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Perfecting my bossa

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by theboakster, Mar 1, 2008.


  1. Hi everyone,

    I'm working on my bossa at the moment, and I'd like a bit of inspiration to liven it up a bit - rhythmic variation, chromatics, anything that isn't the standard bossa rhythm just playing root and 5th. Can anyone recommend some good tracks I could listen to with good bossa players?? Or any tips or techniques that work for you?
     
  2. basbende

    basbende

    Feb 23, 2008
    I got a lot of inspiration, lately from the record "Joe Henderson plays A. C. Jobim. But thats mostly because Henderson plays so great!
    I got a lot of rhythmical ideas from listening to samba translating that to bossa. I found out that making the first beat shorter and the third longer and a bit heavier (which is samba like) makes it swing a lot more!

    Rhythmical variations: try playing 3 3-and + 4and, leaving out the 1st beat of the next bar once in a while.
    I'd love to write down some more rhythms, but its not exactly easy without music notation...

    http://www.olafmeijer.nl
    http://www.jazzsupply.nl
     
  3. basbende

    basbende

    Feb 23, 2008
  4. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Jobim's tunes -- and most bossa tunes coming after -- have tons of chromatic movement in the bass voice itself or in the inner voices of the chords. Some aspect of this type of movement is usually a major feature of each of these tunes. Do some chord analysis and try out some different ways of approaching (or leaving) the roots and fives of the chords.

    And, since I learned better (not that long ago, and after many decades of hearing bossa wrong), my preference is to keep the rhythm simpler. If the rhythm section is doing things right, that bossa with simple parts will breathe, almost literally, and have life. It should make you feel like you're at a tropical beach but you've got a great place in the shade and you're sooooo relaxed.... Just breathing in and out.

    As for recommended tracks, I don't have much in particular for you. I'd recommend listening to Brazilians before listening to a bunch of jazz guys. The jazz guys play it great, but it's been filtered through their jazz brains. Here's a place with more old Brazilian music on it than you can shake a stick at...
     
  5. Jeremy Allen

    Jeremy Allen Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2002
    Bloomington, IN
    Word up. I just spent a week doing concerts and clinics with Sergio Gomes, who wrote the book on Brazilian rhythms, and he was very perplexed and frustrated that non-Brazilians always feel the need to "liven up" bossa bass parts (and drum parts). He finally took to telling musicians to think of bossa nova as the equivalent of a ballad, and instructing bassists to just play roots on beats one and three with one being shorter/lighter and beat three being heavier/longer. By the end of the week I was barely touching my strings when we would play a bossa.

    And while we're at it...if you must play root and fifth (as most of us feel the need to do), try playing the fifth below the root and not above, and use the same rhythmic idea above (lighter first beat, heavier third beat). I recommend Sergio's book highly.
     
  6. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    It's riffing on the same thing, but changing the subject a little bit...

    When I was 18 years old -- decades ago -- I was on a student exchange program between Canada and Tanzania, Africa. Long story short -- I spent the summer and fall of 1978 living in a trailer on an Indian reserve in northwestern Saskatchewan with a bunch of Canadians -- French, English and Cree -- and a bunch of Tanzanians. We made a lot of music, mostly singing and drumming. Early on, a few of us were sitting around doing some drumming and for some reason I was asked by an African guy to demonstrate for him my bongo technique. I had been playing guitar and bass for a few years by then and thought I new what I was doing naturally. After about 10 seconds, every single one of the Africans in that trailer broke out into laughter. My drumming concept was so lame, so mzungu (white), that it killed them.
     
  7. depalm

    depalm

    Apr 22, 2004
    São Paulo
    Hi, I'm a Brazilian bassist and like to play bossa a lot.
    Many people use to think that samba and bossa are the same thing and they are not all wrong.

    But when you're playing the samba the accent is on 2º time.
    And it doesn't happens on bossa, on which there's no accent at all.

    Of course this is the basics of both genres and if you'd like to know more of samba and bossa you should listen to a group called "Tamba Trio".
    Eumir Deodato early albums are also just great.
     
