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Scott La Faro

Discussion in 'Bassists [DB]' started by carl-anton, Feb 7, 2001.

  1. Hey there!
    I don't know the first thing about double bass. I don't even play one, so you might say I'm on the wrong side of the fence, but before I go back 'home' I would like to ask you guys something. eh..., I know this La Faro guy was something really special, and I can hear it on 'sunday at the village vanguard', which I've just been introduced to, but... erm... is his intonation allways good? some of the tones in the fast runs sounds like they're out of tune. I can't find out if that's just how a double bass sounds or is there something in his playing that makes it sound that way? These days I'm also listening to a danish player called Mads Vinding which you probally never had heard of, but he does some of the same things as La Faro and it doesn't sound as 'out of tune' as he does sometimes. (You should check 'six hands, three minds one heart' out if you can!)

    Before you beat me up I would just say I'm in awe over these players, and my questions come from ignorence not prejudice. ;-)


  2. rablack


    Mar 9, 2000
    Houston, Texas
    Lars - we don't beat everyone up. You ask a valid question obviously seeking a serious response. You will go far in DB land with that approach. However, I haven't listened to that recording in awhile (my old turntable is defunct). I'm sure someone else will chime in here with some thoughts.
  3. Vinding is so good, he makes my head spin. I've been around since before La Faro arrived, and I've never heard his intonation questioned. Sometimes, and I mean only SOMETIMES, an intonation flaw can sound hip. I'm thinking of Jackie McLean on alto, and Paul Chambers on bass. Maybe it was just part of the era they were in. However, I generally don't forgive bad intonation. Mingus is another with less than perfect intonation.
  4. I really don't mean to sound impolite, but, SO WHAT IF THEY ARE!! You need to look at the piece in a gestalt sense, in that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Maybe
    there was a suspicious note or two in a line, but that doesn't nullify the creativity of the performer.Don't over-analyze the piece,just view the solo as a whole. Keep in mind that these recordings were made in 1961, and DB technique has skyrocketed since then with the advent of new pickups, mixers, preamps and various electronic devices that allow for lower action and faster passages and better audibility.
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I've listened to "Live at Village Vanguard" recently and I do like the solos and playing a lot - part of the overall sound is the contrast between the immaculate playing of Bill Evans and the crisp rhythmic quality of the piano and the more fluid soloing from the double bass - this is of course just my opinion! But to me it's part of what makes piano trios work - that bass can play in between the notes and slur and swing, while piano is always more precise.

    But I do know what carl-anton means - I've never heard the bassist he mentions, but when I listen to NHØP's solo albums I think the intonation is so perfect sometimes - how can this be double bass!?!
  6. Okay, thanks!

    I'm a little wiser now, but I want to emphasize that I'm not questioning the talent and greatness of La Faro. I was just currious to why some of his playing is 'on the edge' of tones. Bruce you're right, it does make a nice contrast to the 'perfect pitched' piano, ...but nevertheless, its there! Remember, I'm quite new to this - I'm not even a beginner (yet!), so I bassicly just wanted some guidelines for listening to this kind of music (which is very inspiring for a rock/metal guy like me).


  7. But I do know what carl-anton means - I've never heard the bassist he mentions, but when I listen to NHØP's solo albums I think the intonation is so perfect sometimes - how can this be double bass!?! [/B][/QUOTE]

    I am also constantly amazed by NH0P's virtuosity. If you haven't already, please check out the "Chops" CD.
    (Jazz duets-NH0P with Joe Pass..Smmmmokin'!):)
  8. Thanks for the tip, Ed. I'll check him out.
  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I don't hear any intonation problems either and I think it's as you say probably more about "Jazz sensibilities" - if you listen to a lot of Jazz Bassists soloing live then you get used to the sound, but I think a lot of people can't actually hear the pitch or it doesn't "register" in the way that the same notes on the piano would. Like it's easy to tune to a note on the piano, but I think most people would find it more difficult to tune to a note from the double bass. Some bassists sound vaguer on pitch than others to me, but I wouldn't single out Scott le Faro as being any different to any other Jazz player. Jazz players use more chromatic notes and I think this also makes it difficult for the listener - as we know it always seem to be time to go to the bar when the bass solo comes up! ;)
  10. bassgeek


    Oct 19, 2000
    Asheville, NC
    Did anybody catch the excellent cover article on LaFaro in the International Society of Bassists magazine 8 years or so ago? It included many anecdotes from fellow players and friends and also a interesting section on the restoration of Scott's Prescott bass that was (almost) destroyed in the accident that claimed Scott's life. An acquaintace of mine was Scott's high school and childhood best friend and he wrote a letter to the ISB after the article was published describing Scott's early musical development. I have a copy of his letter and would be more than happy to share it with any La Faro freaks out there. As for his (not really) questionable intonation, I challenge anybody to play the lines he did without some problems. This Vinding guy sounds like a mofo.
  11. Hello Bruce,
    although I have not heard LaFaro (yet) I can relate
    to what you are trying to say regarding the intonation and not the art these players are creating.

