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"Stretching" the changes while walking

Discussion in 'Music Theory [DB]' started by Aaron Saunders, Jul 8, 2005.

  1. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    I've heard of this concept while soloing (RE: Mark Levine's "Jazz Theory Book") but I was wondering how many of y'all old guys do this when walking.

    How advisable is it to do this? I mean, the point of the bassline is to define the song harmonically...but I mean, there's changes, and then there's not changes. So if your pianist is stretchin' like crazy during a solo, would you stretch along with him and go right out, or keep it grounded with the original harmony?

    Also, when do you play the "optional" chords (those in parenthesis)? Do you wait for the leader/soloist to start 'em off, or do you ever just take charge of the harmonic direction?
  2. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
  3. Pcocobass


    Jun 16, 2005
    New York
    I'm surprised you didn't catch this, Ed. But, maybe I'm one of the "old guys" (just turned 26), so I'll comment:

    Depends on the piano player. In my experience, some like you to follow, some don't. They're a strange breed.
  4. People all have different levels of hearing...
    I usually wait for a 'harmonic vote'
    I'm so old and have been around so long, I usually know all the possible options, harmonically speaking, that I wait to hear a general consensus.
    If I hear one of the players being uncomfortable with a set of changes, I generally try to put together whatever it takes to keep everybody happy. This does work...believe it or don't.
  5. nypiano


    Feb 10, 2003
    Don't forget that the tension created is what the pianist/soloist wants. If you try to go along with it might lose it's novelty and its bite. Perhaps if unrelenting clashes occur it might be advisable to play more simply like for ex. on pedals tones which acts as a fulcrum against the "harmonic tension wheel" the soloist might be traveling through. For example the Charlie Haden "drone" approach.

    Also a really good soloist develops the in-out stuff logically and sometimes I don't hear the command there in that regard from soloists;so if you're having difficulty it might not be your issue--it might be the lack of apparent "battle plan" from the soloist.

    But even simple tritone II-Vs can have a nice sound if you leave it straight in the bass. For example I remember Mr. Ed saying to me on a recording "Hey I want to play that!" When I played E-A7 against his Eb7. The tension sounded really cool left alone to me.

    I haven't transcribed bass players on McCoy records but I think they pretty much let him have the fun.

    In reference to parenthesis changes. The rule is listen hard and look for nods from people. Generally if you go the parenthesis route you usually have to follow all of them to their natural conclusion. You usually learn those best on the bandstand from a more experienced bandmate who knows them from a record
  6. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    As usual, I think that GENTLE RANEY is right on the money with his above comments. Having sat on both sides of the piano bench, I think it's safe to say that sometimes what the soloist wants is for the bassist to stay home as a point of tension-leverage/departure, and other times the soloist may want a specific reharm to be caught and gone with. It really all comes down to how much the bassist trusts his or her ears, and as with all jazz, if you go for something that doesn't quite work out, make a note of it (NPI) and remember that it's only music after all.

    In the past two weeks, I was very fortunate to get to play 8 times with NY pianist Andy LaVerne, so I'm finding this a very timely thread. Andy eventually reharms and subs virtually everything he plays in some way or another, so the question of how to accompany the reharms came up. He basically told me that I was doing fine, and to trust my ears - the important thing as far as he was concerned was that I was listening closely enough to notice that something different was going on in the moment, and that I was aware that some things I did set off the reharms better than others. Jon's suggestion of pedals is a good one when things start to go out, and there are a couple of other things I might also suggest. First, learn to hear the big-picture key centers of whatever tune you are playing, and realize that you can "free up the changes" by treating the key center as one large thing rather than a bunch of small detailed specifics. This tends to make the sound of the changes seem a bit more modal, which allows for harmonic exploration. Also, realize that symmetrical patterns and sequences have a certain logic of their own, and can sometimes be used to create a big picture "counter tension" even if they don't exactly match what the soloist may be doing. In the end, though, it's all about the ears.

    Great subject.
  7. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    A couple of other things as a bass player that it helps to take note of. I find that there are different kind of broad approaches amongst soloists. Some are V chord players, some are II chord players, and in both cases there are 'bright' players and 'dark' players.

    What I mean by this, is that some folks like to base their ideas around V chords more. These tend also to be 'blusier' players in many cases. With these sorts you have a lot more options for substuting behind them without disrupting the flow. You only really have to take care not to be forcing altered sounds against major sound (G7b9 against G9, for examples) as it can get ugly.

    II chords players tend to like brighter sounds -- major 9s and 13s, etc, and seem to do a lot more pentatonic (major) playing and here you have to play similalry brighter sound so as to not trample what is going on. For instance, if you're tri-toning it or playing darker sounds again bright (G7b9 or Db7#11 idea under a D-11, for example) you'll get a dirty look.

