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  1. #1

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    THe idea is that there is a guy who is very experienced classical bass and cello player. He plays regularly classical mostly baroque prgramms in various ensembles and teaches also...
    That's how we met actually... I played continuo on lute in the same ensembles so being a continuo comping group - we had to rehears together.

    It turned out he has has some interest in jazz... and he wants to make a program for duo... partly it's just for interest, and partly also because he knows that good jazz upright bass players are in demand here (or rather anywhere) and he wants to develope it more... the idea is to make two sets for trying to play in small venues (there are plenty of places arounf here that would welcome some live traditional jazz with mellow guitar and bass, besides we could use cello, and also I sing a bit).

    For me first it's a good chance to get back on the bandstand againg (to give real outcome for all my practicing nor), and also I always dreamt to do duo woth bass and it was extremely difficult to find vacant bassist...

    But one problem is there... however experience the guy is, he is really a classical player... he is bass pplayer, I mean he really know what bass is, and how it works... he is also good both with a bow and fingerpicking... so I believe this is a good part.

    The bad part he has no idea how jazz solo works... he was sure jazz players played from the scores or learnt all by heart...
    When he looks at a chord in a chart he has no idea what to do with that... well he can work out comping stuff loke playing roots, 5ths, 3rds ... but not really advanced...
    But for soloing he just gets lost...
    When we first tried - I just said call a tune you likeand I get the charts... he though I would bring him a wrtten out part.. but I did not.

    He got even a bit irritated I believe... but when he saw that I can do quite a lot of things straight from the charts... he began to think about it...


    So now my quetion is how to lead it now... when we did baroque things he was more expereinced and did leadership... now it looks vice versa...

    I really would like to develope this stuff and I would not like him to jump off before we do...

    Learning process is quite time taking - so probably I will pick up some tunes and wrtie down his part completely with explanation why we do this and that...

    Another problem I am afraid of is groove... I did not play in jazz bands for quite a long time... his groove is too straight jazz.. his swinging is bit funny...
    I should make him swing easier but it's quite a challenge for me now since I need some lead in too... I mean I can hear it but I cannot move him up alone... If we had a good drummer that would have beem easier but we don't.

    I think that generally he is good and once he founds his way to do jazz he might progress very quickly because he has very solid basis on the instrument.

    Anyone had this experience...

    I mean I know he should listen copy and all... but maybe there are some practical tricks, something one can use on the spot to lead the guy in right now.. to make him feel it and grasp it

    Thanks a lot
    Last edited by Jonah; 03-13-2017 at 05:44 AM.

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  3. #2

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    Can he play the melodies by ear? Playing by ear is not a given, so don't make any assumptions just because he can play something he re-creates from a page. Give him time to re-learn the instrument; to play by ear.
    Does he play arco? That may be more familiar. Does he know figured bass? That's a great way to bridge the conceptual gap.


    First thing though, is mindset. Playing by ear requires some idea of being able to conceive of the tune in entirety without any written reference.
    Do you know the Lee Konitz steps to improvisation? He begins with playing the tune for its melody first. Then adds steps of variation after that. That may be a good place to begin.
    But have him listen to recordings to fully internalize the feel of space in a dialogue situation.

    This is going to take time. It's going to take patience to full realize the fundamental difference between something you CREATE and something you RE-Create. And taking your cue, your form, your initiative from your ear is the first step. Have him sing a bass line while you play the chords of the tune. Can he do that?



    Have him play a melodic line that he feels would go with a bass line. Can he do that?

    Play give and take, you playing bass role, him singing or playing simple melody. Can he do that? Can you?
    This is good because he can see what kind of things a bass player can do, and imitate your process in real time.
    Work with one tune until you get the process, the form, the options, the dynamic, the confidence, the anticipation and the cues that will make you functional on a songform.

    Don't use a page, a chart or a even a set of changes as the first step. See if he's got what it takes to use his ear. I know there are some who may object to this advice, but he's come to see the literate aspect of music as a crutch and as a guide when real time playing, especially in a duo, requires he awaken and hone a new set of skills.

