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fast tempos & soloing

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by klepto, Mar 28, 2005.


  1. klepto

    klepto Guest

    Nov 10, 2004
    i played a piano trio gig on saturday night and some of the tempos were just too fast for me to solo at--some of the tunes were played at around 330 bpm

    i just layed-out and handed it over to the drummer

    i guess my question is: how fast is too fast?
     
  2. There should be a rule that on tunes over a certain tempo, the bass player gets the first solo. After 37 choruses of Cherokee at 330 bpm, I'm barely hanging on by my fingernails to keep the tempo going, let alone cobble together a coherent solo. I usually walk a chorus and hand it over to the drummer and hope he plays long enough for me to recuperate for the next round.

    If I'm feeling brave, though, I'll get the bow out. I get more fatigue in my right than my left, and arco gives it good rest.
     
  3. FredH

    FredH Supporting Member

    Yep, happens to me all the time. When it’s too fast my solution is to play peddle notes or minor pent riffs in the head key with a highhat sounding rhythm pattern that a drummer can lock to. Move to the minor third, up to the forth and resolve at the root note one octave (or two) up. Smile and nod to the drummer. Corny, but hey, never let them see you sweat. Throw in some hammers and pulloffs and they'l think your on to something.
     
  4. Tbeers

    Tbeers

    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    When it's too fast, I know I'm not going to impress anyone with eighth note runs. So, I bring out the double stops. Try putting a few in, and intersperse them with quarter note ideas. Also, work chromatically.

    One of my all-time favorite things to do in the bridge of a rhythm changes is to play a very neat chromatically descending pattern of double stops. Let's say we're in B flat rhythm changes. In the bridge, play a tenth over the first chord (so it's the open D string and a high F sharp). Then over the second chord, play a seventh (so open G and a high F). Over the third chord, play a tenth (a C and a high E). And over the final chord of the bridge, play another seventh (F and high E flat). It sounds really sick... I'll try to make a clip and post it in case my explanation is really confusing.

    Anyway, the basic point of my post is... the bass may not be geared toward the same speed of other jazz instruments, but things like double stops will be a crowd pleaser all the same because it sounds cool.
     
  5. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Remember, too, it's not so much a physical thing as it is a conceptual/mental thing. You may just not hear/think that fast. Certainly familiarity breeds velocity, the better you know/ more you have played a tune, the easier it is to bump the tempo up. So do a lot of work shedding the tunes that get called there. But don't be afraid to suggest an alternative, different tune, different key, whatever to make it easier on you. Make sure that you communciate that they should call up tunes early in the set, early in the night. That bass should take the first solo, or the bass solo starts by trading 8s with the piano (just piano and bass trading, drums just comp).

    That's a nice way to shed tempos/tunes, just trade 8 bar phrases with the piano. Drummer plays time, play the head in, piano plays 8 bars with just the drummer, then bass, then piano, etc. The only instrument comping for both is the drums, you each lay out in the other cat's 8s.

    I would caution against any behaviour that is "crowd pleasing". Play what you hear, try to communicate with some integrity. As Hal Galper says "Approaching performance with expectations of immediate rewards (such as physical-emotional excitement and audience approval) is another serious drawback to creativity. It is human nature to expect rewards from our efforts but quite often we settle for the gross, low-level rewards of physical and emotional excitement and deny ourselves the more sophisticated rewards of being able to play what you want to play, the way you want to play it, when you want to play it."
     
  6. klepto

    klepto Guest

    Nov 10, 2004
    thanks for the great advice...

    and now for something completely different:

    i guess i haven't really ever thought about pleasing a crowd--not that i don't want people to enjoy the music that i am participating in the creation of, but i just feel like it's not really ever a concious consideration

    however, i am seriously concerned about satisfying the needs of my fellow collaborators
     
  7. Tbeers

    Tbeers

    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Well, I suppose there are two very different ways of looking at why we make this music. There is the intrinsic pleasure of expressing yourself in the moment and spontaneously (what I love most about jazz). But I also enjoy making people turn their heads and say, "Wow, I didn't know a bass could do that!" And I enjoy finding a way to play a solo that sounds cool to everyone, not only to my ears.

    Sorry for hijacking your thread... all of Ed's comments are obviously right on the money, and I think I used the wrong word in my previous post when I said "crowd pleaser."
     
  8. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    How bout playing a solo that makes everybody forget you're playing bass?
    Please don't get confused, playing what you hear is not the same thing as "playing something cool to your own ears". The whole idea of "playing something cool for everybody" is still an agenda and is still something that stands between you and being "in the moment". Hear with clarity, play what you hear. Strive for the moment of pure poetic beauty. Be open to the moment.

    Or do what you want. You'll either turn up here or you won't.
     
  9. klepto

    klepto Guest

    Nov 10, 2004
    it's cool... i frequently question my motivation for playing this music--besides the women, money and fame--but i have yet to come up with any personally satisfying answers
     
  10. I'd like to second that!

    Also, alot of bassists concentrate on speed coming primarily from the right hand....ala Scotty with two and NHOP using four even. There are many things that can be done with the left hand to slur and bend notes as well as glissandi to bring notes together to sound more horn-like.
     
