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F. Scott "DURRL" Fitzgerald with HP3

Discussion in 'Recordings [DB]' started by Chris Fitzgerald, May 14, 2004.

  1. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    On Monday, I mailed out a few hardcopies of some rough mixes of a few cuts from the live Harry Pickens Trio recording done at the Jazz Factory in September. Damon should get his soon, and hopefully they'll be up on the Sampler page when he gets time to do the ripping. Since I'll be on vacation for a few days, I thought I'd throw this thread up before the cuts go up in case anybody gets a minute to listen. Those with hard copies may of course feel free to go ahead and let 'er rip. :)

    There are four cuts on the disc, of which I only expect Damon to put up the first two in the interest of web space...however, just in case he decides to put up all four, I'll say a few words about each.

    About the recordings in general, I feel pretty good overall. The bass sound is the usual "let's put a mic in front of the bass speaker to minimize feedback and bleed through" compromise where I wanted a mic on the bass and the sound guy wanted a direct signal...so we fought, and we both lost. :D Anyway, it's direct-y sounding and kind of poopy in that there's no "ping" on the front end of the sound, and way too much solid 200 Khz nonsense from the proximity effect of the mic, but if you can get past that, it's not too bad. about the cuts then:

    1) I've Never Been In Love Before: A typical HP medium-up stright ahead swing tune - one of Harry's great strengths and one of my glaring weaknesses. As a relative DB newbie (5 years on DB come July), I'm working on getting closer to that "long-tone RayBrown/Red Mitchell bouncy swing thang" which I still find incredibly elusive. The tempo isn't bad, but I feel it as a kind of "tweener" tempo that gives me trouble in that it's too fast to throw in a lot of ornamentation and too slow to just walk quarters. I'm looking for critique on how to improve the swing feel on this one, plus anything else that anyone can think of. The solo isn't much, but I can live with it.

    2) How Insensitive: Harry is gracious enough to feature me on a couple of ballad-like tunes every night, and this is one of those. Since my great goal is to become primarily a melodic player above all else (even when accompanying), these tunes are great opportunities for me. Even though this one doesn't reach very far beyond being pretty, I feel pretty good about it overall. All comments welcome.

    3 & 4) "Stella", and "I Fall In Love Too Easily": I included these on the hardcopies because I feel I made some poor choices on both cuts, and folks have been requesting that I send cuts that show serious Johnson Treadmarks..so if Damon decides to put them up, these would be the ones. Again, all comments are welcome, but be forewarned: if you start picking these two apart, you could find yourself writing a novel or two before it's over. :D

    I'll get the ball rolling with some insightful comments from Sam, then I may be out of the loop for a few days. Remember, I'm looking for ideas to help me get better, so don't hold back!
  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    As usual, my friend and e-partner in crime and criticism is right on the money. Thanks, Sam. :)

  3. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    I've listened to Chris' stuff again a couple of times while working. I continue to be enormously impressed with where he is and where he's come. One of the great things about this site is that part-time players like me get to interact with 24/7 musicians like Chris, and witnessing his growth brings home the incredible fruit of dedicating one's professional life to music. I am constructively jealous.

    Chris' solos are highly melodic, tasteful, restrained and musical. They are wonderful. This is the moment at which I'm supposed to add, "Gee, I wish I could play like that," and I'm not gonna do it. Obviously, we're talking about style and personal preference, and we each got our own, y'know.

    Here is something that seems to be an appropriate topic for discussion, even before you may be able to hear Chris' new work. My opinion is that these solos sound "bassy" -- in other words, if the same solo was played on any other instrument with the possible exception of trombone, people would be saying, "C'mon, hombre, drink some coffee!"

    My goal is to be a musician who plays jazz on the bass. I want to play solos that sound like jazz music played on the bass, not like "bass solos." I've told Chris that a TASTE of velocity here and there would bring greater musical variety to these gorgeous performances. Obviously, velocity is one tool among many, including rhythmic variation, registration, dynamics, and harmonic tension, to bring constructive variety to a solo.