    That's the way I'd approach it. Listen. Listen to him. Have him listen to good recordings. Explain what the process is. Work in the micro. One phrase at a time. Then just a line. Then just the A section as a repeating vamp. Then the B section as a loop. Then with an attention to rhythm. Then to dynamics. Then to melodic dialog. Take things that work and build up from that.

    It's hard to diagnose what his strengths and weaknesses are so spend some time transferring his strengths in his own genre to a concept in the improvised one. And the feel, swing and groove issue? He's got to listen a lot. He's got to sing lines. He's got to feel it in his hands, and body. Aint' gonna happen any other way. Swing is immersion an dialogue. Do it 'til you get it.

    That's my two cents anyway.
    David

  4. #3

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    Thank you.

    He can play by ear and sing by ear (he sings also often in church choires just for himself).. he's a good ear.

    As I said he is quite in demand as a classical (mostly baroque) bass player, so of course he plays arco and pizzicato, he knows figuered bass but not really fluently since he plays the bass line..

    I think it's more about mindset... as many classical guys he though that jazz is something about arrangement and sound...

    thank you again

  5. #4

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    Sounds like you've got a good foundation, so maybe repertoire and arrangement would be a good area to focus on. I've sometimes thought it's more difficult for someone that's actually good in one world (classical) to deal with the humility of beginning in another.
    Just keep in mind that jazz actually is a composers' art and the toolset of the composer is what a good improvisor works with every time he plays. It's a skill that many classical players unknowingly cut themselves off from by having such a close relationship with the written page and the sacred dialogue between the classical player and composer.
    As you pointed out, it is about mindset. You be the teacher and make sure you're working on the same page; and it's not one that's written out.

    Have fun! Good luck
    David

  6. #5

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    I like TruthHertz's conceptualization of jazz as a composer's art- the musicians composing on the fly and doing group composition. A classical bass player out to be able to get that. But let him write out some parts initially if he wants to get his feet under him. There is a specific way walking jazz bass lines work and he needs to get that down; writing some lines for himself (or transcribing them) may help. Also encouraging simplicity- simple and correct is way better than "hip" and wrong...

    In addition to the other suggestions: Ron Carter. He's massively solid, extremely thoughtful, and there are a few good duo records with him. Lots of stuff to learn from there, and from one of the very best at this art. And maybe a little more accessible at first than throwing Red Mitchell (who tuned in 5ths instead of 4ths and therefore can get low notes that your bassist can't) or someone like Don Thompson or another of my favorites, Charlie Haden. Carter is both traditional and adventurous, but his adventures are always grounded in sound logic and musicality.

    This is an interesting topic as there is a Craiglist ad locally from a bassist wanting to dabble in jazz, who lives just a few blocks from me. I've been tempted to ring him up; your thread gives me some ideas about this.
    Beauty is as close to terror as we can well endure. -Rainer Maria Rilke

  7. #6

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    Thank you guys...

    This is an interesting topic as there is a Craiglist ad locally from a bassist wanting to dabble in jazz, who lives just a few blocks from me. I've been tempted to ring him up; your thread gives me some ideas about this.
    I personally see it as a good chance... I've been off the stand for jazz for years, and I work full time, so this could be a good chance to get back into shape, to re-new connections on local jazz scene in a smooth way.
    besides I always wanted to play duo with bassist... but even average jazz bassist are in such a demand you can hardly find one to get into job of this kind.

    Carter is both traditional and adventurous, but his adventures are always grounded in sound logic and musicality.
    You could not say better... that's what I thought when I advised him on Ron Carter: he has that authentic old style feeling and at the same time sounds modern...
    I also gave him Charlie Haden (w/ Pat Metheny, then w/Jim Hall - my favourite)... and of course Bickert/Thomson duo too


    Well let's see how it will proceed... we both are busy with our daily job (he is pro musician, I am not) and also classical programms - and we have three kids each))) and.. we live in a huge city in absolutely opposite parts of it((( - so probably it will take time...
    but I am not in a hurry...

