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open ears

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by neroantico, Sep 10, 2008.

  1. neroantico


    Jan 23, 2004
    italy, milan
    dear friends,
    I sometimes suffer on focus too much on my lines rather than reacting on what is surrounding. i fear this is due to struggle in finding a propelling line.
    What also make me boiling is not giving enough difference while walking through A/B sections of standards
    I would be grateful if you could help me with exercises and maybe on a different way of hearing (not just listening to )records.
    On this subject i try to focus on different instruments.

    yesterday i had a great moment while studying "African Lullaby" by dave holland. It is based on 3 lines 3 bars each, different instruments are switching but allthe lines should be present. So i and my fellow have to be with wide open ears in order to let the lines exists while switching. (i hope to have been clear)
    So bassists i'm really open to your suggestions.

    Saluts from Milan

  2. neroantico


    Jan 23, 2004
    italy, milan
    Sorry to bother you again.
    I'd like to know if somebody get results with this book : Paul del Nero's linear approach to improvising.

    this book is helping me, i get the message, but to be honest i'd like it went deep in minor harmony too.


  3. bolo


    May 29, 2005
    Apex, NC
    Giovanni, it sounds cliche but I don't think there is an easy answer to having big ears. If it came in a can or a bottle or a spray, everyone would have them. Many of us work on this constantly and are never really "done."

    Just comes easier with experience playing with others I suppose. Maybe simplifying your lines so you can listen more to what the other people are doing? I try to relax and back off sometimes, play with my head up and eyes wide open, and that often helps me tune in to others better. The response to what I hear then is more instinctive and on the spot than preplanned or thought out. That said, having worked on a variety of lines and scales and shifts in advance does help, because then they can flow from the head and heart to the fingers without having to think too much or labor over it.

    Sorry if that doesn't help much. I don't think there is a pat answer. Just keep at it!
  4. neroantico


    Jan 23, 2004
    italy, milan
    thank you for your input Bolo.
    I think that part of the problem is also depending on how clear an idea is played, codified, and capable of answer.

    maybe one should follow number one rule of marketing: is far better just one clear message.

    off topic where can i find Ed Friedland DVD.....is it for all areas codified?

  5. bolo


    May 29, 2005
    Apex, NC
    You're welcome. And you're right. Some piano players I work with have the ability to create very clear, coherent ideas when they solo. Others are not as clear, or just a little more kind of all over the map musically.

    I got the Ed Friedland upright bass DVD from www.lemurmusic.com when I was ordering some strings and some other method books. For jazz, I would recommend it very highly.

  6. charlespf


    Oct 21, 2007
    Ann Arbor, MI
    In my experience, a lot of the time if you keep your ears open to what is going on with the rest of your ensemble, 'interesting' lines will come naturally.
    That is, try and make every note you play a reaction to what else is going on around you.
    I find that often the best way to do this is to stop listening to yourself so much, and simply play what you feel is right in response to everything else that's happening.

    For me, it's sort of akin to being engaged in a really good conversation. In this situation, you aren't really listening very closely to what's coming out of your mouth in an attempt to sound interesting (I hope). I approach playing the same way.
  7. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    A piece of advice I got from our own Sam Sherry: Play against/with recordings and react to the music.
  8. bolo


    May 29, 2005
    Apex, NC
    Yes these are all great points. Especially the one about not listening to yourself too much.

    The only small caveat I might add would be to be careful about trying to jump on every figure you hear. If the piano or horn player starts a pattern, then the drummer jumps on it, it can sometimes sound very heavy and cliche and predictable if everyone else does too. Sometimes it works, other times not. In a trad jazz setting, I like to trade off w/ the drummer so that between the two of us, for the most part one of us is always home minding the store.
  9. neroantico


    Jan 23, 2004
    italy, milan
    are you paying attention more to a drummer or soloist?

    How often are you "pushing figures"?


  10. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    Neither. It is hard to explain but it is all about being equally aware of everything at once. The bass is the 'glue'. We sit in the middle of all the action. That means that we need to be able to hear what is going on rhythmically with the drummer as well as melodically and harmonically. Big job eh?

    As far as reacting to stuff. That totally depends on the ensemble. Some groups it is best if you keep laying it down the middle. Others you need to be on top of everything.
  11. bolo


    May 29, 2005
    Apex, NC
    It varies. I think in general I tend to focus more on the soloist in terms of listening and reacting with figures, note choices and rhythmic variation.

    But there are also times when I just try to play a unshakably steady (time-wise) walking line. No skips, no triplets, no pull-offs, just big fat friggin' quarter notes. In those cases I think I listen more to the drummer and sync up real tight and just play time. I zoom in on the high-hat or ride. If he starts doin' rim clicks on 4, => big grin. The soloist then rides over top of that pulse, and everyone in the room can feel it.

