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Big Band Bass Feature - please help

Discussion in 'Music [DB]' started by Ben Rose, Oct 18, 2004.

  1. Ben Rose

    Ben Rose

    Jan 12, 2004
    I have an upcoming gig (Oct 31) with my big band (Pecos River Brass) and the bandleader has written a bass feature on "Always" by Irving Berlin. There are a few things about the piece that I'm having difficulty with and could use some help/ideas/advice.

    First, the melody. Starts off relatively simple for the first 16 bars, but get progressively more difficult after that. Most of this just comes down to woodsheddin', but there is a point where I'm trading 1 bar question & answer phrases with the woodwinds (in this case flutes). On the bars where I am not playing the melody, I am walking. How can I make the walking sound more like a background part and the melody sound more like a "lead" part?

    Second, the solo. Tha changes are not too bad, but I'm having trouble playing something that sounds good against the horn arrangement in the background. It feels very diffferent from soloing with standard rhythm section accompaniment. Does anyone have more experience with this?

    Last, the cadenza. Never played one before. The song ends on an FMaj7, so I have been focusing on a C7 sound. This sounds a) dull, and b) like it does not have very much to do with the melody or the rest of the song. Any advice for playing cadenzas?

    Any help would be appreciated.
  2. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    How wonderful that your director has such a high level of confidence in you.

    On the background part, play softer, consider putting more old-school spaces between your notes, and think real hard about whether 2-beat instead of 4 can be done appropriately.

    Listen to some big-band records and see how soloists work it. It's also key for the background parts to be nice and soft so they're not getting in your way.

    Ooh! Ooh! I'm trying to learn that too! My first effort, apparently like yours, was harmonically static. I've since spent time trying to walk the line of finding sounds that work while not just developing licks to paste in. Some thoughts:

    a) Work with the melody.
    b) Wide intervals seem to work for me. 6ths, 7ths, 9ths, 10ths -- get used to playing across non-adjacent strings.
    c) Listen to bassists playing alone. There's a bunch of Dave Holland stuff which is lovely. Don Zebrauskas, who posts around here, has done a lot of playing alone.

    You can listen to one of my less-successful efforts, and follow along the constructive criticism, in the TB/DB Online Sampler.

    I hope this helps, PB. Good luck and above all have fun with it. These chances come so rarely.
  3. On your CREDENZA oops that's a piece of furniture isn't it? Cadenza, Sam's suggestion of melody is cool...why not take the melody from the last 8 bars...state the first part of it in an obvious way so everybody knows what the hell you're doing...then, one of the most effective things to do when playing alone is to use DYNAMICS. Most bassists are not aware of how affective it is to bring the level way down...I mean WAY DOWN. This demands attention from your audience!
    Once you get their attention, take your time and try to be musical. Alot of players get high on power and ego at this point, and bring out the BIG guns. You know, the heavy artillery. Try to NOT do this...again, try to be musical!
    Good luck!
  4. Ben Rose

    Ben Rose

    Jan 12, 2004
    Thanks for the suggestions in the posts and via email.

    The suggestion of putting more "old school space" between the notes may make a big difference in the part where I'm trading with the flutes. I'm also experimenting with varying my right hand attack in these sections to make more contrast between the bars.

    The band director is going to give me a copy of the backgrounds during my solos. Knowing what those parts are should help.

    For the CREDENZA I have no worries about getting to flashy on the DB :rolleyes: , but the suggestions about melody, extended harmony and dynamics all give me ideas. I have especially overlooked the idea of varying the dynamics. Prolly a result of years of struggling to be heard over other instruments.

    I have a "practice" performance of it tomorrow night at a smaller gig. I'll let you know how it goes.
  5. In addition to all the above:
    -When trading fours, try changing registers between talk and answer, i.e. jump up or down an octave.
    (edit: oops, trading ones?)
    -During the condensa, add some pronounced vibrato to a singing, sustaining note, and maybe a gliss or two, especially shifting up into a note.
    Sounds like fun.
  6. Ben Rose

    Ben Rose

    Jan 12, 2004
    That's funny that you should mention the gliss. There is actually a written gliss from C to thumb position A on the G-string before the last note (F).
  7. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    another thing to do in the cadenza is to play passing chromatic run...i forgot to mention that in my PM...
  8. Ben Rose

    Ben Rose

    Jan 12, 2004

    What do you mean by a passing chromatic run? Is that a chromatic scale starting or ending on a passing tone (ie C# chromatic scale before going to a C7)?

    Also thanks for the suggestion about the horn backgrounds. I should get the master chart tomorrow.
  9. No, that's OK......i'm busy tomorrow night.
    (just a little joke) :rolleyes:
  10. Ben Rose

    Ben Rose

    Jan 12, 2004
    What, you're not waiting on pins and needles to see how it turns out!!? :crying: :p

    So far the suggestions have all been very helpful..at least while practicing at home. Hopefully some of this will transfer to the gig.
  11. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002

    Without knowing what tonality you're starting your solo on, in, or around but knowing that you want to eventually hit that
    authentic cadence (V-I) I would at some point maybe go to d minor very quickly and move down chromatically (establish a sequence or just blow) all the way to g-7 then hit c7 and back to Fmaj7 for the cadence.

    hard to describe improv in words so sorry if this lacks ya'll.
  12. Ben Rose

    Ben Rose

    Jan 12, 2004
    I know that Warmburntmuffins has been anxiously awaiting this reply ;)

    Last night was better, but there's still alot of room for improvement. Melody was 95% there. Solo still needs lots of work, but now I have the horn lines to play off of. Cadenza was better, but I think too short.

    Many bandmembers mentioned that it sounded better this week. I guess I'm on the right track.

    Thanks for the help.
  13. Phew!! What a relief to know everything is cool!!
    Seriously though, how many times have we sat through a LONG credenza by some jive trumpet or tenor player trying to show how high they can play or the dreaded circular breathing show? This is your chance to show them that it's about MUSIC! Take your time!!! :spit: Please don't make me wait so long next time Darling! :rolleyes: