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Soloing without comping...

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by bluejayway82, Mar 27, 2014.

  1. bluejayway82

    bluejayway82 Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2011
    So I found myself in an uncomfortable situation at a recent gig and I thought I might throw it out to the TB world to see what y'all think..

    I was playing in a jazz trio with a horn and kit. The other players were a fair bit heavier than me as I tend to stick with more r&b/ funk related styles of music, but I got this call anyway. Turned out there were some very heavy hitters that we all know of, playing on the recording that I was sent (to make matters worse..ha)..

    Anyway, playing predominantly 'pop' styles of music, I find I tend not to like soloing all that much as the arse often drops out of the song.. but on this gig I had to solo on every tune. I found that without any comping except for drums, I was unsure whether to outline the harmony, play a melody or what to do. The song felt too empty for me to try to be pretty. I felt kinda naked; so I just went for trusty blues licks #16-42 for the show...:meh: But I wanted to know if anyone else has this problem when given so much space to solo in, or if anyone has any advice on how to approach soling in an environment where I'm basically on my own?

  2. basschanges

    basschanges Unconditionally Loving Member

    Jun 20, 2012
    Brooklyn, NY
    It's weird isn't it? I had trouble getting used to it. But on the other hand, it's so freeing. Make up cool harmonic substitutions, play with the melody, do whatever you want as long as you know where you are in the form. And even if you lose yourself you can always cue in the band.
    On tunes with really defined changes I like to outline the harmony at the very least. But on static harmony I like to be a bit freer. My BL in college had me solo completely naked (without drums even, I was wearing clothes) on Miles Davis' "Deception," a tune with really weird chord changes (at least to me at the time). You probably did the right thing if you're not used to soloing in a Jazz idiom, run those tasty pentatonic licks, that's what swing players used to do anyway :).
  3. callofcthulhu


    Oct 16, 2012
    I realize this is the technique forum, so excuse me for suggesting something effects related, but this is why I started running compression in my chain - to mitigate the bottom falling out of the mix when I solo up high. I've since started running a split signal with heavy compression just on the bass side and I think it's done a lot to maintain the body when it's time to do some more melodic stuff.

    But of course, ultimately some bottom loss is inevitable when the bass starts soloing - you kind of just have to embrace it as dynamic and cool. I started sweating it a lot less when I listened to some classic live recordings and noticed that it happens (in some cases VERY pronouncedly) to the greats.
  4. JazznFunk


    Mar 26, 2000
    Asheville, NC
    Lakland Basses Artist
    I would, as someone who plays traditional/modern jazz on upright, and MANY other styles on electric, and who also plays solo bass concerts on electric AND upright (whew!), I definitely suggest perhaps working out 'chord solo' compositions/arrangements based on the form of the song to play where you are voicing the bass note of the chord in question with some of the other chord/guide tones up top (10ths, etc) and find creative ways to move around with those, within the harmony. Find ways to voice the bass note of the chords in question and even play/quote the melody of the tune up top and then get creative around it. You won't lose the bottom end and it will sound hip too. It's the same concept as a guitar player would use in a jazz setting - blow with some lines for a few bars, then play/punch in chords. In terms of effects, an octave pedal can help keep some low end in there when you're playing higher or not using a pedal tone of some sort to keep the low end in there. Compression won't do anything to keep low end under you unless you're playing something low for it to grab.