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Gypsy Jazz

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Warwickthumb, Nov 5, 2005.


  1. This is my first post here in the Double Bass Forum. Kinda scared. Seriusly though. I've recently started playing with some local cats. They play both bluegrass and gypsy jazz. Recently moving more towards gypsy jazz. Thier bass player recently quit. Its defently a cool style. I really dig the music they've given me to listen to. Django and Robin Nolan. I noticed some jazz standards on the Nolan cd. So the reson why I started this thread. Some tips would be great. I know I have to get an upright. I played one in college. But I have more experience on the BG(12 years). I tried playing with my electric and it just doesn't give the music justice. Listening to some of the bass players lines, it seems some walk and some keep it sinple. Well im open for any tips as I start to learn this new style of music (gypsy jazz). Oh yeah anyone know who's Robyn Nolans bassit is? I was impressed by his tone, and just how he adds so much life to the music.
     
  2. I recently got picked up by a guitar & violin duo to play some Gypsy Jazz. We play mostly Django and Grappelli. As for bass lines, I tend to keep them rather simple, throwing some walking lines in every once in a while, but mainly just injecting some low end into the sound to free up the guitarist's role a bit.
     
  3. Yeah I noticed the bassist usually walks or stays with a simple root fifth. Have you heard the Grappelli show from 78? That bass player gets down!! Great Solo.
     
  4. That I have not, however, the violinist gave me a copy of Grappelli Live at the Blue Note from '96. Haven't had much of a chance to listen to that yet, but what I have heard was pretty hip.
     
  5. Have you heard Robyn Nolan yet? Great stuff. They just played in Madison not to long ago I belive
     
  6. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Django's best bassist, Louis Vola, stuck to root-V a lot but he would also slap and do some cool simple walking patterns as well. I liked him a lot.
     
  7. Steve Bassman

    Steve Bassman Supporting Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Tampa Bay, FL
    Yeah, Louis Vola was Django's original bassist and pretty much defined the style of bass playing for gypsy jazz. He played slap style more frequently than Django's subsequent bassists and Django even recorded a duet with him. Coleridge Goode, who recorded with Django in England even played some brief bowed/hummed solos in the style of Slam Stewart. I sometimes sub with a gypsy jazz group in the Tampa Bay area called Impromptu and while I don't slap much, I do play in two most of the time and use walking lines for occasional transitions and maybe solo sections/final chouruses to add some "forward motion" to the music. The bass player in Mark O'Conner's Hot Swing Trio (John Burr) is a great player but plays in four too often in my opinion. This music is fun to play even if the bass playing is not too far removed from bluegrass some of the time. Django tunes like Douce Ambiance and Swing '42 have good changes to play over and you can take a lot of old jazz standards and play them in this style. The group I played with does give the bass player ample solo space.

    BTW the bass player for the Robin Nolan Trio is Paul Meader. He plays a little more modern than some players in this style but his parts are interesting. He co-authors the series of Django play-along books that Robin Nolan publishes.

    - Steve

    My web page
     
  8. You should check out Marcus Johnson's Gypsy Pacific cuts on the TalkBass sampler.
     
  9. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    The steady two-beat bluegrass style isn't as easy as it seems, imo. Great pickers (banjo and flat-top guitar) get really in front of the beat... it's like standing on a needle and trying to keep the pocket moving. And then there's old-time, clawhammer-banjo contra-dance era music. Some of those tunes are hell to keep track with.

    Anyway, the four-beat can be effective on certain choruses and tunes, but getting a solid tempo and space between the notes is critical in hot jazz/gypsy. This music is from a pre-bebop era, and that two-beat feel was more prevalent then than today.

    Just something to consider when getting your chops together, warwickthumb... Welcome to the DB side of TB!
     
  10. I'm from the most part learning this style as I go. The guitarist turned alot of people around here onto Django. I had no idea there was gypsy jazz till recently. I have a copy of the Gypsy jazz fake book as well as cds to accompiment. Its going to be the transition to DB once again that will be the most fun for me. Something totally new to work with. NIce fresh start. I can't find my old DB book. My teacher had me work out of the Simandl book. I tried to find a DB teacher around here but no luck. Actully i dont even have a DB. I cant even get one around here. Im goign to have to go into chicago I guess. But anyways. I know one of the cds i have, i want to say Grepelli, but I could be wrong. The Bassist does some slap. Ive heard of DBers doing it but never ACTUALLY heard it till now. SO ive got some tools to get me started which is nice
     
  11. I think someone in here mentioned something about a double bassits slapping. I heard Steve Hubers bassits do that. Thats bluegrass not gypsy jazz. Still pretty cool stuff.
     
