Does being a jazz bassist automatically make you a bad bad man? (or woman?)

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by two fingers, Apr 28, 2017.

  1. Yep. Now shut up.

    51 vote(s)
  2. Nah. I'm curious too.

    13 vote(s)
  3. I am afraid to answer because a jazz bassist might look at me and blind me with his awesomseness.

    15 vote(s)
  4. Steamed Jazz Carrots...... mmmmmmmmm....

    33 vote(s)
  1. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    OK, let's do this.

    This thread brought out some interesting observations.
    Is it sacralige to say Paul McCartney isn't a great bass player

    Several times in this thread people mentioned various bassists simply MUST be bad a$$e$ because "they used to play jazz" or "came from a jazz background" (or something similar).

    Why does that, in and of itself, automatically give you bass ninja status? Sure, it implies a certain level of music theory understanding. But why does it automatically seem to put someone up on a reeeeeeeeeally high pedestal. It's as if non jazz bass players are sitting in a saloon in an old western and a jazz guy walks some sort of known gun slinger....immediately commanding the respect and fear of all "regular" bassists in the room.

    The guy who got me started on bass played jazz. He made a living at it for years playing in a jazz quartet and in a private event band that played jazz with and without vocals. They were jazz standards up to maybe Blood Sweat and Tears stuff and the like. Technique wise the guy could hardly play his way out of a wet paper bag. Sure, he could walk all over the fretboard. That was pretty much it. By the way, he majored in music and graduated in the early 60s playing both upright and electric (as well as low brass).

    Sure, I have played some jazz gigs. I started in jazz band in fact. I have played lots of jazz dinner music as the first set at wedding. I have played some fusion stuff as an indulgent piece here and there in cover bands. None of that stuff "stretched" me any more than playing and singing Rush or Led Zepplin. In fact, those were harder in my view. Even The Police on both bass and vocals is more of a challenge than any jazz I have ever played. No, I can't cop Jaco on a whim. But neither can any of the other bassists who seem to automatically get placed in a sacred shrine because of their jazz background. This isn't about people who are extra special regardless of their genre. This is about the perceived assumption that rock, funk, soul and pop bassists are "just" that and not "really educated super awesome ninja samurai jazz bassists"....because jazz is some sort of martial art that is only taught by masters and only learned by those fortunate enough to have been born awesome and worthy of becoming even ore awesome.

    What does this stem from? Why do virtually ALL jazz bassists get placed on the "don't look them directly in the eyes because you're not worthy" list?

    Before panties start to wad, I am NOT implying that playing jazz bass requires no talent. I am simply throwing out there that I don't understand why it is ASSUMED that if you can or have played jazz that you are simply......better.

    OK, pot stirred. Can of worms officially opened. Let the poop flinging begin!

    (Understand that I am a sarcastic bastard. Filter this through sarcastic glasses. So this is more of a fun curiosity even though it reads like a rant. It's not a rant. It's hopefully something fun to discuss.)
    kesslari, El-Bob, Spidey2112 and 5 others like this.
  2. Yes. Cuz we are. So there.
    p.s. This is the first time I've ever been the first to answer a thread. Thank you for this distinction.
  3. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    So, as implied by the other thread, being that you are a jazz bassist, you are fully equipped to step into ANY gig on bass and perform assigned duties flawlessly no matter the genre?

    (Not trying to argue. Just having some fun with a hint of truth.)
  4. No, but I'm a bad, bad man. ;)
  5. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Own it brother. :D
  6. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    New England
    Yes, because you play funny notes.
  7. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    My wife tells me that after I eat chili. ;)
    kobass, kesslari, FilterFunk and 12 others like this.
  8. All kidding aside, I think a lot of that stems from the jazz mystique of being highly trained and funky. What a combination. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound? Probably not, but even while playing a simple pedantic line, you're busy contemplating whether the augmented fifth you're considering playing as a passing tone on the third beat of the third measure of the chorus would be as poetic as a minor sixth... See? Shakin' in your boots yet?
  9. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I ain't skeert! I be playing some Q minor exploded going into a discombobulated fifth and.....stuff.
  10. Jon Moody

    Jon Moody Commercial User

    Sep 9, 2007
    Kalamazoo, MI
    Manager of Brand Identity & Development, GHS Strings, Innovation Double Bass Strings, Rocktron
    You know, I used to think that (started playing classical on string bass at 11; moved to jazz at 16 and was subbing for my teacher by 18) as people would tell me that. Then I sat in on a blues jam and completely fell on my face.

