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Active Listening ?

Discussion in 'Bassists [DB]' started by godoze, Dec 20, 2004.

  1. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    Who among us listens to bassists ? I do not. well, not intentionally.

    I decided many many years ago that listening to bassists was not good for my development. It may have been during my formative years but eventually i found that my own style was well on its way and that i was gaining little from listening.

    I do listen obviously for good music. I don't rule out music just because there happens to be a good bassist. don't want to come off like a complete ass..

    just wondering if anyone else has experienced this.
  2. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    I LOVE BASS. I love the way the bass sounds, I love listening to bassists play.

    That's not all I listen to, even if it's a record led by a bassist. But to NOT listen because you're afraid of "contaminating" your own sound....I dunno.

    I live in a city where I'm surrounded by bass players. Some are bad, some are good, some are really good, some are great , some are excellent, some are BAD. The great thing about living here, that was different from where I lived before and even from living in Boston, is that what is expected is for you to sound like you. I can hear Ray Parker play and listen to him do alla that arco/thumb position/ great idea playing and appreciate it for being Ray Parker. And there are things that Ray does that speak to me on a personal level and that I want to try to pull into my own playing.
    But just because Ray plays the way he plays doesn't reinforce or negate the way I play in any fashion. Because I try to play ME, my ideas, the way I hear things.

    Scott Colley, Larry Grenadier, Drew Gress. They all sound great. They all sound DIFFERENT. I'll try to include that question if I ever get to interview these guys, but I BET that the reason that they sound different is because they have a strong internal sound that they are trying to get to, not because they don't listen to other bass players.

    SUre when you start, you tend to JUST listen to the bassist. So you can get some idea of what the function is. But if you listen to MUSIC, then the instrument doesn't matter, right? And a musician that plays bass shouldn't affect your own internal conception any more or less than a musician who plays tenor....
  3. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I always notice the bass - I don't see how you can avoid it in small-group situations - but it may not be my favourite part of the music that's going on? So - I go along to my local Jazz club every Friday and what amazes me is the variety of bass sounds - but often I will be more impressed and interested in other instruments, the level of interaction, the compositions, the overall blend of sound etc. etc.

    But I think that you can't help noticing bass in small-group-Jazz - so often it will be a case of bass,drums and the soloist with minimal shading from chordal instruments...

    Bass is a big part of the sound, the drive, the groove ....

    Last Friday I saw a great band with Sax,Trumpet, Guitar, Drums and Tuba!! So - the guitarist was leaving loads of space, but virtually everybody was riveted by the bass role of the Tuba - you could see them watching and thinking wow!! It was so different from DB in every way, but also very much to the forefront throughout and such a big, interesting, sound!! :)
  4. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    Like I said, I do not avoid bassists, I just find my inspiration comes mainly from musicians other than bassists.

    I certainly appreciate bassists many styles.
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I'm not sure - so, OK often at an average gig, with an average bass player, there might not be much inspiration from the bass player - but conversely, if I think back to some of the best gigs I've attended, then it is often the bass player who has been most inspiring to me personally - if only in the sense of "wow I wish I could have been doing that!!" :)

    So, if I think back to seeing John Patitucci with Wayne Shorter's quartet, Dave Holland with his band or Eberhard Weber with Jan Garbarek... etc. etc.

    Then, there was a lot of inspiration for me and for all the bassists I talked to, afterwards....:)
  6. I think it can't be a good thing to resign to the fact that you only listen to music a certain way. For example, even the difference between when you are listening FOR something specific ("looking" for something or focusing on something) compared to listening without a specific agenda, (just letting the sounds hit your ears and seeing what happens) can be interesting.

    I listen to different instruments for different things. Certainly other instruments have inherently more potential in terms of speed, harmonic complexity, rhythmic thrust, dynamic range, expressiveness. Qualities mainly associated with solos, but not limited to. I am often inspired by these other instruments, and players that demonstrate these qualties on them. At the same time, I realize that in most cases a bass player is chosen because of how he or she compliments the rest of the band. That the best bassists are preferred not only because they sound good but because they make the soloist and the whole band sound good, too. And I want to know how to do this. I want to know how to swing the band, to get a great tone, play with authority and conviction without being overbearing, to know how to fit in and play what's right for a given situation, while maintaining my personal identity. So I will listen to the bass with those things in mind, and if it's a good band, the bass will inspire me.
  7. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    Right. when I listen i try to hear the "whole" instead of the parts. What usually strikes me is if the bass player is bad. I certainly do dig great bass playing.

    By the way, I am not advocating that people stop lilstening to bass players. It's just for me if found my focus changed.
  8. I've played tuba for 15+ years - I would have loved being in the audience for this! :)

    I tend to be drawn to bass sounds (probably from all the tuba + bass playing) but lately I've been trying to listen to rhythm sections, not just the bass, and focus on how my bass playing locks in with the drums, etc. I've also always drawn influences some other places - Thelonious Monk's piano playing for a different perspective on using space, for example.
  9. klepto

    klepto Guest

    Nov 10, 2004
    i love listening to the bass--that's why i began playing it in the first place