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Need help on Ballads and Two Feel

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Theborough, Sep 27, 2008.


  1. Theborough

    Theborough

    Aug 23, 2008
    Recently I've started getting some gigs in backing up singers and also am playing "Blues on the Corner" by Peter Apfelbaum in my school's advanced combo. As for two-feels, I can sorta feel my way through it, but sometimes I just feel like I'm almost doing a bossa in a sense. Any really good albums, specific songs and bass players to listen intensely and transcribe for two-feels would be great. Also same thing for ballads and playing fills, and just getting a sense of solid time, but still free time. Any recordings of this with singers and without would greatly help to iron out this weak spot in my playing. Thanks!
     
  2. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Two feel is an art and is probably overlooked often. Don't get frustrated if it's coming on slowly cuz to do it right is actually quite hard.

    Check out Ray Brown or Ron Carter. John Clayton is good too. Ray Brown's "Soular Energy" is pretty good. Definintely check out Houston Person & Ron Carter's "Something in Common". They play as a duo on this one and there's a couple slow tunes that are easy to hear and not to hard to transcribe.

    It helps to have a strong feeling for the underlying triplet as well as the swung 8ths, but moreso the triplet IMO. Don't be afraid to play alot of roots and don't get too hung up on the frills and fills. You are helping the music and general feeling along and your job is not to add fireworks. The old masters will selectively put in fills but if you listen to it they play alot of roots and 5ths - maybe not in the way you might play them which is something to pay attention to when you get your hands on the recordings. What really nailed this for me is listening to Milt Hinton back a ballad. He played nothing but the important notes and hardly ever played a fill. I think it's quite acceptable to avoid them all together. I dont' think anyone will really notice except maybe the musicians in the audience.

    Also, I've been scolded by Ron Carter himself in a workshop to avoid too many unintentional rhythmic rakes and flams as it can throw the singer's rhythm off since it's maybe something they're not used to. That is something you won't get from an instrument only recording.

    Stick to playing with the most solid time you can and you should be fine.
     
  3. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    I've always felt that Ron's playing on "Basin Street Blues" on Miles' album "Seven Steps To Heaven" was maybe the perfect bass track. To me, it's an object lesson in how to do all the things you're asking about. It starts and ends as a ballad, and in between, it moves from a perfect two feel to some of the most sublime walking four that I've ever heard. It's a masterpiece of tension and release. Check it out if you have access to it. I listen to it from time to time, just to remind myself how it's supposed to be done. :D
     
  4. It's important to learn your passing notes to help weave the bass part together. As everybody has said, don't over do it, but using a half step above or below the next root on beat four of the last change will help give the tune a more sensible movement. These, of course, will help you to build flowing bass lines when you play in four.
    Good luck and hang in!
     
  5. I second the quality of "Basin Street Blues" - very good two feel on that track.

    I transcribed a few two-feel bass lines off of Night Train by Oscar Peterson. Ray Brown plays on that record. Check it out.

    Matt
     
  6. kennypm

    kennypm

    Sep 27, 2008
    Durham, NC
    As much as I love Ron, I sort of see Ray Brown as the "master" of the modern two-feel. For records without singers, anything from the London House sessions (The Trio, The Sound of the Trio, etc) as well as We Get Requests is great.

    Fun fact: Bob Hurst said that the four albums that were most influential on him were Kind Of Blue, Four and More, The Trio, and We Get Requests.

    EDIT: Forgot my bit on ballads. I've been working on this recently as well, and I came up with an exercise that works quite well for me. Start with the metronome at 40 (on every beat, not 2+4), and play just a muted string with every click. Once you feel very comfortable with that, start playing staccato quarter notes (just one pitch). Once you feel comfortable with that as well, progress to holding the notes for 1/3 of a beat, then 2/3 of a beat, then as legato as possible, then walk lines at that tempo (40 bpm). Then repeat that whole process at 35 bpm and 30 bpm. If you feel like you're not making any progress because the tempo is just too darn slow, back up. That whole process usually takes me 40 minutes to an hour.
     
  7. This is a great thread and I just had to sit in a bit... I love playing ballads. Foe me, it is an art in itself. Why? because everything you do, especially in a quartet or trio, is very exposed. Your intonation, your time and every note choice you make is very apparent. Depending on the player, this can either be distressing or liberating.

    There are so many wonderful bassists who are great at playing ballads. Ray Brown, Scott LaFaro, Paul Chambers, Ron Carter.. the list goes on and on. If you don't have a live gig situation, practice with records and transcribe some of what these people do.

    John Pattatucci has a wonderful DVD Master Class where he addresses these issues and offers some wonderful advice.:ninja:
     
  8. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    Two things:

    1) Subdivide in your head, so that you aren't thinking 1 - 3 -
    but you're thinking 1&a2&a3&a4&a, but play 1 and 3. You'll find yourself embellishing on the "a" which will give you a swinging 12/8 feel. It helps you keep time. You can pat your foot on 1 - 2 - 3 - 4, just keep track of all the time and all parts of the beat, then play simply. When you imply swing, it does not feel like a bossa.

    2) the absolute text book records of playing 2 feel on standards for my money are the Ahmad Jamal Trio records with Isreal Crosby on bass and Vernel Fornier on guitar. I had a chance to talk to Mr. Jamal about this sessions once and he gushed about Isreal Crosby and what a fine player and gentleman he was. Totally solid and you need to know those standards anyway.

    My favorite 12/8 feel record is Blue Hour, Stanley Turrentine with the 3 Sounds, Andrew Simpkins on bass. He didn't play entirely in tune on that record, but his time feel was astounding.