    What say, folks?
  4. McBass


    Mar 31, 2004
    Brooklyn, NY
    I haven't heard Chris's new tracks, so I can't comment on those. Changing up the subdivisions in a solo is nice to here, but I can also really enjoy litening to Charlie Haden play half notes and quarter notes for an entire solo. I do agree with you, though, that there is a phenomenon of "the bass solo". The main thing I usually find lacking in bass solos is a command and use of harmony and chromaticism. So often bass solos are comprised of notes that are in the chord or in the scale, but have no compelling voice leading. It's almost like listening to a very engaging conversation between interesting people, and then having someone chime in who has a limited vocabulary and thus can't make any points or say anything meaningful. They all technically speak english, but they don't all communicate on the same level. To me Jazz is the same, with bebop being the common language that we all communicate in. I can enjoy a soloist like Charlie Haden, because he clearly understands voice leading and the language of bebop and he is speaking it, albeit slowly. I also enjoy Gary Peacock because he can speak the language, and he can pull off some amazing, suprising stuff right along side some beatiflul melodic stuff.
  5. Just got my copy.........

    .....DAMN!!!!! I'm impressed!
  6. Chris - got my copy late last week, and I've only just found some time to play it - very nice! Great playing! I love the style and the trio is, I think, my most favourite combo. To my way of thinking, the bass could be up slightly - more full perhaps… I'm curious as to how it was recorded? I'm playing it on a Bose Radio/CD, which normally is somewhat bass-heavy (to be expected with Bose), but the bass sounds light… Actually the piano is bass-light also - (just got as far as "Stella"…) I should really try this on my main system.

    The playing is superb! Thanks again Chris!

    Stay in touch -
    - Wil

    PS: Just re-read your original posting and realise that you'd already explained the recording - I think I would have used a KM184 between the legs of the bridge, and either a direct from the amp, or a mic on the front of the speaker. Then I think I would have used more of the 184 on the solos (that would have given you more "ping" on the notes, especially in the thumb position and above…). The piano has a very bright sound - how many mics, and where abouts were they on the piano?

    Again - great playing, and I think your solos are terrific!
  7. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    The piano was recorded with two small diaphragm condensers, fairly close to the strings. The drums were recorded using a pair of 184's as overheads, a small "clip on snare mic, and an AKG (AT) D112 as kick mic. The cuts are as yet unmixed. For the bass sound, I want to cut the low mids around 200hz or so, then add a bit if 1k for "ping". I think from there the best thing is either to simply turn it up or else boost some low lows and see what happens. Thanks for the recording advice - I'll definitely try a mix of real mic (either between the bridge legs or out in front) with a hint of amp mic next time, only next time I'll leave more space between the amp mic and the speakers. The sound guy is cool with this, and thinks it's a good idea. The piano just needs to be warmed up with some lows, and I think it'll be fine.

    I'm also intrigued by Paul Warburton's micing technique where he simply lets the mic pickup the acoustic mix of bass and amp. I don't know if the sound guy would go for it, but it sure sounded great on Paul's CD.

    Thanks! I'm pretty happy with "Insensitive", a bit less so with "I've Never...", and the other two have major problems. Still, the group went some interesting places on those cuts, so I included them. I'm really looking to improve my accompanying on the swing stuff, and won't be the least bit offended if anyone has any observations about areas for improvement. :)

    Hopefully, I'll have the cuts up on my site by sometime tomorrow. If so, I'll post a link here.
  8. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Finally, the clips are here.

    Go to This page, and click on the appropriate link.
  9. I've Never..: Chris, This is great stuff. There is a tremedous energy in this cut, which is hard to define and impossible to teach. I can sense the vibe in the club, the audience getting a rush from the band, the band feeding off the audience involvement...and it's really swingin.

