Sam Jones' sound... Wow!!

Discussion in 'Bassists [DB]' started by tommythomas, Apr 9, 2003.

  1. I just got Sonny Stitt's CD "12!". Fantastic. But what really got me was bassists Same Jones sound. Amazing. Big defined sound with lot's of growl and mwah. Even the low notes had good punch and definition.

    Any one have any idea how he gets that sound? Obviously technique and the bass (any one know what kind) but maybe strings too? The way it was miked?
  2. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Arnie Somogyi is another big fan of Sam Jones - he is a UK Jazz Bassist and was one of the tutors last year on the Jazz Summerschool I attended - he got all the bass players together and played us recordings of Sam Jones in various groups and was really enthusiastic - you must listen to this!!! ;)

    Listen to that tone!! ... etc.
  3. Dig Wilbur Ware

    Dig Wilbur Ware

    Mar 7, 2003
    Five by Monk by Five is a Must Have. Sam is amazing and it's the best tempo to "Straight, No Chaser" I've heard yet. Check out how Sam digs hard on "Jackie-ing." etc, etc. A great album, also for the contribution of Thad Jones.

    You simply must have this.
  4. Davehenning


    Aug 9, 2001
    Los Angeles
    I really like "Radio Nights."

    Live in a club with Jones, Cannonball, brother Nat, a young Joe Zawinul and Louis Hayes.

    What a smoking section.
  5. Does anyone know if Sam Jones plucked/pulled the strings with his right hand down near the very bottom of the fingerboard as Ray Brown also did, which seems to help to project the biggest sound? I think he is one of the most swinging bassists in the history of jazz. Maybe he is somewhat under-rated, because he did not solo as much as other bassists?
  6. Any one familiar with an album called Doublebass (if my memory don´t betray me) from 1976... with Sam Jones and Niels Henning Orsted Pedersen... Its awesome... the other musicians are: Philip Caterine,
    Billy Higgins and Albert Heath... It´s incredible the way the play and actually is a good lesson to learn... two different aproaches in the same song wao !! It´s a must Album....

    You have to listen to it....
  7. Yes, great album. Recorded 1976, released 1977 on Inner City records. Two bassists with very different sounds and approaches, fascinating contrast. Great supporting players. NHOP plays way too many notes sometimes, sounds more like a display of chops than a musical statement, Sam's playing is darker and heavier, both play some beautiful singing, melodic stuff. Little Train is worth the price of admission.
    Oh, and check out Sam's quarter tones. Intentional microtonalist.
  8. Pcocobass


    Jun 16, 2005
    New York
    Hey guys,

    I just got this cd "Barry Harris at the Jazz Workshop," with Sam on bass and Louis Hayes on drums. It's some must-have Sam. His sound, walking and soloing is great. And Barry swings hard as usual.

    I resurrected this thread to tell you that.... :D
  9. Brent Nussey

    Brent Nussey

    Jun 27, 2001
    Tokyo, Japan
    Oh, yeah man!

    I've loved this album for about 15 years. Anytime I feel like I want to get a little more bebop sound in my playing, I dig it out. Barry's playing is so great for that. And Sam's playing is absolute vintage.

    This is the first I've seen this thread. Maybe he's not around anymore, but to try to answer the original question, this album was recorded in 1972 (I don't have it-Google search). Sam was one of the last holdouts, along with Mingus, to go to metal strings, but I have Constellation, from the same year, and he was playing metal. But he was still playing with basically his same technique. One of the posts here asked if he plucked near the end of the fingerboard, and another mentioned you could hear him "down the street." These aren't unrelated. On Sam's recordings, you often hear a funky sound, with a lot of string noise and a very bright attack. I don't know, but I imagine if you were in a club, you'd hear something a little different. Sam came up in an era of trying to project, and over-pulling the strings and that bright attack was part of how he did it, IMHO. As a mic player, one of my own big struggles is how to mic the bass so that the sound that comes out of the PA is the same as what a listener in the room would hear acoustically, only louder. Just plopping a mic in front of the bass often gets the sound of what a listener 6" from the bass would hear, only louder. So I think a lot of the differences in his tone on some records have to do with micing.

    Of course, for me the magic of Sam Jones is his time feel. I like the Bill Evans album Jason mentions, and for me Minority is how I think a bassist should play the beat. It's just the cat's behind. Also, all the Cannonball stuff. And there's a great album that used to be out of print in the US, Blue's Moods by Blue Mitchell. I don't know if you can get it there, but here in Japan it's a huge seller. Oh, man, don't get me started....