    Of course, Ray Brown is the master, no arguments here. But check out these recordings, they're the one's that helped me the most.
     
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  10. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
     
  11. bolo

    bolo

    May 29, 2005
    Apex, NC
    If you're feelin' bossa instead of a two feel, somethiin' ain't right. Maybe it's the drummer who's implying it? :scowl:

    +1 on the recommendations to listen to Ray Brown, esp. Night Train, We Get Requests, and Soular Energy. Wow. I get inspired every time I listen to those recordings.

    Depending on the tune and tempo and vocal line, I think sometimes you might want to try adding a muted skip or passing tone or at least a small space (breath) on the and of 4 and/or the and of 2. Propels you into the next 1 or 3. Especially if you are coming out of a more energetic walking 4 back into a 2 feel for the last head. But don't overdo it. Sometimes legato or connected half notes w/ continuity work just like they are supposed to, esp. if the tempo is such that the string / note has a chance to bloom and blossom and decay a little.

    Keep at it!
     
  12. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    I've been working through A-Train off of Soular Energy and "I Though About You" off of Something in Common as 2 feel studies... just taking one tiny phrase at a time. Both are great... slow tempo, very clear and uncomplicated bass lines. Uncomplicated as they may be, they still floor me even hearing them for the hundreth time. It's amazing what those guys did with just basic roots and 5ths and 3rds or simple scale passing notes.

    Play one note with bad timing and it starts to sound immature very quickly.
     
  13. Theborough

    Theborough

    Aug 23, 2008
    Sounds good so far guys I just started listening to seven steps to heaven and am going to review all my OP trio stuff. How about tracks with backing up vocals? And although I'll probably get to this when I start transcribing the tracks, and common triplet fills lets say when you are playing a ballads in C scale degree wise? Oh and yea I'm also starting to realize how much more important intonation is in ballads. As for two feels, on the spot, do you guys like to start out the head with a two-feel sometimes, or through a first a of a solo, or when seems appropriate?
     
  14. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    My buddy Jon (posts as nypiano here) has a couple of nice little interviews with Mike Kanan, the pianist who accompanies Jane Monheit and spent about 6 years with Little Jimmy Scott, I'll post a link to the blog, but quote a part that I think would do all of us (including the OP) a good service....
    Blog

    JR: Some players have problems submerging their personality for the greater good. Even really good ones. And they get so developed. ...That can be ok if you're at that level. But if you're not, you can be too much into your own thing.

    MK: Right. There's a real easy way to understand that whole issue. Sing with another piano player.And particularly with somebody who's not a skilled accompanist. You'll find out everything you need to know about how hip you're going to be.

    JR: That's interesting

    MK: I remember trying that out with a friend of mine years ago. And both of us were trying to do all kinds of hip stuff.

    JR: And you were saying,"You're getting in my way..."

    MK: He sang a tune and I was doing all kinds of goofy ****. And then I sang a tune and he did all kinds of goofy ****. Not intentionally. It's just that's what we were into at that time.

    JR: Uh-Huh

    MK: And then we finished and look at each other and say "You know all that goofy **** (you did)?" And he finishes and goes "Yeah that's really not good." (Laughs)
     
  15. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Typical pattern is to play 2 feel on the A parts, walk the bridge, 2 feel on the last A. Walk all solo choruses. If you happen to do 2 feel During soloing, you do it for a while (like a whole chorus or all solos). The general rule is that if you go from 2 feel to walking, you don't go back.

    To reiterate what Ed is saying... forget about the triplet fills and concentrate on the anchors. Once the anchors are solid, the goofy **** can come sparingly and you understand how to spice up the lines appropriately.

    Great post Ed. I'll have to look for those interviews.
     
  16. JR: Some players have problems submerging their personality for the greater good. Even really good ones. And they get so developed. ...That can be ok if you're at that level. But if you're not, you can be too much into your own thing.

    MK: Right. There's a real easy way to understand that whole issue. Sing with another piano player.And particularly with somebody who's not a skilled accompanist. You'll find out everything you need to know about how hip you're going to be.

    JR: That's interesting

    MK: I remember trying that out with a friend of mine years ago. And both of us were trying to do all kinds of hip stuff.

    JR: And you were saying,"You're getting in my way..."

    MK: He sang a tune and I was doing all kinds of goofy ****. And then I sang a tune and he did all kinds of goofy ****. Not intentionally. It's just that's what we were into at that time.

    JR: Uh-Huh

    MK: And then we finished and look at each other and say "You know all that goofy **** (you did)?" And he finishes and goes "Yeah that's really not good." (Laughs)[/quote]


    Ed, I don't know where you find all these gems, but this is perfect... what a great illustration...Thanks:ninja:
     
  17. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    That's why I love living here; I get to play with Jon (JR) a lot and I get to go hear (and play a tune here and there with) Mike (MK) a lot.
     
  18. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    That interview snippet was priceless. Practicals solution to an intellectual problem... I love it!
     
  19. Love that interview.

    I remember doing a gig with a sax ensemble where they brought in some hip drummer. Guy was all over the place. He was certainly talented but had no clue how to serve the music or get a good swing going. It just felt like he was biding his time until he could trade 4's. Needless to say I could never lock in with the guy... and he kept giving me "the glare" :)
     
  20. nypiano

    nypiano

    Feb 10, 2003
    NYC
    I think the main thing with 2 feel is not slowing down. It can be great in terms of a light feel if you don't drag the original tempo.

    It can be helped if you do mix middle of the bar accents for example a strong 2(hold)3,4... mixed in with your downbeat.

    Also don't miss your strong accents to the first beat

    3, 4 1

    The other thing is perhaps hearing 2 measures at a time.
     

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