Bass, Sax, Guitar trio or quartet?

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by sidonbass, Jun 29, 2017.

  1. sidonbass

    sidonbass Supporting Member

    May 27, 2006
    Santa Fe, New Mexico
    Jazz standards- Im not a strong enough player to be the only thing behind the guitar solo, It just sounds to thin, so I'm recommending adding a 4th person. The guitar player is a super strong rhythm player, The sax player is a super strong soloist. I am not playing solos on my upright.
    What do you suggest for adding a 4th player to fatten up the sound?
    Drums? another horn? another strong horn soloist? another guitar? Keys?
    We really are trying to NOT add a drummer. We can always add one later for gigs that require it. Right now we are doing small weddings, parties, cocktail hours, etc...
  2. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member

    Get there, it's very gratifying for me. In the meantime, bass, guitar, sax, no drums begs for piano, or organ, or poor choice, vibes, and worst choice, accordian. Just make the best music you can and everything else will sort itself out, ime. 2nd guitar is also a nice sonority.
  3. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Sid, let's start with the fact: Adding someone else may make the group sound thicker but only you can make your playing sound thicker. And -- although this may be a minority opinion -- most people are handicapped playing standards on bass guitar. So what can you do about that in your situation?
    . Pull a thicker sound. Play closer to the neck, pluck with the side of your finger instead of your tip, use your thumb.
    . Play busier where that is musically appropriate
    . Fiddle with your amp and speakers for a thicker tone
    . Listen hard to swinging BG players like Bob Cranshaw, Steve Swallow and Joel DeBartolo.
    . Most importantly, if 'thin' is what you've got, as @Tom Lane says, find a way to make it work. There is beauty in a transparent-sounding band. Seek it, find it and work it!

    All that said, my first 'add' would be drums.

    All agreed except I love playing with vibes. Transparency is a positive attribute at my house.
  4. Jason Hollar

    Jason Hollar Jazz & Cocktails Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2005
    Central Pa
    My favorite choice is a trio with piano & drums. However, I've got a super quiet drummer who really complements my acoustic tone.

    There's an agent who books us on like a half dozen gigs a year who always wants bass / keys / sax --- No Drums.

    These gigs are a little more challenging because I'm the main time keeper - but it's also rewarding to prepare for and rise to the challenge.
    RBrownBass and sidonbass like this.
  5. Jason Hollar

    Jason Hollar Jazz & Cocktails Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2005
    Central Pa
    My point was - keep it a trio with guitar & sax - you'll get more space to learn to solo - and hopefully make more bread!
    Fat bob and RBrownBass like this.
  6. krfoss

    krfoss Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2007
    Orange County, CA
    If you wanted to add a drummer but keep it really light, have the drummer stick to brushes, snare, and a simple cymbal. Enough to keep time and fill in, but won't transport/ distort the look and feel of the group.
    Oddly, sidonbass and Seanto like this.
  7. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member Commercial User

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    Add a piano player; two guitars only if you are playing Django. I only book a drummer on the days I'll miss the gig......
    Treyzer, rickwolff and sidonbass like this.
  8. sean_on_bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    I'd say either drummer or piano. Also as others have said, there is the option of making your current group work too, since you have the right elements.
    sidonbass likes this.
  9. RBrownBass

    RBrownBass Thoroughly Nice Guy Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2004
    I'd say find the right drummer (one with volume control and taste and creativity). Most of the jazz I really enjoy has a drummer involved, or at least a percussionist. I never understood why they seem to get a bad rep here on TB.
  10. BD Jones

    BD Jones

    Jul 22, 2016
    Having done this exact same thing before, I vote for a drummer. The right drummer can add so much more to the sound and vibe than a piano, another horn, or another guitar. My favorite group ever was a wind player (who played multiple wind instruments), a piano player (who would also pick up a guitar sometimes), a drummer, and myself on bass.
  11. You & the Sax player should work out some nice unison/harmony/counterpoint lines to play during the guitar solo. Maybe write out some parts just for now, until you learn to bounce off each other.

