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Discussion Starter #1
A week ago Sunday, while the house was nice and quiet, I flipped to CoolTV to see what was on. For those who don’t know, CoolTV is a subscriber channel which broadcasts jazz and blues musical content on Rogers digital cable here in Toronto. There happened to a Lee Ritenour concert on, and I was enjoying it thoroughly. About halfway though the concert, they launch into a sweet version of the tune Stolen Moments. It’s a great medium swing, minor jazz/blues tune with some great changes. I hadn’t heard it in quite some time. Lee Ritenour’s arrangement really inspired me for I happen to love his playing in general.

So as I usually do when I get inspired, I went to my computer, downloaded various versions of tune, and printed out a couple of charts to examine. With guitar in hand, I worked out a decent version (and jam track) and sent the tune, jam track, and charts to my Monday night jamming buddies, so they can spend some time doing a bit of preparation before our next session. They all agreed that it would be a great tune to play.

We got together last night. Unfortunately a couple of guys (keyboard and guitar) were out of town on business, so our line up was one guitar, two saxes (alto and tenor), drums, and myself on bass. I had also brought my guitar, for it’s easier for me to work through a new arrangement with my guitar in hand. We went through the tune about three times, working on various parts, and it was really coming together nicely. We then started playing the tune from top to bottom, allowing for soloing.

The soloing is done over a typical minor jazz/blues progression, and the first time through the whole tune, I was playing the guitar. It sounded pretty good, but that medium swing groove was just not there, and everyone seemed to be lethargic in their playing (and soloing for that matter). Half way through the solo section, I put my guitar down, picked up the bass, and started to play some walking bass lines.

The whole room came to life! Looks of astonishment were on everyone’s face at first, then some really big smiles. It was quite incredible. Everybody’s playing automatically kicked up a notch. It was tighter, the swing groove was right there, and even the soloing was better. This had nothing to do with my playing, for I didn’t do anything fancy. When that low rumble of the bass kicked in, it was like giving everyone a shot of adrenaline. I literally got shivers down my spine.

I’ve experienced a rush of enlightenment when playing jazz guitar from time to time, but I never really, and truly appreciated the impact of the bass in music as I experienced it last night. It was truly an epiphany for all of us playing.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my post. Since I frequent a few forums, you may see this on other sites as well. I’m really pumped. Had trouble getting sleep last night thinking about it.

Lawrie
 

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:bow: All hail the bassline! It's funny how it doesn't take much to inspire or completely change a song. A good, solid and many times simple bassline, is often the glue a song and band needs to keep to together and on track.
 

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I had the same thing happen on the weekend.

We put some songs together for a jam (2 guitars and drums) and were playing them and having fun. The guys decided to play some other blues I did not know and went at it..same thing without the bass kinda flat.
As I was listening I thought I could do a 12 bar turnaround to the songs ( still new to this bass thing)..
I played along with no volume till I got the rythem then at the start of the next song I came in and the guys all lit up!! it was great. Got a bit silly and threw in a Rush lick at one point, they loved it.

Love the Bass!!
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter #5
james on bass said:
What's with you gusy jamming without a bass player in the first place? That's just crazy-talk!!
Well for me James, that's a whole other question, and probably a whole other story. If you told me two years ago that I would be playing the bass 100% of my jamming time, I would have told you that it would never happen. One SX Bass and two bass amps later, look at me now :rockon2:
 

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I hear that brother!!

3 months ago I was noodling on the guitar with no interest in jamming, then picked up a bass for the first time.

Now I have a 5 and 4 string, doing lessons, practicing a minimum of 2 hours a day, even before I go to work:eek: and jamming once a week.
Geez I even learned the fretboard?

Bev
 

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So THIS is why the other guys just go out drinking when I'm travelling and can't make rehersal. I thought it was my personality.:tongue:
 

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Thanks for a great story. Moments like those are exactly the reason I took up playing the bass 40 years ago. No regrets.
 

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Great story and so true. My moment happened very early in my playing days. I'd grown up wanting to be a drummer, but at 14 (or 15) years old, it seemed that the drummer position was already filled by people who actually owned drums. No -one had a bass, so I defaulted into it and bought my 1st bass, a 3/4 scale "Artist". After a little while, once the music actually became listen-able, I remember making a timing mistake on one of my lines and made the drummer make the exact same mistake. That's where I realised that the bass controls the music. I've loved bass from then on and no longer felt that it was the instrument nobody wanted. I've since also become a drummer and I find that knowing both instruments well has become a big advantage for me.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
erigod23 said:
That's where I realised that the bass controls the music.
Glad you enjoyed the post. Since I posted the story, I've been focusing on this quite a bit, and reviewing/rethinking the lines I play on various tunes when we jam. It's been an interesting and educational excercise to say the least. As bass players, we definitely have the ability to shape the feel of the music, even when a drummer is playing the same pattern. I also find this most prevalent when playing jazz.

In the story, I mentioned the tune, Stolen Moments. Another tune that we play is On Green Dolphin Street. It's got a bossa "A" section and a swing "B" section. At first, we played it pure bossa and pure swing, which I believe how it was originally written. The tough part is maintaining the same tempo throughout the tune switching back and forth like this. After listening to several versions of the tune by some of the greats like Miles, Coltrane, and Lenny Breau, I discovered that the drums are actually playing a swing beat througout the tune, but the bass line on the "A" section is played in a way that it gives the tune a bossa feel.

Doing it this way lends to a smoother transition between the bossa and swing styles, and it's all done by the bass which is quite cool.

Lawrie
 
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