Abandoned during bass solo

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by BassmanBender1, Jun 13, 2022.

  1. I went to my third-ever jazz jam session yesterday, and I was shocked when everyone just stopped playing when I took a bass solo during Satin Doll and again during Girl from Ipanema. Dead silence. I couldn't tell whether they thought the song was over or whether this is something they just do at this jam. Or perhaps other bass players who join them don't ever solo. (I was the only one yesterday.)

    Even though I was un-nerved, I kept playing my solo until the main guitar player started tapping his head to signal the others that we should go back to the top, which I was already approaching since I was soloing off the changes and I had kept my place.

    I play regularly in a four-piece combo, and the piano player and guitar player in that group will comp chords on the one or when there's a chord change during solos. And the drummer will play circles with his brushes. I know now how tremendously helpful that is.

    This was the second time for me with these players: Drums, keyboard, two guitars, saxophone, two singers and me on my Engelhardt.

    So, is this common? Why would they just stop playing? I worked hard to outline the chords during their solos. Why did they think it was break time for them?

    If I do decide to go back, I'm going to politely ask them to comp during my bass solos. At least the piano player should comp.
  2. It sometimes happens to me on gigs, but not on every tune like with what happened to you. Why it happens I can't fully explain. Comping tastefully behind a bassist can be tough. Sometimes I've had chordal players comp way too loud and busy, as if they were backing up a horn player, or play barely anything. So it's likely they maybe didn't know what exactly to play and thus decided to just lay out instead. If you do go back, ask them to just at least keep the form relatively outlined for you so you don't have to focus too much on keeping the form during your solo.
  3. Carl Hillman

    Carl Hillman

    Jan 1, 2010
    I think a lot of people take their cues about what they should do during a bass solo from records made before there were things like pickups, amps, and steel strings.

    If it happens on a gig I'm on, I'll usually tactfully ask, when we're on a break, that they comp for me.

    Or, you could just yell. "It ain't 1955 m*†h¢®ƒuç%®! Play!"
  4. bass12

    bass12 Have You Met Grace Jones?

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    Yeah, this approach made sense before basses were amplified but now it’s just annoying.
  5. Guys don't always know how to support the bass...they probably think they were doing you a huge favour by "staying out of the way" but in reality it just kills the groove.
  6. Every bassist expects different things whilst soloing.

    Explain what you need from them.
    Show them a recording of the style of accompaniment that you want them to play.

    Some people just don’t get it though.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2022
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  7. Ed S

    Ed S

    Nov 14, 2019
    Not a jazz player, but often when I take a break in an "Americana" jam, the other pickers with just hit the 1 beat. A little disconcerting if not expected. I'd probably prefer they just lay back a bit, as my breaks aren't all that.
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  8. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    Yes this is common. Many players drop off to almost nothing when the bass player takes a ride.

    This video should start right before the bass solo. Notice how little structure the piano and drums are providing. Then go back and listen to how much structure the piano and drums provide during other parts of the recording.

    The massive change in dynamics and sparse harmonic texture can make it really hard to keep track of the time and feel...especially since the bass player is no longer laying down a nice pocket with the drums. Top players just power through, which is what you did :thumbsup:. Unfortunately, when the band stops providing sufficient structure, lesser bassists will cave, lose track of the time and changes, and possibly stop entirely.

    When the rhythmic and harmonic structure becomes too sparse, it can be next to impossible to keep the time and feel from jumping around (Why? The following video below should give you some hints.)

    When I play with a new trio, I frequently have a little conversation to let them know what I want. Essentially they need to provide enough rhythmic and harmonic structure for me to "hang my hat on." It may take a few tries before they get it (I.E. it takes a bit of experimentation to find the right balance).
  9. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    It's OK to approach them on the break and say, "You hung me out to dry."
  10. bolophonic


    Dec 10, 2009
    Durham, NC
    They probably thought they were doing you a favor.
  11. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    Hate it when that happens. In my experience, people apparently can't handle when the bass drops out. :laugh:

