Mr. Wil Davis...

Discussion in 'Recordings [DB]' started by Damon Rondeau, Jun 13, 2004.

  1. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    ... has joined the party. Hear him at Talkin Bass .

    Thanks, Wil!
  2. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    SAM: Hiya, Will. I wanted to drop a line reacting to your post, having given it a few listens at work.

    WIL: Sam, many thanks for taking the time to have a listen - Damon has provided a great resource to, and it's great to get some feedback from people whose opinions I value. I don't mind constructive criticism - how else is one to learn?

    SAM: The thing that strikes me each time is that there seems to be a little bit of slack in the pulse, particularly around the time you're starting a chorus:

    a) Obviously, the start of the piece was kind of "gathered together"

    WIL: This was the first number of the evening, and neither me nor the drummer had finished setting up before the pianist started into the piece. We haven't played all that much together (less than 6 times) as a trio.

    SAM: b) Around 0:54 you're coming out of the head and you and the drummer are not 100% locked up. Then around 1:09 you're pushing and he's pulling.

    WIL: Mmmm - I've played it a number of times, and think I see what you mean, but actually it seems worse around a minute or so later (~1:55)

    SAM: c) Around 2:14 you play in two, briefly, and it's not clear that's on purpose.

    WIL: I think that was at the turnaround, and it might be that I was trying a pedal type thing there…

    SAM: d) At 2:39 you're either buried or out at the one of the most vigorous points in the piano solo.

    WIL: The recording was made on a Sony MD recorder, with the level set to "Auto" - you can hear it "pumping" as the dynamic levels change - 2:39 just follows a loud drum fill, and I think the bass was buried at that point…

    SAM: Is there something you can do to hook up better with the drummer physically? Are you on the side of the kit that he usually looks across? Would it help if you were right on his high-hat?

    WIL: I was right in the middle, on the drummer's right, with the curve of the piano on my right. Good point about the high-hat…

    SAM: I'm not trying to piss you off and I hope that I haven't.

    WIL: Certainly not (see first comment) - I've been playing the double-bass for about three years, and am still learning (and still have a long way to go!)

    SAM: I also didn't want to just post this For The World To See without your go-ahead . . .

    WIL:I have no problems with that - if other people can learn something from my playing, then so much the better!


    Hey Wil, I had no idea that you were a curmudgeon-come-lately to the DB. Way to go! You're out in public, playing with decent players (and gigging more that me at that), having fun and reaping the benefit. And all this while, as your website shows, you live a very full life. Yessah!

    The physical layout of the band can be a real key. Most drummers habitually look over their high-hat. If you're positioned where it's easy for the drummer to link up with you visually and vice-versa, you're only increasing the chances for a stronger musical hookup.

    Keep up the good, Wil, and post some more.
  3. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Folks, I just posted five more links Wil sent me.
  4. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Wil's keeping 'em coming with 5 more from June 26 at the Acton Jazz Cafe.

    Talkin' Bass
  5. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I've spent some time in the past couple of days with the duo version of "Alone Together" - not sure which one it is since I'm going from the CD that Sam sent and you have two or three versions up on the page...but it's the one that features a cash register solo about 2/3 of the way through. :D Before I start talking about the music, I'd like to second what Sam said about your curmudgeon-come-lately status. The best approach to this music is just to get out there and start doing it, and you certainly appear to be diving straight in and keeping busy. Keep doing that, and good things will keep happening.

    About the recording:

    * It's good to see you playing the melody in the arrangement here. I wish more bassists would do this, as I wonder sometimes if bass players even know the melody to the tunes they're playing. The melodic statement sounds good, with decent intonation. There are a few little intonation issues, but this is the bass after all! In the melody, the one thing I would be looking to add is a more personalized statement in the rhythmic sense, which is something I wanted to talk about in terms of the time feel of the whole arrangement in general -->

    * In terms of time-keeping, both you and the guitarist are keeping basically good solid time, so much so that it makes me want to hear one or both of you take a few more chances. When you are walking straight quarter notes and the guitarist is playing simple patterns while comping for himself, the texture feels very "safe", which is good in a way but can also lead to lack of interest after a while. I'd say that in a duo setting, it would be good to get a sense of who is "holding down the time" and who is "exploring" rhythmically. During the guitar solo, you are both playing pretty close to the vest. If the guitar player is going to play that straight during his solo, I'd look to create some variation underneath - either by breaking up the time a bit or harmonically -->

    * Breaking up the time: The most obvious variation would be starting in a "2" feel before stepping into the walking texture. One of my favorite textures is the "broken 2" feel, where you are basically playing a half note texture, but in reality are just playing the spaces in the other part, i.e. - playing half notes, but listening for room in the other part to respond to the line played by the other player. This response can be ryhthmic, melodic, or both, but working on this texture is a great way to begin a dialogue with the other player. One of my favorite examples of this kind of feel on a straight-ahead record is on Kenny Barron's "Green Chimneys" trio record with Buster Williams and Ben Riley. On the first chorus of Kenny's solo on "There is No Greater Love", Buster plays this great interactive "broken 2" feel which helps the solo gain momentum towards the walk which begins in the second chorus. Interestingly, Buster often achieves the momentum not by playing more notes, but by playing less and displacing the rhythm! If you get a chance, check that cut out - I've been trying to capture the feel of that chorus for years! I think I also sent you a duo version of "Alone Together" years ago in which I played what I now consider to be far too long in that broken feel before walking, but it kind of gets the point across better than words can.

