[Dixielandjazz] Bass Solos

Williams, Bob robert.c.williams at eds.com
Fri Jul 23 09:59:23 PDT 2004


Dave is spot on.  I know a couple of bass players who are technically
brilliant, but very difficult to work with because they have great trouble
restraining themselves.  I think different instruments in a trad band need
to stick primarily to their FUNCTION, and be flashy only secondarily, and
then only during a solo.

The guys I'm thinking of are soloing CONSTANTLY - and there's not much more
annoying than competing with a bassist during your own solo.  Especially
when you're struggling to remember your slide positions as it is.  Ahem.
They are so talented, granted, but they are so desperate to be in the front
line - to be the "star performer."

I think it takes a lot of discipline for a bass player to restrain himself
to his function when he has a lot of chops.  Dave Gannett, I think, is a
master of this; it's very evident on the Black Dogs recordings.  He waits
until he has a solo, then WATCH OUT.

Actually, it's difficult for ANY of us to restrain ourselves, I've found.
After years of trying to acquire technique, I'm having the greatest
challenge trying to simplify and economize.

A joke I found yesterday:

Q. How many bass players does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A. One. Five. One. Five.

Bob Williams
- Still The World's Most Modest Man

-----Original Message-----
From: dixielandjazz-bounces at ml.islandnet.com
[mailto:dixielandjazz-bounces at ml.islandnet.com] On Behalf Of David Richoux
Sent: Friday, July 23, 2004 9:38 AM
To: 'dixie'
Subject: Re: [Dixielandjazz] Bass Solos

For me, there is nothing more awful than playing a full set with each 
song going through the same solo order. It often happens on "pick-up" 
gigs and it drives me crazy! Head, reed, trumpet, bone, piano, banjo, 
bass, drums, back to the head. GAAKKK!!!

As a tuba player, I don't ask for (or take) many solos, but there are a 
few songs that really do work well for me - St. James, Just a Closer 
Walk and Wolverines come to mind. Minor key songs somehow let me work 
more interesting note choices into my solos and I like that. The rest 
of the time I get my kicks by playing a line that works, keeping the 
chords and tempo in order without being too repetitive.

 From what I learned in "Pop Psychology of Musicians 101" - I do not 
think a typical bass player COULD have a really big ego because the 
ultimate function of the bass line is to support the melody & solos and 
to move the song along, not be the "star performer."   Obviously, there 
are major exceptions: Eli Newberger is a prime example in my opinion. I 
love hearing him take extended solos, seemingly not worried about 
keeping exact tempo or holding the traditional bass line, yet really 
exploring all sorts of possibilities with his horn in a very musical 
way!  I think many bands would fall apart on every song if their bass 
player did what Eli does...

Dave Richoux

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