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Slow solos over fast jazz tunes

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by project_c, Nov 3, 2016.

  1. project_c


    May 8, 2008
    London, UK
    This is something I struggle with from time to time, so I'm wondering if anyone has any general advice, and if possible, some good examples of good slow bass solos over fast tunes, as I'd like some ideas to transcribe and study. My reason for asking for this is I often get asked to solo over tunes like St Thomas at ridiculous speeds, and I just don't have the ability to keep up at that speed, or the vocabulary to deal with it appropriately in a slow and tasteful way. I usually either revert to something close to the melody - ie the melody with some chops thrown in - or I start fumbling around with 8th / 16th notes and make a mess. Either way I know I need to work on it.

    Generally, my impression is that during bass solos on jazz recordings, a lot of the time the solos will start out slow but that often just serves as an introduction to fast virtuoso-style 16th note soloing, even on crazy fast tunes. Are there any good examples that avoid this, but are still considered to be great solos? I'm working on speed and technique a lot but in the meantime I have tunes to get through and I don't want to be the one in the band who says 'no solo for me thanks' whenever a fast tune is called. I'm ok with 'normal' solos on tunes up to about 180bpm, but after that I find things tricky and feel like I need a different approach to get through it. Or taking a tune like Footprints - I feel like the Wayne Shorter 'slow' version needs a completely different approach to the Miles 'fast' version, I can't just pull out a similar idea but play it faster, it doesn't work. So this is where I could use some help / advice.

    Hope this makes sense! Thanks.
  2. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA

    This solo is in Todd Coolman's book.

    Think more repeated phrases? Use more rhythms?
    I'm certainly not afraid to use walking solos at high tempos. Pretty cool if you mix in some rhythmic phrases.
    project_c likes this.
    RSBBass and project_c like this.
  4. Carl Hillman

    Carl Hillman Supporting Member

    Jan 1, 2010
    I got two words for you: Charlie Haden
    RBrownBass, MLysh, RSBBass and 6 others like this.
  5. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Yes, Charlie Haden should be your first port of call
  6. project_c


    May 8, 2008
    London, UK
    Great suggestions so far, thanks everyone! Love the Charlie Haden stuff, I especially love his solo on Beatrice but haven't spent time looking into him specifically until now.
  7. matthewbrown

    matthewbrown Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2003
    Harwich, MA, USA
    Glen Moore, from Oregon, might be worth listening to. "Winter Light" is a CD that has him in good form (except for one foray into fretless electric -- out of tune, mostly), and he is a very economical player in a setting that requires lots of interplay and at least one solo on a quick tune, as I recall.
  8. project_c


    May 8, 2008
    London, UK
    Thank you! I will check him out, i don't mind an occasional out of tune fretless from time to time.
  9. Carl Hillman

    Carl Hillman Supporting Member

    Jan 1, 2010
    A short example of zen-like soloing at 3:55.

    ...and 5:53.

    I think the key is to get to the point to where your melodic sense is so strong, it overrides any perceived lack of motion when you aren't playing a lot of notes.

    One way of doing this is by motivic development. Nothing sounds more "right" than a phrase that repeats through different changes, building tension, then resolving as the "payoff". Charlie does this in spades.
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2016
  10. StyleOverShow

    StyleOverShow Still Playing After All These Years Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2008
    Know the dilemma, particularly if you are doing a third set later. There only some many times you can beat them over the head.

    You don't want a 'where you going with this' stall so burst flatted fifth triads or something to fill a space, maybe move your hand position. Whatever you need to maintain some context while slowing the solo down, contrasting the tempo. The band usually drops down.

    I feel more adventurous with a drummer I know. They'll follow you and reliably return to where you left it groove.

    I suggest you go for it, 25-33% of the time, get out there and create. Listen to it ask and answer questions. Give the band a handle every now and again but get into moving up and down and all around.
  11. matthewbrown

    matthewbrown Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2003
    Harwich, MA, USA
    Also, there's always the "I'm not soloing! I'm trading 8's with the drummer!" gambit.
    Who da Ville likes this.
  12. hhalt

    hhalt Hans Halt

    Nov 26, 2010
    Reno, Nv
    One of my favorite bass solo's ever:

    Lot's of dotted quarter's and 1/4 note triplets. Playing long tone solos at any tempo is great practice because it helps you find common tones and chord connections.
    matthewbrown likes this.
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