    I'd love to be more precise on this -- but have to run to a gig 5 minutes ago. I'll try to do better later if I did nothing but cause confusion.
  8. anonymous8547j7d7b

    anonymous8547j7d7b Guest

    Jul 1, 2005
    I remember seeing some of the Berklee teaching staff over here in an informal gig setting with a prominent tenor-player. Dave Clark played right on the changes,but, when the tenor solo was really getting out there the piano laid out for a chorus. Dave then hit everything right with the soloist before returning to straight changes with the piano back in. The contrast was incredible - & the tenor player nearly swallowed his horn!
  9. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Ray, do elabourate! I'd definitely like to hear something more indepth on in that vein of discussion, very interesting.

    jaydbass: Great story! :D I love it.
  10. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    A little pooped to dig in tonight, but I will soon. Remind me if you don't see something in the next couple of days. The calendar has been a panic for a couple of weeks now...
  11. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Very interesting thread and all great replies - but a lot of the "in depth" stuff is about the relationship to the pianist - how about if playing without any chordal instrument(s) - say in a horn, bass drums trio - how does this affect your approach to this, if at all?
  12. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    It's pretty much the same, but with a non-chordal instrument there's immediately a great sense of harmonic freedom since he/she can't lay down chords at the same time they're creating lines. While it's true that they can and do imply harmony, it's not as concrete as what a pianist or guitarist might do because it's always linear harmony - even if you play it really fast. :) OTOH, someone like Jamey Aebersold is really good at playing "line changes", in which he outlines the substitutions in a pretty obvious way when he expects you to go with them - but he usually makes this pretty clear by his body language. Many other players are content to explore in "double instinct" mode with the bassist.
  13. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002

    I've been very interested in groups without chordal instruments ever since I saw a jazz trio doing really great modal stuff with Donny McCaslin (t.sax,) John Geggie (b,) and Jim Doxas (d.) Any input on this would definitely be great.
  14. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    In my chord-less travels I've found that tune selection is important. If a tune is very chord dependant (Maiden Voyage) it doesn't work well with two voices. 'Just in Time' would be an example of the opposite.
  15. nypiano


    Feb 10, 2003
    Re: V vs. II players. What Ray’s talking about I think is that certain player’s phrasing architecture deals with detailing the II chord before the V chord. The V could be dark or light after. But the II is light. So if you are pedaling or substituting you are either on the wrong color or in the stable before the horse is. This is more of a bebop thing in a way because of the specificity of detail and is sort of a stylistic clash against a more open/pedal/dark oriented approach. An example of this might be how George Coleman mixed with the Miles/Modal thing. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Also when Ray is talking about a V approach being more blues based this applies to a more idiomatic superimposition or “overall” sound of the key which is prevalent in blues players or players who play more by ear. You will often hear tonic ideas or even blues “tinged” tonic ideas on the V or the II chord in these cases. You might even call this a I 6/4 concept.

    In general from an accompaniment point of view you should lean towards the conservative until it seems like what you are doing is not going with the flow of the music. Many bassists will be worried they’re not doing enough and overplay. This a mistake. In a lot of ways a bassist show relish his role that everyone wants to do stuff against the simpler stuff on the bottom.

    An approach with just bass and the lead instrument still will fall under the realm of the preference of the soloist. Some players like the drive of straight time against their lines. Others like the creativity of almost counterpoint. My Dad liked the little melodies and non 4/4 approaches that Michael Moore used in duo or small group settings. My brother likes more straight time that he can muscle his groove over.
  16. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Yeah -- that's what I was talking about. Thanks for laying that out for me!

    On the duo-line thing, what I've fallen into over time (as I play drummerless so much) is a lot more walking than I would really like. But, I find that so few 'front line' players play good pocket that my instincts drive me there just to hold things together. Since I'm walking so much, it makes it more of a challenge to cover the different styles as you have to be able to really speak in the different tongues. Heaven, for me, is when you get a really nice open, dialogue-oriented player who plays good pocket. Then the world is my (our) oyster.
  17. TJC


    Jun 28, 2002
    Los Angeles

    What do you mean by a I 6/4 concept? Great thread!
  18. If most of you cats can glom onto this, you'll really be ahead of the game.
    We're really fortunate to have Jon Raney on this forum. Obviously, to hear things from the pianist's point of view...but, more so for me, to be able to say many times: I wish i'd said that.
    From the bassist's stand point, it's the ability to decide when and with who to do the Michael Moore thing in terms of playing with a bit more interplay as opposed to playing with a bit more straight ahead muscle.
  19. nypiano


    Feb 10, 2003
    You flattah me Mr. Waahbutton saah.. :)

    The I 6/4 is I over V. It's an inversion of the root chord but is has dominant function as preparation to V7 or whatever else is cooking on the V pedal.

    The concept I was thinking in this I 64 mention was the linear application of this idea where the "ear driven" soloist often plays phrases that sound right (horizontally) over changes but is sometimes more tonic type or blues type sounds. For example this line over a II V I. It's really all in C(solo line in eighths, 1 *syncopation in end of 2nd line. I can't make the formatting line up. But it's a 2 measure II V I)

    D-7 G7 Cmaj

    more bluesy

    D-7 G7 Cmaj
  20. jstiel

    jstiel Jim Stiel

    Jun 5, 2004
    Lake Orion, MI

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