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Do you like solo bass artist music?

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by Cirrus, Oct 21, 2000.

  1. Cirrus

    Cirrus Guest

    Apr 30, 2000
    Las Vegas, NV
    I have a feeling this may be something of an inflammatory topic, but I wanted to get an idea of what the general consensus is among bassists regarding solo artist music? I for one am not a big fan of most of what I have heard. Granted, I think a lot of the music they play is really amazing, and some of the sounds they can get out of a bass are incredible. But it always seems like they've forgotten that a lot of times "less is more". Then sometimes they'll play something which IN MY OPINION sounds like total garbage. Yea, it's impressive that someone can play 320th :) notes for a couple of minutes straight, but when it comes out sounding like diarrhea of the bass, I'm not terribly stunned.
    For instance, I love the sounds of Victor Wooten with the Flecktones. But many of the songs I hear on his solo albums make me cringe.
    I hear people talking about how "so and so" is a bass God... Then I listen to a few of their music pieces and I generally don't see what the hubub is all about. A lot of times there is nothing musical to the piece, it just sounds like a lot of fretboard pounding with both hands. Now, I know I wouldn't be able to reproduce most of what I hear these guys play, but then again, I don't think I'd want to.
    So, I can pretty much say I'm not a huge listener of solo bass music. I love to hear basslines working with other music, setting a foundation and carrying it on. How about others?

  2. Deynn

    Deynn Moderator Emeritus

    Aug 9, 2000
    No flame from me. As a matter of fact...I am glad to see someone, put MY feelings into words....:)
  3. I basically listen to just about everything that grooves!! :D

    I have several solo cds and I love to listen to them all...
  4. Erlendur Már

    Erlendur Már

    May 24, 2000
    I listen to solo artists when I think their music is cool.. Like Wooten...He is really cool
  5. JazznFunk


    Mar 26, 2000
    Asheville, NC
    Lakland Basses Artist
    I vote YES for bass solo music. The bass has such a rich, beautiful voice and is well-suited for soloing and solo endeavours. When a bassist is playing his instrument in a purely solo setting, what does it matter what he plays? Why should the "less is more" restriction apply to someone who's playing music from their heart in a solo setting? If 320th notes are what he feels he needs to play to express himself, why is it a bad thing? If they were in a band, supporting the other musicians, then there might be grounds for argument. Everyone has their "thang" they like more than others, which is perfectly fine :), but I have yet to understand why people have a problem with solo bass music.

    Keep groovin'.
  6. Acacia


    Apr 26, 2000
    Austin, TX
    i appreciate it for what it is, but I am not really into it.
  7. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    I'd suggest that it's a mistake to think of 'Solo Bass Music' as a style - if someone's making music, it doesn't really matter what the instrumentation is - it can be great or total crap. The funkiest album I've heard recently is by a solo acoustic guitarist called Don Ross - not a solo instrument usually associated with being funky! :oops:)

    As it is, some people's musical vision is best served solo, or the limitations of playing bass as a solo instrument inspire them in new directions. Victor Wooten's a prime example. hearing how he gets all his percussive, melodic and harmonic ideas into one solo bass peice is really interesting. It's not the be all and end all of his music - I listen to disc 2 of yin-yang much more than I do 'A Show Of Hands', but it's fascniating stuff. Michael Manring seems to approach solo bass from the point of view of seeing how much he can get from the instrument - how holistically can the peice be rendered without needing to add other musicians. And also the physical nature of bass offers some interesting challenges - the fact that Michael makes such awe-inspring beautiful music with just four strings blows my mind.

    I play solo bass cos it's how I think about composition - layers of sound, building up and morphing into other sounds. I love being able to accompany myself, to turn up and play just me and hopefully put on a good show.

    There are some players who seem to just show off, it's all flash and no substance, but that's not really for me to say - one person's musicial masturbation, in another's artistic genius... that's the beauty of art agains science...

    If you are interested in solo bass music, check out The Solo Bass Network - a mailing list for information about the gigs and recordings of solo bassists - go to http://www.steve-lawson.co.uk/solobassnetwork.htm - and if you know of anything that's going on near you that I haven't listed then do let me know...



    [Edited by Steve Lawson on 10-23-2000 at 08:55 AM]
  8. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I've never really been into "BASS" albums, "GUITAR" albums, "DRUM" albums, etc
    ...even im my Fusion-happy daze of the '70s, I generally favored "band" efforts. I personally like hearing CATS(as in plural)having a conversation.

    That said, I can take a "solo" bass piece from a player at the rate of MAYBE one per album or one per show.
    What Manring pulled off on the BASS DAY video(the "Teen Town" reading & the multi-bass thing was happenin').
    Too, I'd prefer it to be LIVE & not multi-tracked(though I kinda dig Patitucci's "A Better Mousetrap" from ON THE CORNER).

    For the above reasons, I still prefer the Flecktones' albums over A SHOW OF HANDS(impressive as it may be).
  9. I like solo bass albums...but they've never touched the CD player in the car, nor have they ever been cranked on the home stereo. :)
  10. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin Banned

    Dec 11, 1999
    I have to agree with Steve.

    As a solo bass artist, you have categorized me as as playing
    But I don't do that, nor for that matter does Steve Lawson. It is ultimately about the music. The bass or any other instrument is just a vehicle for expressing the music within. There is a great deal to learn about melody, harmony and rhythm from playing solo bass. Even if it something that you never play out, you can get a sense of the music from all aspects. Why shouldn't you, as a bassist, be responsible for knowing the melody or the inner voice leading of the harmony. It diminshes us all as musicians, if we are not COMPLETE musicians. It is fine if it is not your cup of tea to listen to or buy. But each of us owes it to ourselves to be better players and more complete muscians.

