[Dixielandjazz] Bass lines behind soloists

Elazar Brandt jazzmin at actcom.net.il
Sat Oct 2 22:51:43 PDT 2004

Shalom Dan and everyone,

I almost meet your criteria, so I'll throw in my 2 shekels' worth on the
subject. I've been playing bone for 40+ years. First played tuba about 35 years
ago, but only took it up in earnest about 4 years ago, along with cornet and
other brass. Well, at least I have the vantage point of seeing the question from
both sides.

When I play bass, during others' solos, I try to play off of what they are
doing. In general, for 2 beat songs like 5 Foot 2, Bill Bailey, etc., I prefer
to play stop time -- first beat of each chord change, or of each phrase or of
each measure. A pick-up or grace note approaching the note on the beat can be
nice. This still leaves a lot of room for creativity and a lot of options. For 4
beat, I use a more walking bass style, sometimes on every beat, sometimes on 1
and 3, usually a combination (you have to breathe sometime!). There are times
when a boogey woogie bass line works nicely, but I wouldn't use it on every time
around the same song.

Whether you go for the high or low end of the bass range is also a way to add
variety. I cannot describe how I decide to do that -- it's almost completely

Breaks... One of my peeves is when people play during a soloist's break. IMHO, a
break is a break, and is for the soloist to stick out like a sore thumb and
shine, and not be stepped on by anyone else. Ensemble playing, or accompaniment
of solos is what happens most of the time. When a soloist takes a break...
well... give him a break. This is not counting of course whatever reasonable
pick-up there might be leading back into the ensemble chorus.

That's about all my wisdom on the subject.

Doctor Jazz Band
Jerusalem, Israel
Tel: +972-2-679-2537

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Dan Augustine [mailto:ds.augustine at mail.utexas.edu]
> Sent: Saturday, October 02, 2004 3:29 AM
> To: DJML
> Subject: [Dixielandjazz] Bass lines behind soloists
> Are there any general principles you guys who have
> been playing continuously for 40+ years can tell us?

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