    It's hard for me to comment on your walking, because as you say it was not recorded as you would have liked. So much of the feel has to do with the sound that you get accoustically. Is there a clip on your website that you feel is a more accurate representation of your sound? All that aside, I'd venture to say that if you stuck a mic in front of Ray Brown's amp, you'd still hear the ping in his notes. So how to achieve that bounce? Again it's hard to comment without observing your right hand. (TBDB Sampler - The Video?!?!)

    I have a hypothesis. Assuming this is the bass with the starks? Here goes. If you slow-mo'd the pizz stroke, i think you'd see 3 stages, which all combine into one fluid motion. 1) finger(s) come to rest on string 2) string is pulled taught, sideways, like a bow and arrow, and 3) string is released with a snap, causing the note to sound (ping!). The farther you pull sideways, the louder the note and crisper the attack. So my thinking is that it's the differential in tension of the string at rest, and the string when pulled taught, a potential energy if you will. Since your strings are already high tension, you may not be able to pull them as much. I dunno, I could be all wet with this one.

    I do know that if you want more bounce, you've got to pull harder. I also think that if you're going for Ray Brown, you're sounding more like Ron Carter on a good intonation day. I hear Ron's tone, and affections (pull-offs to open strings, etc.) As far as the amount of rhythmic embellishment, I don't think what you're doing is too much or too little. But, you could likely walk straight quarters effectively at this tempo, or slower, if you wanted. To paraphrase Charlie Haden, "Play every note as if your life depended on it."

    I think the bass is plenty loud - at least I can hear it perfectly well with headphones. Won't boosting 1k just bring out finger noise? I'm completely unqualified in this realm, but I understand you can do things with certain compressors that will the boost the attack of your notes.

    More later.
  10. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Thanks! I love the Jazz Factory, and Harry is nothing if not a tremendous source of energy and inspiration.

    All of the duo stuff, while a couple of years old (which seems an eternity for a DB youngster such as myself), were recorded with a simple setup: a Shure SM58 direct into an MD 4-track - so I'd say they are about as accurate and unadorned a representation of the sound of my bass as possible. I cringe a little at some of the playing, but whatever...there it is. Maybe check out the middle of "Alone Together" to hear walking with the real sound of the bass.

    That pretty much describes my stroke, except that my finger hits the fingerboard before the string, and stays in contact with the board throughout. Your theory about the strings is interesting, and I'll talk about that more later (gotta reherarsal soon). About playing harder: I think I've got the second hardest stroke in town, which is part of the reason I don't have much in the way of "tempo chops" (the other reason is just inexperience). Harry also plays sometimes with Herman Burney (sp?). Last year I got to hang with Herman a bit after a concert, and he let me play his beautiful old Hawkes. I'd only been playing about 20 seconds when he said, "whoa! This is a gut setup...no need to rip the strings off!". But that may just be what happens when a steel player plays gut? Man, what a bass that was!

    Excellent advice, and easy to forget when there are so many notes going on. And I LOVE Haden's playing - there's no BS going on there, just straight unadorned music. "Ron Carter on a good intonation day"? Hell, I'll take that any day of the week. :D Sure, the Ray/Red groove is the grail for me as far as straight ahead goes, but I probably did pick up a lot of that LH stuff from Ron's records. If you have any ideas about Ray-type ornamentation to practice, I'm all ears. I definitely hear that "sacred bounce" on your record.

    You may be right, and when we finally get around to mixing, I'll let you know. I hate the direct sound, and this sound guy knows we'll need to mic the bass next time.[/quote]

    Please do! And I want to thank you for taking the time. One of the drags about living in Louisville is that I don't have a jazz teacher, so I just have to grab guys as they come through town and beg for lessons. This is a great opportunity for me to learn some things from some fresh objective ears, and exactly what I love about TB. Until later...
  11. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Hi Drrrrl,

    I listened to both "I've Never.." and "Insenstive" here's my first attempt at a critique (gulp!):

    Overall, I love your comping the most! I won't call it walking cuz in pieces like Insensatez, you're really adding this nice melodic line behind the piano. This is how I want learn to back a samba/bossa piece myself and I really like what you did. It's totally different when the bassist focuses on a sub-melodic line while the drummer keeps that bassy heartbeat going. Very very nice. Similar thing is going on with "I've Never". I like how you follow Harry Pickens soloing.