    And I always try to remind myself like Rufus Reid said that the drummer is always your first listener.

    It depends on the tune too. Is it a Rodgers and Hart standard? Or something more agitated? Do I want to emulate Ray Brown, or Scott LaFaro? What section are we in? Keep it pretty straight on the head, each soloists initial chorus and the outro, but open it up in between.

    Maybe I don't know what I'm talking about. I'm just a part-time pro as outlined in my profile. :) All FWIW. Hope you enjoy.
  12. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    It's just the long way from being a "bassist" to becoming a MUSICIAN that plays bass.
    The safer you are on your instrument and with the mere technicalities such as harmony, form rhythm etc, the more you can concentrate on playing coherently with any as part of a musical unit.
  13. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    That's what I really like about playing bass in Jazz - how much influence we can have! :)

    So I noticed this at Jazz Summerschool recently....?

    With regular collaborators we have got to the point where we know how it should sound and how tunes go..

    But at the Summerschool it was interesting to play/jam with a load of different people and to see how it develops - who leads who follows etc.

    So in some jams a singer might have lead and then a horn player take over - but as the stabilising influence I could choose who I followed and really make a difference to the overall

    There were some young players who were determined to stamp their imprint on proceedings, but as bass player it was possible to reign them in at times...?

    At one point a young drummer was definitely trying to push the tempo and play everything much faster than anybody else wanted to go - but it was possible to push against that by being strong about where the bar was and gain a compromise that made everybody happy and allowed music-making to flourish! :)
  14. neroantico


    Jan 23, 2004
    italy, milan
    thank you all for your inputs, i really appreciate!

    I usually lay down a straight walk when i play with people i don't know, so....could be a problem of stylistic ignorance.
    (other than bad taste)

    i have a band with repertoire based on Mingus, j.Henderson, Monk, Miles (W.Shorter 5tet )
    We effort to respect the author's recording style.
    When we sometime decide to play es. "Have you meet Ms Jones"
    is often a mess...maybe in the effort to crearte our sound, i feel like there is no taste direction. and i don't know what to do other than lay down a dead aebersold....

    I'm stealing your time....i know, i know...

  15. bolo


    May 29, 2005
    Apex, NC
    Hey I am enjoying this too.

    I know a few band leaders and drummers who want exactly what you said ... a real good quarter note pulse and not much else. Ray Brown also alludes to the value of this in one video I saw.

    Still, even within that context, there's note choice and range, attack, the flow of your line, note duration, dynamics ... You can still interact w/ the others in the group when you're just layin' it down. Definitely.

    Like you said in your OP just listening to great recordings I think is the best way to absorb it so you can try to then emulate it when you play. And be concious of not just listening to yourself like Charles said. Real good advice.
  16. Speaking of Ray brown,

    I just opened a book yesterday that I hadn't looked at in years. It had Ray Browns bass lines & solos for Killer Joe and Kadota Blues. These are tunes I thought that I'd really digested the information a long time ago...

    However, going over Ray's stuff was like an epiphany... His lines are so strong & muscular but there are all these beautiful nuanced harmonic choices, triplet figures, drops.......ect. He was the master..... study the masters

    Like Bolo and many others are stating... every musical setting is different... heck every day is different... study... find a great teacher... and ultimately...find your own musical voice... That way you have something to bring to the party.....No matter the musical setting


  17. bolo


    May 29, 2005
    Apex, NC
    Treeeeyzer, what's up bro?
    I get inspired every time I listen to Ray Brown.
  18. Aloha Bolo,

    Aint no thang but a chiken wing!!! Just hangin out here in the middle of the Pacific. Although it's no hot bed of jazz, we keep ourselves amused!

    How U?
  19. bolo


    May 29, 2005
    Apex, NC
    I'm good chief. Three gigs comin' up this Fri., Sat. and Sun., so I can't complain.

    Central NC is not exactly a hotbed of jazz either, but there are some pretty fine players 'round here. For example, I was in a trio that opened a very modest concert for John Brown earlier this month. That man can flat out play brother! In the style of Ray Brown, which I love more than any other. He runs the Jazz Studies program at Duke, and he also teaches at UNC and NC State. His latest CD is a tribute to Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. I heard John say he was also influenced a lot by Cannonball Adderley. It was a great gig man. Everybody in the group had BIG ears, fed off each other extremely well, and could solo 'til the cows came home. There. Big ears. Tied back to the OP.
  20. Bolo,

    Sounds like some great gigs. Sounds like you were inspired!
    Keep on swingin!


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