    Technique and skill are great, locking in with a drummer is crucial, but if you don't know the nuances of the specific genre and how the bass falls into that, well...

    So, I'd say my background in classical and jazz has given me a great set of skills that makes it easier to walk into any gig and nail it, but it's not THE reason I keep getting called for gigs. I just know my role.
  11. Part of the requisite tools in the kit is a supply of Beano. That, spare batteries, cables, a flashlight, picks, spare strings...
  12. Now I be shakin'!
    FilterFunk, Stumbo and two fingers like this.
  13. Gravedigger Dav

    Gravedigger Dav Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Springtown, Texas
    And there are those who can play jazz, but prefer other genres.
    Novarocker, Stumbo and Jack Wilcox like this.
  14. Morrighan

    Morrighan la Contessa Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 22, 2015
    Isle of Everywhere
    I certainly hope so. I can live with the status of being a bad, bad woman. Straight, No Chaser. (I keep a "Monk" button pinned on a strap :bassist: )
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2017
    Spectrum, gjohnson441496, JRA and 6 others like this.
  15. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Bingo. See, I think there are people who can just freaking play, AND are trained.

    I contend that people like Roy Vogt or Nathan East (and many others) are both educated and just freaking born to do what they do. Something about them is special notwithstanding their education.

    Then there are some people who are special with no education. They just have that "it" factor that draws people to their music.

    You clearly have the ability to flex and learn other genres if you are able to pick up styles you weren't formally "trained" in. So you have both great tools and great feel. A deadly combination.
    Roberto Nunez, Stumbo and jamro217 like this.
  16. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Actually, I do keep both Beano and Imodium in my bag for just such occasions. I end up giving it to others more than I use it. But there is NOTHING more miserable than being on stage with rumblings coming from somewhere other than the subs. :wideyed:
  17. Amen to that.
  18. Jon Moody brought up a great point. Being enough of a chameleon to blend into almost any given musical situation without appearing clueless is the sign of a mature musician. Not to sound snobbish, but anyone who embarks on the journey of unravelling jazz shows a dedication and seriousness not many casual players do. You don't simply read a couple of pages of theory and become a jazz master. It takes years of hard work. That separates the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. Now, education alone doesn't replace the innate ability to groove. Some things can't be taught. Be honest, if you were playing a normal gig and found out that a famous bassist was in the audience, would you be more nervous to hear that it was Anthony Jackson or Michael Anthony?
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2017
  19. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Columbia SC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Jeez, I guess school just let out...

    Anyway, just because my brother in law is the best architect/dishwasher in East Bum**** doesn't mean he's Frank Lloyd Wright. So I do have to ask, WHAT school did your teacher go to and (really the more important question) who and where has he played jazz? I mean I know guys in East Bum**** GA, where I'm from, that "play jazz" but they ain't really playing and it's definitely NOT jazz. They definitely couldn't hang on the stand in NYC. I mean you got this and then you got this. Both of those would fall under the aegis of "jazz bassist" but, in my opinion, it's only the latter cat that can play for real.

    As to the remark "So, as implied by the other thread, being that you are a jazz bassist, you are fully equipped to step into ANY gig on bass and perform assigned duties flawlessly no matter the genre?" - I can't be held responsible for something stupid someone said somewhere else. That's kind of like saying "Oh you're a whiz at automotive mechanics, why aren't you a good surgeon?" There ARE plenty of cats that move seamlessly from jazz to funk to Broadway to rock and play with more authenticity in each genre than some clubdate rocker playing the dinner set(cases in point - Tim LeFebvre, James Genus, Christian McBride, Jesse Murphy, Marco Panascia just to get started). Likewise, you'd look pretty stupid suggesting that someone like Jimmy Raney or Charles Christopher Yardbird Parker was not an accomplished musician because they wouldn't be able to make it in a RUSH tribute band.

    The bottom line is that there are people who have little to no idea what sound is going to come out of their instrument if it isn't a dot or button they haven't hit before in the same or similar song in EVERY genre of music. Likewise you have those who just hear what they want to say and how they want to say it. There is no hierarchy of music. Every musical style runs the gamut of idiot to genius in the people who play (or try to play) it.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 28, 2017
  20. wishforbass


    Jun 23, 2016
    If you think jazz bassist is best so follow structure.

    1_ open your window
    2_come back on your device
    3_search google
    4_ write this Les claypool
    5_go on videos
    6_play tommy the cat live
    7_ have two options now one ,jump from.window because it shows jazz is not even count
    Second you find it easy so still you count a psycho or you are blind .
    8_if it as second call your doctor as immediately as possible

    Thanks for following.