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Recovery from a stumble

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Steve Killingsworth, Apr 10, 2004.

  1. We played a gig at the Gibson Showcase in Nashville today and I had an interesting experience. We do a western swing type tune called Pallet on the Floor that I solo on. I was about half way through when someone in the audience whooped and a big round of applause broke out. This threw me off balance and I spent the rest of my break flopping around trying to get back on stride. I got through it somehow but the break was a bloody mess.

    Any suggestions on dealing with something like this? I have had this happen before and I just sort of pedaled along this I could come back in. I am just curious if there is a better way of handling it.
  2. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    It's different everytime; no two clams are alike. Just plug through it and carry on, because it happens to everyone. Sooner or later, you get comfortable with thinking on your feet, and getting out of little self made messes becomes second nature.

    I remember seeing video of Journey's Neal Schon, a very capable rock guitarist, soloing on at length on a blues...a half step off. He probably couldn't hear himself in the monitors. He finally sensed something was wrong and he looked at the fingerboard, made a quick correction, and on he went. And another great guitarist, Roy Clark, once went for a lick that wound up a half step off, and he turned it into a comedic moment by slapping the end of the guitar with his right hand, sliding it into the proper key. Classic recovery.
  3. That Roy Clark one is rich. Sounds like it wasn't the first time!
  4. moped10


    Apr 9, 2003
    Wilmington, NC
    If it's an off note in a solo, repeat it in your next phrase- I swear it will work to your advantage, as odd as that sounds- A rhythm stumble though, if you're walking, just get back to straight fours minus the frills until you get that swing back strong- There're my two cents ;)
  5. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    To get Alexandrian -- you're concentrating instead of focusing.

    To concentrate is to try to put all of your attention on the task in exclusion to everything else, where focusing is to put the task in the context of everything that is going on. Concentrating is exhausting, where focusing is both realxing and more effective.

    I give this example to people when trying to explain this:

    I lay an object on the table between us, and this works best in a busy location like a nightclub or Washington Square Park.

    Now I have them 'concentrate' on the object -- telling them not to remove their eyes from the thing, hell or high water. They generally only last a minute at best. If they're doing too well, I'll make a sudden noise or purposely distract them by moving the object or pointing out something of interest.

    Then I explain that to try to block out all other input and keep all of their attention is bound for failure, as the human mind just isn't designed to work that way.

    Then I have them 'focus' on the object while gathering in as much detail as they can. Gaze at the object and see what moves in your peripheral, what sounds can be heard, smells can be smelled, and carry on conversation, etc. One can do this for literally hours and it's actually relaxing/mesmerizing (sp?).

    Now -- apply this to playing music / the bass. For different types of music there may be different focal points, but for New World Music (jazz, pop, other stuff with African influence) I choose to focus on the groove. While I gaze at the groove, I'm hearing people rush and drag, in and out of tune, checking that I'm not tightening up physically, "am I hungry?", on and on. The better you get at this, the less such 'distractions' distract. Also, as a sidebar, this is where the idea of 'letting go of fear', as Kenny Werner speaks of, comes into play and is attainable.
    This all comes from some reading I did in my Alexander Technique studies in what he called 'Quickening of the Mind" (or maybe the author of whatever book -- it's been a while now).

    This is much harder to explain than it is to understand. I hope I got the point across in my '1st cup of coffee' state.
    GlenParks likes this.
  6. Message received. Great post, Ray.
  7. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Sounds like a great description of what Zazen meditation is like. Focus on nothing and everything comes alive instead of concentrating on what your mind is thinking.

    Just like Kenny Werner said (to paraphrase)... what would it be like if we played music like how natural it is for us to walk or pick up a fork. Sometimes we stumble when we walk but don't we regain or step and just relax and let our legs walk themselves? And if that's not an natural act, then maybe we haven't internalized the act of playing music yet. Maybe?!?!

    Easier said than done of course. :meh:
  8. Doc Slow

    Doc Slow

    Jul 21, 2004
    from all over..
    It's discussion like this that reaffirms I made the right choice switching to double bass after nearly 30 years of playing guitar. Wasn't Mingus into Judo? Seems there is a commonality somewhere between the DB and martial arts.

    I do believe my martial arts training has led me away from reading while performing. If you're going to really feel the composition, you gotta know it so well you're not even thinking about where it's going. Martial arts are only effective after several years of doing the same things over and over - truly knowing the move so you don't think before you react - it just becomes a natural extension who you are.

    Blah blah....I learned about Zazen from reading Taisen Deshimaru's "The Zen Way to the Martial Arts" - hence the connection.


  9. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    MMmm... I would say there is a specific commonality between DB and MA, but rather that there is a connection between MA and any type of art.

    I think that in the type of playing that we're talking about, embodiment of things (like sounds in your head) is critical. IMO, for most mortals, only then do you have the complete freedom to relax and respond to every source of inspiration (within and without) to create your music.

    But to compare, I remember there were certain moves in Aikido that each one is known to take 8 years to master alone. So I'd like to experience in my own way what it is like to master all the forms/variations for, say, Donna Lee, changes, soloing, comping, basslines... etc. Yeah it sounds kinda silly to learn specifically one song so deeply if you want to gig, but what would it be like to experience it first hand and not have to think about what to play. That creating a solo or playing a bassline is as easy as breathing. I think that'd be pretty amazing to experience.
  10. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Ah, grasshopper. To learn everything there is to know about Donna Lee, you have to first learn everything there is to know that is not Donna Lee.

    But, the only thing there is to know about Donna Lee is answered by a question. What would you do with the complete understanding of Donna Lee?
  11. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    I'm not poking fun at you, but my advice is simple: LISTEN. Somebody onstage is right there showing your where the path is -- or at least they damn well ought to be. Let them.

    And what Ray said.
  12. Doc Slow

    Doc Slow

    Jul 21, 2004
    from all over..
    Yes, I played a lot of space on my last album. Oh, you won't find it available anywhere. ;)

  13. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Master, I would understand that I know nothing about Donna Lee and yet know everything about Donna Lee. :eyebrow:

    And that I already snatched the rosin from your hand. :p
  14. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Augusta GA
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Jump off a bridge in Indiana?
  15. I had almost forgotten this thread and suddenly it comes roaring back to life!

    This particular incident was definitely an epiphany. Prior to this I approached solos as an exercise in memorization rather than improvisation. I was so geared toward trying to play the solo exactly as I practiced that I was almost oblivious to the music. Consequently, when I got out of familiar territory, I was lost with almost no frame of reference.

    Ray's musical zen opened me up to the idea of being opened up to the music rather than singlemindedly concentrating on what I was doing. Since then I have tried to hear the big picture and it really made it easier to recover from a miss.

    Not to say that I am anywhere near proficient. At my last lesson, my teacher focused on the whole idea of soloing and improv. It really showed me how far I have to go but at the same time opened my eyes to the possibilities. It is amazing how many ways there are to say something.
  16. You know, I suspect he may have been into Judo for more practical reasons as well.
  17. This is one of those incidences where being self-taught is an advantage. I have so little going on in my feeble little mind, in terms of music, that it's no problem opening wide. I get so relaxed that I literally forget to breathe.
  18. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Uh...that's not very healthy, Paul.

    I do that too, BTW. It's why I always stipulate in my contract that one of the band members is a paramedic.
  19. You've been hanging around Buono again Marcus.....

  20. ?????


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