    Soloing is good but I want to say that I might've wanted to hear a more defined build toward a climax in "I've Never" over all the choruses. Just trying to offer something constructive on that end.

    If I may complain on one thing, is the playing on the head to Insensatez. It's a little on the vanilla side. Maybe adding more dynamics and varying your attack will help give more of the feeling I wanted out of it. Okay maybe that's a nitpick but I liked everything I've heard so far.

    Still, Insensatez is my fav some of the songs off your site. I enjoyed the duo with yourself... just fun to listen to.

    Ok now I'll proceed to duck from all the tomatoes coming my way. :bag:

  12. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Thanks for the kind review. This is a kind of groove that I think of as an "E Groove", after some of the stuff put out on the ECM label. Basically, it's just a stright 8th groove, but without the constant SONG FOR MY FATHER/RIKKI DON'T LOSE THAT NUMBER pulse that we ugly Americans have so curiously generalised as "Latin". I love the space involved in playing these "open 8th" grooves, because it forces everyone to focus on listening for where the space in the music is, and to my way of thinking, promotes simple countermelody and rhythm. I love playing tunes in this style, and have to laugh when the old school "Jazz=Gumbo" crew derisively categorize anyone playing in this style as a "White Berklee Non-Jazz" musician. Yeah, that pretty much describes Harry, dunnit? :rolleyes: :D Anyway, thanks for the lack of GUMBO in your assessment. :)

    Fair enough. I don't have time to get into it now, but there are several factors at work here: in my defense, I don't really have the chops to play much in the way of soloing at that tempo, but mitigating that is the probability that I was playing it a bit safe on that cut for reasons I'll get into later. It felt okay on the bandstand, but listening back, I don't feel the bass solo added much to the music, which is never a good thing.

    On this cut, I was really consciously trying to get into "Charlie Haden Mode", and trying to play very simply, very in tune, and let the tone and melody carry the line. Also, part of the way this tune got it's character is that it followed a version of "7 Steps to Heaven" that was counted off at about quarter note =360 (not kidding!), and using complete stark contrast between tune selections is one of Harry's staples.

    Thanks! I plan on doing more of those duos someday when I start practicing piano again. I have to say that trying finding a groove when multitracking like that is one of the hardest things I've ever tried to do, and doing that cut made me realize just how much I rely on the live interaction with another human being in the same time zone while playing. In short, playing with yourself is harder than you might think (how's that for a straight line? ). Besides, when something gets weird, who do you blame, the piano player, or the bassist?

    No need - to me this is exactly what the sampler forum is all about. Thanks for taking the time!
  13. Monte


    Jan 9, 2001
    DFW Area, Tejas

    I'll start by saying that this is some swinging stuff. I know it isn't the more modern stuff you would like to be doing (a position I'm in a lot), but it sounds like you are enjoying yourself at the moment. Good energy on "I've Never....", and I liked the pedaling on the head, and will probably steal it the next time I play this :) . You have a lot to be proud of for coming so far in such a short amount of time.

    My only real criticism is the only one I feel halfway qualified to make....the sound. I'll echo T-bal in the sentiment that putting a mic in front of Ray Brown's amp would still get you a ping. I saw this when I saw One For All in KC. They weren't getting enough volume out of Peter Washington, so they stuck a mic in front of his SWR California Blonde to supply the house sound in the Blue Room, and there was lots of ping. I found this out for me personally by digging through some old recordings of me playing and found one where I was recorded playing on a Cleavinger EUB. While the sound was more electricky than I like, you could still here the ping in the attack.

