the pianist's $%&# left hand

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by Mike Goodbar, Mar 19, 2002.

  1. While I'm always thankful just to have a gig, occasionally I get on a job (we're talking jazz here) where the piano player feels compelled to hammer the root out with his left pinkie or worse yet with the thumb/pinkie octave.

    This tells me a number of things:

    1. the pianist doesn't think I'm cutting the changes.
    2. the pianist thinks I suck and wants me to lay out.
    3. the pianist is used to doing solo gigs.

    I try to deal with this, but it is frustrating. I've considered actually telling the pianist that he/she is stepping all over me, but I'd rather find a way to work around it and complement his/her style.

    Any suggestions?
  2. vanderbrook

    vanderbrook Some days, I miss frets... Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2001
    Denver, CO, USA
    Play counterpoint in thumb position. For the whole tune. The whole set. The whole night.
  3. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    Van's riposte brings this to mind: Years ago, I asked Michael Moore what to do when the sax player started the 23rd chorus of "I Lack Rhythm" and I was getting tired. Michael said, "Lay out for a while. That will get the message across."

    The same advice works with heavy-handed and forgetful pianists.

  4. LOL. :D

    Thumb position, ARCO, baby.
  5. Brooks


    Apr 4, 2000
    Middle East
    Pianists should play need to play with KEYBOARD players...a different kind of animal. Remember...'accidentally' dropping a 4x10 on their left hand also works... ;)
  6. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Like my tag line suggests, avoid the root on one for a while. Either neighboring tone on one will have the strongest effect.
  7. Monte


    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    Yeah, that will really piss the pianist off. At a master class Benny Green gave this month at North Texas, he started going a little out on his solos, so the bass player stopped playing on beat one and didn't play roots. Then Benny stopped and said, "If I'm outside and your outside, who is minding the store?" They played some more and the bass kept getting "hipper and hipper" until Benny started shouting at him "Roots and ones, roots and ones".

    Frankly, a good reminder every now and then;)

  8. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Benny may have had a point. Of course we can't hear what was happening so it's impossible to comment on what was played.
  9. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Christ, Ed! You're going to make me blush...

    As a real-time composer, you don't have a different set of rules that the chair'n paper folks have. There is a simple rule that ultimately applies:

    "It sucks or it don't."

    Well, kinda. But, if you're playing what you hear, then music will happen. The problems start with ill-trained ears. Students and young players are more consistently guilty of displays of poor taste as they are stretching and trying new things with little experience to give fiber to what they are doing. Here are a few rules to playing 'jazz' as a bass player (I'm getting to really hate that word) pounded into me as a youth, but these are widely applicable:

    • Above all else, it's gotta swing.
    • Take care of the double bars
    • Maintain the harmony, but be flexible if whomever you're accompanying is going somewhere.
    • If you don't hear it, don't play it.

    If you take care of these and can have the changes to new (unknown to you) tunes together by the second chorus, then you'll work. I'll add a couple rules of my own for flavor:

    • You are a craftsman, not an artist; There is no such things as artists, just craftsmen with no ego screwing up their craft. Artists wear turtlenecks and critique craftsmen.
    • If you don't hear it, don't play it.
    • Get there first.
    • A space is a valid note.
    • If the band ain't sounding good, start the search for the problem with yourself; what can you do to make to work?
    • Don't worry about playing hip.
    • Nothing is un-hipper than a failed attempt at being hip; All attempts at being hip fail.
    • Making the soloist look bad never works. It makes you look like an ass.
    • Making the leader look bad ensures that you'll not work with him any more.
    • Take the entire performance of a tune as a whole, compositionally. If the tenor player played for a half an hour, then further solos will just add to the boredom. Put the music above your chance to strut your BS.
    • 'In tune' is 'in tune'. Everything else isn't.

    I could go on. And on.

  10. Yowza.

    I played with a long-winded reed player last night (brought four different horns to a restaurant gig). After his 37 choruses on Confirmation and the piano player's four choruses, I opted out of soloing in the interest of retaining what was left of the dinner crowd and saving the job. The guy gave me this look of total disbelief that I didn't want to take a solo, and he didn't come in with the head. I just played quarter-note roots until he got the message and came in on the bridge.

    BTW, I'm going to print Ray's list out and tape to the shoulder of my bass.
  11. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
  12. alavakian

    alavakian Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2002
    SF Bay area
    Believe it or not, very few pianists know how to play jazz with a bass, let alone back up a bass solo.
    They also vary geographically. (NY pianists are OK,
    west coast pianists suck). On rare occasion I'll
    come across one that plays only above middle C, no lower, and shuts up while I'm soloing (an occasional triad in the highest register is ok). When I find a pianist like that I'd like to put a ball and chain on him. His is a rare breed. Low Joe
  13. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    Personally, if I ran across a piano player that only plays above middle "C" and bags out while I'm soloing, I'd put a ball and chain on him and toss him in the river. To each his own...
  14. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    The only way a poor accompanist can tell what a bass player wants is to ask or have the bass player tell him (on the break). We're the guilty party on this one, folks, as no two of us want the same thing.

    I have saxual fantasies (or dellusions) when I play and want all of the stuff that I just helped provide for other soloists. Lower in volume, of course. Some guys want everyone to stop. The rest of us are somewheres in between.
  15. I am but a n00b, but I find that a pianist who does the old McCoy Tyner trick of pounding on the root on the "one" with his pinky really adds some rhythmic drive when there's no drummer.

    Different strokes, I guess.
  16. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Death penalty.
  17. alavakian

    alavakian Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2002
    SF Bay area
    When I mentioned about pianists playing above middle C, I meant backing up during bass solos, so not to crowd the bass player. Most jazz bassists I know frown upon a pianist's heavy Ump-Pah, Ump-pah left hand while they're soloing. LowJoe.
  18. It was a LONG time ago, but I played a couple of sessions where Dave McKenna sat in. Trust me, nobody complained about the pianist's left hand.:)