    Or Sax could do simple hand percussion during guitar solos. eg. Cabassa, Shaker, or the versatile Guiro/Shaker.

    james condino, sidonbass and Tom Lane like this.
  12. This song highlights a Sax playing harmonies with bass, unison with melody, plus counterpoint and tasty fills.

    I'd try woodshedding a bunch of songs with just you and guitarist soloing. Find the tunes you're strongest on & add them into the setlist. Drop the songs that don't sound as good.
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2017
  13. Lionel Albert

    Lionel Albert

    Jul 24, 2015
    I say no, you don't need.
    Act like a drummer, use ghost notes, and all the things that add dynamics.
    When you say he is a super strong rhythm player, how does he comp ? Chords or voicings ? Does he play on every beat ? Ask him if he is listening to you.
    When the sax is soloing, he has to listen to you too, if the guitarist plays chords all the time, it doesn't create space enough and it is not good for someone who has to blow.
    What kind of guitar does he play ?
    Keep your trio !
    This is how it can sound, the guitar is not very useful there.

    Not a good example, the guy was beginning playing jazz on guitar and bass.
    But a drummer is not needed.
    sidonbass and Reiska like this.
  14. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    If you can't handle being the only thing behind a guitarist then you need to be playing with a drummer. To play without one, you have to keep the drummer running in your head, and so do the guys playing with you.

    If you're not going to get a drummer, then get a guitarist who can do the above and let them carry the band.

    Just because the drummer isn't there doesn't mean he doesn't exist. You must collectively hold down that position.
  15. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member

    This is exactly right, IMO. I love playing in all kinds of settings but duos are particularly gratifying because, if we're both listening and responding appropriately, we can allow the time to move in non-static ways. Add a 3rd person, and we're more restricted but less responsible; a 4th, the same. For me, it all completely comes down to how much I enjoy the "voice" of the other player(s). One is all I need to have a wonderful time, but a nonet can make me thankful to be alive just the same. And a big band with an in-tune sax soli... wet my pants.
    sidonbass likes this.
  16. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Gold Supporting Member

    I am, again, rendered "speechless", Tom.
    rknea and Tom Lane like this.
  17. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member

    Updating my sig next...
    Don Kasper likes this.
  18. sean_on_bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    I'd like to know how you react to an in-tune trombone soli. "There may just be a god."
    Nashrakh and Tom Lane like this.
  19. Reiska


    Jan 27, 2014
    Helsinki, Finland
    As a drummer and a percussionist, I vote for the sax player NOT PLAYING ANY PERCUSSION INSTRUMENT BEFORE LEARNING ALL THAT FOR YEARS: IMO and IME, instruments such as shaker, tambourine and whathaveyou, are the hardest to execute in their simplicity. To put it down, a bad percussion player WILL MESS UP JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING the rest of you are going for.

    I`ve been " enjoying " duo standard gigs with a tenor player for a year now, with my history as a musician, but as a DB beginner. It is soooo challenging and feels sooo naked, but the audiences hasn`t been complaining. On the other hand, I and the tenor player have had the change to really put our poopie together, it`s a wide world of time, sound and space we have to live with. Very challenging but from a pure educational perspective, just perfect. So, I vote for you and your band going without a extra member. Take everything you can out of it, best of luck, enjoy!!!
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2017
  20. Reiska


    Jan 27, 2014
    Helsinki, Finland
    Another thing is this drummer issue. Whatthehell, people find it hard to play without one? I`m a drummer and I deeply find that playing a DB without one is a bliss. A good drummer doesn`t make everyone else`s time feel suck any more badly. It`s not the drummer, she / he ain`t no different than anyone else. Time-keeping is NOT the the drummers job, it`s everybodys task. If you or the other guy in the band can`t make it but the drummer does, it`s all going to fail. If you`re not used to play without the drummer, start practising now, and shout out loud this to everyone in the band. YMMV.
    sidonbass likes this.