Double Bass/Vocal Duo

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by goodgig, Jan 30, 2009.

  1. Hey guys,

    Have any of you ever done a jazz duo with just a singer? What's your impression of the concept? My wife and I are considering this. What approach to using backup tracks would you consider appropriate, while still keeping the situation artful? Thanks.
    scott sinner likes this.
  2. My 2 cents:

    Stay away from backing tracks especially for jazz!

    Have your wife play chords and sing, or hire a good guitarist/ pianist/ accordion/ mellotron etc... player.
    quickfix, G Aichele and AGCurry like this.
  3. jim9999

    jim9999 Guest

    Oct 15, 2008
    There was a wonderful duo in the 60's called "Pair Extraordinaire" - male singer (and occasional hand percussion) and upright bass. They did everything from jazz to gospel to pop to folk to whatever interested them. I believe both men have long since died and the several albums (two i think and maybe a few singles) have never made it to cd. If you have a turntable you can probably still find the lp's on the internet. I was lucky enough to catch them on a few tv shows but never in person. I often think about working up some tunes with a vocalist but never seem to get around to lead the revival!
    VictorW126, Ceora and csrund like this.
  4. basmartin


    Aug 6, 2007
    Sweden look for the song "Quiet Night". I´ve done som bass/vocal duo and the hard thing is the arrangement. If you do a program with a couple of songs, each song has to have their own character, an unique arrangement. So it´s a lot of work to really make it work. Backing track is not so cool, get a loop pedal or a delay with tap tempo to enhance rytm. Try different effect pedals, like tremolo, phase etc. Bass/vocal duo can be quite boring to listen to and one thing that can spice it up is to have a percussionist so you don´t have to think about outlining the rythm all the time. So I´ll say good luck and go for it!
    VictorW126 likes this.
  5. ding_man


    Dec 24, 2006
    Celina, OH
    Yeah.. just have your wife learn some really basic piano skills.

    Backing tracks.. bleh.
    johnny_bolt likes this.
  6. Co.


    Sep 10, 2006
    I did some duo things with a singer. I think its fun, because you have to take care of everything and make it work on your own. Play not too much, not too less, be a solid foundation and a fluid partner in the musical conversation at the same time, etc.

    A record I can recommend is "Voce Basso" of Paulo Cardoso - Jazz-Bass Prof. in Munich - and Sabina Sciubba, who you might know from Brazillian Girls. A very nice Duo record. Especially the tracks "Blackbird" and "Lush Life".
    Jeff Elkins likes this.
  7. Brent Nussey

    Brent Nussey

    Jun 27, 2001
    Tokyo, Japan
  8. Paul Warburton

    Paul Warburton In Memoriam

    Aug 17, 2003
    Denver, Co.
    You CAN do this. Not only with a vocalist.
    YOU, the BOTH of youse, have to know what the hell you are doing. You BOTH have to be VERY strong musically, Technically and emotionally.....not to mention considerately.
    Red Mitchell used to do it all the time with people like Warren Marsh on tenor, Clark Terry on trumpet....etc.
    I've done it many times myownself, and am about to do it again in my own production of a series duet prformances, which I've arranged to be recorded. I'll be posting some of these on our TB Sampler soon. Three will be with chordal instruments....The bass with: Art Lande, piano. Eric Gunnison, piano and Dale Brunning, guitar.
    The other three are the bass with: Tina Phillips, vocalist. Ron Miles, trumpet. The last one, hopefully, with be the bass with Holly Hofmann....the great jazz flute player.
    My best advice comes from that Red Mitchell tune..."Simple Isn't Easy"
    Best of luck to you both.
    ejnachtrab likes this.
  9. The scariest gig of my life was the first time I did a 4 hour jazz gig with just a singer. It turned out to be a blast but I was really worried about it. The bass doesn't have the range or the dynamic range of a piano or a guitar so trying to comp interestingly can be a challenge. What works for a single tune can get tiresome over a 4 hour period. My suggestion: vary the approach from tune to tune. Play some in four, some in two, some in a broken two, add fills, vary your octaves. All this assumes the singer is strong and independent. If he or she can't keep a line going without basic support, you'll have to simplify your approach.

    I've done hundreds of duet gigs with saxophonists but it isn't quite the same.

    And as someone already pointed out, check out the Harvie S/Sheila Jordan discs. Great stuff. My first duet gigs with a singer were from before they put their discs out and I really wish I had heard them first.

    VictorW126 and ejnachtrab like this.
  10. MikeBass

    MikeBass Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2003
    Royal, Oak, MI.
    You Tube Steve Lawson.
    He works with a vocalist and it's SWEET!!!
  11. Paul Warburton

    Paul Warburton In Memoriam

    Aug 17, 2003
    Denver, Co.
    You do realize that this thread is about Double Bass duos, right? :)
  12. Eric Swanson

    Eric Swanson

    Oct 8, 2007
    Boston, MA

    Nice graphics. Really dug that, hard! Respect, as ever.

    In my mind, I see no reason not to do the duet with the singer. Just remember your bass-playing, time-playing job; spell out the harmony and keep the time effortless.

    Never used any backup tracks; just alternated the flavor of the tunes; textures, dynamics, tempos, arco/pizz, and kept 'em rolling.

    I have only done about three of four vocal/bass duet gigs with one singer I used to play with; they really were a ball, though. I must say, you do tend to go through a lot of tunes, without all the solos, etc..:)
  13. zeytoun


    Dec 19, 2008
    Portland, Oregon
    Heck, with decent looping skills you can ditch your wife and the bass, and go solo.

  14. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    I love the bass duo concept. I've played duo with a number of singers including Kurt Elling, Jackie Allen and Tierny Sutton. I did a duo session a few years ago with a singer from Madison, WI, Alison Margaret. It's posted on her website, Just click on "listen" and then choose "Up Jumped Spring", the Freddie Hubbard tune.

    Oh, and the Pair Extraordinaire were favorites of mine when I was a kid. I think they used to show up on Ed Sullivan. Thanks for remembering them, Jim.
    logdrum likes this.
  15. Paul Warburton

    Paul Warburton In Memoriam

    Aug 17, 2003
    Denver, Co.
    Eric...I can't seem to get the track to load.....any help?
  16. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    Hmm... Click on "Listen", then the tracks come up and I double clicked on "Up Jumped Spring". Then hit play, and then choose dial up or broadband, and then hit continue. Pretty involved...
  17. Paul Warburton

    Paul Warburton In Memoriam

    Aug 17, 2003
    Denver, Co.
    Again, what does this have to do with Double Bass/Vocal duo?
  18. brake


    Jun 23, 2003
    Nova Scotia, Canada
    As long as you have something you can tune to, dive in. If you don't, that's okay, but checking your intonation against someone who is checking their intonation against yours isn't a gig I'd have too much fun on...a piano would be perfect.
  19. fred pratt

    fred pratt

    Jun 20, 2004
    New York City
    Very nice, e.

    I once heard a Diana Krall/Christian McBride thing that I really liked. I think it was How Deep Is the Ocean.
  20. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    Killin Eric!!!

Share This Page