1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

I'm playing with a jazzd pianist...

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by lpdeluxe, Mar 1, 2014.

  1. lpdeluxe

    lpdeluxe Still rockin' Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Deep E Texas
    ...who wants me to play 1-2-3-4 all the way through every song. This is interesting: the first situation I've been in where I'm not supposed to think, or improve the feel, or be creative. My regular percussionist has joined me, and for her, the instructions are to strictly adhere to four-on-the-floor.

    Fortunately, this is a one-time project (not studio, by the way).

    Does anyone else have thoughts on this? Obviously, I strive to do a professional job, but the pianist could get the same results with a drum machine. :D

    My thinking is that it's all about the piano. I've been working my own combo which features two singing sisters, and a lot of effort is put into making the songs work for everybody.
  2. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    Does it pay good? I'm a pretty expressive player, and playing four-on-the-floor for an entire gig would be hard for me to do. My guess is that you're supporting a pianist who struggles in a band situation.
  3. Piano and drums playing all around the beat while bass goes tick tock is a recognised style. Bass AND drums together going tick tock, not.
  4. I play gigs like this all the time- where my job is strictly to keep time. Granted, I'm not a flashy player but I like setting the groove for others to play over. I am one of those self-hating bass players in that I can't stand playing that distracts from the gig as a whole even if it's amazing playing.

    The majority of the gigs I play are about taste and timekeeping, as well as being a groove chameleon- fitting into whatever is stylistically appropriate.

    All of that being said, I can't imagine that walking the ENTIRE way through EVERY SONG would ever be stylistically appropriate. I mean, for jazz tunes normally the head is in half time, walk for solos and shout chorus, then walk for one head and back to half time for the final head and out. That's just the established norm.

    Does this pianist just want all of her tunes to sound like solos all of the time? I imagine that would get pretty tiring and repetitive to listen to. Is it just that this person doesn't want it to get out of control while trying to keep the energy up? Do they play tunes this way all the time?

    It IS possible however, even with those constraints, to be creative and think for yourself. Think of it as a chance to be clever- quote different tunes (Jingle bells always works well), experiment with accenting different chord tones and beats, settle in with the drummer and anticipate what she might do, and try to come up with great walking lines. In every gig there's a chance to improve on SOMEthing.

    Good luck! And always remember to GET THAT MONEY (unless you're playing for free, at which point get something else).
  5. Sounds like an inexperienced pianist who is struggling with timing issues (many seem to have some difficulties) and is afraid of getting lost.

    I would just think of what you can do to support her, time wise, help her sound good, and, maybe, just maybe, if she is doing well, you can slip is a few other things, like skips, for interest. Four on the floor? The bass player that keeps time well vs. the one with the flashy solos, is the one who will keep getting the gig.
  6. Yeah, if the job pays well and that's how they want you to play - the professional thing to do is - play whatever they want and get paid.
  7. lpdeluxe

    lpdeluxe Still rockin' Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Deep E Texas
    Ha ha. The odd thing is that the pianist is a long time friend, and back in '92 his band OPENED for my band! He started out on trumpet in 3rd grade, and is not an insecure or inexperienced musician, and has a lot of experience playing in combos -- the last one being with a very flashy ex-Nashville drummer and one of two excellent jazz bassists who both doubled on upright and electric. All three of us are retired -- none of us is a kid. :D

    I'm more bemused than anything. It is just outside my previous experience.

    Personally, it made me realize that I look at myself as a "value added" kind of guy, whether it's graphic arts, music or whatever. In other words, if you want me to do the work, you want my chops and my sound and my personality.

    Maybe he doesn't like my chops or my sound or my personality.

    Clearly it'll be a one-time job.
  8. obimark


    Sep 1, 2011
    I don't understand are you supposed to do continuos 1-2-3-4 walks? or the same note 1-2-3-4?
    A lot of jazz tunes I have heard have a pretty steady walk, but some of the better jazz bassist throw in off beat stuff... but the sinatra type smooth jazz seems to be pretty straight 1-2-3-4 walking...
  9. Well, if you don't want the job, just don't accept it - its really that simple.