  11. Tbeers

    Tbeers

    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Playing what you hear is exactly the same thing as playing something enjoyable to your own ears. If your ears didn't like it, then why would you be hearing it in your head?

    Also, no one here except me gets any rush from performing? I think it's the most exciting thing in the world.

    Alright that's my last post here lol, I promise. I can see this issue isn't going to reach agreement any time soon.
    :p
     
  12. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    The only thing to agree upon is playing bull**** v. not playing bull****. I go for the no-bull**** approach, but I have to let the detracters make the call -- and then care less.

    Live performance is a walk in the park, usually. Riding in a NYC cab with the neck of the bass sticking out the window is exciting. I much prefer the walk in the park.
     
  13. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    >Ahem<

    Now that I've gotten that out of my system.

    Bass players don't play fast, in general (and any 'action' excuses dismissed), because they don't hear fast. Bass isn't as fast as tenor sax, but it isn't THAT slow, either. I've gotten myself around to where I can play fast as hell (using a lot of what PW is talking about), but don't have to.
     
  14. Jeremy Allen

    Jeremy Allen Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2002
    Bloomington, IN
    Speed has to come from accuracy, as an old teacher (a trumpet player) told me. You can tell when you're playing faster than you can hear, and it's usually not artistically effective or satisfying (I hate hearing people--or myself--just wiggling their fingers!).

    Nothing says you have to play 8th-note lines. If I'm soloing on a tune that's quite fast, I might base my solo around the quarter-note triplet. Or the quarter note (like Larry Grenadier on that Cole Porter tune from one of the Mehldau Village Vanguard CDs--can't remember the name, the words start "It's the wrong time, it's the wrong place, it's the wrong something, it's the wrong face"--he plays a beautiful non-walking quarter-note solo).

    Nothing tells you what you have to play on a solo. The time will keep rolling on (not "time as kept by you and the drummer" but "the Time"), and you can fill it or not fill it as you see fit. Whole notes? Free rhythms? Stabbing, impulsive melodic gestures followed by stretches of silence? As soon as you feel locked into playing some particular *type* of solo, it kind of becomes a drag. That goes for the people with whom you're playing, as well, so don't always assume that everyone wants ten choruses of walking bass (or ballad half-time, or particular Afro-Cuban accompaniment) underneath their solos.

    OK, here's my chance to say it: everybody go listen to Red Mitchell's bass solo on "Turnaround" from Ornette Coleman's "Tomorrow Is The Question" for a perfect example of this. It isn't an up-tempo tune by any stretch of the imagination, but it *is* a perfect example of using space and gesture in a solo while the time flows inalterably underneath.
     
  15. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
  16. I was waiting for one of you guys to bring Red up. I always get yelled at when I do. So, not trying to pirate this thread...Red is the guy when it comes to solos, especially fast ones....As I said using your left hand to provide bended notes, triplets and glissandi. Any Red Mitchell solo will prove this to telling effect!
    Many people have told me that i'm fast....I tell them to watch my left hand instead of my right....they say oh, never mind. Thanks for mentionung Red,Jo!
     
  17. Alexi David

    Alexi David

    May 15, 2003
    NYC
    Fantastic advice, guys. A great thread.

    Often I imply speed when I can't pull it off. Rapid phrases alternating with silences are very effective. Why does fast tempo=more notes ? It doesn't need to be that way. I can't stand it when players automatically always play 3 times more notes when the tune kicks into double time.

    And, you can try thinking "slower." Listen to Booker Ervin solo in medium 4 over the rhythm section's lightning fast 12/8 on "Prayer for Passive Resistance" on the Mingus at Antibes album to see what I mean.

    And (in relation to another recent thread) talk to your mates about how they back you when you solo. We often have trouble during our soloing, because we are afraid to leave space because no one else is outlining chord motion, etc. This happens to me sometimes, which I make up by playing BULL**** in between the phrases that I REALLY actually "meant". Not good...working on it. Also, nervousness is an obstacle too. There were times when I was like "oh my, I wanna solo fast on this (350bpm), but I won't be able too!". Relax first. Relax before the tune starts. Focus. Good luck everyone! (and me!)
     
  18. Don't forget though, Alexi....over the years, we've taught our Mates to not listen to our solos. So many root/fives etc. in regards to bass solos has made them avoid listening....we need to give them something to listen to....we need to give them some spaces to outline the chord motion as you put it. When the bass plays nothing but 5-1 there's not much chance of anybody getting lost and not much chance of any music coming from the bass either! You need to learn how to make them listen to you by giving them something to listen to.
     
  19. Alexi David

    Alexi David

    May 15, 2003
    NYC
    A Catch-22 sorta......thanks Paul
     
  20. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    If I'm not getting the backing that I need, I have a few strategies that make conversation unnecessary:



    • If my cohorts are playing nothing, I'll just look up and smile until they do something.
    • If they're burying me, I just get soft as hell.
    • If they're too busy, I'll phrase around the BS.
    Always with a smile. Works like a charm.