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Samuel's got a brand new bag

Discussion in 'Recordings [DB]' started by Damon Rondeau, Jun 18, 2004.


  1. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Friends, listen to Sam walk the line, blindfolded and without a net. It's a solo recording, six minutes long.

    Only at Talkin' Bass, folks.
     
  2. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    Thank you again, M. Rondeau! It’s a free-improvisation, bass alone, referring to “God Bless the Child.”

    I’ve tried to develop solo-improvising over the past couple of years. I think I’ve made some progress but it’s really impossible for me to tell – I’m too close. I need comments about whether this sounds like anything and how to work in this mode to develop a better musical experience for listeners.

    FWIW, I’m also happy to post this because it uses two pieces of gear which have drawn attention around here, the AMT S-25 microphone and the Nomad Jukebox 3. If you’re wondering what an AMT sounds like, this is one clear example ‘cuz there ain’t nothin’ but.

    Tell, please, folks. Many thanks.
     
  3. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Sam, I tried listening on my computer and I just had to bail, these speakers are so bad. I can't really get a sense of what it SOUNDS like, ya know? I'm gonna try to burn Peder's, Wil's, DaMook's and your thang to CD and take'm home this weekend and give a listen.
     
  4. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    My wife was up against this same thing at work and came up with a good solution: with a decent set of headphones, you can plug directly into your stereo out on your computer and listen to all the fidelity you can afford in the headphone dept. I don't know if this is legal where you work, but in Katie's case at least, it was a great compromise.
     
  5. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Ooo, headphones! They're cool here, I just never think about them since they are also cool with playing music out loud...
     
  6. McBass

    McBass

    Mar 31, 2004
    Brooklyn, NY
    Hey Sam,
    I dig what you're doing. This is one of the modes of improvisation that I feel is particularly suited to the bass. One technique that I use when it's just me is to not only freely improvise lines, but to improvise changes and forms. Within an imrovisation you can establish harmonic motion with lines and especially double stops and you can even establish several little "forms" within that piece. Sometimes I'll set up a small cycle of changes and then maybe improvise a melody over that cycle( this could even be repeated at times) and possibly blow over the changes before repeating or moving on or evolving into another little form. I think this can particularly help the less musically liberated in an audience. Things that are repeated really sink in. Things that are repeated really sink in. Things that are repeated really sink in.
     
  7. Lovebown

    Lovebown

    Jan 6, 2001
    Sweden
    Nice. You've got some impressive chops man...cool ideas too.
    Your sound kind of reminds me of Stafford James, you into his playing?

    /lovebown
     
  8. Yeah Sam! Really nice. I had no idea you had them kinda chops...ouch! Also, your bass sounds great. The sustain on the E is amazing. I'm assuming you're using Spiros Orchestra on the low strings anyway?
    Some of the things that Mike said are really true, and I really like the way you just hinted at the melody. Right on....I really enjoyed it!
     
  9. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    Ooooh, man...I think you just made Sam's day.

    That was great, Sam. What a nice way to start Father's Day.
     
  10. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    Thank you for the gracious comments. The experience of recording this, <gulp> posting it and revisiting it through the eyes of others definitely yields dividends . . .

    Yes, sir. One of the most riveting moments I've ever seen in jazz was watching The Fringe (George Garzone, John Lockwood & Bob Gulotti) make up a ballad on the spot. I've never tried; best believe I will now. Thanks.

    I hear. This work started two years ago when I was called upon to play a free introduction to a tune. I played something that was in tune but didn't really go anywhere. I realized that I needed to work on improvisations that moved, musically and emotionally. I'll give your tools a try, man.


    Awright! That goes on the list! Thanks!