    Have a great weekend.

  10. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Playing 4 quarter notes to the bar is the essence of playing jazz, it's called walking bass. Your job is threefold:
    1. Define the harmony
    2. Move the harmony forward
    3. Do the above two in a way that stands on it's own melodically

    It's a lot to do, if you have no experience with the music.
  11. lpdeluxe

    lpdeluxe Still rockin' Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Deep E Texas
    I'll give it a try. We're getting together with the singer this week. I think this is the basic problem the pianist has: he is not used to working with a singer. He plays dense, complex music which sounds great instrumentally, but doesn't leave a lot of space for anything else. He has worked locally with some pretty good musicians, but again, without vocals. My particular style is all about giving everyone equal prominence in the arrangements.

    It's all OK. We'll be friends when this is over, even if we don't perform together. We're part of a social group that meets every couple of weeks at one another's home for dinner parties, and we all come from different backgrounds; but all of us have spent our lives playing music of various kinds.

    And I'm learning from this. That's what it's all about, isn't it?
  12. tbirdsp

    tbirdsp Supporting Member

    Sep 18, 2012
    Omaha, NE
    I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir here - but as I play with more and more musicians I am finding people who grasp the concept of "space" most elusive...
  13. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    Amen, brother. Tell it. :bassist:

    Srsly, though--that sure has been my experience. I guess part of it is that as I got clued to the "leave some holes, to let some music fall out" aesthetic (HT: Steve Bailey, attributed to Dizzy Gillespie), I started to notice how few players understood it.

    Sometimes I've tried to explain the difference between the rock concept and the funk concept as the former being parts being layered on top of each other (rhythm and pitch, both) and the latter as being unique parts that mesh or interlock to make a complex whole.
  14. Space Pickle

    Space Pickle

    Apr 15, 2013
    Not meaning to talk down to you here but if it's old-school 1930's swing then you and the drummer should both play 4 on the floor.
  15. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    While I appreciate the importance of 4/4 walking, I don't know of a situation in jazz where it's used exclusively. I've played from big-band charts that were known to be original or exact physical copies of original arrangements, as well as faithful transcriptions, spanning the decades. Bass parts tended to be reasonably varied.

    OTOH there's a lot that you can do with four notes.
  16. lpdeluxe

    lpdeluxe Still rockin' Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Deep E Texas
    It's not. :D

    I can't argue with that: in fact, I recently put my SR5 in its case and pulled out my '51 P RI. Less is More.

    But the corollary of that is that, if it ain't got that swing, it don't mean a thing. The percussionist and I have been dissecting this situation over the weekend, which was punctuated by a rehearsal with our regular combo, which exhibits great feel and musicality, and is characterize by everyone listening to each other. We feel like we are slumming with the pianist! Funny thing.

    Oh, and to tbirdsp and Ewo, that's where I'm coming from.
  17. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    Now, a possibility is that the pianist is describing a playing style rather than a straitjacket. I had a bandleader once tell me: "I just want you to play real square." It was appropriate for the music that he was presenting.
  18. Maybe just think of it as a polite way of saying - keep it solid/simple, hold down the fort - or, no freelance bass noodling.
  19. Bunk McNulty

    Bunk McNulty It is not easy to do simple things correctly. Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2012
    Northampton, MA
  20. pnchad

    pnchad Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2005
    you're not really a jazz bassist and he's simply trying to get you to swing - walking is MUCH more than four straight quarter notes BTW

    I LOVE walking at 30bpm or 300bpm - when you get good at that you'll play with rhythm some but always with the walking pulse as your foundation

    my advice - put a TON of good jazz on your music playing machine and listen, listen and listen some more

    if you don't know and appreciate the genre, don't do the gig