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Jaco/Wooten Philosophy

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by LoreBard, Sep 2, 2002.

  1. LoreBard


    Sep 2, 2002
    I'm interested in looking at some great players angle of bassplaying.
    I know that since they are uber-creative, they aren't limited to one perspective, but can anyone give me a link or a book?
  2. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    You should check out Bass Heroes. It contains collected interviews from old Guitar Player magazines. While Vic's not on it, Stanley Clarke is, and he's one of Vic's primary influences. The Anthony Jackson interview alone is worth it. Great insights. Also covered are Jeff Berlin, Michael Manring and more.


    One word, though: Maybe you're confusing technical skill with creativity. Jaco and Vic are very creative, yes, but then, so are Will Lee and Nathan East. Just because their playing contains less notes doesn't mean they're less "ultra". Some people would argue that the best musicians say more by playing one note than a hack does when he plays one hundred (Check the Anthony Jackson interview).
  3. LoreBard


    Sep 2, 2002
    Thanks for the help, man.

    I was looking for the ideas and the reasoning behind Jaco and using false harmonics or Victor's 'double slapping'
  4. supergreg


    Jan 20, 2002
    That is a great book.
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Well I don't think anybody will ever know this!! ;)

    But you can read Milkowski's biography - as close as you're going to get. I bought "Portrait of Jaco" which analyses some of his solos /solos pieces and is very good on this.
  6. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    My .02-
    Guys like Jaco, Wooten, etc listen to a lot of different stuff...they may hear how a drummer is able to perform a 'flam' & wonder-
    "How could I pull that off on my instrument"?
    (Open-hammer double/pluck?)

    Somewhere I read-
    Jaco talked about 'false harmonics' being used as in Classical music; violinists/cellists, I assume, were already comfortable with that technique. Translating that to an electric bass & making it into something musical...that's what's tough.
    As far as something like "Donna Lee"-
    Jaco listened to horn players; ya ain't gonna cop that sorta phrasing & note choice from the average guitarist/bassist.
    The "Slang" solo-
    ...Jaco obviously listened to Hendrix. ;)

    Food for thought...
    Not that this is anything new under the Sun-
    Something I'm always working on is 'stealing' rhythms from percussionists. Think how a conga player w/ 2 drums plays...some notes are LOW, some are HIGH. What I attempt is to play a line on my "E" & "A" strings(LOW part) while adding a counter "melody" above on the "D" & "G" strings(HIGH part). One of these daze, I'm gonna play in a band that'll appreciate this kinda stuff! ;)

    See what I'm saying? In short, expose yourself to music outside your typical listening zone...if you hear a rhythmic figure, melody, phrase, etc you like attempt to make it happen on your bass. Ya never know,. ;)
  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    There are a lot of harmonics for the string players in Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" - as Jaco quoted from this in his Havona solo - we can safely assume he was a fan! ;)

    Measures 5 and 6 in that solo are Stravinsky's opening motif transposed down a half step.

    At the beginning of the second part of the Rite "The Sacrifice" - all the strings are playing harmonics for nearly all of the introduction and then into the Mystic Circles. Stravinsky annotates these parts "flautando" - it's an interesting score to look through!
  8. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    This is a cornerstone of what I try to do. Great post.
  9. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    why do you know that? a few of the "uber-creative" bassists that i've met had pretty closed minds to certain points of view and perspectives, and even jaco seemed pretty perspective-limited on certain topics, from anecdotes i've read, rest his soul. no slight against any of them, of course, but they've all had some strong opinions about things, and expressed them, sometimes eloquently, sometimes vehemently, sometimes both. depending on your point of view, one person's "strong opinion" is another person's "limited perspective".

    i was personally chewed out one time by a famous "uber-bassist" (supposedly known for his "open mind") in a clinic because i had the audacity to ask an opinion on popular music and his perception of it as it related to the music he performed. darkened and soured my impressions of this particular character to this day.

    the one monster player who leaps to mind who i've met a few times who i've never heard say anything critical or derrogatory is our own michael manring. everything i've ever heard him say or write bass-wise was positive and positively influential on me.
  10. LoreBard


    Sep 2, 2002
    I'm not sure i quite understand, but 'strong opinion' has little to do with 'limited perspective'
    Closed minded means you won't try new things, correct? As long as you've tried said item, subject etc, you aren't closed minded. It's not manditory to like everything you listen to or try.

