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keeping time

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by hoedown_j, Jan 15, 2006.

  1. hoedown_j


    Mar 3, 2005
    I have trouble keeping the tempo steady while playing in my school's jazz band. Of the 15+ people in the group, the only ones who seem to have any sense of time and actually try to keep the tempo steady are me and the lead trombone player. The drummers just don't do a good job, they're always rushing and dragging, never steady at all. Sometimes I find that if I'm not 100% focused on tempo (which i shouldn't have to be) I'll just follow the drummes at whatever tempo he speeds up to/slow down to.

    I know practicing with a metronome helps, but that doesn't do much when everyone's got their own tempos. I realize it's important to "lock in" with a drummer, but what do I do in this situation? Should I just completely ignore what I'm hearing from everyone else and stick to what the conductor gives as a starting tempo? Play harder on beats 2 and 4 so everyone can hear?
  2. WalterBush


    Feb 27, 2005
    Yuma, Az
    Full disclosure, I'm a certified Fender technician working in a music store that carries Fender, Yamaha, and Ibanez products among others.
    Yes. My HS director told me years ago that it's the bassist's role to keep time in jazz, not the drummer's--the drummer is a rhythmic accent to the song, not a metronome. Locking in with them is great, but if you can't, everything will sound much better if you're keeping the time. No one I've talked to since has disagreed with that statement, and I had instructors in college who asked their drummer to listen to the bass and trust where I was going with the time.

    If a song "breathes" a certain amount, i.e. fluctuating tempos to add or remove energy, or urgency, that's great, but slowing down or speeding up consistently because of bad time helps no one, and it won't get better if you allow the drummer to pull you down with them.