  8. Mike Arnopol

    Mike Arnopol Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 4, 2005
    Chicago
    Owner of MAS Soundworks
    To me, Luizao is the place to start. He played on a lot of the '70's and 80's stuff. Check out Elis Regina's "Essa Mulher" or the Djavan cd that has Flor De Lis on it. I learned a lot of stuff in my vocabulary from Leni Andrade"s bassists. Her cd's are harder to find but she has ( IMO ) the hippest rythmn sections. Check out Joao Bosco's stuff with Nico Assumcao on bass. A nice primer is a Leila Pinhero cd called " Bossa Nova " It's very hiply arranged medleys by a lot of the classic Brazilian composers. The bassist is Jamil Jones, one of my favorite Brazilian bassists.
    For the most part, DO NOT cop your stuff from American jazz bassists. They play Brazilian music poorly. Even the " big names"
    Pattitucci is an exception. He has a Brazilian cd titled " Mistura Fina"
    Paul Socolow ( American ) plays Brazilian well. Check him out on pianist Manfredo Fest's cd's. I think Portino is on drums on these.
    A nice rythmic variation that is played these days is a rythmn called "partido alto" Leni Andrade's group does this a lot. To find this rythmn, look in the New Real Book series for a Bertrami tune by that name. As was said before ---keep it simple " Brazilian bass lines are very simple but deceptively hard to play with the right feel. Usually root to fifth down---seldom play the fifth up. Most jazzers don't repeat the root twice on one and three ( in 4/4) (or one and two as Brazilian is usually felt in 2 ). A Brazilian told me years ago to think of it almost as a 2 beat. It has a bit of forward motion (more so than afro-cuban) but still has a relaxed legato feel.
     
  9. depalm

    depalm

    Apr 22, 2004
    São Paulo
    Yes, but Luizao Maia wasn't exactly a bossa bassist. I mean, he could play the bossa for sure but he was more a samba bassist. He was really great and one of the most busiest musician on the 70's. One of the "secrets" for his unusual sound and style is that he used to pluck the strings with his finger nails very lightly and yet powerful.

    Tiao Neto and Sergio Barrozo are some great bassist to search for.
     
  10. Mike Arnopol

    Mike Arnopol Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 4, 2005
    Chicago
    Owner of MAS Soundworks
    I guess that even though I'm an upright and electric player I don't relate as much to the 60's styles. I play a lot of Brazilian music but don't differentiate between samba and bossa as much. I've just looked at bossas as more legato versions of sambas. There was a bass player with Leni Andrade who's nickname translated into " alligator" in English, I think. I learned a lot from his playing. I met Jamil Jones in Brazil one time--he sounded great. I'm not sure, but I think that Lucio Nasciemento is still playing with Leni---he was the only guy I've ever heard that got got a killing samba feel when slapping---and I'm not a slapping fan. A musical highlight of my life was being invited by Hermeto Pasqual to sit in for a set with his band---that drummer ( Marcio deBahia I think his name was ) was astounding! Thanks for the suggested listening---I'm always trying to check out new guys.
     
  11. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    Wow... that's an honor indeed. One of the real genuises, IMHO.
     
  12. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    I've only fairly recently learned about Hermeto. I wouldn't hesitate to use the word genius -- an awesome musical force.
     
  13. +1
    my 2 cents
    I have taken lessons with Don Payne and his bass was borrowed to be used on the Stan Getz recordings which was America's introduction to the music. (That bass also used to Belong to Chuck Israel..killer bass!!!) Don Payne was really a part of that movement in the beginning. He told me it was a West Coast bassist who came up with the root and fifth thing we all know and that it was only 'almost' cool to do it either when playing without drums or percussion or with chordal players who strayed from the feel. So sadly I do it often:rollno:
     
  14. tito mangialajo

    tito mangialajo

    Feb 1, 2006
    I reccomended to listen to all great brazilian recordings of great artists such Caetano Veloso, Gal Costa, Elis Regina, Joao Gilberto, Milton Nascimento, Carlos Lyra, ...........many, many others.
    For me it's important to listen true brazilian bass player (Luizao Maia, Nico Assumpçao, Jorge Helder, Rodolfo Stroeter) and not american jazz players that play bossa or samba. the feeling is totally different (sorry dear american friends). is like try to understand bass jazz feelin' listening to non american bass player.
    for these reason, listen to Rodolfo Stroeter I think it's a great thing. Listen to him in Joyce or Sergio Santos CD.
    And take some inspiration from wonderful drummer Tutti Moreno (Joyce's husband): a genius!
     
