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jazz arco technique

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by oliebrice, Apr 26, 2003.


  1. oliebrice

    oliebrice

    Apr 7, 2003
    London, UK
    have most good jazz bassists who play with a bow studied classical arco techniques?
    I know that David Izenzon, probably my favourite arco player, was a classically trained performer before he started playing jazz. On the other hand I saw William Parker a few months ago and what he was playing sounded amazing, but his bowing looked wild, certainly not parrallel to the bridge.
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher

    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    I think most people brave enough to solo arco have some form of classical training under their belt - Miroslav Vitous, George Mraz and Christian McBride come to mind.

    If you want to hear some unschooled arco, check out Barre Phillips.
     
  3. Dondi

    Dondi

    May 3, 2003
    NYC
    First, let me say that things ARE improving somewhat in this area. But come on guys, face the facts. Most Jazz players just don't have much of a sound when they play arco. Think of the time and sweat involved in getting a good bowed sound to start with! Then think of the number of times you have heard recordings of jazz arco playing that you can't believe ever got on tape. And that's not even considering the the effects of "x-rayng" a player's intonation by hearing them play arco!
    Most of us need to spend a lot more time working on the sound and precise intonation required to have the nerve (cojones, yarbles, juevos) to let the pubic hear our arco playng. I have found that playing the melodies to great ballads, like Cole Porter, Gershwin, etc. will help us get on the right track if we don't care to practice Classical repertoire.
     
  4. I dont know, Ron Carter is an excellent bow player (check out the record "Piccolo"), and Paul Chambers had and interesting sound. I also heard this one bassist practicing (who was playing for a pianist, Chesnut think his name was) and he was playing some cool little thing. I defenetly thing that arco should be used more in jazz though. Its a very cool sound, sort of legato and pretty while keeping jazz phrasing. I have been working on it alot lately. I also dont think you nessesarily need to play classical to be good at jazz bowing, you just need to practice arco alot.
     
  5. Dondi

    Dondi

    May 3, 2003
    NYC
    Its really simple. Just think of how few jazz violinists and bassists have a nice sound and you get the idea.
    Most bassists sound like they have a sore throat when they play arco. Be honest to your ears and you know its true. A good dose of classical bow technique is just what the doctor ordered in many cases. Like I said, feel free to use the great American Songbook instead of Beethoven if thats what floats your boat.
     
  6. I hear you, Jason.

    I've been playing bass for over 20 years, with a few years of classical training under my belt. I'm just now getting to the point where I play a bowed solo without feeling embarrassed.

    I feel I have pretty good bow technique for classical, but in he heat of the improvisitory moment, I often feel my arco technique slipping into the most rudimentary "sawing," with little attention to articulation.

    Bottom line: just because you have good classical bow technique, doesn't mean you'll have good jazz arco technique. Playing arco jazz requires concetrated and exacting study.
     
  7. Dondi

    Dondi

    May 3, 2003
    NYC
    I think we have to be careful not to put up walls between us as bass players, no matter what style we choose as our main thing. One dangerous thing we tend to do is separate the styles we play as having intrinsically different standards. Case in point. Good arco playing is not different in jazz, classical, bluegrass, etc. There are standards:
    1.You are either IN tune or OUT of tune.
    2.You either have a relatively full tone, or a scratchy, thin tone.
    3. You either play with a clean, articulated sound, or you play sloppily.
    While none of us is perfect, we should all strive for the vision of perfection that we hold to be valid.
    Remember what Dizzy said when a classical player asked him if he ever played "serious" music; "Why, does it sound like I'm kidding?"
     
  8. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    Intonation is a separate issue but one thing to keep in mind is that most jazz players have their basses setup for mostly pizz playing and that setup doesn't necessarily produce the nicest arco sound. This is especially true for guys that play on raw gut or gut core or other very low-tension strings where it is very easy to get a scratchy sound and especially up high, the strings don't always have the clear arco tone most people expect.

    I agree that if you don't want to play the classical repertoire that playing jazz melodies is good training. Also playing transcribed solos is good too regardless of whether they were originally arco or pizz.

    Adrian
     
  9. jflojazz

    jflojazz

    Jan 2, 2004
    Portland Or
    I dont know if this is blasphemy , but when I first heard paul chambers arco solo on "tale of the fingers" I said Damn that sounds terrible! scratchy, woofy, thin , no fundamental yuck! His note choice was cool but ouch! So I tried to find a good classic example of great jazz arco playing and bought the duo record of jimmy blanton and duke ellington. Yikes! That was some sh**ty intonation I mean fingernails against a blackboard why didnt he record over it!. and the same heinous scratchy sound, but once again impeccable ideas.
    If i was rich i would pay john clayton to re record paul and jimmys solos note for note so we could really appreciate them.
    In tune with good tone!
    My playing is crap with the bow but i can sometimes get a better tone than Jimmy and paul on my kay with spirocores and a glasser bow.
    now if i can get the same notes as them and play in tune I will be somewhere.
    thank God for Slam that guys intonation is perfect and his tone on gut strings is unreal. I wish he didnt sing on every cut though so I could hear the pure sound.
    My dream is to play swingin claude "fiddler"williams style lines on the bass fiddle.
    The best arco jazz bass solo I have heard live was by david grismans bassist.
    Anyone else notice the bass gods dethroned tone when they pick up the Bow?
     