    In Modern Electric Bass, Jaco was talking about the variety of music where he developed his skills, so he didn't close off his mind to different styles. Victor Wooten was explaining how he wouldn't hesitate to try new things when he was playing bass, since he started as a child and didn't give much thought to is image, and making himself look foolish.

    But once again, I'm not quite clear on what you were getting at.
  11. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga

    not true. you may have a strong opinion against a certain style of music that i like. from my point of view, you have just a limited perspective on that style, and haven't heard enough to find something positive in it.

    like i said, all depends upon one's point of view.

    while that's true, an aspect of a closed mind is assuming that one's subjective opinion equates to objective fact. just because one listens to a particular song and dislikes it doesn't mean that the song is bad. see?

    furthermore, one's ego tends to come into play when one forms an opinion. shoot, opinion is the expression of the ego, in the purest sense. many times uber-bassists are not very careful about the expression of their uber-egos. that's sorta my point.

    my point was that many "uber-creative" bassists tend to believe their own press a bit and confuse their opinion with subjective fact. many of us have heard the diatribes against tapping, slapping, metronomes, extended range instruments, lines on fretless, no lines on fretless, picks on bass and of course the short-comings of various styles of music and other technical styles of playing, all from individuals who could be called "uber-bassists". these tend to read something along the lines of "xxx is terrible and useless or unnecessary" where this uber-bassist is confusing his/her own opinion with objective fact, and their position lends their comments credibility that they don't deserve.

    i guess i'm just trying, very verbosely ;), to say caveat emptor, take someone else's proclamations with a grain of salt, ymmv, and all the other standard disclaimers apply to everyone, regardless of skill level.

    sorry if i sidetracked your thread, i just felt it had to be said.
  12. LoreBard


    Sep 2, 2002
    It is all point of view, which makes everything so open to 'odd' interpretations.

    Once again, it's how you interpret what they are saying. If you assume what I'm saying is a stone fact and not a shared opinion, that's how you percieve it. For example, the pick, I've used one, I understand some people can do fair things with it, and it is a method of playing, like slapping, but I don't like it. It's easier to get a variety of tones with my fingers and play more controlled, and one less accesory to carry around. Does this make me closed minded?

    You said it yourself, if you take what they say as a fact, then they will be looked upon as closed minded.

    Couldn't that be closed minded? Of course it's just what you think, mayhaps it's the same with all these perspective-impaired bassists.

    dude, you are overusing the 'uber' eh?
  13. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    if you were to say "all pick playing is bad" then it would. that's what i'm talking about. subjective opinion being presented as objective fact.

    unfortunately, many of them present their opinions as fact, just like many non-uber bassists do. in fact, there are few that haven't at one time or another presented their opinions as fact. individuals who do this, who blur the line between their opinions and objectivity, cast their own credibility in an uncertain light, imo.

    possibly, it all depends on how one deals with the original statement, i suppose.

    here's an example. one time jeff berlin made a comment that "all fretless playing will sound like jaco, with no exceptions. jaco developed the intrinsic sound of the instrument and took it as his own, and that's all there is to it." this was a cornerstone comment to an aspect of his basic philosophy and approach to the instrument.

    now, this is not stated as an opinion, this is stated as a fact, coming from an individual recognized for his skill on the instrument.

    many individuals who read this comment were outraged, and argued vehemently against the point and the crassness of it's implied assumption. personally, i examined the point jeff made on it's own merits and applied it to my own playing, since i play over half the time on fretless. i also expanded my listening to include that little bit of jaco's repertoire that i wasn't familliar with already, and tried to objectively compare and analyze my playing to the backdrop of jaco's accomplishments and signature. the process expanded my horizons as a player, even though i've come to the conclusion that i don't sound anything like jaco on fretless, neither technique-wise, nor note-choice/composition-wise.