    It´s true many do play slightly out of tune.
    This is also the case especially amongst classical
    players when playing with a bow.
    Recently bought two CD´s with classical
    music for bass and piano....
    very difficult pieces and great players but,
    a lot of the notes are out of tune or to be more
    polite, a slight intonation glitch ;-)
    To me this sometimes takes away the listening
    joy as I start to concentrate on the false notes...
    Very stupid and not usefull at all.

    I believe this has to do with the fact that I worked
    as an electric bassplayer and am used to play and listen to a "correctly" in tune note (S).

    If someone could "measure" the pitch of notes
    played in a recording it would proove your point
    to a 100%.

    Kind regards
    Christian V
  12. It wasn't that long ago, was it? My, time does fly. That was indeed an excellent article. BTW, I actually got to Play that Prescott (for about 5 minutes :( ) at Kolstein's shop in New York. No it was not for sale, and Probably is still at the shop.
    Oh, and BTW, I am anxiously awaiting delivery of several of Mads Vinding's CD's so I can see what all the fuss is about.
  13. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Actually, I tend to think that it is more likely the other way round. Any fretted instrument like bass guitar is set up for a "compromise" on intonation - if you look at a fan-fretted instrument, this is closer to what the true pitch should be - any instruments with parallel frets are going to be slightly out of tune the further away from the 12th fret (or half string length) you play. Whereas, a double bass player always has the possibility to play exactly perfect intonation - even for just temperament.

    But what I was trying to get at, is that it's really what you are used to hearing - I go to my local Jazz club at least once a week and hear some great double bass players (next week is Chris Laurence) and I think the more Jazz solos you hear, the more you get used to the sound and what the players are trying to do. My view is that the people who are hearing intonation problems just haven't listened to enough Jazz yet as I can remember what it was like for me, when I listened to mostly music with bass guitar.
  14. Vinding is a Brookmeyer fave, and can be found on 2 Brookmeyer CD's
    Bob Brookmeyer/Mads Vinding - Together
    Challenge Records CHR 70068

    Yes, indeed. Trombone/bass duets. Bob also does 4(?) tunes on piano

    Bob Brookmeyer Quartet - Old Friends
    Storyville STCD 8292

    A live concert, and God, does this group swing!
    Thomas Clausen, piano; Alex Riel, drums.
    I had trouble getting this back from a guy who doesn't even care for trombone that much.
  15. Andrew Jones

    Andrew Jones Banned

    Feb 28, 2001
    Northampton Mass
  16. Jon Stefaniak

    Jon Stefaniak Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2000
    Tokyo, Japan
    when you listen to even the greatist players, in any field of play, you shouldn't be totaly shocked by intonation errors. It might help to ask yourself what it is about the play that you like most.... technique (chops), or Ideas. Only the few greats are able (in my opinion) to combine these factors. I feel a player's chops can get in the way in two ways... John Pattitucci's technique is so well developed that it seems that he concentraits on playing higher, faster, more.... not better. When I got to see Dave Holland, he made a point of saying that his technique was developed for the purpose of expressing his ideas. Dave Holland has some struggles with intonation, but I don't feel that that gets in his way. If John Pattitucci played out of tune, no one would have heard of him. My opinions are a little extreme in that sence, i don't mean to sound exagerated.

    I was just thinking on the side about what artists could combine to make tha perfect bass player... Edgar Meyer's sence of intonation, Ron Carter's clean well exicuted bass lines, NHOP, christian McBride, fluidity of phrasing and speed..... Dave Holland's ability to groove and soloing ideas....... any other charactoristics anyone? (I just felt like rambling pointlessly...)
  17. Andrew Jones

    Andrew Jones Banned

    Feb 28, 2001
    Northampton Mass
    Ray Browns deep swing!
  18. Jon Stefaniak

    Jon Stefaniak Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2000
    Tokyo, Japan
    yeah.....ray brown.....I couldn't come up with a way to diffine it.....deep swing....
  19. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    Years ago in a master class with Ray one of the students said she was "still working on playing in tune" to which Ray replied, "we all are".

    Listening to Walt For Debbie last night I didn't notice any glaring intonation errors with Lafaro. Played pretty good for a horn player.
  20. 1smileymn


    Aug 19, 2007
    Denver, CO
    Just got to play with copy of Lafaro's bass at Mike Shanks...So niiice. Anywho, Lafaro is a wonderful bassist, been spending a lot of time figuring out The arrival of victor feldman...great early album for who hasn't heard it yet....the tune Bebop...***!

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