Walter Woods Mystery

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by Don Higdon, Jun 15, 2001.

  1. So I go over to Ed Fuqua's gig, and I'm thinking "I'll find out what's shaking with Walter Woods, Ed's always talking about his." Up the stairs, into a large open space, introduce myself to Ed, take a position at the bar, about a 45 degree angle from the top of Ed's bass. Dynamite trio, good tunes. And I'm thinking "Wow, that IS a natural tone," and it's not coming out like a laser, just a nice balanced DB tone. And Ed is soloing at 280 meter. End of set, and I go over and discover that our man Ed is playing with no amp at all.

    So, I still don't know what a Walter Woods sounds like.
  2. Ah! it could be that:

    1) Ed saw you coming, and decided to play a trick on you. The WW is so small, that he could easily have hidden it (in the bass, perhaps) or disguised it as an ash-tray or some such thing.

    2) Ed doesn't use an amp at all, but he has to invent the rumour that he does in order to maintain credibility with us lesser mortals.

    3) What you were experiencing was in fact the legendary "transparency" of the WW - i.e. so transparent that you can't even see it... :>

    - Wil

    PS: I almost bought (or should I say, put a deposit on) a WW about a year ago - just think, if I had, I would have only one year left to wait...
  3. Ed: Any chance of me getting a copy of "Father"? What a tune.

    On their respective instruments, I'd call Rick and Tardo even, i.e., serious chops. The trio dynamic level was intelligently set, and the balance was just right, no one instrument killing the other two, so it was a true trio sound. A persuasive argument against amps.
  4. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    All Hail HEAD DISMAY!!!

    RED UVULA RuLeZ!!!

    Long live DEAD PUKESPRAY!!!

    Seriously, that sounds like a pretty cool gig. I hear a lot of talk about playing unamplified, but I've only been in a few situations that were quiet enough to make it possible. Was the piano a grand? Was the guitarist amplified? I know that David talks about playing unamplified for big band and what-not, but I've never seen anyone - even Rufus - play unamplified in a loud setting. Was this a listening gig? And, more importantly, DID YOU RECORD IT? If so, could you send the "Johnson Chronicles" version when you get a chance? This sounds too good to miss.

  5. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    (Red Foxx voice on)

    Ed, big DUMMY.

    (Redd Fox voice off)

    P.S. - uh, anybody remember how to spell "Red Fox"? Redd Foxx. Redddd Foxxxxx. Rrreddd Foxxxx........
  6. It has to be the right situation; the right cats, a good room, etc. I've played unamped in loud settings on a few occassions: pit orchestra gigs, and jam sessions. I did the pit thing unamped because I knew I could despite the large ensemble. The jam session thing was because I'm a masochist. I like playing unamped, but I also like being heard, so it really depends on the room and the band.

    One thing I notice when everyone is unamped is the increased sensitivity to dynamics. Everyone plays in a more controlled way, listenning, and sometimes the music even gets louder and softer. Amplification seems to make shifting dynamics less likely to happen.

    BTW, Rufus was awarded the ISB Lifetime Achievement Award.
  7. One of the great moments for group dynamics was Gerry Mulligan's first piano-less quartet, with Carson Smith on bass. The harmonic contribution of the bass was more important than before, and amps were virtually unknown. Gerry decreed that the horns would play at the dynamic level of the bass. This changed the way we hear and regard the bass.

    A propos of nothing, as of today, I qualify for discounts on haircuts, movie tickets, etc. You figure it out. However, I will not be wearing Hush Puppies or polyester pants.
  8. Congratulations, you may now also spend your free time feeding pigeons in the park and ogling young chicks without fear of criticism beyond just being "dirty." This explains why you sold off those basses.
  9. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    Ain't that a bitch? By the time I hit 30, I was beyond needing discounts on haircuts, and by the time I hit 35, beyond needing discounts on movie tickets, since Hollywood apparently targets mainly the 25 and under crowd when it makes movies. Cameron Diaz looks like a 5th grader to me.

    On the other hand, what's wrong with Hush Puppies and Polyester?

    Just kidding. I figure everything's hunky-dory until you discover that your belt buckle is consistently bruising your sternum. THEN you know you're old...
  10. AlexFeldman


    Jun 18, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    'The unamplified bass effect'

    The bassist has been watching the big city guys discuss ditching the amp for several weeks now. He's finally ready to do it. He heads to his Thursday night gig. Mostly straightahead jazz. Should be okay. Should be just fine. He can't shake the feeling that he's forgetting something as he drives off. He doesn't hear the familiar 'thunk' of his cabinet sliding around in his trunk as he guns his economobile onto the highway.

