[Dixielandjazz] Bass lines behind soloists

Dan Augustine ds.augustine at mail.utexas.edu
Fri Oct 1 18:29:28 PDT 2004

     When i play tuba in dixieland tunes when soloists are soloing, 
not only is the bass line i play different from the one i play in 
full ensemble, it's different from one instrumental soloist to the 
other.  Surely others do the same, but i don't recall anyone talking 
about it.
     I mean, in full ensemble, you have more notes in total, more 
lines, less space available to fill, so you play (at least on tuba) 
more of a 2-beat line (on most tunes; i play 4-beat on some).  But 
when accompanying various soloists, i play a different kind of 
bass-line when a particular trumpet-player is soloing, from that when 
a clarinet or trombone is soloing.  And it entirely depends on what i 
know of what kind of figures that particular player plays, and what 
he wants me to play as accompaniment.  It changes for each tune, each 
set, each venue, whatever.  Basically, you tailor your bass-line to 
fit the tune best to not detract from what the soloist is doing, to 
blend into the background, but still to do something (one hopes) a 
little different each time.  (This applies of course to all the 
rhythm players, or should.)  To do that, of course, you have to know 
the style of the tune, the band, the soloist, and all the other 
     Is what i'm saying resonating anywhere?  I don't recall anyone on 
this list talking about this.  (And i'm sure there are lots of bad 
experiences with rhythm or bass players who seem to try to take solos 
behind each soloist.)
     There's certainly an art, a self-effacing art, to this, which all 
good rhythm-players know, but may not be able to talk about.  Are 
there any general principles you guys who have been playing 
continuously for 40+ years can tell us?

**  Dan Augustine     Austin, Texas     ds.augustine at mail.utexas.edu  **
**    "Barth's Distinction: There are two types of people: those who  **
**     divide people into two types, and those who don't."            **

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