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PC on kinda blue

Discussion in 'Bassists [DB]' started by john turner, May 3, 2001.


  1. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    i'm listening to kinda blue right now, and PC is out of tune all over the place. i know i should be saying "so what" ;) since the music is excellent, really beautiful, and the foibles that i hear don't interfere with my enjoyment of the music. still, though, out is out, and it makes me wonder...

    the only reason that i bring it up is that i've heard DB'ers who _idolize_ PC, and i wonder if i'm missing something. i don't mean to be milking any sacred cows here, just something i noticed and got me to wondering.

    remember i'm just a toy bassist :D so i probably just don't get it. anybody who could help me out, i'd appreciate it. besides, i'd like to get y'all's opinion on importance of intonation.
     
  2. JT
    I took some grief on another thread for comments on PC's intonation; I don't find it quite as egregious as you, though. But his time !!!!! Funky.
     
  3. I've never noticed big intonation problems. To hear PC, buy _Whims of Chambers_ and give a couple listens to "The Tale of the Fingers".
     
  4. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    ok, i'll do that. i'd like to hear more of him, since he's recognized by so many as such a giant. i feel i need to get more influenced by more DB players anyway - so much of BG is cross-pollenated and inbred, influence-wise, a lot of even the better BG players are beginning to sound like some extended backwoods bumpkin family, if you catch my meaning - beginning to have all the same traits to various exaggerated degrees.

    i hear it mainly on "so what" some, during the "buh-dup buh-dup buh-dup buh-daaa...bum bum" part. also, during the beginning of freddie freeloader, but now that ed mentions it, it might be the horns - he sounds in with the piano. then again, he sounds out on blue in green some of the beginning with the piano.

    also, as much as i listen to kinda blue, ah uhm and a love supreme, among others, i still am not really experienced listening to this kind of ensemble playing. i think i have to learn more about how to listen to this kind of stuff. :D maybe what sounds "out" to me is really just the nature of the instrument.
     
  5. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    Coming from a background of piano and fretless toybass before coming over to the dark side, my opinion is that intonation is hands down the hardest aspect of DB. Period. End of story. I go to DB recitals and master classes whenever possible, and I always hear funky intonation from students (including myself, of course) and often hear it from teachers when they aren't careful. This is one reason I try to record my practice sessions every other time I practice. If I don't, I get so caught up in some other aspect of the music that I don't always hear the micro (if i'm lucky) tuning mistakes I'm making. Improvement of this aspect of my playing is one of my main goals for the forseeable future and probably for the rest of my life.
     
  6. In jazz, the horns can be out, the bass can be out, even chord voicings can give the impression of being out. And I think your right in way about jazz kinda sounding out to cats that are just getting into it after listenning to rock and stuff.

    Toss that Ah Um disk. I think it's one of Ming's worst. To me it's very restrained sounding, like they're playing a wedding gig or someting. I never understood why so many people recomment it. A great place to start for Mingus, especially for guys coming from a rock kinda background is _Live at Antibes_. You won't be the same after that. Buy that CD and let me know what you think. I might be able to point you in some directions. And you might want to pick up _The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady_ while your in the Mingus bin.
     
  7. lermgalieu

    lermgalieu Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    Yeah that darn beginning of So What, I think we had a whole thread about that at one point. It's no walk in the park to play it in tune for some reason...I thought I could play it fine, but I taped myself and...oh man. I am not comparing myself to PC, but I would say the nature of the line, and the fact that it's an in front type of line, makes intonation flaws stand out even more...
     
  8. PC's line on "So What" is interesting, particularly on the bridge, when he actually is playing a Db7 sound instead of the acknowledged Eb-7 chord during the solos. The B naturals could add to any perceived intonation issues.



    I think it's actually pretty cool, where the whole band goes up a half step to the bridge, PC goes down. The fact that this has gone unnoticed by so many is testament to his time and sound.
     
  9. APouncer

    APouncer

    Nov 3, 2000
    Lancashire, UK
    I've listened to this album for years and often tried to play along on the piano when I was younger, but never could play in the right key, then I recently bought it on new remastered CD and it is in tune now. I think the first pressings of it are slightly sharp. Check out the latest releases. Still, if your saying they all sound out of tune to each other, I can't hear it, or maybe the slightly sharp versions are confusing your delicate ear. But, still, I've never noticed he goes down instead of up - i'll be checking that out tonight - wheww, how many bass players have got that wrong over the years.
     
  10. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    thanks for the suggestions, david [​IMG]

    i've heard about "the black saint..." , i need to go shopping.
     
  11. APouncer

    APouncer

    Nov 3, 2000
    Lancashire, UK
    Oh, completely and absolutely don't throw away 'Ah Um', starting with a witty Pun for the title, 'Wednesday Prayer Meeting' - ohmigod 'Goodbye Pork Pie' . . is incredible, you're musically dead if that doesn't move you, 'Fables . . . ' just listen to the head! The whole entire album is beautiful, funky, groovy, cheerful, melancholy in turns. It takes a little effort, but once it clicks . . . . sheer music!
     
  12. Wrong, it doesn't take any effort. I much prefer the Fables of Faubus version on _Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus_, and love the live version on _Revenge_. I forgot "Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting" is even on _Ah Um_. The best version is on _Live at Antibes_, and the _Blues and Roots_ version is ain't shabby. And "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" is 100x's better on _Mingus x 5_.

