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Jazz questions - 2 feel

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by mingusitis, Oct 27, 2013.

  1. mingusitis


    May 11, 2012
    I am in a jazz band and have some questions regarding two feel. I think I have an understanding that the two feel is less about playing walking quarter notes and more about playing half notes. But when do you use the two feel. Do you only do it for melodies? Do you do it for all melodies or just certain songs...
  2. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    My 2 is pretty much the same as my walking, i.e., same attack and feel (appropriate for the style being played) but longer sustain.

    I use 2's as a sort of dynamic tool. Playing fewer notes, even at a given dynamic level, creates more space for the melody or solo to be heard. Often, in addition to melodies, I use 2-feel when a soloist starts out.

    If your band mates are willing to let you experiment, playing an _entire_ tune in 2's will help you get a feel for its effect on different dynamics and situations. If it's a big-band, you may notice that the whole band slows down.
  3. mingusitis


    May 11, 2012
    Same attack and feel? Longer sustain? So you are not IN GENERAL playing half notes while playing two feel? What percentage of songs do you play a two feel on the melody would you say?
  4. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    KC Strings
  5. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    Here is a version of "I'm Old Fashioned", Tommy Flanagan Trio (w/ George Mraz, bass), where the melody is in "2", the first chorus is in "2", then the third chorus goes into "4". Note that the drummer starts with and plays "brushes" throughout the track, never going to "sticks", which usually implies a "4" feel. The drummer stays with brushes during the "4" feel here, which is a nice dynamic (quiet) cushion. (Note that there is (generally) a "half-note" being played - not a "quarter note/quarter rest").

    The decision between the "2 or 4" feel affects both you and the drummer - It's OK to let the drummer know, (on the bandstand), that you'll be starting in "2".
    If you work with the same drummer(s), it's a great idea to have some dialogue, (off the bandstand), regarding the "2 or 4" feel as it relates to tempos, forms, tunes, etc.

    Thanks for your time and interest.
  6. mingusitis


    May 11, 2012
    Thank you! Very helpful. My drummer is pretty basic. He is a rock drummer playing jazz so when I even mention 2 feel to him he looks at me like I've got three heads.
  7. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Banned

    Nov 13, 2009
    Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
    Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters
    Take him to school (see above posts).
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    There are some tunes where it's almost compulsory to play the head with a 2 feel (e.g. Stolen Moments?) - but I think what people are saying here is that it's Jazz - you can do what you like, although of course, it's better if the band is together and communicating - on the same page, if you like?

    If you are playing tunes in straight 8s or in 3/4 - then it's often better as a broken 2 feel or you will lose the feel of the piece if you try to play a walking line. It's probably better if you say which tunes you are playing and then people can give you their thoughts about what they would do. But if you are asking such a general question, then you can only expect to get general or generic answers!
  9. mingusitis


    May 11, 2012
    These are not the songs we play but these are some of the tunes I am unsure about...

    Out of nowhere
    One note samba
    Autumn Leaves
    Long ago and far away
    Stella by star light
    How High the Moon
    Blue bossa
    Take the A train
    Mr. PC
    Blue Trane
    Beautiful love
    There is no greater love
    Well you needn’t
    Blue Monk
    Mood indigo
    All of me
    Girl from ipanema
    My funny valentine
    Gee baby
    Miss Jones
    Black coffee
    Mack the knife
    Peel me a grape
    East of the sun
    Route 66
    The look of love
    Fly me to the moon
  10. mingusitis


    May 11, 2012
    These are not ALL the songs we play...
  11. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I think if you are playing a bossa - then you are going to get some funny looks, if you don't at least start off with a 2 feel. Having said that, if you want to play Girl from Ipanema in 5/4 with a walking bass line then I'd be more interested to hear it, than the usual renditions that inevitably come up at jams! ;)

    On the rest of the list, I will leave it to others to pick their favourites.
  12. tkozal


    Feb 16, 2006
    New York City
    I have had leaders want the head in 2, then 4 for solos. Then change their mind for the whole thing back to 4, or decide to do it as a bossa. Bob Cranshaw on live versions of without a song with Sonny Rollins is a master class on 2 and 4
  13. lowEndRick

    lowEndRick Supporting Member

    Apr 8, 2006
    I often think of Sam Jones on Cannonball/Miles' version of Autumn Leaves as a classic example of going 2 to 4 then back to 2.
  14. Roger Davis