    There is another thread here concerning the fact that nobody outside the band even knows what a bass is ... wonder why?

    Mike Dimin
  11. Doug


    Apr 5, 2000
    Buffalo, N.Y.
    I couldn't agree more Steve. It just so happens that some people choose the bass to convey their music. I personally love bass oriented recordings. There is so much that can be learned from them. Why limit the bass? Tests it's limits and see where it takes you.
  12. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
  13. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    Peter, it sounds to me like you're confusing technique with style (at least as far as the quote avove is concerned). There are many solo bass artists and I think they'd say that the objective is not playing fast, but playing the piece. I have had an opportunity to talk to Michael Manring a couple of times and he's one of the most complete musicians I've ever met - he even did a string quartet arrangement of his composition "Life in the Trees" Toward the center of the Night, Winham Hill, out of print to be played at Joe Zon's wedding!

    Of course, even if the player's level of bass plaing is higher than their musicianship, stretching the perceived limits of what the electric bass guitar can do is not only fun, it can be exciting. Our instrument is still brand new and its vocabulary not yet entirely established. Feling that you're making a contribution in that regard can be very rewarding. The bottom line is you have to be a musician first. Only that way can you make great music. It's getting late. I'm losin' my train of thought but I feel I got my point across.

    Will C:cool: with a :oops:(yawn).
  14. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
  15. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin Banned

    Dec 11, 1999
    In the end - it is all about the music. When music done well the last thing that we notice is what instrument is playing it. What we notice is the emotional content, its ability to move us. As a bassist I am convinced that if I no longer had the use of my hands, the music would still come out. The bass just happens to be my tool. Solo bass is my vehicle.

    I also must reiterate that each of us does our instrument a disservice if we don't learn the melodies, can hear and play the inner voices of the harmony and understand the subtle relationship between the two.

    There have been solo bassists out there who claim to be the "fastest" (anybody remember Adrain Davidson) - these guys are no longer around. The solo bassists who are still doing their thing are the ones who primarily and ultimately make MUSIC.

  16. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    "That was the question in the heading, but the entire suggestion within the first post on the thread was that most if not all solo bass music that this guy had heard was ultra fast chops stuff, and that therefor the suggestion was that perhaps the entire concept of solo bass music is flawed. That's what both Mike and I were disagreeing with. If someone says 'I don't like Steve Lawson's music' that's fair enough - there are gonna be loads of people who don't like what I do. But if someone says that it's ego-wank, nonsensical muso BS, then I'll take some exception to that, as that claims a certain amount of insight into why I play the music I play... taste is one thing, statements about an entire instrument (not even a style, cos there is no solo bass style!) are a little bizarre. "

    Maybe because I'm not a solo artist I read what he said a completely different way;)

    "I for one am not a big fan of most of what I have heard. Granted, I think a lot of the music they play is really amazing, and some of the sounds they can get out of a bass are incredible. But it always seems like they've forgotten that a lot of times "less is more".

    He seems to clearly be talking about most of what he has heard. Not every solo artist, just the ones he's listened to. While I didn't cringe when I listened to Vic' "A Show of Hands", it doesn't spend much time in my CD player. I actually prefer the followup CD, "Yin Yang" for the old school ensemble vibe. I've mentioned this among other bass players and I get the "Are you crazy?" look...how could I possibly prefer that to the technical showcase of the first CD? Because I liked it...no more complicated than that.

    Just like bagpipes, some things aren't for some people. That's not a slap at soloists on Peter's part, I took it as an explanation as to how he came to his conclusion.

    Mike, you're absolutely right-it is all about the music.
    But... :D (you knew there'd be one, right?) while I definitely see an advantage to learning melodies, I don't consider it a disservice to the instrument if each of us don't do this. While I strive to do this, it may not go over very well in say, a I-IV-V Blues band ;) Somebody need to play the roots, ya think?
  17. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin Banned

    Dec 11, 1999
    While I'm not saying that you should PLAY the melody, I do believe that you should KNOW the melody. Your playing will be so much better if you do.

  18. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    It's easy to diss solo bass stuff until you've heard the creme de la creme of what's out there:

    Jaco's Portrait of Tracy

    Dave Holland's albums Emerald Tears and One's All

    Christian McBride's version of Night Train

    Edgar Meyer playing the Bach Cello Suites

    I can't listen to those and write them off as wanking and I can't say I wish there were other instruments playing along either.
  19. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    I didn't realize anyone was dissing solo bass. What was the dis?

    As strange as it may seem, some people still aren't into Jaco :D I know, I know...shocking, isn't it?:eek:

    One man's heaven could still be another's wank. That doesn't mean it's bad, it only means it's not hitting him like it hits you. What I have a hard time understanding is...why can't people understand that everyone is different? This may be the creme-de-la-creme to some but for others it could just be noise. I've noticed people actually getting offended because someone didn't like what they liked. Personally I'm glad we're not the Stepford bassists;)

    I love listening to Percy Jones and Brand X but I could easily see how someone else could consider it wanking. The same goes for Manring, Wooten and Sheehan:D
    What's important to me is whether or not I like them, if someone else doesn't (or even doesn't like me) it's no skin off my nose.
  20. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    "can hear and play the inner voices of the harmony"


    Those inner voices may get you in trouble with B.B. :D
    Then again...nothing like getting your 'Trane on while playing Texas Blues.

    J/K Mike

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