    I'll give feedback here once I have something new in our rehearsing process

  8. #7

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    Just a thought. There are a lot of bass transcriptions of jazz tunes on the net. You might want to give him a bunch of those to play through along with some recordings of the tunes to get him up and running. It's often better to start with what a person is already strong at and then develop from there rather than asking him to basically start from scratch.
    Still working on it.

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonah View Post
    THe idea is that there is a guy who is very experienced classical bass and cello player. He plays regularly classical mostly baroque prgramms in various ensembles and teaches also...
    That's how we met actually... I played continuo on lute in the same ensembles so being a continuo comping group - we had to rehears together.

    It turned out he has has some interest in jazz... and he wants to make a program for duo... partly it's just for interest, and partly also because he knows that good jazz upright bass players are in demand here (or rather anywhere) and he wants to develope it more... the idea is to make two sets for trying to play in small venues (there are plenty of places arounf here that would welcome some live traditional jazz with mellow guitar and bass, besides we could use cello, and also I sing a bit).

    For me first it's a good chance to get back on the bandstand againg (to give real outcome for all my practicing nor), and also I always dreamt to do duo woth bass and it was extremely difficult to find vacant bassist...

    But one problem is there... however experience the guy is, he is really a classical player... he is bass pplayer, I mean he really know what bass is, and how it works... he is also good both with a bow and fingerpicking... so I believe this is a good part.

    The bad part he has no idea how jazz solo works... he was sure jazz players played from the scores or learnt all by heart...
    When he looks at a chord in a chart he has no idea what to do with that... well he can work out comping stuff loke playing roots, 5ths, 3rds ... but not really advanced...
    But for soloing he just gets lost...
    When we first tried - I just said call a tune you likeand I get the charts... he though I would bring him a wrtten out part.. but I did not.

    He got even a bit irritated I believe... but when he saw that I can do quite a lot of things straight from the charts... he began to think about it...


    So now my quetion is how to lead it now... when we did baroque things he was more expereinced and did leadership... now it looks vice versa...

    I really would like to develope this stuff and I would not like him to jump off before we do...

    Learning process is quite time taking - so probably I will pick up some tunes and wrtie down his part completely with explanation why we do this and that...

    Another problem I am afraid of is groove... I did not play in jazz bands for quite a long time... his groove is too straight jazz.. his swinging is bit funny...
    I should make him swing easier but it's quite a challenge for me now since I need some lead in too... I mean I can hear it but I cannot move him up alone... If we had a good drummer that would have beem easier but we don't.

    I think that generally he is good and once he founds his way to do jazz he might progress very quickly because he has very solid basis on the instrument.

    Anyone had this experience...

    I mean I know he should listen copy and all... but maybe there are some practical tricks, something one can use on the spot to lead the guy in right now.. to make him feel it and grasp it

    Thanks a lot
    Just tell him to play simply (time and changes), listen and respond.

    Geez, come to think of it there are guys playing jazz for YEARS that need to be told that...

  10. #9

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    Getting his groove together should be pretty easy. He already has a groove, it's just a little different, he knows how to play, I bet you could give him an informal 15 minute lesson and he could spend a little time on YT listening to Ray Brown & Paul Chambers and he'd have it.
    He doesn't have to solo. He can work on it if he wants, but that's not a requirement. A lot of early jazz bass solo's were in fact just the rest of the band sitting out while the bass walked a chorus. When he has a strong groove, he can play a swinging solo with just the chord tones he'd walk with using rhythmic variations (quarter none, half note, eighth eighth - playing on beats 1,2 and 4)) His groove is much more important to solidify for the both of you; that's what will make the duo possible. Even if he develops into a pretty good soloist, your audience likely want enjoy a bass solo on every tune you play.
    Do not let a bass player slip through your hands! Good luck.
    Ignorance is agony.



  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cunamara View Post
    There is a specific way walking jazz bass lines work and he needs to get that down; writing some lines for himself (or transcribing them) may help. Also encouraging simplicity- simple and correct is way better than "hip" and wrong...
    +1 for sure.
    When I asked a good teacher/friend for advice on mastering the logical solo, he suggested I write one out. He was never big on transcription but very keen to point out that the thought that goes into a good solo is the same process as writing one out and there's the added luxury of introspection and thoughtful planning/editing. My playing changed after that and I gave much more thought to what I was doing rather than feeling I need to just do anything.
    As a duo exercise with guitar and horn, he also asked me why a horn player can't play a bass line, why a bass player couldn't think like a vocalist (or guitarist think like a drummer... a good tasteful drummer that is). Sometimes appreciating the larger picture of what we're doing can actually make the individual task of filling your role easier.