    * Walking and Harmony: In your walking texture, there are a lot of repeated note figures, and while these are fine at first, I'd be looking to create a more linear/melodic texture behind the solo. I try to think of duo playing as being kind of like an improvised 2-part invention, even when one part is sticking basically to quarter notes. To this end, some approach tones would be a welcome relief from the repeated notes after a short while. After that, it's just all about melody! -->

    * Harmonically, the beginning of this tune consists of a lot of static D minor harmony with a turnaround that repeats itself in the written version of the changes. I would just try to remember that in situations like this tune (or the opening 8 bars of "Softly", etc..), the minor turnaround is not really mandatory even if the harmonic player chooses to play can feel free to consider the first four bars as simply "D minor" and build a more modal line from that without losing much motion. It's also a simple way to reharm, or what I like to call the "unharm reharm": simply identify places where the harmony is static but filled with turnarounds to fill the space, then feel free to play them or not. Often I find it refreshing not to hear the turnaround figures.

    * Time feel: the basic quarter note pulse is good, and there weren't any places where I felt that the time or form were in any danger. In terms of voicing and technique, my one suggestion would be to go for a bit more sustain between quarter notes in the walking line. If you were to sing the lines that you played, how often would you breathe? On certain places in this recording, it almost sounds like you are "breathing" between quarter notes (i.e. they don't flow into each other without interruption) instead of phrasing in longer units. I'd try singing the lines with my voice, then imitating that with my bass phrasing to simulate where the breaths fall when I sang it. This approach is not for everyone, but I think its a good measuring device for me, and helps me develop longer and more fluid lines.

    * You solo: I really like the way you GO FOR IT and jump right in with no fear. Don't ever lose this attitude, because it's the hardest thing in the world to get back once you lose it! That said, I think what I might look at here is almost the exact opposite of what I was hearing with the walking lines...more space between phrases. The guitarist is laying down the time and form very clearly, which allows for a good healthy breath now and then. Taking that breath will also allow him to develop his "conversational" approach to comping and allow him to step outside of the "pattern comping" box, which is always the scariest step for developing accompanists. It also encourages more of the "two-part-invention" feel, which to me is one of the greatest joys of playing with another person.

    I'll stop here before this turns into a novel. Hope I haven't said too much. Just keep playing and diving end to the deep end like you've been doing, and good things will keep happening. :)
  6. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Have you listened much to Charlie Haden, Wil? If you haven't I'd suggest picking up the duo record with him and Pat Metheny.

    Just listened to Alone Together, first on Damon's page. My biggest question was going to 4/4 at the end of the pianist's solo. As far as repeating the line a lot as you were, this didn't bug me in this particular case, but not to detract from Chris' comment. I thought it worked out as a nice ostinato-type of thing.

    I'd like to hear more variation in articulation in general.
  7. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Wow -- I downloaded all of your clips from Damon's site so that I could queue them up in Media Player. I suddenly hit the trio stuff with the two guitar players and had to verify I was listeneng to the right stuff. I would hang with this particular trio as much as possible -- go find some gig and hire them! I think there is a lot for you to gain from playing with this group.

    On 'Ask Me Now' you seem anxious at the slow ballad feel and want to pull it into a double-time or better thing, although no one is going that way.

    As far as playing with some sustain when walking, I think I know what you're ear (or mind) might be struggling with here. I believe you're looking for the 'thud' to compel your line. NHOP, although the tone on many of the records is very pickup-y, uses sustain and note-shape to propel things. You might give him a listen. There are a couple of old sides with Niels and Joe Pass playing duo. 'Chops' is one that comes to mind. Pablo records, the label, is out of print as far as I know, but you should be able to score a copy somehow. [After a quick web search] There's also something about your basic tone that reminds of Niels.

    The first tracks, with the pianist, I have a thought on. He's kinds of out in Bill Evans / post-Evans / Keith Jarrett land. What I mentioned earlier about Charlie Haden makes me think that you might check out some of the older Keith Stuff with Charlie and Paul Motian. Go to where youcan score the CD. You can also hear some clips.
  8. Thanks taking the time to listen…

    Well, I have a problem coming up with ideas for solos, and more often than not I'll just quote the melody, or bits of it - and go from there - and yes, my intonation can be jaw-clenching sometimes - (one of the disadvantages of recording is that the "clams" are there forever, whereas "live", they come, they go… life goes on… :) )

    The "holding down the time" thing has been an on-going battle to get exactly right, firstly with our trio, but even more so with the duo - I listen to Jim Hall & Ron Carter and think OK, this is exactly how it should be. I just need to listen, and play, and listen, and play, and then listen some more…

    Fair comment, great suggestions, and thanks for the examples -

    I just need to remember this instead of getting carried away - I need to learn to "play the rests as well as the notes"…

    Chris, I really appreciate you taking the time to listen and provide so much great advice. As I said before, this is a great resource, and thanks again to Damon!

    - Wil
  9. Nope (hangs head in shame!) - but I will …

    Duly noted…

    Thanks again Ray, for taking the time!

    - Wil
  10. Thanks for the compliments - I'll pass on your comments to the guitarists - they'll get a kick out of that! :)

    You're right - I've noticed it other times when we've played that, although that was only the second time I'd played with Geoffrey - I need to learn to take it easy and take some deep breaths… (perhaps I should drink less coffee!)

    Thanks for the links - I'll check them out!

    Ray, thanks for taking the time to listen and for providing some good suggestions - as I keep saying, this is a great resource!

    - Wil