Straight ahead jazz w/electric bass

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by MM, Oct 7, 2000.

  1. We normally think of straight ahead jazz having urb but what are some recordings with electric bass? I bring this up because I saw that Sonny Rollins' "Global Warming" had Bob Cranshaw playing electric bass. I've not heard this album so I'm just assuming that it's straight ahead jazz because of other Rollins' stuff I've heard. Also, since I'm getting more "into" playing jazz and I don't have a urb (yet) I'd be interested in hearing what others are doing on electric bass in this genre. Comments and/or suggestions?
  2. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999 posted this at
    Didn't you?
    You should get some very interesting replies from some of the regulars.
  3. Yup, that was me. Lookin' forward to the replies I get over there as well as here.
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I am another person who "tries" to play Jazz on electric bass. In the UK, 99% of the Jazz groups I see have upright players, but there are the odd one or two. Laurence Cottle is probably the most respected, who plays only electric on straight ahead Jazz. I have a CD he plays on with Martin Drew.

    There are quite a few players though who double on electric and upright. I notice that they usually use electric for the faster tunes - funkier numbers or Latin-influenced numbers. The most difficult thing I find on electric is the ballads - all the doublers I have seen use upright for slow tunes and I find the slower the harder it is to get the right sound and tone. Electric just sustains too consistently and makes it hard to get the right rhythm.

    The thing that encourages me, is meeting other people in the same situation. I go to regular Jazz workshops and Jazz classes at the local university. I also go to a Summerschool at Glamorgan University and this is really good for meeting other bassists. There are just over 100 people and everyone splits into about a dozen small bands for the week and works with one tutor, playing in the "Jazz Club" in the evening. So there are 10-12 other bassists as well as some bass tutors. I am always suprised that the vast majority, play electric bass and there are only 1 or 2 upright players.
  5. I'm an jazz electric bass player by choice, I love the acoustic bass and played it for many years,.but I don't love to play it any more, it's too painful. A lot of other instrumentalists like the look and sound of acoustic bass and that's cool. They are always surprised that an electric player can swing just as hard. I've been called to play substitute gigs and afterwards offered other dates and "by the way, next time bring your acoustic-you don't play acoustic-oh well nwever mind" it stinks. So I started booking my own dates, a couple a month, and have no problem getting great players to fill out the bill. We usually play the "other" standards they don't get to play in their other groups, putting the song list together by comittee and trading recordings and learning the tunes(something that dosen't happen in their other groups).
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I definitely play electric bass by choice - I like the sound and the fact that you can play solos that can be heard. I have never managed to get on with upright really and admire all the upright players I see. But I just can't imagine putting that much effort into a solo when nobody hears it - as often happens in my local Jazz club.

    I like playing with other people and hate it when everyone else stops playing for the bass solo. When you play electric, this doesn't need to happen and you can build a solo just like a horn player, with the rest of the band adding "backings" and increasing or decereasing the volume as appropriate, without having to worry that the bass won't be heard.

    I also like "exciting" solos, that involve the audience or make them sit up and notice. Whereas, most upright bass solos I hear in Jazz are very restrained and tasteful - I can appreciate them, but for myelf I prefer to be able to grab the audiences attention if it's appropriate and not always to have to lay back.
  7. Soloing is one of the reasons I like electric bass over urb. But still, like Bruce said, for some things, like ballads, the urb is thesound.
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well yes, Brighton Jazz Club isn't in the same league as Birdland or Village Vanguard and while, the "core" audience are pretty knowledgeable and will always applaud a good bass solo, there are always some people at the bar or who just came along to talk to "so and so".

    I have actually got into arguments twice about asking people to be quiet when it has been an all-acoustic group - e.g. violin, URB and drums. I have also talked to Tim who runs the club a few times about this and he agrees, but doesn't want to frighten off the casual punters as they have paid their entry money as well and he would always be happy to expand the potential audience - although for most good gigs you couldn't squeeze another small child in the place! He tends to be jokey about it and puts on a "schoolmaster" voice, which has the desired effect, but is seen as more humorous than just saying "shut up". The gutarist Jim Mullen is on this week and the last time he was here, he looked daggers at people for quite a while for talking through bass solos and eventually got rather "gruff" with some members of the audience!

    I suppose I contrast this with seeing Victor Bailey with Joe Zawinul at a larger venue and having no problem hearing the bass - in fact it hit you in the face from 50 yards! But at the same venue I saw Dave Holland's quintet and found that a lot of the solos could only just be heard over the drums - but this may well be a sound balance problem.

    Generally though, I have the feeling that a lot of audiences just don't "hear" upright bass solos and don't know what's going on, so they start talking or walk to the bar. I can hear every note fine, when I'm concentrating, and I think this is what happens - Jazz requires a certain amount of concentration from the audience and the bass solo often gives people the chance to "switch off" and relax for a few minutes. They "feel" the groove when the Upright player is really swinging and appreciate this, but just don't get the solos.
  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Whoops I forgot to mention, Ed, that Jim Mullen has Dave Green in his quartet - the only UK bass player you have heard of! ;) He also brought his own trio to the club last month, but I was on holiday then.
  10. JazznFunk

    JazznFunk Supporting Member

    Mar 26, 2000
    Asheville, NC
    Lakland Basses Artist
    I think this is true for bass solos in general. Most people don't give the bassist a chance, unless they are musicians themselves and are listening closely, or they are casual listeners who are very interested in digesting music. People in general have yet to accept that the bass now has two roles in certain cases... that of time and groove keeping and soloing.
  11. Monk Montgomery (Wess's brother) seemed to have no problem.

  12. I love the sound of bass guitar. And with a good signal chain it can be very rich. I play better bass guitar than upright bass and still nearly all my calls are for upright bass I use an amp, (25 watts) so most of the sound comes from the bass and just a slight boost from the amp.
  13. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Mentioned this one in the past, just remembered it-
    It's from '99, it's the Michel Petrucciani Trio LIVE IN TOKYO...Steve Gadd(drums) & Anthony Jackson round out the trio. Very swingin'.
  14. Thanks, Jim, I've added that one to my wish list.
  15. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I think the problem with finding recommendations for recordings is that as soon as a Jazz group has electric bass then it is classified as "fusion" or "crossover" and is almost by definition, no longer "straight-ahead" Jazz.

    Stanley Clarke plays electric and upright on his recent album with MCoy Tyner, but he is now always seen as a fusion player. John Mclaughlin's album "Que Alegria" has some great electric bass playing in a Jazz trio format, but this isn't usually seen as "straight-ahead".

    My favourite electric bass player operating in this area at the moment, is Franc 'O Shea - and his album "Esprit" has got some great Jazz electric bass playing, but again it gets pushed into "crossover" territory, mostly because it is a Jazz group led by an electric bass player, even if he plays Charlie Parker tributes!