    So the bass isn't amplified tonight, and the first person to notice is the drummer. He shivers. He sweats. He feels nausea coming on. He thinks, 'UH OH. No bass? Less kick. No bass! Less snare. No bass! Less everything! Aaaaahhhh, baaaaassss...' He stops shaking like an overdue at the methadone clinic finally getting his fix.

    The pianist notices next. Doesn't really hear the bass unless it isn't following the really cool new turnaround he came up with over the break. But he does notice that drums have come way down. Ah, that's cool. He can quit hammering the keys now, maybe try that Corea voicing he practiced all week.

    The sax player realizes that, without the dull roar of a rhythm section going full steam behind him, that his instrument really DOES sound like a big metal kazoo. He begins subtoning and spends the rest of the gig trying to blend with everyone else so that no one will notice how truly nasty his instrument can sound.

    The bassist is the last to notice. He hasn't had to turn around to play with his amp for a LONG time... and the tone is killer! No scratching OR honking. Maybe he'll take a solo tonight.

    Or maybe not.
  11. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    So, you did you MEAN to slam some of the local cats I play with when I'm in MAN, I'M EARNING MY BREAD TONIGHT mode, or was that just a lucky guess? That description is some seriously funny sh*t. Only problem with it is, the guys who sound like that would never notice the difference...
  12. AlexFeldman


    Jun 18, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    I think these people exist everywhere you go. Actually, it was a satire. The guys I play with on Thursday nights are great. But I have played with people who never listen, and the WW does come in real handy then. :)
  13. Well I dont know for the life of me how someone can play unamplified. I would'nt be heard with just a piano, let alone drums or sax. In fact I once busked in a duo with a sax player, and I could'nt even hear myself enough to know whether I was playing in tune or not. If I try playing loud, my hands get real sore. I've been playing upright for 11 years, and I've tried the "light touch" that always seems to get mentioned in discussions on upright technique, but for me, light touch = light sound.
  14. AlexFeldman


    Jun 18, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Trust me, it's possible. Sometimes it seems a little quiet behind the bass, but I can still hear. Out front, I'm told, it is quite audible.

    I know this should go under technique, but are you plucking with the tips of your fingers? If you are, trying plucking the strings with the side of your fingers (or finger... sometimes I use the side of my index finger nearly up to the knuckle, and put my whole forearm into it. That's how Mingus did it, at least on the video I've seen of him). If you can't dig in enough to do this, try raising your action.
  15. I know, I know, I feel so ashamed! I mainly play with the side of my finger(s), I have a reasonably low action (5mm on the G), and have new Helicore Hybrids. Oh well, perseverance!
  16. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    There is no "mystery" about a Woods, it's just a very good amp. Sounds clear and full.

    In a sense, they are totally pedestrian because they just work like you would want EVERY amp to work.
  17. dhosek


    May 25, 2000
    Los Angeles, CA
    Back in April, I was at a performance of the Faure requiem where the bass player had the most amazing projection. His pizzicattos just floated through the orchestra right to the back of the church where I was seated. I wanted so much to get up to the front at the end and find out what he had in terms of bass and strings to get that great sound, but was unable to negotiate through he crowd to do so.

  18. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Sure I read 'em, Ed.

    He did also say he still doesn't know what a WW sounds like. Funny, I have one on order after I almost bought a used one (decided to go for a higher powered one to be on the safe side) but it wasn't like the amp "blew me away", it just sounded, eh, well, like it wasn't there :)

    I've done a few "unplugged" gigs but I always get drowned out :(

    At one gig, the pianist (who was BURYING me) said "Oh I can hear you fine" which was probably true because his head was about a foot in front of the bass' bridge. Unfortunately I have to stand BEHIND the darn thing and have ride cymbals ringing in my ears. Oh I forgot, the pianist was MIKED because he said he couldn't hear himself otherwise :rolleyes:

    Then there was the jazz fern bar job where my pickup crapped out midset (and had been unexpectedly feeding back before that) so I was flailing away mightily and getting endless crap from the guitarist complaining he couldn't hear me. Of course, he wasn't interested in turning down to help the situation :rolleyes:

    I once played a square dance in an old colonial inn and we tried to go unplugged just as it would have been three hundred years ago. The caller complained the band wasn't loud enough and the sound of the dancer's feet was drowning us out :rolleyes:

    I think people have just FORGOTTEN how to play without amplification.

  19. It occurs to me there's another, larger group of people who have forgotten how to HEAR without amplfication.
  20. I guess you mean the Libera me.
    I've done the Faure twice at my church, once as a baritone, once as a tenor, never as a bassist. (The bassist was from the Metropolitan Opera orchestra, as were most of the other instumentalists. Kind of humbling to have them play for us.)