  15. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    My $.02. Bossa is similar to a slowed down version of Samba. They way the American jazzers play the bass is by mimic'ing the Surdo (suhr-doo), a bass drum used in bateria's. The Surdo is known as the "heartbeat" - it sounds like it. I think lots of jazz folks think bossa bass sounds like Song for My Father (ignore the video, just listen to it) by default, which to me is sorta "wrong".

    Instead of playing the even double beat as you find it in Song for My Father, the first beat should be muted and the second is open. This gives it kind of a bouncing feeling - like a big red rubber ball. I've been taught that Brazilians like to have a up-feeling on the downbeat instead of a foot-stomping downfeeling. If you look at Samba dancers, they are actually popping their hips up on the down beat. Take a step back and the dancers look like they're in a floating, which is how the rhythm should feel.

    Listen to this clip of Martinho Da Vila: You can hear the kit drummer playing the double beat. Then the Surdo comes in (the bass drum with the bigger bottom). The sound totally changes in a dynamic way. For variation, you can play with how you hit that basic heartbeat by dynamics or by varying the length of the notes.

    On turnarounds, I like to sometimes walk for 1 bar to break the monotony. But that Surdo sound is awesome. Find that pocket and things seems to start floating and taking off.

    EDIT: +1 on Jeremey's Bossa's as Ballads thing. Again, if you compare Bossa to a Samba, it really is a "ballad" form.
     
  16. Gornick

    Gornick

    Jun 23, 2006
    Bay Area, CA
    I'm with Hdidiy on this... Get that surdo feeling going and it really grooves, and I like it on slower Bossa's too. I played this surdo pattern at a rehearsal with some jazz-only type cats on an uptempo "Invitation" samba, and they really loved the feel of it. It's nice I think to stay on the root, but the drop to a lower 5th has a wonderful kick on that third beat.

    I like the idea of researching the more fusiony electric bassists that have been mentioned, I checked a couple of them on you tube and they got chops and all, but that isn't going to apply to double bass in a more acoustic jazz setting, and feel should come first.

    Jorge Aragao is a much better starting point, I love his sound, very traditional, with a strong surdo.
     
  17. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam


    Yes - I have met some Brazilians and have always been told that the bass line should be as simple as possible - really acting like the Surdo (as hdiddy said) - and that you shouldn't try to "liven it up"!! :eyebrow:

    But I think the reason for this kind of question is that often when you play Jazz with amateur/semi-pro players at jams etc. - it gets very boring for the bass player, when you have Sax players who want to play endless solo choruses of the same few bossas they know - as it makes them feel like Stan Getz!! ;)
     
  18. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    I would suggest that a player who gets bored with the style and feels the need to relieve his boredom by screwing up the style probably shouldn't bother with the style. It's about how the parts fit together, not about how excited you are to play it.
     
  19. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Well - I agree that when it works and is perfect - it is very satisfying and fulfilling - but having been involved in a few 'mangled' and over-extended versions of potentially beautiful bossas, I admit to expressing my frustrations in this way!! :p
     
  20. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    That's not playing music. That's an exercise in narcissicm or envy. :meh:

    EDIT: I think the key point they're missing here is that the bassist needs to think more percussively. Like I said before, note durations, attack, flams, etc. I agree with sticking with root/5 playing for the majority of it. I try throwing in a 3rd now on a whim and then and it never sounds exactly "right". Playing other notes other than walking has always been odd and I'm still experimenting with it. For instance, Chiclete Com Banana (famous old tune about rock and samba fusion - and the confusion akin to mixing gum and bananas, with Gilberto Gil singing it)... the surdo does the typical surdo roll as an embellishment. I can never seem to get that to fit with jazz as it seems to overwhelm the overall sound. I'm going to have to experiment with muting the surdo roll... hmmmmmm

    BTW... the Surdo player is doing all kinds of cool variations just on the rhythm alone. This is typical of good surdo playing.
     

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