explanation. :confused:
  11. Some soloists love that too, unfortunately. There's a world of difference between what Steve Davis played and what Jimmy Garrison was doing a few years later.
  12. Jason Hollar

    Jason Hollar It Don’t Mean A Thing... Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2005
    Pittsburgh area
    Only in the case of learning to play a basic waltz bass line.

    As Calivox said, Scotty's stuff is quite advanced and atypical of what might be expected for a beginner starting out in a combo.

    I know I was a corn-fused as hell when I first tried to figure out how to play standards by listening to those classic Bill Evans recordings. Now it makes much more sense to my ear of course!
  13. Garrison was a visionary who, more or less, created a new style of bass playing. Davis was merely adequate.

  14. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    Jeez, Mark, we couldn't disagree more about Garrison. I've often felt that he was along for the ride.

    But that's what makes music so fun.
  15. What are listening too, Sam? I don't mean that disparagingly. When I first discovered Coltrane, which is how I discovered jazz, my stuff was all on cassette tape which had been transferred from LP's or the original masters, or whatever. I thought the same thing as you. Initially, CD's didn't improve much. Once the remastered stuff came out and I could actually hear what Jimmy was playing a light went off in my head. Besides, at that point in his career, Coltrane could probably have hired almost any bassist he desired, why Garrison? It wasn't simply that he was the only cat available. Obviously Coltrane heard something. What did Coltrane hear? I wanted to discover that. It's all there now on the remastered CD's.

    Check him out on Chasin' the Trane. That's not Reggie Workman. If you have the Vanguard box set you can compare that to versions Workman played on. The difference is great. Same with Impressions. I could go on and on about Jimmy Garrison's playing, citing example after example of the inventiveness of his lines, the way he fit perfectly with Elvin Jones, the fantastic stuff they played on ballads (check out the Johnny Hartman disc, or I Want to Talk About You on Live at Birdland). It took a long time but eventually I began to understand and love his solos as well.
  16. +1 on everything but the solos. To this day, I fast forward through most of them. They are an acquired taste which I've never quite acquired.

    But as a rhythm section bassist, he was astoundingly inventive. He was one of the first bassists to play with a broken time feel. Scott Lafaro was doing something like this before him and while there was likely some influence from Lafaro, Garrison went in a different direction with it--less virtuostic and more rhythmic. In addition to a great 4/4 walking feel, he played figures, counter lines and stop time bits during sections that previously would have been walked. And he did it with a huge fat sound while maintaining a serious swing feel. All of which really opened up the sound of the Coltrane Quartet. It was all new at the time.

    So to crowbar this back into the thread, Garrison would be a great example to study to figure out how to play modally in 3.

  17. If you listen to the first version of "Miles' Mode" from the Vanguard box, Garrison plays that gnarly head in unison with the horns. Then right off the top of the first solo, he plays 3:2 against Elvin - starting on beat 2 - and holds it. That's not going along for the ride in my book, that's helping to drive the bus ... or sun ship ... or whatever.

    +1 on what Mark said.
  18. Try hearing it as an extension of what he set up with his bassline and as if Elvin was playing behind him.

    In addition to the examples of his rhythmic playing, he also had a very advanced harmonic conception.
  19. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    DK, I only took the question in the best way coming from you.

    You're right. I usually listen on my Close-and-Play 2.1 computer setup (although I now have a decent stereo kit at home and I will bring some home to check in more detail based on your suggestion).

    Exactly what Coltrane/Garrison CDs are on my shelf? In order of recording date,
    COLTRANE (Impulse, Deluxe Ed.)
    ONE UP ONE DOWN (which is stormin' so hard, man!)
    JUPITER VARIATIONS -- I forget if that's Garrison

    What can I tell you? I always felt like the guy was Member Number Four. I will delve some deeper based on your enthusiastic recommendation.

    Naw. Trane was famous for letting everybody and their uncle take a swing or two with the band. One possibility is that Trane thought that Garrison was perfectly fine but Elvin and Mac thought that Garrison was the cat's pajamas because he stayed out of the way.

    But anyway, thanks for your very constructive suggestion and I'll be off to the Listening Spot before too long.
  20. Dave, the Vanguard box lists RW as the bass on that track. The one other version has both bassists. And is different.

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