    Roger Davis

    May 24, 2006
    Ray's 2 feel in Have You Met Miss Jones has a real swing to it although the tempo is on the languid side. I follow no set rule as to 2/4 or 4/4. If I'm with a drummer I'm unfamiliar with I generally start in 4/4 until we're comfortable with each other. I did a gig with a 'new' drummer and warned him I'd probably shoot some 2/4s in - to which he replied, 'but a minim is a long note to get wrong'.
    But I feel quite happy to break the tune up by varying the comping behind a soloist from 2 to 4 as the tune progresses.
  15. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I agree there's a lot to be learned about this subject, from listening to the bassline on that recording!
  16. Seanto


    Dec 29, 2005
    At the end of the day, it's up to the player/band as to whether to go with a 2 feel, quarter walking, broken 2..etc. There are no rules or songs that it is customary on. I personally tend to switch between 2 and 4 feel on a whim, depending on the song or tempo at the time.

    One popular structuring that has been mentioned is using a 2 feel for the head, but walking quarter notes during the solos.

    At the end of the day, you should expect to be able to play any song in a few different ways. When learning a new tune try learning it in 2 first, then switching to 4 once you have that under your belt. But again, it's all personal preference once you are playing with a band and could go either way.
  17. mingusitis


    May 11, 2012
    Thanks for everyone's help. Yeah I've got the basic bossa groove down. Now do you think my drummer really has to change up his beat a lot while I am playing two feel or can I pull off two feel with out him changing his rhythm/groove?
  18. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Well, yes and no. If somebody comes in and says "I've got a bitchen arrangement on STROLLIN', A's are in an Afro Cuban 7 and B and C are in 3," that's one thing. But if you're on the stand and somebody calls STROLLIN', if you don't have the pick ups and play the head in two, people will point and stare.

    There are any number of standards for which there are "common practice" defaults but, as many above have said, the best option if you don't have familiarity with the tune or it's recorded breadth, is to actually talk to the people you'll be performing with.

    If that's not an option, it should be apparent within a few bars (if you're listening) what the drummer and any accompanying instrument expecting.

    By way of example, this is what I'd do on your list of unsures IF I WAS PLAYING WITH PEOPLE I HAD NOT PLAYED WITH BEFORE:
    Out of nowhere - 4
    One note samba - latin
    Autumn Leaves - depends, if they set up the SOMETHINN ELSE vamp or lead you to believe it's gonna be the Bill Evans arrangement. I'd prolly ask at the count off.
    Long ago and far away -depends on tempo
    Stella by star light - depends on tempo
    How High the Moon - 4
    Misty - it's a ballad, that's different from 2 feel
    Impressions - you're kidding, right?
    Blue bossa -latin
    Take the A train - 4
    Mr. PC -4
    Blue Trane - this has specific rhythms in the head that one plays, solos in 4
    Beautiful love- depends on tempo
    Sugar - again, this has a specific rhythmic approach for most of the head
    There is no greater love - mostly 2
    Well you needn’t -kind of two, but phrase with the melody
    Blue Monk - 2
    Mood indigo - ballad again, although that Nina Simone version....
    All of me - depends on tempo. also when a singer calls this, it's fun to ask "ALL OF ME or ALL OF YOU?" and then sing the opening lyrics to ALL OF ME to the melody of ALL OF YOU. I can also do this with SEPTEMBER SONG/SEPTEMBER IN THE RAIN
    Girl from ipanema - bossa
    My funny valentine - ballad
    Gee baby - this isn't quite a 2 feel, kind of a shuffle/bluesy 2
    Miss Jones - depends on tempo
    Black coffee - like GEE BABY
    Mack the knife -2
    Peel me a grape -2
    Summertime - depends on tempo
    East of the sun - depends on tempo
    Route 66 - blues shuffle
    The look of love - I've only played Dave Kikoski's arrangement
    Fly me to the moon - depends on tempo

    But if it's folks I've played with before, do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.
  19. The straight eighth and latin feel songs are, to me at least, different from whether you're walking or not; the swing tunes are a different thing. Most of the dixieland era (or dixieland influenced) songs are swing tunes with a two beat. From your list, for example, I would typically play How High The Moon as a 2 beat - at least during the vocals. Same with Mack the Knife. I would also suggest that ballads like My Funny Valentine can be played with half notes rather than quarter notes, but I don't think of that as a two beat; it's just half notes rather than quarters.
    One other thing; when I'm playing a 2 beat on a song like How High The Moon or Mack The Knife, I'm not playing half notes; I'm generally playing something like a quarter note and a quarter rest. I prefer the bounce that comes from doing it that way.
  20. MLysh


    Oct 11, 2007
    Are Aleister Crowley quotes allowed on TB forums?

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