    Just a thought.
    David
    Last edited by TH; 03-15-2017 at 08:56 AM.

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by whiskey02 View Post
    A lot of early jazz bass solo's were in fact just the rest of the band sitting out while the bass walked a chorus.
    Most likely b/c tuba was the bass's predecessor in jazz bands, and---when given solos---rarely did more than play quarter notes and little fills. One can still be melodic and swinging given even those limitations.

    I would encourage the guy to start soloing THAT way, to get foundation skills and build confidence to lead to more complex solo 'edifices'...

  13. #12

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    People who think it will be easy to learnt groove have obviously never tried playing bass. If all you do is arpeggiate the chords your lines will be unswinging and plodding. Getting a walking line to groove is all about note choice and variety and understanding something about substitutions. Just half-stepping into the root will be odd for him

    I would start the guy out on a tune that just vamps, like "song for my father," so he can learn about being ahead of or behind the beat, and then maybe move to a tune that alternates static lines with walking, like "green dolphin street" or maybe "jeannine" or "moanin'" or "Work song." Or maybe a tune like "Killer Joe" where there's a static walking line and then more movement. Then let him work out on a Bb blues.

    It's not easy.

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by PB+J View Post
    Getting a walking line to groove is all about note choice and variety and understanding something about substitutions.
    2 words:

    Israel Crosby...

  15. #14

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    PB&J,
    Have to strongly disagree with you on this. Groove has nothing to do with note selection, it's just time and feel, perfection of note placement. A pedal tone can groove lke a MF, it's note about the note, it's how the note is played. The difference between stiff, good and great is milliseconds.
    Ignorance is agony.



  16. #15

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    Most likely, would have to show/teach him pentatonic/blues scales...in order for him to take a solo. Those aren't a staple in Classical music as it is in many other styles, especially Jazz. Using those he could at least solo over Blues based standards, without worrying about changing over every chord.
    I never practice my guitar — from time to time I just open the case and throw in a piece of raw meat. ~Wes

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by whiskey02 View Post
    PB&J,
    Have to strongly disagree with you on this. Groove has nothing to do with note selection, it's just time and feel, perfection of note placement. A pedal tone can groove lke a MF, it's note about the note, it's how the note is played. The difference between stiff, good and great is milliseconds.
    They may have nothing to do with one another, but one w/o the other will make for a fucked-up bass line, and drive everyone on the stand bananas.

    Like 'Love and Marriage', you 'can't have one without the other...'

  18. #17

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    Jonah,

    I get the feeling from your OP that you look up to this guy and feel strange having been his "student" that you would insult him if you offered to teach him something? I've been in this exact situation; don't give it another thought. He may in fact be embarrassed to ask you for some pointers because of this history. This means both of you loose out, so you have to serve the music! I would bet a hoppy IPA that if you sat down and gave him a 20 minute lesson on the basics of walking bass lines, then spent 20 minutes listening to Ron Carter while you pointed out what listen for, the time, emphasis on 2&4, he'd get it pretty quickly. I wouldn't use more that a single 2 5 1 for the whole lesson so he can focus exclusively on rhythm. Ireally think that this and an assignment to listen some great bass players would do the trick. If he's only listening to jazz when he plays with you, he's got no reference.
    Ignorance is agony.



  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by whiskey02 View Post
    Jonah,

    I would bet a hoppy IPA....
    Pray tell, what's a 'hoppy IPA'?

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by fasstrack View Post
    Most likely b/c tuba was the bass's predecessor in jazz bands, and---when given solos---rarely did more than play quarter notes and little fills. One can still be melodic and swinging given even those limitations. I would encourage the guy to start soloing THAT way, to get foundation skills and build confidence to lead to more complex solo 'edifices'...
    This may be an accurate history of early jazz, but it's incomplete. Butch Warren would often just walk the bass when taking "solos" with Monk. That's a full combo context, but he'd do the same when we played in duos and it still killed. The secret was his comping was more interesting than 99% of the planet's soloing.

