Got fired for solos being too busy.

Discussion in 'Music [DB]' started by Dennis Kong, Feb 15, 2005.

  1. Dennis Kong

    Dennis Kong Supporting Member

    Sep 1, 2004
    San Mateo CA
    I just got fired from my guitar trio band 'cause my solos were too busy for the guitarist. (Guitar, string bass & drums). We play the standards like Stella, Dolphin Dance, Stomping at the Savoy, etc. Her highness's major complaint was too many 16th & triplets in my solos. (within the chord structure), and
    not enuff sub melodies with 1/8 notes.
    In past, I 've taken ideas from trumpet & sax players, or fooled with the melody, or work off the fifth chord of the another chord,( ie C dom 7 but start on G dom 7). But it takes a long time to digest & implement with the other players.
    How do you guys manage to solo thru the standards at the drop off the hat?? :confused: Any easy ways? and I just
    picked up Dave Baker's Improv patterns, Bebop era Vol 3, for
    bass clef over the weekend for new ideas.
  2. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Unordered thoughts:
    Play a solo like you're playing a melody -- you're composing, right?

    Approach the song as The Song. This was mentioned somewhere around here not too long ago -- but if you're playing Stella, then your solo should be in the context of the 'conversation' on that tune.

    Practice soloing without the bass -- sing what you'd like to hear.

    Learn the melodies to a bunch of tunes -- standards and the like -- these are a great study in saying exactly what 'gets the point across'.
  3. Listen to and try to copy Red Mitchell!
  4. Alexi David

    Alexi David

    May 15, 2003
    There you go again with Red! :D

    uh....ditto that
  5. Can't hep it.
  6. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Congratulations. This clearly is a gig you don't want to have.

    I'm not poking fun at you, Dennis, but phrased otherwise, your question is, "How do I develop a personal approach to jazz improvisation?" The answer (as you already know) is, "It takes a long time to digest & implement." There's just no substitute for slow work. Thirty years, now, and I'm still beginning.

    I dunno, man. I doubt that's what the guitarist was talking about. I'd be thinking about spending time with Sonny Rollins and Michael Moore. But whatever you feel is helpful . . .

    Good luck. She'll be wishing you'd play with her again in no time flat, man.
  7. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Augusta GA
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    YER HIGHNESS - first things first, don't let the bastards get you down. If you are indeed happy with the way you sound, are playing what you hear in the context of where you are hearing it, and are contributing to the "conversation" at hand, then you don't need to worry about what somebody else thinks of your playing. You need to be concerned about what YOU want to do to get deeper, where you want to go, what you can do or not do.

    But, and this gets a little dicey, there are plenty of cats out there who play a lotta notes and, because they are hearing every single ****ing note they are playing, the **** comes across and nobody says they play "too busy". I get a little worried when you start saying stuff like "taken ideas from trumpet & sax players, or fooled with the melody, or work off the fifth chord of the another chord" or "But it takes a long time to digest & implement with the other players.
    How do you guys manage to solo thru the standards at the drop off the hat?? Any easy ways?".
    Cause this all sounds like
    1. you're coming into a playing situation with an agenda created outside the playing situation. That ain't good, what you should be trying to do is play with the band on the stand, not the one in your head. LISTEN to what's going on, LISTEN to what notes become insistent, PLAY those notes ond ONLY those notes. When the guitarist says "you're too busy" she may be full of ****, but she may also be trying to say "I don't hear anything but gibberish." I'm not trying to be mean, believe me, I spoke fluent gibberish for any number of years. REMEMBER - notes played with meaning and intent communicate, those without do not. It doesn't matter how many or how few there are.

    2. NO EASY WAY. But remember, it's not about velocity or vocabulary. It's about SAYING WHAT YOU MEAN TO SAY. Playing the notes you mean to play, NOT playing notes that are "supposed" to work or that you copped from somebody else's solo or pulled out of some book. The way to become a better conversationalist is NOT to grab a dictionary and memorize a bunch of words or listen to other people talking and memorize what they are saying or come into a conversation with the idea that you are going to use a specific phrase. You listen to what somebody is saying and you respond in a way that communicates what you feel and think using the language that you have ingrained already.
    You can add depth to your understanding by listening, reading and hearing others discuss things, but until what you've INGESTED gets DIGESTED and enters your "working vocabulary", you can't expect that to come out in a natural, meaningful way.

    Look, bottom line, you either think she has a point or you don't. I'm not really going to be able to tell without hearing you play. Over standards.
  8. Kelly Coyle

    Kelly Coyle

    Nov 16, 2004
    Mankato, MN
    The hard part is deciding whether she has a point. Once you do that, you can figure out what you need to do. When I was a young player (and sucked, but that's beside the point), I thought my solos were my sacred territory, and I could play whatever goldarned thing I wanted to in them. Nowadays, though, I'm reading your post and thinking, "well, it's her gig, and if she isn't hearing what she wants to hear, she has every right to try to find that."

    But there's probably more to the story than that: has she been complaining for while about it, or did she just spring it on you? If she complained, and you didn't move to address it, well, you're fired. If she didn't give you a chance to change what you're doing, then she's either a poor bandleader, or she wants to fire you and seized on an excuse (like, maybe she has someone she'd rather play with in the wings, or doesn't like you for some reason) (which also means she's a poor bandleader -- in that case she should say, "I really want to play with Ed; no hard feelings.")

