Psst... Ready to join TalkBass and start posting, make new friends, sell your gear, and more?  Register your free account in 30 seconds.

Slam Stewarts Bow Technique

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by mike_odonovan, Mar 29, 2005.


  1. Not sure where this should go so feel free to move if this is not the right forum - sorry

    I am kind of woodshedding his solos on the "Bowin Singin Slam" album :bassist: and it sounds to me as if he bows every note in his 8th note lines and seems to slur notes together rarely; mainly slurring as an accent.

    any Slam afficinados out there care to shed some light on his approach to his bowed solos? I would love some help. I am finding because he sings over the top it is kind of hard to be exactly sure about his bow strokes, but i think he bows every note even in the really fast passages! :hyper:
     
  2. Steve Bassman

    Steve Bassman Supporting Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Tampa Bay, FL
    I've always thought that Slam played a combination of slurred and detached passages in his solos. He often employed trills, glissandi and other characteristic "ornaments" that were obviuosly played in one bow. However, I think the rapid passages in his solos were often played with seperate bows. Some of his arco solos on the earlier Slim & Slam records do not feature the usual humming/singing so you can examine his style a little closer. Slam used a German bow and studied at the Boston Conservatory of Music. He obviously had a well grounded bowing technique even though his left hand fingering was very unorthodox (yet he was always in tune). I have the Slim & Slam Complete Recordings 3 CD set, but my favorite is "Slipped Disc" by the Benny Goodman Sextet. This CD is out of print but if you can find a copy on eBay or half.com snatch it up. Great music and Slam solos on nearly every cut.

    - Steve

    http://kaybass.home.att.net
     
  3. cheers for the response Steve. :)

    I am working on the title track of the CD as it seems to be the easiest (slowest) to try to get down. I am finding it really hard going though and am having to work on every phrase (and even half phrases) with a metronome. and Slam is improvising these lines! :eek:
    still, its a place to start and i love the sound of bowed solos so it is a long term passion of mine to get this style together. it takes so long though! almost seems like no light at end of tunnel. i find it especially hard to get the stoccato stuff down. it seems really hard going with the German bow. is this generally true? not for slam though!
    is there anyone out there who has got the jazz bowing thing down and could chime in here with a few thoughts?
    even if you don't bow you gotta admire the immensely melodic phrasing and general musicality of Slam's lines. especially on the blues numbers. it is pretty old skool though so i can see why a lot of people that i know don't get it.
    anyway just thought i would try to get things goin a bit in this forum.
     
  4. Here's a transcription for a solo from 8,9, &10 from Slim & Slam:
    http://www.accattatis.com/artists/stewart/8_9_and_10.html
    I love that guy's arco sound. In another thread I asked about what sort of strings he used and Paul Warburton says they all used metal wound gut strings in the 30's and 40's. Just listening to that guy bow the bass makes me want some guts. It's one of the coolest sounds I've heard a bass make. I have a late 30's Slim & Slam CD that is not the greatest recording quality, but the arco is quite well presented and he is singing with it, but you can hear the strokes pretty well too. :)
     
  5. is it harder or easier to bow with these strings he was using?
     
  6. Steve Bassman

    Steve Bassman Supporting Member

    Dec 3, 2003
    Tampa Bay, FL
    I've always found gut strings harder to bow than steel strings myself. Most bassist will agree that they are less forgiving than steel strings even if they prefer the sound of gut strings. Late in his career, Slam switched to Super Sensitive Sensicore strings which he endorsed for a while. These are metal strings with a synthetic core (a la Obligatos and Dominants) that are still being made. I've never tried these strings myself but I find my Obligatos easier to bow than any steel strings I've tried thus far. Maybe someone else on this board has some expereince with the Sensicore strings.

    - Steve

    http://kaybass.home.att.net
     
  7. Here's the thread with Paul's comments about the strings that Slam Stewart might have used prior to the Supersensitives:
    http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=175182

    I haven't tried to bow any kind of gut strings yet, but his early sound has me curious about them.
     
  8. Nuno A.

    Nuno A. Velvet Strings Customer Service

    Jul 9, 2001
    SWITZERLAND
    After checking again my video footage and pictures i have from Slam, this is what i can say: When playing the 4 string Kay, on the video and on almost al the pictures, hes playing with plain gut G, D and A and wrapped E, on some other pictures, hes playing plain gut G and D and wrapped A and E. when playing the 5 string Kay, on all the pictures i have, hes playing plain gut High C, G and D and wrapped A and E. All of the videos , pictures that i have, are from the 30's 40's period, anyway, i just love the sound of bowed gut, its harder to play, but nothing sounds like it, and when i listen to Slam, Jimmy Blanton, P.C bowing :p , thats my sound.

    NUNO
     
  9. Thanks for that info on the strings. So he was doing that on a Kay bass? Radical. Do you have any idea when or on which recordings he used the five-string?
     
  10. Nuno A.

    Nuno A. Velvet Strings Customer Service

    Jul 9, 2001
    SWITZERLAND
    I know he started using the 4 string Kay and later moved to the 5 string, but to be honest with you, in all the recordings i have, i never listened to a high C( at least to my hears..ehehe)
    i will try to dig more...


    NUNO
     
  11. Actually, I said...regular guts on the G and D...wound guts on the bottom. At least until they came out with flat wound steel strings in the 50's.
    By the way, I want it to be perfectly clear...I wasn't playing the bass in the 30's and 40's!
    I'm goddamn old, but not that old! :eek: