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Playing in a "2" feel

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by jallenbass, Jan 14, 2006.


  1. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    I'm working on my "2" feel and was wondering what anyone else has done regarding the same. Influences, practice regiments, techniques or whatever.
     
  2. TomSauter

    TomSauter

    Dec 22, 2004
    Kennesaw, GA
    In my opinion, the most important thing when playing in 2 is to be able to provide a strong forward pulse while playing only half notes. It took a lot of criticism from more experienced players for me to realize that simpler is better. If you can play nothing but half notes and make it bounce, then even the smallest rhythmic embellishment will sound hip.

    For an example of great 2 playing, you can't go wrong with Ray Brown, Paul Chambers, and Ron Carter. If you really check out these three, then you should be in great shape when you play in 2. Check out where they place the note on the beat, how simple and effective their lines are, their respect for the melody in regards to playing fills, what kind of note length they prefer, their range, etc.

    PC plays the most sparse of the 3; he pretty much just plays half notes with a few quarter notes for fills, but he always swings hard. "Relaxin'" by Miles Davis has some great examples of PC playing in 2. In fact, I believe he's in 2 for the entire tune on 'It Could Happen to You.'

    Ray Brown has tons of forward momentum when he's in 2. I especially love the way he busts into 4 after a solo break. Ray is often way busier than Ron or PC, but he never loses focus on the groove. He uses a large range and lots of dramatic triplet figures. Check him out on 'Days of Wine and Roses' from Oscar Peterson's "We Get Requests" or 'On a Clear Day' from "Exclusively for my Friends" also by Oscar.

    Ron is my personal favorite for 2 feel playing. He always plays the hippest stuff at just the right time. He was probably the one to really popularize the 'long note.' Most of the players that came before him had a sharp attack and really short notes, but Ron's notes fill up the whole duration of the note and you can always hear his notes clearly. He plays some simple but beautiful lines with incredible rhythmic figures mixed in. Him and Richard Davis were pioneers in playing some of the more complex rhythms--long stretches of dotted quarter notes, long stretches of quater note triplets starting on beat one or beat two, playing lots of consecutive upbeats, playing on the triplet directly after the downbeat, and so on. Some great examples of Ron playing in 2 are on 'Toys' form Herbie Hancock's "Speak Like a Child" (his lines from this tune could be a tune all by itself) and the Blues in F from Aebersold Vol. 6 All Bird (I don't care if it's a play-a-long, it's Ron with Kenny Barron and Ben Riley).

    As far as a practice routine, I'm sure there's people on talkbass with more experience and better advice that me, but I like to set the metronome on beats 2 and 4 at a medium tempo and play in 2 for a loooonnnnng time. If the metronome is on 2+4 it mimics the feel of playing with a drummer in 2. It's also great to transcribe some of the previously mentioned masters or other great players and play their lines with the metronome or the original recording. Of course, nothing will make you grow like playing with a really great drummer if there's one available to you.

    You should also ask some good players in your area what they like to hear from a bass player in 2, or any other time for that matter. Hope that helps, and if someone has any additional advice or has an issue with what I said, I would love to hear it as this is one of my favorite bass subjects!
     
  3. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Check out stride pianists, dixieland players, polkas. This is where it all began.

    After you get a feel for the general idea of swinging in 2 -- which is a lot easier than 4/4, I think -- then you can check out different 2 feels. They range all the way from real lumpy, tuba kinda stuff all the way to Scott LaFaro.

    Playing 2/4 is almost a lost art. I had the good fortune of being beat over the head with this stuff by the crabby old bastards that taught me to play. There's almost no one left to play this stuff with.
     
  4. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Also -- if you're playing with players that don't understand 2 feels, you're kind of hopeless to get it really working, unless you're insanely strong at it.

    The 4/4 walking feel is derived from 2/4, and so many young players that try to sound 'old school' never really get it, because the old guys could play all the 2 feels, especially the 'corny' pockets, like the 'businessman's bounce', which is the dancing feel that gave their walk its lilt.
     
  5. Uncletoad

    Uncletoad

    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    Huh? Recording reccomendation? I have no idea what you mean.
     
  6. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    No recordings to recommend. Like I said, I learned it all from the old dudes at the west end of Lake Erie (Toledo/Detroit), and mainly my father, who's a great teacher, player, and a jazz history nut.

    I'd say, though, James P. Johnson, Fats Waller, Fatha Hines, Art Tatum (more modern a lot of the time, but used stride a lot). Then move into Teddy Wilson, Erroll Garner, Nat Cole for the next step. Then the 50's and 60's guys will sound different when you get back to them.

    I really believe that the 2/4 feel is the base feel of 'swing'. 4/4 was a modernization of this feel, enabled by the use of double bass instead of tuba. There was once a walking tuba player, but he only lasted a few choruses before he keeled over. But, that's just hearsay :)

    Also, certain bluegrass and country players play a very similar feel. I don't know all the different schools of these kinds of music, but Hank Williams definitely had that feel, but Johnny Cash did not. Different New Orleans things that grew from (or contributed to) swing are definitely also worth study -- from second line stuff all the way to groups like The Meters. Different dishes made from the same stuff.
     
  7. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Oh, and a businessman's bounce? Impossible to explain, like trying to describe the taste of a banana to someone. I have one example in my CD collection, and it's Dick Hyman with Major Holley and Slam Stewart. They play that groove quite a bit on there.
     
  8. Uncletoad

    Uncletoad

    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    Ok. What's the name of that?
     
  9. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    Good point but I believe it was Chuck Israels on Trio 64.
     
  10. oystein

    oystein

    Sep 15, 2001
    Norway, Leikong
    I have the CD in front of me, the bassist on Trio 64 is definitively Gary Peacock. Chuck Israels played on Trio 65.
     
  11. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
  12. Uncletoad

    Uncletoad

    May 6, 2003
    Columbus Ohio
    Proprietor Fifth Avenue Fret Shop. Technical Editor Bass Gear Magazine
    Oh man what a pairing. Gotta get that. Thanks this is cool stuff.
    Makes sense. Like playing the Tumbao.