    Anyway, if you really want the gig (i.e., she has a point), it might be worth having a heart to heart about trying to do more of what she wants. Worst that can happen is you stay fired.

    On the other hand, maybe you are in the wrong band, since they don't want you to do what you want to, and you should fire them.
  9. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Augusta GA
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Yeah that brings up a point that is at the heart of what I love about NYC. Most people get hired because somebody likes how they sound. And they want that sound/feel/direction/approach for their band/project/record. It's not about good or bad or like or hate, it's about SOUND. Do you have the sound I want to play with?
  10. Alexi David

    Alexi David

    May 15, 2003
    ....which reminds me that I have to practice cutting out the crap in my solos and be "me". I often start sings long solos in the middle of the road - and I LOVE them - but when I get to a gig/session, it goes out the window. Part of it is ear training, playing it as you hear it, and the other various mental blocks we put in front ("should play this scale.....etc"). It's not being afriad of being myself - and not afraid to show it to others. It's usually the same for our everyday character as it is for playing too!

    Sorry if a bit Off-Topic - Ed, once again you remind me of important things ;)
  11. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    Once i take the "crap" outta my solos i am only left with "crud."
  12. Actually, this is the first time i've ever heard of a bassist getting fired because of their solos!
    If she hates your solos so much, why does she give you solos? If she likes your time, sound, knowledge of tunes etc., why not just say " no bass solos for you!"
  13. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Another way to get fired (or not re-hired) is too draw more applause and between-set attention than the leader.
  14. This happens to me ALL the time! :crying:
  15. Dennis Kong

    Dennis Kong Supporting Member

    Sep 1, 2004
    San Mateo CA
    Well- She does like the other things I do: time, intonation,sound of instr, etc.
    What brought this aspect up wuz: I was late for the gig by an 1/2 hour ' cuz of rush hour traffic.
    Then the next day she leaves a message:" I decided to make a change".... so forth.
    and later on during the week she mentions how she wants to the hand the tune over to the bassist after she finishes her solo. etc. and was not happy with my progress as a soloist
    from when I started with her last year. etc. I also mentioned to her I WUZ working on that aspect too, and didn't mind making a fool of my self either. etc. And mentioned I don't
    mind if I don't solo too much either..
    So- that's my story... I also work a fulltime job & play in another band too- so I don't have a lot time as she does-
    she's retired and has all day to devote to playing, whereas I
    have maybe an hour or two every nite If I 'm lucky.

    We do have different backgrounds for music tho-'
    She is a classical guitarist & soft rock bassist, (can sight
    read almost anything), but cannot play funk & rock. And am not to used to playing with horn players.

    I come from the blues, funk & jazz background ( cannot
    sight read very well or play classical music.) play 5 string
    fretted or fretless. N always work with horn players.

    Whats really hard is soloing after the horn players in my other band:eek: - especially
    Tom Polizter (the sub) (Tower of Power), Dave Stone ( Tower Of Power, Huey Lewis, Billy Preston), and getting the same amount of applause.. But I do.. :meh:

    So I worked on it, and worked on it, :eyebrow: and took a solo on the demo cd... too. Actually most people have liked that solo too... between A George Mraz & Scott Lafaro style,
    not NHOP style.

    And thanks ya'all for your replies too. I appreciate the feedback... :D
  16. How about posting something so we can hear what you're talking about?
  17. Dennis Kong

    Dennis Kong Supporting Member

    Sep 1, 2004
    San Mateo CA
    Sure--I could post one of tunes off the cd demo. How do I do that? (I' m new at this stuff.)
    I take a short solo on "Beautiful Love"
    Hope you guys like it.. :eek:

    I'm using my Juzek with B-band pu's & mike in a separate booth in the studio.

    I ' be out of town this weekend. My other band is playing at a private party in Naples Florida. We live in the Bay Area and
    flying out Friday and will be back Monday. :D

    The band's website:
    I'm playing a 5 string EB in the video. (no solos) for the
    smoothjazz market. At the end of the video credits there's
    a 5 seconds or so of "Stolen Moments" with my King bass.
    (just for background music- and not of my soloing section-tho)
  18. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    I believe I can help you with that, Dennis. Drop me a PM. I'm gonna be posting some updated stuff of my own so the time is opportune.
  19. Klelewon


    Mar 15, 2002
    Los Angeles
    This is a very interesting thread. It has many good points of view. I have a few questions for Daniel 1. "What(who) do YOU want your solos to sound like?"...2. "Are YOU happy with your solos or happy with what YOU hear when you're playing?"...3. "Are your solos what YOU want to hear?"

    For me I'm not sure these are straight forward questions. But, #1 depends on the tune, but in general I'm partial to NHOP, LaFaro, and Ray Brown (or just about anybody who grooves!). As for #2 & #3 my answer is sometimes (mostly NOT happy) :rollno: . Sometimes I'm happy but I'm still not hearing what I want...just yet. So that means more listening and more work :bassist: . I'm not sure if any of this is on point, but I have to play what I hear in my head. I have to play what I think/hear is musical. And at the same time I need to be open to musical direction/suggestions/requests (especially if its not my gig). Just my 2cents.

    Post your clips I'd like to hear it!

  20. Dennis Kong

    Dennis Kong Supporting Member

    Sep 1, 2004
    San Mateo CA
    Thanks Damon,
    have sent pm to you.
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