  10. What do you guys think of Michael Moore?
     
  11. matt macgown

    matt macgown Guest

    Dec 1, 2003
    Chattanooga, TN
    "I dont know if this is blasphemy , but when I first heard paul chambers arco solo on "tale of the fingers" I said Damn that sounds terrible! scratchy, woofy, thin , no fundamental yuck! His note choice was cool but ouch! So I tried to find a good classic example of great jazz arco playing and bought the duo record of jimmy blanton and duke ellington. Yikes! That was some sh**ty intonation I mean fingernails against a blackboard why didnt he record over it!. and the same heinous scratchy sound, but once again impeccable ideas."

    That's the first honest observation I've seen on Paul Chambers' bass playing. I never thought he had any strong points, and so much for intonation. I never heard anything come out of his bass in tune. I guess he knew DBs changes, though. And I was an unknown contemporary, and listened to his stuff along with everyone else who was blowing then, day in and day out. A much over - rated icon.
     
  12. Why, he's a talentless hack, of course. Overrated in my book. Unduly lauded. Paid too much lip service. Good, but not one of the greats. A workmanlike player. Mediocre at best. He's good for what he does, but let's face it, he's no John Pattitucci.
    :rolleyes:
     
  13. Oh, the s**t is about to hit the fan.
    Two words,



    GETTA















    Clue. :confused:
     
  14. matt macgown

    matt macgown Guest

    Dec 1, 2003
    Chattanooga, TN
    Oops. Anyway, sorry, but I didn't see it then, and I can't see it now. I think he was simply a victim of circumstance, guilt by association. Lots of jazz legends are that. And a lot of them didn't have a clue about "in tune," to wit, listen to Charlie Parker a little more critically sometime.

    Good ideas are one thing, but implementing them in tune usually is another. Eh... just my personal opinion. Used to hang out down there at the jernts a few just to see if what I was heaing was what I thought I was hearing. It was. Anyway, it's not nice to knock a feller when he's gone, but I did then, also. There weren't more'n half a dozen bass players in N.E. at the time, either.

    Oscar Pettifort did pretty well at playng tunefully. I think he practiced.
     
  15. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Matt, just so's I know I'm not wasting my time, who else besides Bird and PC are pikers?
     
  16. matt macgown

    matt macgown Guest

    Dec 1, 2003
    Chattanooga, TN
    Ha. John Coltraine. Did he ever hit a tuneful note? (I'm reallty quoting a trumpet teacher here who used to conduct an little S.O. I was playing in - he and I got to listening to Coltraine one evening and laughing about all the out of whack stuff). That doesn't say anything about the ideas, overall expression... it's just that sometimes, it's all obliterated by bad intonation... Eh. Intonation is at least part of the music?

    Duh, you know, but seriously now, I never heard PC play anything in tune. Did you? O. Pettiford always seems to have been on it, one of a few. Now, I haven't said anything about the real icons, R.Brown and R Mitchell, or a whole lot of other people, notice! Not that I consider myself any one to comment on 'em, except to expound their virtues.

    A jazz bass player, though, is no better than his bow. It always took me about two hours of bow work to recover from a gig (that was a lot of bow work). Playing jazz has a tendency to raise havoc with intonation, and that ain't just about bass players. Not a truism, but pretty close to it. Lotsa horn players, etc.

    Ain't you piano guys lucky.

    MwM

    Eh - IMO, which ain't gonna sail too high, I know.
     
  17. Lookit. I am a stickler for intonation. I pride myself on my ability to play in tune, and I expect the same of my bandmates, and I expect records that are recorded by today's jazz artists to be in tune.

    And I love P.C. Maybe by an orchestral player's standards his intonation is not up to par. But this music is so much more than that. Impeccable intonation is icing on the cake. The essence of this music is in it's improvisation, abilty to make you tap your foot, and soulfulness. P.C. had all of those things. Nobody could swing the band like that. When you listen to a band that's swinging beyond belief, where everyone is in the pocket, you don't get stuck on the fact that the bass player is a few cents off here or there. (well, apparently you do). The bassist's role is as much percussive as anything else. And Miles didn't hire P.C. because he was over-rated. He hired him because he was one of the best.

    If you're going to be highly critical of a jazz musician, you ought to be one yourself. Otherwise, please be more generous with your IMHOs and word your responses more carefully so we know your just talking about your personal taste.
     
  18. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Look T-Bal, this guy's either yankin' everybody's chain or he's got no ear. Either way, I'm not wasting anymore of my time on him. I figure I gotta an Ignore List for a reason.
     
  19. I was hoping for one of your full-scale rants.
     
  20. And what's all this stuff about afro-american jazz using notes that don't quite fit the even tempered scale - bue notes or whatever - obviously it they just never learned to play properly.

    Parker should have been told that playing sharp made him sound bright - jeez he couldn't have figured it out for himself.

    Coltrane - hell what's he doing sounding like those eastern vocalisers - ignorant fellow.

    Now Matt must he's lit the blue touchpaper, but suprisingly nothing's cought light - how civilised! Even Eds gone back to his kennel without so much as a woof let alone a bark. Nice to see English reserve in the colonies. Well done!

    Now about those arco solos - lets face it guys, do they really pass muster? IMHO they almost always sound like as aspiration - a marker if you like that it should be possible, you should try it, but here is a work-in-progress to remind you where we're at.

    Exceptions - well there is that Michael Moore fellow.