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Voice-piano-bass: feasable band?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by belzebass, Mar 26, 2013.

  1. belzebass


    Feb 21, 2012
    Hello, fellow lowenders!

    Long story short, I'm teamed up with a female singer and pianist (synth), both good musicians and great personalities (easy going and hard working). We are into into pop/soul/R&B (or jazzy funky to a degree) kind of music.

    I wonder if it is feasable to work in that kind of trio. I was thinking to use a drum machine instead of drummer. In any case, the singer as a broken ankle, and won't be able to go to rehearsal area for at least a month, she proposed her living to rehearse in, so no drums possible :-\

    So do you think it is possible to cover enough musical ground with two instruments and voice? What kind of songs might work well in this situation? We are ready (and will definitely have) to rearrange sogs to fit this minimalistic context.

    What are the best ways to exploit the synth in order to cover most musical possibilities (maybe one keyboard for rhythm piano, one for horn chords)? Tips for playing electric bass in this context (maybe effects, octaver on particular playing style)?

    Thanks, peoplez!
  2. SoLongJake

    SoLongJake Supporting Member

    Jul 1, 2007
    Des Moines, Iowa
    It worked well for Ben Folds, if you are both good you can make it work.
  3. mpdd

    mpdd neoconceptualist

    Mar 24, 2010
    jerry lee lewis
  4. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    Two words: jazz standards.
  5. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    Forget the drum machine. Piano, bass, and vocal has worked for jazz trios for decades.
  6. MonetBass

    MonetBass ♪ Just listen ♫ Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2006
    Tulsa, OK
    Technically that band had a drummer, but yeah, it could work.
  7. bearfoot


    Jan 27, 2005
    schenectady, ny
    Depends on if the pianist can do chords and soloing simultaneously, but I say most definitely.
    +1 on losing the drum machine, but that is dependent on genre...
  8. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    It could work.
  9. stick with it, do some good research on bands like that...jazz fusion, lots of solo type stuff, you'll become a better player too
  10. IPYF


    Mar 31, 2011
  11. JakeF


    Apr 3, 2012
    DEFINE feasible.
  12. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    I've done quite a few jazz standards gigs with this lineup, and the versatile players can handle throwing pop and contemporary tunes into the mix. One thing to consider is that you can market yourself into venues where a full band is perceived to be too big, loud, and expensive. Ditching the drums would probably allow you to ditch most of the traditional full PA as well.
  13. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Seriously, don't use a drum machine and especially don't try to play drums on a synth. SO cheezy.

    If you, the pianist and the singer all have good rhythm you can swing as hard as needed... Without drums or drum replacements. The biggest thing with that kind of combo is that the pianist lets you handle the bass and focuses on the higher chordal stuff. Otherwise it will be a mudfest.

    And yes there's a market. In my market, if you were good, a lineup like yours playing jazz standards, light R&B and mellower pop stuff could probably gig almost every weekend and maybe a weeknight or two as well without ever going out of town.
  14. halfjackson


    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston, MA
    It could work. I also vote against using a drum machine or keyboard drums. You could always add a drummer later if you decide that you need one, and finding the right one might even be easier once you're gigging and somewhat established.

    I agree with previous posters; standards and r&b could definitely work. Depending on tastes and your singer's ability and style, you could work in some Anita Baker, Chaka Khan, Sade, Motown... And of course you don't have to be limited to music with female vox. I was in a band briefly that although wasnt quite as minimal (sometimes drums, sometimes not), was much like what you're describing. I can shoot you an email with the set lists if you'd like.

    As far your playing...well, you'll be relied upon more heavily to be the anchor, but what a great challenge and experience it could be. And you guys already enjoy being around each other and are motivated? Sounds pretty great to me.

    Best of luck. And best of luck to the injured singer too. I have way too much experience with that; tell her to take it slow (you almost can't hear that enough).
  15. Leo Smith

    Leo Smith

    Oct 21, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    Check out Bryan Beller and Kira Small. Same instrumentation as the OP proposed. It'll give you some ideas...
  16. Piano and vocals have been done before exclusively. Adding a bass to that just gives you more possibilities.
  17. Basshappi


    Feb 12, 2007
  18. Definately doable. A decent pianist should have no problem setting the rhythm. Throw in a bass and you're golden.
  19. jungleheat

    jungleheat Banned

    Jun 19, 2011
    Drum machine is ok IF you use it wisely. If your plan is to just set up "16 bar rock beat #2" and go to town, then no. But if you use it in an interesting and creative way, maybe the retro/cheesy vibe of old rhythm machines from home organs could become cool (CR-78, etc...). For examples of that kind of sound working in a similar context as you might try, check out the Bird and the Bee. It's a male keys/female vox duo, and the keyboardist, Greg Kurstin, is basically a musical genius. Studied jazz with Jaki Byard (played with Mingus a lot I think it was). Anyway, they kind of have this 60s pop/tropicalia/jazz/80s new wave influenced sound (or something like that, hard to really pin down). Lots of great harmonies and textures going on. Not that you have to sound just like that, but it's sort of a "proof of concept" for a minimalist lineup, similar to what you're working with (and the chick actually sometimes plays bass too).

    Here's a sample:


    Anyway, ANY kind of instrumental lineup is pretty much "viable" if you have something interesting to say with it (even if that something consists of covers). I have an album that's mostly drums, and sometimes the drummer also plays a little overdubbed organ or piano, and on a couple tracks there is some guitar. This album is amazing. It helps that the 2 guys are Jack DeJohnette and John Abercrombie, 2 absolute GIANTS on their respective instruments. But the point is you're only limited by your imagination.
  20. belzebass


    Feb 21, 2012
    OP here.

    Gave it a try yesterday. One song with a real live drum track, sounded better than with live drummer :)
    One with a generated drum track, definetely lacked feel and dynamics.

    Just bass-piano-voice: just wow, that is really hard. Between keeping the tempo, arpegeggiating the chords and hearing all my bummer notes, it gets really complicated.

    What do you think, shuld we use a metronome or try to develop mutual rhythm without one? Or work both? Or but metronome in-ear just for the bassist or the pianist?

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