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Ray Brown, Jazz Bass's Leading Rusher?

Discussion in 'Bassists [DB]' started by Johnny L, Jun 25, 2003.


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  1. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    So I get hooked on hearing Ray Brown and find a couple of Andre Previn jazz recordings with Ray Brown (and no drummer!). What better way to get acquainted with Ray on record, right?

    Andre is awesome, and when he doubles his lines in his solos it sounds so exciting. Ray Brown is all over the bass and never lets up providing fills and little ornaments. On one of the recordings is Joe Pass, and he compliments Andre's lines often to great effect.

    But I can't stop hearing Ray always seeming to be tugging at everyone to go faster...he's always rushing the beat, not only during the "fill" moments but as he walks too. He doesn't blend in at all to me, but instead constantly going past the other guys as if he's in a race and has to be the first across the finish line. Otherwise, his sound is fantastic and he is a great bassist.

    Is this just my not really understanding what I'm hearing, my not hearing what is really there, or does our local library only see fit to give our community a taste of Ray's playing when he wants to get through the gig as fast as possible?
     
  2. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    They call that "swinging".


    Not to be pat, but playing up ahead of the beat is what gives swing that forward pulse. The very last thing you want to do is play behind.

    And I would summise, as Ray's body of work suggests, that most other people like it too.
     
  3. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Like "fist-swinging", sans fist...that can't be right, can it?
     
  4. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Ray's groove is quite possibly the ultimate in swinging!

    I guess I should ask what bassists you dig that don't drive the bus like Ray? Also, about what recordings, specifically, are you speaking?



    edit - grammar
     
  5. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    I think one of them was called "After Hours".

    If you get a chance to hear it, please let me know what you think of it and if you're hearing the same thing...or better yet if you're hearing something more!

    All I can hear right now is Ray Brown running his magic bus all over poor Andre and Joe.
     
  6. Ray is Rock Solid.
    Please listen.

    R2
     
  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I think soloists prefer it this way and want the bass player to provide forward momentum. I was with Stan Sulzmann for a week on my last Jazz Summer School - he's a great UK-based Sax/Flute player and composer arranger - and he kept saying this to me - he wanted me to drive the band more and he told me about how to practice playing ahead of the beat. But what I remember is him saying to me - make me want to play over your bass line - give me some energy! ;)
     
  8. Right, Spruce
    Playing ahead of the beat to give the soloist
    a forward thrust is NOT rushing.
    One needs a portion of ears to distinguish the two things, though...:D

    R2
     
  9. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    It's cool to hear something that compels me to throw the feelers out for feedback and understanding...and I hope that throwing them out for Ray Brown hasn't created excesssive controversy, or that I haven't stepped on the toes of folks too heavily that consider Ray Brown's work sacred.

    Not being much of a jazzer, when I hear the rhythm section (or in my case, one member of a rhythm section) play ahead of the beat, even to provide forward thrust, it almost feels like asking the rhythm section member(s) to fight the soloist for the spotlight, or to show impatience towards the soloist or the theme...hence my "fist-swinging" pun. But then, I would have turned the criticism towards the soloist were I to hear him/her doing what I hear Ray doing. Maybe it's my Motown/disco upbringing that's haunting me here.

    I'll continue to listen and learn what Ray has to say.
     
  10. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    That's the reason I didn't jump on you - I could tell that your listening has been limited. Take time to listen to guys like Ray, play along with them to get an idea of what it feels like to groove like that. Compare them to people you see live. You'll soon begin to realize that all music has it's "place" in the beat. Swing is up there...
     
  11. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Hey, you don't just hear that kind of thing in jazz. You mention Motown: Jamerson et al were extremely conscious of rhythm placement, and it's not right on the beat. Or, check out anything by Booker T & The MGs, or anything Stax/Volt with Steve Cropper, Duck Dunn and Al Jones (was it Jones? could be some other name...) Those guys were actively trying to be BEHIND the beat, to stretch things out a bit.

    Judging by the evidence, I'd say it worked.

    Miles Davis thought all white guys are a bit behind the beat...

    I haven't heard Ray do no wrong yet. Couple months ago I was working with some slowed down Paul Chambers stuff doing some transcription. It was a bit of a pleasure to hear just how out of tune and sloppy some of it was; gives hope to regional hacks like me. At tempo, though, and in context: wow.
     
  12. mflaherty

    mflaherty Supporting Member

    Oct 9, 2001
    Al Jackson, Jr.
    Booker T. Jones
     
  13. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    That's going to be my excuse at the next Jazz Summerschool!! :D
     
  14. Miles Davis thought all white guys are a bit behind the beat...


    well THAT´s why I suck...this explains my life, the universe and everything.


    R2:D
     
  15. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    The only thing we know for sure about what Miles thought is that it bears only coincidental relationship to what he said.
     
  16. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    ....wonder if he ever told Dave Holland that....
     
  17. mflaherty

    mflaherty Supporting Member

    Oct 9, 2001
    "The only thing we know for sure about what Miles thought is that it bears only coincidental relationship to what he said." Samuel


    Your observation is as pithy as a Miles solo. As Miles might say, "That Samuel is a mofo of the bon mot".

    Thanks for the laugh.

    Mike F.
     
  18. This is a joke, right? Arguably the most recorded jazz bassist in history can't keep time?
     
  19. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Yeah, so true about the inscrutable Miles. I'm recalling his "behind the beat" statement from a "60 Minutes" feature they did on him. It took him quite a while to get the statement out, you could see the processing going on about what to say. I'm sure he was editing both for WANTING to talk crap and NOT WANTING to talk crap. Was it said from the heart or to provoke? In some sense, both.

    Miles Davis was an individualist, but the sort of individualist who kinda programs it that way. Still, the world is definitely a better place for Miles Davis having been here.
     
  20. Ray Brown had the uncanny ability to move the beat (not the tempo) around to best suit the music.

    He did play on top of the beat, pulling the band along like the engine of a train, giving the music an incredible feeling of propulsion, which I feel is an essential element to the jazz feel.

    But give him a low-down, funky, stanky blues, and Ray would get himself in back of the beat (but still metromically correct) and push it from behind.

    Each is devastatingly effective in its own way.
     



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