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What is a "pocket player"?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Skel, Mar 20, 2006.

  1. Skel


    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    If this is not a technique, sorry for putting the thread here. I've read this term and I don't know what it means - what is a pocket player?

    Thanks - Skel
  2. Jazzin'

    Jazzin' ...Bluesin' and Funkin'

    Staying on time.
  3. flatwoundfender


    Feb 24, 2005
    The drummer set's a pocket with his playing and the bassists plays in it. Basically a player who maintains the groove, doesn't go off and play melodies. Duck Dunn is a great example of a pocket player. Real solid. The most important thing is the groove, once that's held down you can add, like Jameron did, or just hold like Duck dunn(heh heh). Tommy Shannon is another great example of a pocket player.

    In general though it means a bassist who locks in with the drummer, the above is just my developed definition.
  4. ras1983


    Dec 28, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    a pocket is not a technical term, it is quite difficult to describe. the most common examples can be found in hip and rap; i.e. mike elizondo's playing on dre's 2001. basically, its how you fill a given amount of time. this could be a bar, it could be a phrase, it could be any amount of time. but there has to be a CLEAR beginning and and clear end to the 'pocket'. a very important aspect of the pocket is the SPACE you leave between notes, the silence allows the rythm to breathe.

    look up leonard hubbard from the roots and read some interviews with him. he often talks about the 'pocket'.
  5. Do not shake hands with a "pocket player". :eek:

    If you lock with the drummer, stick to playing a groove with energy, as opposed to sticking solo licks in every empty space every chance you get, you are a pocket player.

    Pocket is someone who avoids flashy riffs for the sake of showing off, and plays something tasty that fits, but doesn't necessarily draw attention away from the rest of the band.

    The guy trying to fit Wooten licks into My Girl.... not a pocket player.

    Its easier to describe what is not a pocket player.... the pocket doesn't have to be overly simple, it has to have energy and drive, but requires space. Its the equivalent of a team player in sports, I suppose. They don't hot dog it, they suppress their desire to be a showoff and just do their job to help the team (band) look/sound better.

    Everybody loves playing with a bass player that keeps a solid pocket. It makes the groove that people like to play against or dance to. The flashy stuff gets annoying even if done right, and especially if done wrong. Usually the showoffs are operating too close to the edge of their ability, they're showing off after all, and ultimately results in speeding up, slowing down, missing downbeats, blowing changes, that sort of thing. Very few guys are good enough to pull that kind of stuff off and remaining in time.

    You know how annoying it is to play with a drummer who overplays and can't keep a steady beat or maintain a particular tempo, with fills everywhere (except on the beat)? That's how people feel about you when you're not in the pocket.

  6. Garry Goodman

    Garry Goodman

    Feb 26, 2003
    You create "the pocket" by agreeing with other musicians where the tempo is ,and how to interpret the feel. To be a "pocket player" you need to validate your time center with an electronic metronome.It is a process that takes some work.

    Groove is established when everyone can participate and interact because the tempo and quarter note have been firmly established and each player knows how to agree with that tempo. The individual parts mesh like gears to create the "magic carpet".

    Without investigating and focusing on the click track,metronome and elements of what creates a groove,one will be useless in a rhythm section.

    When you create the pocket,play in the pocket,you are making music people will respond to.

    A pocket player= a working musician
  7. "The Pocket" is a term that's hard to define but when you hear it, you instantly say, "Yeah -- that's in the pocket!"

    One of my favorite example of music that is TOTALLY in the pocket is Tower of Power's "Soul Vaccination: LIVE"

    If you don't own this CD, you need to run -- do not walk -- and buy it. Rocco Prestia (with Dave Garabaldi on drums) puts on a clinic here.
  8. Altitude

    Altitude An ounce of perception, a pound of obscure. Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2005
    Denver, nee Austin
  9. rkfromChi


    Jan 14, 2004
    Chicago, IL.
    Lookup the name Nathan East!
  10. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    What is the term for the opposite of a pocket player?

    I use pocket techniques now and then, but I am definately not a "pocket player." I play progressive metal and mix in with the guitarist's territory or lead melodic stuff all the time. It is great.
  11. Honestly, I don't see the big appeal in pocket playing. I mean, sure it's a very important aspect of being a bassist. It's a rhythm instrument, and if you can't hold a groove and stay in the pocket, you've got some problems.
    But it gets VERY boring when I listen to some "great" pocket players do nothing but stay in a pocket and I just hear the same line 200 times in a row. Yeah, they stay perfectly on time and locked with the drummer, great, but it's boring.
    I like going for the middle ground. Holding the groove and keeping within the pocket, but a bigger, more roomy pocket, with a little extra something then just the simplest of grooves.
    I'm talkin about guys like Dave Schools for example, who can hold a solid grooving line but have some room to play around, without making it overbearing. He spices up the otherwise simple pocket stuff resulting in what is usually the perfect addition to whatever song he's playing. He's one hell of a good bassist if you never heard him before.
    Check out a band called Widespread Panic, he plays with them. Everyone in the band is awesome and compliments each other's playing so perfectly, it's crazy. And you'll hear one of my favorite singers ever.
  12. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    If you play country music the best thing to do is probably be a pocket player. Save it all up for that one bass fill on the whole album.
  13. plexibass


    Jun 30, 2005
    john entwistle :D
    he didnt play the pocket. he played the whole pair of pants.

    my favorite pocket player is bill blough for george thorogood and the destroyers.
  14. de la mocha

    de la mocha

    Aug 20, 2005
    Billy Cox on the band of gypsies song WHO KNOWS is in the pocket!
  15. ras1983


    Dec 28, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    Good joke. Entwhistle did play very adventurously, but he still played in a pocket for the majority of the time. fantastic rock bassist.
  16. d8g3jdh

    d8g3jdh Guest

    Aug 9, 2005
    If you play the same thing 200 times you aren't really a pocket player...or at least not a good one.

    To me it means that you fit. Everyone has their pocket, and if you fit in it, then you're a pocket player. Basically it means a good player. JPJ - Pocket player, Steve Harris - Pocket player, Fieldy - Not a pocket player. JPJ is the ultimate, with overflowing groove. Steve could fill like no other, and while that may mean moving out of the concept of staying behind the guitarist, he still fits and compliments the song. Fieldy, he just sucks. :D

    That's my definition anyways.
  17. flatwoundfender


    Feb 24, 2005
    On a musical level the appeal is the groove, on another level it's that when people pay you to play bass, that's what they want. A lot of music won't work if the bassist is playing a bunch of stuff and the people aren't paying you to experiment. So I guess you don't like James Brown then. Bootsy played some amazing lines. Check out "I Got To Move" off the In the Jungle Groove album, pretty much one line the whole song, but it grooves like a mother.
    That depends on the song. Jamerson played the same thing over and over again on My Girl, on other songs he never played the same lick twice. A pocket player plays what fits the song. Sometimes repetition does. Sometimes it doesn't.
  18. An outstanding example of playing in the pocket is Rocco Prestia's playing on "Soul with a Capital S". Seriously monstrous pocket, absolutely great grooving.
  19. flatwoundfender


    Feb 24, 2005
    Add Gary Porter Jr. to that list, his work with The Meter's is a great example of pocket playing.
  20. d8g3jdh

    d8g3jdh Guest

    Aug 9, 2005
    Jamerson doesn't count. ;)

    And the way he phrased it he made it sound like he considered a pocket player to be someone who played the same thing every time. On every song, different riff, over and over.

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