    I guess I'm just musically dead. I have probably more than a dozen Mingus discs and this is the only one that sucks. When was that recorded, '57, '58, maybe? Let's see from that same time frame is Tiajuana Moods, Blues and Roots, The Clown, East Coasting, Symposium on Jazz..., Jazz Composer's Workshop, and probably other's, and I like 'em all better. On second thought, maybe I'm not the one who's musically dead. Maybe the peabrains that think Ming's only musically dead album is his best are the musically dead ones.
     
  13. APouncer

    APouncer

    Nov 3, 2000
    Lancashire, UK
    Ok, maybe "musically dead" is a little extravagant. To quantify my opinions: if i'm right in thinking that that version of Fables is the faster one, right? I do prefer it! And I have heard many versions of Wednesday . . . maybe some are slightly better, I'm not sure i've heard a better playing (and recording) of Goodbye . . . though, I just love the solo. But what I like is the package, the choice of songs, the order they are in, the title, the packaging, the cracking recording quality, and it all adds up to (for me) a lovely album to be listened to from start to finish.
     
  14. So basically what you're saying is you like the album, it provides you with an enjoyable listening experience. I'm glad you enjoy it. Though despite many considering it definitive Mingus (which is why it was mentioned here in the 1st place), imo, it's the disc that least represents what Mingus and his bands usually sounded like. In fact, it's well documented that Mingus himself hated it. I think the feel and the overall playing is much stiffer and restrained than one would find on most other Mingus discs.

    "Pork Pie..." is listed as "Theme for Lester Young" on _Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus_
    Check it out. That album also has versions of "Haitian Fight Song" and "E's Flat, Ah's Flat Too" listed as "II B.S." and "Hora Debucutis" respectively. I can't say which of those I like better as the two versions of each are very different.
     
  15. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I missed this thread somehow; but reading it now, it strikes me that there is another thing about listening to Jazz that hasn't been stated explicitly, although has been touched on. Which is that Jazz is essentially a live music and until you have actually been in the audience of a small sweaty club and heard it live and "in your face" that it doesn't make so much sense.

    So the studio albums, with short solos and restrained arrangements are a world away from what you would hear at any Jazz club. In this environment, small intonation differences are way down the list of priorities and it's about ideas, taking risks and really gripping an audience, with the swing, the sound and "flying by the seat of your pants"!

    Jazz can be a really exciting music live and if you're only listening to things like "Kind of Blue" and "Ah Um" you would get no impression of this. I think that even with "live" albums, you are getting no concept of the feeling involved and the rapport with the audience, who may well appreciate that mistakes will be made and don't care - so while it's "in the moment" it sounds great, but doesn't bear repeated listening "under the microscope".

    So I have no doubt that PC was a really happening bass player live and can imagine that was what he was hired for - not an ability to play high register stuff with unfailing accuracy.
     
  16. Yeah, and actually I'm Christian McBride.
    PC, like the rest of the band, is playing a dorian Eb scale. Bb and C natural. Unless, of course, you can direct us to the bar(s) and, for that matter, the specific beat(s) on which he spells a Db7 chord or even plays one Cb against the Eb dorian, i.e. Db major, scale.
    It hasn't gone unnoticed; it didn't happen.
     
  17. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    And to think I thought you were a white guy from New Jersey all this time...you had me fooled. Anyway, nice to meet you. I loved your playing on Joe Henderson's "Lush Life". The duet you and Joe played on "Isfahan" is absolutely gorgeous. Keep up the good work!
     
  18. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well, this is an interesting discussion and it's difficult to pin down what's happening, as of course there are a huge number of chromatic passing notes which are not in any scale or mode - but it's a question of the "sound". There are B naturals - but to me they are just chromatic passing notes. So in the 2nd chorus of Miles' solo, where he is coming back to the Dm7 after the "bridge" there is C, followed by B natural but as a passing note to the following Bb.

    So this very line was studied in a class I attended at the University of Glamorgan Jazz summerschool. So a couple of bass players were taking the class and Dudley Phillips handed out a transcription of the walking line under Miles' solo (first up of course).

    In this transcription (which I still have and is why I am mentioning this - I don't trust my own ears ;)) for the very first chorus, there is a descending line down to the first chord change (bridge?). So the preceding bar of Dm7 is A,G,F,E and then goes down to Eb for the first quarter note of the Ebm7 chord, then a C, followed by a Bb where the line starts to move upward again.

    Is this what Robert Sabin means?
     
  19. One of PC's signature cliches is chromatic half steps 1-2-4-2-1, with 1 and 4 on consonant notes, 2 being a passing tone. 1 and 4 fingerings will be on beats 1 and 3, the passing tone on the off beat. The existence of a Cb in passing does not in itself render the chord a Db7. Where is it? When? What about all the Gb's? Are you telling me that PC just loved 4-3 suspensions unresolved? And I disagree with the notion that there are a huge number of chromatic passing notes.
    In any event, you said it perfectly: "...it's a question of the 'sound.' "
     
  20. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well, I wasn't disagreeing with you - just trying to point out possibilities for things that might have "confused" Robert.

    As to the number of chromatic passing notes - we seem to be agreeing that it's about one or occasionally two per bar - well in the whole piece, there are quite a few bars and hence a large number of passing tones.

    I think it's a common misunderstanding for people who are new to Jazz, to assume that the bassists are just inserting a lot of random chromatic notes and in this piece PC does seem to go for some very long lines which seem to just go up or down chromatically for ages - but to me it still "sounds" in the appropriate Dorian mode - how he manages to do this is one of the reasons for me, why he was a great Jazz bass player!

    What I was really pointing to, was that in the very first "blowing" chorus, he walks down to the Eb which might be what Robert was referring to - but I'm with you that it always "sounds" right and I would love to be able to construct walking lines that are as "satisfying"as this.