    i didn't feel threatened by the comment, so i didn't feel the need to attack, but i did consider it a very closed-minded, and even somewhat irresponsible thing to say for someone in his position of respect. i wonder how many folks who were considering playing fretless were put off by that comment, since they might not have wanted to sound like jaco clones.

    it's as good a term as any to refer to an individual who's excellence and expertise upon the bass guitar is recognized as being great and noteworthy.

    i guess my whole take on this is "what is one supposed to do with these philosophies of others when one finds them? do they apply to everyone, just because the philosophy comes from someone who has an extensive and developed skill set?" are these philosophies going to be applicable universally? or even to anyone else at all?

    other players' philosophies, imo, are dangerous things. it's like other players' instruments. i've played victor wooten's fodera 4 a few times - i couldn't do a thing with it. the strings were so low that everything i did just fretted out, but it obviously works beautiful wonders in his hands. i would think his philosophy would be equally useless to me, but then again, i've had a pretty developed philosphy of my own for a long time, so maybe i'm just an old dog ;)
  14. I believe you are missing John's point. The issue isn't how you take what these bassists say; that's irrelevant. The issue is *how they present what they say*. That is, whether they present as fact what is mere opinion or preference. I mean, I've heard great musicians present what I consider mistaken opinions as fact. I knew it wasn't fact, so I was in no danger of getting confused, but it still bugged me that they would put that kinda crap out there.

    Here's how I'd explain the difference between having strong opions and being closed-minded:

    1. Strong opinion: I've tried picks and I really didn't like them. I can't see myself ever using them.

    2. Closed-minded: Picks suck (even though I may not even have used them), and anybody who uses them is a lousy musician who probably beats his dog. Nobody could ever accomplish anything worthwhile using a pick.

    As John pointed out, being closed-minded means a lot more than refusing to try something. It also means (1) trying something, but not giving it a FAIR trial and (2) confusing your own personal preferences with what everybody ought to be doing. Just because tapping has no appeal to me doesn't mean nobody else should be doing it.
  15. LoreBard


    Sep 2, 2002
    Even if it is presented as a fact, it may still be an opinion, just by mistake on the writers part.

    That makes sense. It may be useless to me, but it couldn't hurt could it? I mean, if these guys can do great things, I might as well learn from them and try to make my own style...

    I think you've got a point there.
    But it still maybe a fact, as they presened what they thought 'wrong'
    It's up to others to try and understand and give meaningful responses on what they think.
  16. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    exactly. my point was just to sorta remind whoever read my post ;) of that point.

    well, it could hurt with negative reinforcement, such as "slap style is not a real musical style" or "all extended range instruments are for guitar player wannabes" (which i've both heard from supposed pros) which chould have a detrimental effect on a developing player trying to find his or her own way and voice. not saying that that's the case here, with you.

    yeah, exactly. unfortunately, too many people swallow, hook, line and sinker, every pronouncement from certain people just because they are famous for their playing skill.

    like i said, caveat emptor and a grain of salt. :)
  17. LoreBard


    Sep 2, 2002
    But it's an opinion nonetheless, right?

    It could hurt if i take it and apply it to my playing. Knowledge is not a bad thing, it's what we do with it that determines our alignment.

    We listen to them because they have a degree of expierience. Think of it this way, would you trust a review on a bass from a reviewer with half a years expierience or a player with 15 years expierience under their belt?
  18. lneal


    Apr 12, 2002
    Lee County, Alabama
    This turned into an excellent discussion. I think JT's point is that we shouldn't allow ourselves to be limited by the opinions of the "pros". I have read and heard some very idiotic and myopic things utter from the mouths of the "uber". They may be damn good, or "uber" but that don't make them right!
  19. jerry

    jerry Doesn't know BDO Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 1999
    I think all great inovators think outside of the box [ kinda what Jim K already said] Mick Karn is one of my favorite fretless players........and sounds nothing like Jaco!!! There is music eveywhere... when I was a kid, I loved the rhythm of the subway cars in N.Y.C. and tried to think of music that would fit over it....this was before I even played bass! Just have big ears and listen to everything:D
  20. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    There's a tune on Dave Holland's Seeds Of Time called "Gridlock"....what an appropriate title, he's actually captured what gridlock might actually sound like if played in a Jazz 5-tet. ;)

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