    Since a big part of the point of bass solos is to introduce dynamics into a combo setting, there's no reason you can't just lay out and let your bassist walk for a chorus. It's a lot more preferable to having the time/groove crash and burn during a failed attempt to solo. Which gets to another major point: the solos are not the most important thing. You need him to lay down a harmonic foundation and a groove. Nothing worse than a rhythm section that never stops soloing underneath you.

    Ron Carter is a beast, but I think that's a tough starting point. How much has this person actually listened to Jazz? If he doesn't listen to it, he'll never get it. It's a completely different discipline, and he'll have to commit to some immersion to master it just like he had to work his ass off to get where he is in the classical world. There are great guitar/bass duo records with Red Mitchell (Herb Ellis) and NHOP (Joe Pass), but he needs to check out lots of Jimmy Blanton, Ray Brown, Paul Chambers, Bob Cranshaw, and, yes, Butch Warren before getting to more interactive guys like Ron Carter, Charlie Haden, or Christian McBride. With rampant YouTube copyright violations, there's no excuse for not listening to the masters. Otherwise, prepare for lots of painful "jazzy" symphonic phrasing.

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by fasstrack View Post
    Pray tell, what's a 'hoppy IPA'?
    Let's just say everyone on the board knows that you are not a beer drinker, or at least not a beer snob lol. India pale ale, made with plenty of hops historically to help the kegs survive the ocean crossing from England to India, made now often with an overdose of hops, because beer snobs demand it.
    Ignorance is agony.



  22. #21

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    PB&J,
    Have to strongly disagree with you on this. Groove has nothing to do with note selection, it's just time and feel, perfection of note placement. A pedal tone can groove lke a MF, it's note about the note, it's how the note is played. The difference between stiff, good and great is milliseconds.
    I can't say I completely agree.. note choice is related to harmony.. say if we choose the note that anticipates harmony on weak beat it effects the groove... at least as I understand this vague notion of groove

  23. #22

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    Jonah,

    I get the feeling from your OP that you look up to this guy and feel strange having been his "student" that you would insult him if you offered to teach him something? I've been in this exact situation; don't give it another thought. He may in fact be embarrassed to ask you for some pointers because of this history. This means both of you loose out, so you have to serve the music! I would bet a hoppy IPA that if you sat down and gave him a 20 minute lesson on the basics of walking bass lines, then spent 20 minutes listening to Ron Carter while you pointed out what listen for, the time, emphasis on 2&4, he'd get it pretty quickly. I wouldn't use more that a single 2 5 1 for the whole lesson so he can focus exclusively on rhythm. Ireally think that this and an assignment to listen some great bass players would do the trick. If he's only listening to jazz when he plays with you, he's got no reference.
    Yes I guess it's partly true...



    By the way this kind of barter teaching reminded an old joke about two cowboys riding for days through the prairies...
    Ones asks:
    -Hey Joe...
    - Yeh Jack?
    -I bet a dollar you would not it shit under my horse
    - I bet I will...

    Now he gets down and does and gets his dollar, then they go on and on this road...

    Another one says:
    Hey Jack..
    - Joe?
    - Now I bet a dollar that you would not eat shit under my horse..
    - I bet it..

    He gets off does it gets a dollar and then they move on..

    - He Joe..
    - Yes?
    - Don't you thing that we both just ate some shit for nothing...?

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonah View Post
    I can't say I completely agree.. note choice is related to harmony.. say if we choose the note that anticipates harmony on weak beat it effects the groove... at least as I understand this vague notion of groove
    Well I guess I was unclear: sure the notes are important, the CHORD tones that is. I meant he doesn't need to screw with "fancy" altered, hip notes. I assumed (which I shouldn't) that at his level of playing that he's got the R,3,5,7 of min, dom, maj chords well under his belt. Sorry for any confusion.
    Ignorance is agony.