    Where on the fingerboard do you pizz? I find lack of ping has less to do with the actual stroke (I have a weird two-fingered pinch thing myself) and is often is a function of not having your right hand far enough down the fingerboard. Further up gives you lots of ring but no ping. It is somewhat of a balancing act.

    Another culprit could be string height. Too low can mean your finger isn't on the string long enough, no matter how hard you pull. This could be exacerbated by the type of strings. Spiro Starks have got to be very stiff, and just might not move far enough on the stoke to get that ping. As Adrian and I have often discussed, with gut you get a real snap to the front part of the beat, albeit at a sacrifice of some sustain.

    Another thing I would encourage you to try is varying the length of your notes. Ray Brown didn't play every note long; throwing in a few short notes now and then can add a lot of variety. Buster Williams is great to listen to for this.

    Last, it might be part of what you are hearing in your head. Ron Carter and Ray Drummond do pretty well as players who have a lot more ring than ping in their sound.

    As you imply, the method of getting the sound doesn't help. I went and downloaded your one man duo for comparison, and although it was with a mic so the sound was better and more acoustic, it could have used a little more attack at the front side. However, I liked that cut a LOT!! Your improvising on both instruments was really nice.

    Hope this is helpful, and I really enjoyed these two cuts a lot. I'll go against the grain and say I liked "i've Never" more, but that is because I'm just going through a phrase where I don't really dig playing bossas much. It willl probably change next week.

  14. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Help yourself to the pedal - I'm only sorry I can't tell you who you're really stealing it from. :D Seriously, I think this was the 2nd or 3rd time I'd played that tune, and right before the set started when Harry told us he wanted to open with it, I asked him if he'd play a solo chorus up front to refresh my memory. He must have played something that suggested it. As far as being proud, yes and no: I'm loving the journey, but every time I start to feel "proud" I tend to quit moving forward, so....I'll settle for "enjoying the journey".

    I usually pizz at the very end of the fingerboard. I've even asked several Luthiers about the possibility of getting a fingerboard extension to have more opportunity for a "pingier" sound. I hope to be getting one of Arnold's new LaScala's this summer, and this may help. I think my action is set at about 7mm on the G and 10mm on the E, although I'm not sure where that really falls on the height continuum.There may well be something to the theory that you and T-BAG have put forth about the starks. The thing is, I absolutely love the sustain they make possible. It's a funny thing about sound: I think that a player's taste in sound changes over time, and I may simply be (as you suggested) hearing that sound in my head at this point, although I'm open to the idea of "progressing" to a more gutlike preference later. If I had to say which players I like for sound these days, I'd have to say Drew Gress, Scott Colley, and Patitucci. Of the "older school" guys, I'd have to say I like Ray's sound a lot - he seems to get the best of both worlds: a clear sound that sustains, but still has the forward motion and bounce that I'm hoping to get closer to as time goes by.

    Thanks! As I mentioned, that's hard as hell to do, and I think the groove kind of sucks as a result of the multitracking. That said, I'd to more of this before too awfully long. When I got my first DB and decided to switch, I made the deal with myself that I would give up practicing and playing the piano for 5 years so I could focus on getting some DB stuff together and spend my time there. This track was made about into 2-3 years into the "no practice" zone, which is why I think the bass playing sounds a lot stronger than the piano playing (man, I find I'm sensitive about the piano playing... Sorry! :rollno: ). Anyway, I think I could have a lot of fun with this concept when I balance out the shed time a bit - and my "5-year no piano clause" expires in July, so we'll see.

    As far as the sound of the bass on this cut...well, it sounds pretty much like my bass. A little lacking in high end, but that's to be expected with a 58. I'll be in the studio next week with an all LD condenser input, so I'll post some new clips when that comes out.