    Peder and I have gone back and forth by email. Thank you again for an enormous compliment. Growing up in Hartford, CT I used to see him ALL the time with Woody Shaw, Frank Strozier, Louis Hayes, Victor Lewis, Larry Willis . . . I learned so much from his playing, particularly on Dexter Gordon's Homecoming. Mr. James wrote the book on kicking a band, 70s style. Check out Woody Shaw's Live Volume Two, Louis Hayes' The Real Thing and Jimmy Heath'sThe Professor compilation (which also features solid work by Sam Jones and Rufus Reid).

    Spiro Orchs; full set. They work and they last; I've never experimented. As for sustain, props to Mark Carlsen, the Mane With A Plane . . .

    Folks, anything that you can offer to help me to move ahead in this work is appreciated.
     
  11. Lovebown

    Lovebown

    Jan 6, 2001
    Sweden
    Sam,
    www.staffordjames.com

    has some interesting info. I think there might be a few live samples over at www.woodyshaw.com too where either Stafford or Clint Houston are playing.

    And on the subject of solo bass recordings in the "jazz" field. Who else do we have? The ones I've heard of are Dave Holland, Anders Jormin, Mirsolav Vitous..and ..Barre Phillips? ...there must be more?

    /lovebown
     
  12. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.

    Sigh, good times, good times.

    While weeding through the flotsam and jetsam, there are some pretty good lists of who and what...
     
  13. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    San Francisco, CA
    Just adding to the rest... Sam, I like it. I believe I have a more untrained ear than probably most so I'd maybe paraphrase McTrout and say that repetition (and lots of it) helps a ton. Since we don't know the song/melody you rote, the more repetition, the better. That way we start to hear what you're trying to say since you're kinda beating it into our heads. :)

    Not to compare, but I have a DVD of Ron Carter & Art Farmer (playing with Billy Higgins & Cecil Taylor) playing at Sweet Basil that is superb. In the DVD extra's section of the DVD, I discovered the other day that Ron Carter is playing 'Willow Weep for Me' as a solo piece. It's pretty awesome watching it with all these extra flourishes: pedals, double stops, pull-offs, etc... Well worth the $$$. More importantly, you hear him allude to the melody now and then, but there are hundreds of times where he repeats one particular phrase that he made up and then proceeds to play variations of it over and over. I think watching that might help if you don't have a copy of it already.
     
  14. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    First impressions - good sound, interesting mix of identifiable motives and wandering stream of (un)consciousness "free" playing. I like the pauses where I can hear you think. They keep me guessing and on my toes, which is a good thing. I like the harmonic motion of the central motive: Ma10th, mi7th, Ma6th. It's quirky enough to be memorable, but not banal enough to be annoying. I like the way it can occur at any pitch level at any time, like an echo.

    Critical impressions: I'd shed the intonation on the harmonic motive above to the point where I could hopefully play those intervals as strong pizz double stops and really zero in on the "sweet spot" for each interval, sounding as if I really enjoyed the sound of each one and only let it go with great regret. The minor 7th especially needs to be tight. God knows your bass has the clarity and sustain to pull this off. Do you intonate down from the melody or up from the bass in situations like this? I don't think that one way is better than the other for everybody, but for me it's important to make the decision.

    Next, I'd love to hear more fragments from later in the melody make an appearance at some point. You've established the freedom...how about giving the listener a few more references to the familiar in the midst of the journey? If you were to take any number of two or three note fragments from later in the tune, you could spin them off to almost anywhere, always with the option of coming back to the beginning harmonic motive. I especially miss this element later in the in the flow, when the beginning motive has been absent for a while and I’m looking for something to hold on to. With my classical training, I’d be tempted to float little pieces of melody almost in order from later parts of the tune, especially lingering on “Mama may have…” and the harmonic motion that it implies as a new jumping off point, and using stuff from the bridge to go in a different direction before coming back – but that’s just me and my boxy mind, always looking for the structure in the freedom and the freedom in the structure. It doesn’t take much of either to set the other one off, but I could use a few more clues here to follow the trail of evidence.