  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by whiskey02 View Post
    Well I guess I was unclear: sure the notes are important, the CHORD tones that is. I meant he doesn't need to screw with "fancy" altered, hip notes. I assumed (which I shouldn't) that at his level of playing that he's got the R,3,5,7 of min, dom, maj chords well under his belt. Sorry for any confusion.
    Look, I've been a regularly gigging bass player for almost 30 years now. If all you do is play the chord tones your lines will have little or no tension or momentum. A bass line like that plods rather than grooves. just a simple thing like half-stepping into the root makes a big difference, or chromatic movement to the next chord: these are things that might not make any sense to a classical bassist but are commonplace and pretty vital in a walking line. And then there's note choice in terms of your relation to the melody, and the rules of counterpoint, which the OP's bass player would likely know but have no experience with live. Let's say "just friends" has been called. If he's a bass player, he's going to think "ok, Cmaj7, C, E, G, B, great." And then he's got two measures of Cmaj7 so he goes back down the same way and then he sees Cm7 and so he goes C, Eb, G, Bb. It's going to suck. It's plodding and formulaic, and won't swing.

    On the other hand, note choice really matters. Imagine he starts an octave higher, on his G string, and starts walking down the major scale: C, B, A, G, F, E, D, C, then Eb, G, Gb, F. A very conventional line and not especially hip but I will absolutely guarantee that every single person in the room will like the second line better.

    I mean just sit there and try playing a walking line that just walks up and down four chord tones. Behold the suck.

    My suggestion, above was that the OP start on tunes that require a static bass part, to get the feel, and then start moving into songs that have a static part and a walking part, and then into a walking blues.


    Last edited by PB+J; 03-17-2017 at 09:17 AM.

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by ingeneri View Post
    This may be an accurate history of early jazz, but it's incomplete. Butch Warren would often just walk the bass when taking "solos" with Monk. That's a full combo context, but he'd do the same when we played in duos and it still killed. The secret was his comping was more interesting than 99% of the planet's soloing.

    Since a big part of the point of bass solos is to introduce dynamics into a combo setting, there's no reason you can't just lay out and let your bassist walk for a chorus. It's a lot more preferable to having the time/groove crash and burn during a failed attempt to solo. Which gets to another major point: the solos are not the most important thing. You need him to lay down a harmonic foundation and a groove. Nothing worse than a rhythm section that never stops soloing underneath you.

    Ron Carter is a beast, but I think that's a tough starting point. How much has this person actually listened to Jazz? If he doesn't listen to it, he'll never get it. It's a completely different discipline, and he'll have to commit to some immersion to master it just like he had to work his ass off to get where he is in the classical world. There are great guitar/bass duo records with Red Mitchell (Herb Ellis) and NHOP (Joe Pass), but he needs to check out lots of Jimmy Blanton, Ray Brown, Paul Chambers, Bob Cranshaw, and, yes, Butch Warren before getting to more interactive guys like Ron Carter, Charlie Haden, or Christian McBride. With rampant YouTube copyright violations, there's no excuse for not listening to the masters. Otherwise, prepare for lots of painful "jazzy" symphonic phrasing.
    Yeah, good points.

    I would add:

    When a bassist doesn't play time for himself soloing, or---worst of all---tries to take it out but lacks control, that can lead to a lot of guesswork on one's part as accompanist, and possibly a long night. You WANT to be challenged and have your ears perk up, but, geez, let it be by someone who knows where HE is, and doesn't keep it a secret.

    I played one trio gig (the leader played flute) with one of my least favorite bassists. On his solos, the shit was all over the place---and he was looking at ME and saying stuff like, 'c'mon, now (don't YOU know where it's at?). Hadda have a few 'tastes' to get through the evening.

    Coda: I was supposed to do an interview/performance at WBAI after the gig, and left the joint sailing from the 2 scotches. Got there and found the long conference-room table, on which I thankfully fell asleep for a few precious hours until the late Ibrahim Gonzalez woke me to do said show (which went swimmingly, BTW).

    Moral: If you can, don't take gigs w/bass players that drive you to drink...
    Last edited by fasstrack; 03-18-2017 at 02:15 PM.