    If you're into the 1970's Sam Jones sound, the other good records are: Sam Jones:the bassist, Changes&Things, Cello Again, a couple of Charles McPherson records, and a couple of Barry Harris records. These are all on Xanadu (except the first one) but you have to find them on vinyl, I think they're not on CD.

    As to Sam's being underrated, I don't think he's underrated among non-bassists. I think non-bassists "rate" bass players with a different critera than a lot of bassists do.

    Oh, as a last note, someone asked about his basses. Sam played a big violin-cornered bass, which can be seen in the Cannonball Adderley group videos, and a smallish-3/4 honey-coloured Juzek that he used for a road bass. Rufus Ried has the first (he was executor of Sam's estate) and another bassist I know has the latter. I played it, loud and funky. Yeah!

  10. dex68

    dex68 Guest

    May 5, 2005
    This is a really interesting observation, Brent. Just illustrates how it can be a good idea to try to see things from the perspective of other players. I think sometimes that alot of the things we bassists get hung up on (i.e. virtuostic solos, playing 'out', over-use of thumb position) are not nessesarily the things other players value most, and are also not the things which will get the phone ringing. Sam Jones is a great example of this - he worked all the time because he played very good bass. He had fine solos, but that's not why he worked. This is not to say that more modern approches are totally invalid, but simply that bass players should first and formost remember to play bass.

    'Bags Meets Wes' is also a nice example of Jones' playing, with Philly Joe also in excellent form.
  11. Pcocobass


    Jun 16, 2005
    New York
    I couldn't agree more. The rest of the bandstand generally doesn't care how well you can solo. They want a good beat and a nice sound. This is what you gotta give them. Nice solos don't hurt, too...
  12. Ben Rose

    Ben Rose

    Jan 12, 2004
    "Blue's Moods" is one of my all time favorites. The 4th track, "Kinda Vague", slays me. It has the cool juxtoposition of Wynton Kelly's laid back swung piano over Sam's straight 8ths bass ostinato. I love that album.
  13. JohnT


    Aug 24, 2003
    Sam's one of my favorites too!! He also was a great tune writer --- Unit Seven, Visitation, Del Sasser and Seven Minds are just a few that come to mind.

    Another great recording is "Visitation" now available on CD from Steeplechase Records.
  14. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    There's a nice compilation CD called RIGHT DOWN FRONT that features some Sam on cello (a la OP) as well as bass (Keter Betts is on bass when Sam is on cello). Also, from the label Xanadu (I don't know if this has been re-issued) Sam and Leroy Williams are featured with Jimmy Raney (on one album), Barry Harris (on one album) and then finally Charles McPherson (and Barry Harris) on one album, all from a tour of Japan. I think all of the records are called (ARTIST NAME) Live in Tokyo. Sam is playing his ass off.
  15. JohnT


    Aug 24, 2003
    I have the CD version of Jimmy Raney " Complete Live In Tokyo" with Sam Jones on Xanadu -- it's fabulous!!!

    All those Xanadu's with Sam Jones are highly recommended!!! :hyper:

    The other recording I really like is the previously mentioned "The Bassist" (can't remember what label that was on) -- I wish they would put that out on CD!!! I wonder who has the rights to that one??
  16. All this talk of great records that Sam Jones is on should certainly include his work with Cedar Walton, although I have only one myself - Third Set. I think this stuff is great to have as a link from post-bop/ hard bop to stuff that is happening today. And while Cedar is known for his compositions, man he can play some swingin' piano.
  17. JohnT


    Aug 24, 2003
    I agree -- those recordings with Cedar Walton are great!!

    I have all 3 volumes -- First Set, Second Set and Third Set!!
    The Third Set has a wonderful version of Cedar's "Bolivia".

    Some others to look for include On Stage Vols. 1-3 under Clifford Jordans name but similar group with Sam Jones. On Stage Vol. 1 has a fabulous version of "Pinocchio"!!!!

    All the above are on Steeplechase Records which can be found at
  18. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    And as bassist with Eastern Rebellion. Which may have been re released as those Cedar Walton records? Cedar, Sam, Bob Berg and Billy Higgins?
  19. nypiano


    Feb 10, 2003
    I would have to concur on the "Everybody Digs" and "Live in Tokyo albums. On the Muse S. Stitt recordings the tempos were running away a bit but that became his tendency later in life.

    I also like his portion of "Exclusively For My Friends" with Oscar Peterson. I belive it's half Ray Brown and half SJ. Check out in particular the duo section w/Oscar on "In A Mellow Tone"
  20. Pcocobass


    Jun 16, 2005
    New York
    I thought PC wrote Visitation...? :confused: