Steve Swallow: perfect walking technique for bass guitar?

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by Dr. Cheese, Nov 10, 2020.

  1. I did a fairly decent transcription of Steve Swallow’s bass solo from the song “Como en Vietnam” off the Gary Burton Quartet album Times Square a long time ago. Really thoughtful and musically well constructed. Also saw him live many times with Gary Burton. He’s one of the best and really unique in his approach to the instrument. Great composer too.
    Paul New and Dr. Cheese like this.
  2. jerry

    jerry Too old for a hiptrip Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 1999
    I never heard of them, I dug it! Strap? Don't need no freakin strap.
    shojii, Squittolo and ahc like this.
  3. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I only heard of them from Breaking Bad...their cover of "On A Clear Day" was used in a cooking montage in Season 5. I thought this is CAF...must be some new band playing in a retro-vibe. Nope, they're from the '60s.

    jloch in the Transcription Forum has provided the dots for this...
    12BitSlab and jerry like this.
  4. Paul New

    Paul New Supporting Member

    Jun 1, 2004
    deepest alabama
    He used a Gibson EB-3 when he first switched, and then for a long time played that solid body Parker Fly. To me, he doesn't sound much like an upright, but it's a good sound. I think he's picking a lot on the upbeats and hammering the downbeats, but it's hard to tell exactly.

    And he mostly picks an upstroke where most people pick a downstroke.

    He sounds the same on everything. Solo at 6:30

    Last edited: Nov 18, 2020
    Squittolo, Dr. Cheese and jerry like this.
  5. In the video originally posted his tone sounds close to an amplified DB and I'd assume that has to do with a hollow body bass+piezo pick up. But the thing I believe is key is that the sound he gets is the sound he hears.
  6. jerry

    jerry Too old for a hiptrip Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 1999
    The keyboardist/singer would have fit perfectly in BS&T.;)
    JimK likes this.
  7. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    I think I'd use ^^^that word, or some synonym, to describe every Steve Swallow solo I've ever heard.
    Paul New and jerry like this.
  8. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I am happy that I have taken a deeper dive into Steve Swallow’s playing. He is certainly his own man, but he should be a greater influence among bassist’s than he is.
    Michael Case and Joshua like this.
  9. I think he sits in a weird place musically, he mostly inhabits the realm of DB playing on the BG. He is kind of a side note for double bassists and he seems to get over shadowed by Jaco, Stanley Clarke, and other electric bassists. His playing and compositions are fantastic and I too need to dive deep into his work. Thank you for reminding me.
  10. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    Yeah, it's like nobody who pays close attention to Swallow's playing can deny the exquisite talent and comprehensive grasp of his tools and the materials that he displays...but because his playing doesn't command that attention on first glance, way too few listeners pay close enough attention in the first place. His most overt quality is -- ironically -- subtlety.

    I sometimes think of Jerome Harris in that same way.
  11. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    Swallow is a sort of anti Jaco or Stanley in that those two younger bassist’s clobbered you with their chops and later you appreciated their musicality. Swallow, on the other hand, is so gracefully musical, it takes a while to realize how doggone good he is.
  12. tim gueguen

    tim gueguen

    Sep 19, 2016
    Turns out their drummer was Trevor Morais, who had a long association with musician/producer Rupert Hine. You can see him playing Simmons drums standing up in the video to Howard Jones "Things Can Only Get Better."

    The Peddlers are another example of how, for all the talk that anyone can make music these days, a lot of artists were signed to major labels at the height of the recording business. Lots more had stuff released by small labels.
    Squittolo likes this.
  13. Tony In Philly

    Tony In Philly Supporting Member

    Oct 25, 2007
    Filthydelphia, USA
    People have asked me at gigs why I often do that. I just reply that at that given moment I liked the sound!
    Dr. Cheese likes this.

  14. Wow! Those guys were good.
    jerry likes this.
  15. matthewbrown

    matthewbrown Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2003
    Harwich, MA, USA
    I have read at least one fusion player refer to Swallow's playing in a disparaging way, perhaps because Swallow's conception of electric bass, while based on guitar technique, is fundamentally supportive when in the ensemble, and lyrical when soloing. He has never been about showing off chops, but his solos are almost never anything but interesting. Plus he could play behind John Scofield for dozens of choruses (live, after traveling across the country) at top speed on standards, and never lose a step. Idk if he can still manage that, but there are lots of bassists who never could.
  16. matthewbrown

    matthewbrown Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2003
    Harwich, MA, USA
  17. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Jun 20, 2021

Share This Page