    Poop really hits the fan if you, as a bassist, decide to use a lot of space in your solo (god forbid you don't start your solo within the first bar), or syncopate heavily. I've lost many a good man to that. Because if no one but you is playing, they also seem to stop counting or lose their place in the form.
  12. sean_on_bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    It happens as some players just think that's how bass solos work...unaccompanied. Sort of like what happens during drum solos. When it happens, you deal with it and keep up the changes/time. Alternatively you can go into outer space since no one is holding you back, then eventually signal the band back in. And of course it is totally appropriate to ask folks to comp for you during a solo if you know they might leave you hanging. I prefer to get some comping as well as long as they know how to do it gracefully and actually support my solo. That means dropping volume and staying out of my way in the frequency spectrum. I love the way Bill Evans comps for a bass solo by moving his voicing up the keys to stay clear out of the frequency range of the bass.
  13. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member

    The fact that we've all been through tells you just how often bassists solo. One thing that might help a bit is if you move into thumb position quickly so they can hear you better. One thing that sometimes helps is snarling "Comp! Comp!" but more than not, I get deer in the headlights because they're already on their phones and thought they were dismissed for a couple of minutes.
  14. Likely the players are not skilled enough, or in the cultured enough mentality to comp during a bass solo.

    It happens a lot. But those players need to up their game.

    Talking to them during the breaks will be nice. Before playing, ask either the guitarist or the pianist to comp for your solos. Pick one.
  15. Dennis Kong

    Dennis Kong Supporting Member

    Sep 1, 2004
    San Mateo CA
    That happens lot to me at the local Bay Area Blues jams especially with The Blues & Rock Guitar Gods!
    Who think they re the only ones can solo...

    I try start my solo for few bars and stop:
    I just go over to the closest guitarist or keys who is experienced and directly ask them in front of the audience:

    "Give A Me Comp Bro or Sis !":hyper:

    Most of time they look confused and then oblige!
    if you re any good- You try to take a better solo than them !:D
    Ala Jaco or Stanley or Marcus or Victor styles!
    So if you decide to come back to their jams
    - they' ll re remember you hopefully.

    In my band -automatically my guitarist expects me solo and always comps nicely!
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2022
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  16. badinage

    badinage Supporting Member

    May 25, 2021
    I don't really "enjoy" bass solos but when called, but I would always expect a full drop of everyone else. I'll probably even change-up timing at spot or two and they'd be a trainwreck. Where and when I'm deciding to drag them back in they'll know it, that's my job as "soloist". Its improv. Here again, I think bass solos are usually whipped cream on a Reuben, but when you're called, get with it, you're the leader. I wouldn't "expect" the rest of the band to do anything but pay attention to cues for where I may be leading.

    If I crash I'll get to practice a recovery.
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  17. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Columbia SC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    A lot depends on the skill level of folks at the session. Particularly drummers, you get a good one and they comp for you just like they do everyone else, albeit with more sensitivity when it comes to dynamic range, timbre, and the sonic space the lower register occupies. But a lot of it depends on us as players, are WE providing a direction clearly enough that the rest of the band here's what we're doing? If I'm playing gibberish, how can I expect a pianist or guitarist to accompany that with any kind of intent? A solo has to be more than just throwing notes at changes.
    And that means it has to communicate the song in the same way a good saxophone solo can communicate the song without a chordal accompaniment.

    So what's the skill level of the folks at the session? You say none of the other bassists took a solo, that doesn't scream "solid, accomplished players" to me.
  18. crd


    Feb 1, 2022
    I may be in the minority with this opinion but I would much rather take an unaccompanied solo than one where people mess with my time or harmonic rhythm. Nothing is more annoying to me than a pianist who can't really nail the downbeat.
  19. Me too!

    I'm happy when my solo is completely mine. The audience does not understand that the solo on the double bass has begun as long as the piano or guitar makes at least one sound! Even if the guy with the microphone says "Bass solo!!!" and I will make a spectacular glissando, the audience will continue to hear the guitar on the background of the bass, and not the bass on the background of the guitar. I would say that silence is a good gift from your musicians. And for this gift they must have a strong character, courtesy and upbringing! I rarely played solos and almost all of them were ruined by a guitarist or drummer who couldn't keep quiet!

    Last edited: Jun 14, 2022
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  20. mooseonbass

    mooseonbass Supporting Member

    Jun 24, 2011
    There are times I would give various parts of my anatomy to be truly solo on a solo. I want to scream "JUST STOP FOR 16 FREAKIN' BARS, WILL YA???" But then again, they have to listen to me so I should be more sympathetic. I'm lucky they don't sit there and blow air horns.
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