    The only other area that I would even mention is one in which our “inner ears” hear things differently, so take with that grain of salt in mind…but sometimes when you go for speed, I lose all sense of pitch and/or intonation and just come away with a rhythmic gesture. Usually when this happens, I find myself wishing that the gesture had either been clearer in the pitch sense so that the pitch material actually sounded as a melodic line played fast, or that the gesture had been simplified so that it could sound clearly as a melody within the player’s technical ability. The one exception to this unwritten “rule” in my head (which applies only to my own playing, BTW) is that it’s okay to make a rhythmic gesture once in a while as long as it’s clear that that’s what it is, and as long as it leads to and from a clearly stated place. Otherwise, I start examining the faster gestures and wondering what the player meant. It’s kind of funny, because when we exchange these comments, you often encourage me to play slightly more notes, and I encourage you to play slightly fewer. :D So I guess we are both being true to form in this latest round.

    One thing that might be interesting for this “fantasia” concept is to assemble a list of recordings which kind of mimic this concept, and to be able to listen to what other great players have done along these lines. I have several Fred Hersch recordings in mind that resemble this concept, but none by bassists. Ideas? It’s a neat concept, and I’d love to see you explore that space some more. For that matter, I’d like to explore it myself!
     
  15. godoze

    godoze

    Oct 21, 2002
    like i said...i dig it.
     
  16. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    Thanks so much, guys. I do appreciate it all.

    Right as usual. For example, there's a moment right at near the beginning which makes me say, "Why did I submit this?"

    Before your comment, I never thought about "where" I intonate double-stops from. The answer seems to be, "From the first note." Your thoughts?

    Dead on. I thought I would get there and never did. The result is a considerably less focused piece.


    The speedy stuff lacks intention. It is truly a weakness here.

    Now, play faster, you! More notes! ;>


    Tell, please. The only deep DB/solo listening I've done is to Dave Holland (including his duos with Sam Rivers). I was really hoping that this stuff didn't sound unbearably like I was following in Dave's path. On Emerald Tears he does a version of Solar but it's pretty darn abstract. I have to get that ECM record that Peder suggested, too.

    After reading Huy's comment, I dug out my old copy of Ron Carter's Yellow and Green to listen to Willow Weep For Me. That version is "Creed Taylor-ized" with two overdubbed DB parts and more. It was fine, needless to say, but not much help here.

    Of course, in the saxophone world, there are many thrilling examples of solo playing on and around tunes. In another life I'd love to be able to do to Naima on the bass what Michael Brecker does on Directions In Music. Holy shtuff!


    Yeah, man. I'm definitely at the beginning of a path. I don't want to over-do it and turn something spontaneous into something rote, but I know I'm not done here.

    Thanks again. Suggestions for listening are encouraged.
     
  17. oliebrice

    oliebrice

    Apr 7, 2003
    London, UK
    On the topic of free, tune-referencing, solo bass playing theres tons of solo Jimmy Garrison bits in the later Coltrane output. Live in Toyko and Meditations spring to mind. As JG sometimes doesn't cut through soundwise on a lot of the noisier recordings, its great to hear him by himself for a bit!
     
  18. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I usually intonate from the melodic note, as you seem to be doing. I just wanted to suggest that you consider them as true double stops, and practice them as simultaneous soundings, even if they won't end up that way. :)


    Believe it or not, I'm working on that! But in my case, I want to make sure that what I can execute is not just a rhythmic gesture. I hear players play basically "gestural things" all the time - Eddie Gomez, Stanley Clarke, etc... but it's just not what I hear. Which doesn't mean it shouldn't be what YOU hear...




    Silly as it sounds, the first thing that comes to mind is Fred Hersch's deconstruction of "If I Should Lose You" from Dancing in the Dark, even though it is clearly not the same concept since he comes damn close to keeping form on that one. Still, the way he uses little chunks of melody as spinoff material won't leave my head when I hear this cut taking off. Plus, anything that gets anyone listening to that record is good advice IMHO. :)