    Actually, this is EXACTLY the kind of stuff I was hoping to hear about. I'd love to hear more about the "different note lengths" concept sometime, and I'll listen more carefully to my Ray and Buster recordings for this aspect, as there may be something there that I've completely overlooked. When I shorten my note lengths now, it always sounds hokey to me when I listen back, but that's probably just because I don't have a conscious model for what I'm doing. I think the shorter note length thing might just be just the ticket to mitigate some of the sustain of the starks when I don't want to sound "modern". Thanks again for taking the time and effort to give me some things to think about. :)
  15. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    There is NOTHING that is too slow to walk quarters. Dude, yer killing me. Medium tunes and walking ballads are GREAT for really digging into that quarter note line and working it as a melody. As far as improving the swing feel (huhn? it sounds pretty swinging to me), I would offer a couple of suggestions:
    1. work on straight quarter note line - build the counter melody, really work on getting that quarter note attack synced with the drummer (your attack and the ride cymbal attack sound like one even is causing the sound for both) and the "melodic content" responsive to the direction of the soloist. All your compositional tools will work here - balance tension and release, motivic development, match harmonic direction, reverse harmonic direction. Trust your ears, they'll tell your fingers where to go. Harry's got an idea what he wants to do, he will respond favorably and musically if you are clear about what YOUR direction and idea is.
    2. be ready to open it up at the drop of a hat - I know it's hard to do on tunes you don't know that well, but starting (I think) Harry's 5th chorus he really starts pushing away from the tune and opening up some different ideas harmonically. And rhythmically. So, if it were me, I would really try to develop a way to play through those with him, rather than keeping a straight four thing going. YOU get to build tension too.

    But it really is swinging. Keep up the good work!

    There are some really really great lines in this solo. But, like MUCH of my playing, they are kind of in this soup of things that I would wager to say you aren't really hearing. It's either stuff that you developed coming up and have become "conversational tics" if you will (like that guy that says "ya know?" so much so that that's all you ever hear) or stuff thrown in because of a crisis in confidence (on my god, I gotta play SOMETHING here). I ,of course, may be projecting, since that's kinda where my playing is right now. But rather than go in the direction of some others my suggestion would be try to edit some stuff OUT. It's not so much about leaving more space (because there is nice space in the solo already) as it is to overcome the desire to play notes just to be playing them. Wait til you hear something, I swear you won't be disappointed. You've got great ears and a great harmonic sensibility, relax and let them guide your fingers.
  16. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Oh, and just cause I like to and maybe others would too...


    I've ne-ver
    been in love before
    Now all at once it's you,
    it's you forevermore.

    I've ne -ver
    been in love before
    I thought that I was safe,
    I thought I knew the score.

    But now
    It's all so strange and strong,
    I'm full of foolish song
    and out that song must pour.

    So please forgive
    this helpless haze I'm in,
    I've really never been
    in love before...
  17. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Forgive me, that wasn't quite what I meant...what I meant was that I wouldn't normallly walk pure quarters with no ornamentation for all 10 whatever choruses of Harry's solo - not that there's anything wrong with that. :) My emphasis in my explanation of that tempo should have focused more on the "tweener" aspect (which I believe is an important concept, although not necessarily for here) rather than the quarter notes. What I should have said was that I feel stuck in between gears at this particular tempo, and need to work on finding a new gear(s) for this tempo.

    You nailed it. My biggest criticism of my line playing on this cut is that I stayed too straight with the changes and the time. Jason likes to go WITH the soloist, which often leaves me holding down the homestead, but I need to learn to at least open the windows or venture out onto the porch. Interestingly, with other drummers, I'm often the one who goes out, and with no drummer I go further still these days. But this is a real learning experience. There's another cut from one of the other nights where H calls "Seven Steps to Heaven" at about 350, and at that tempo, my lines are downright repetitive. Here, I don't have the excuse of the tempo.

    Thanks. I think it's coming. I think I also need to do a lot more listening and get more control/variety regarding attack and note length. But like I said, the view from the path is nice, and the flowers smell pretty.