  12. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    There is lots of slapping in gypsy/eastern european music. It's not the same slap-rythym as bluegrass, but still very effective when used correctly. As Kevin Smith (Austin bassist) said: "Slapping is like holding a sharp knife. You can either help someone, or hurt them."

    Maybe that isn't word for word, but that's the jist of what he was driving at... :smug:
     
  13. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Boy, ain't it da truth! But when done well, jazz slapping is a thing of beauty. For some reason, though, only the rockabilly and swing players do any slapping now. You almost never hear of a jazz player slapping anymore. There's one I heard online recently but his name escapes me. But he's the only one I've heard of since the old guys like Vola and Milt Hinton.
     
  14. mister_k

    mister_k

    Jul 27, 2004
    Los Angeles
    Roland Guerin has a good jazz slapping technique. He played in the Ellis Marsalis trio for a while, and did the Marsalis family concert that was on PBS. He played a pretty serious slap solo on a tune called Cain and Abel.

    Inspired me, that's for sure.


    K.
     
  15. I've really been digging this music. Its wierd breaking away from my old style of playing to something more with a swing feel. It's probably what I really needed. Anyone else here play Gypsy Jazz? Brian Torff was the bassist on the Grapelli Cd I have from 1978. Great Bassist from New York.
     
  16. mpoppitt

    mpoppitt

    Mar 28, 2005
    Austin Texas
    I think your talking about Ryan Gould. He occasionally plays with an excellent Gypsy jazz guitarist named Dave Biller. Soundclips of Ryan's jazz slappin can be heard at:

    www.myspace.com/ryangould

    Check him out (esp. that solo in Hungaria), he's a super nice guy, and a phenomenal musician.

    I've played some gypsy jazz a bit, and have noticed it is a very rythym oriented type of music, even though there is no drummer. You have to think of it as you and the rythym guiarist being the drums. you are the bass drum and he's the snare. To keep the right 'bounce' and feel, it sounds best to keep it simple. Root V most of the time(or staying on the 1 & 3 beat), with walking between chord changes, maybe walking in the bridge, and a little slap where appropriate.

    The best players of this style leave a lot of 'space' in the song.
     
  17. Steve Bassman

    Steve Bassman Supporting Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Tampa Bay, FL
    I had a gig last Saturday night subbing with Impromptu , a local gypsy jazz group, and I had a great time. We were playing a trendy little wine bar in downtown St. Petersburg and we had a decent crowd. Two Selmer-style guitar plus my upright bass all going through small amplifiers. We played lots of Django tunes (of course) plus some standards and latin tunes. I mostly played in two and switched to four to increase the drive during the solo sections. I got lots of solo space and took a few choruses with the bow. I even did a little slapping (not my forte, but it sounded authentic enough). It's been a while since I've played with this group (who, like Django, use several bassists) and I had forgotten how much fun this type of music can be. I'd advise anyone who has the oppurtunity to give it a try and check out some of the original Hot Club records with Louis Vola (plus the more recent recordings mentioned in the earlier posts) for inspiration.

    - Steve

    My web page
     
  18. You can get extra rhythm out of that two-beat feel if you control the release of the note with your left hand.

    So if you pluck on beat 1, instead of letting the note sustain all the way to beat 3, come off it with your left hand on beat 2. Or if it's an open string, damp it with the whole of your left hand. It's a good way to add extra extra rhythm without extra notes.

    This assumes that your bass has enough sustain to go all the way to beat 3, of course! Since Django recordings are from the 20's and 30's, bassists would have been using gut strings and probably didn't need to use this device as their note was more of a thump, but you can emulate their sound with this method.
     
  19. droo

    droo

    Nov 1, 2004
    Oxfordshire, UK
    Doesn't Mingus do quite a bit of slapping on "Jelly Roll"?
    Also I saw the Preservation Hall jazz band with Ben Jaffe - trad New Orleans stuff and he was slapping away a bit as well. I suppose "Jelly Roll" is Mingus' nod to that Trad style...