I’ve kept busy rehearsing for shows, touring and learning music for the last month. I took a different approach to learning some of the tunes. If time is limited I usually sit with my bass and play the tunes over and over but this time I added a step. I listened to the tunes away from my bass. I’d listen in the car while on the road or sit with iTunes and review the tunes. My goal was to learn the chord progressions by listening and then confirming on my bass later. Then I play the tunes over and over trying to internalize the verse and chorus.
I was successful learning parts of tunes for Emm Gryner’s shows while on a 4 hour car ride but still needed to refer to notes for Lynne Hanson’s shows. I play with Lynne again in April so I better get at it if I want to get away from those notes. I consider my ability to hear quickly the weakest part of my playing so learning tunes off the bass can only improve that part of my role as a bass player. Ideally I’d like to get to the point with any artist where I customize my set list and only need to add the keys of the tunes. For Rant Maggie Rant I’ve played the tunes for a few years so don’t really need notes but I still make my set list with keys for the tunes. Read More
There can be magic moments when you play music. It might be a special venue or a moment when you feel like you can do no wrong when you are playing. Both can be quite rare especially the latter! Other times it’s the people you meet and get to play with. I’m lucky enough to work with singer/songwriter Emm Gryner from time to time. I’ve lost count of how many albums she has released under her name and to watch her perform on stage really is one of those magic moments.
Last year Emm and Chris Hadfield released a version of Space Oddity. Emm played the piano parts and NASA sent those to the International Space Station where Chris recorded his vocals. Emm played in Bowie’s band for a time and he gave permission for them to release the track.
So one of my magic moments for this year was playing Space Oddity on a live show with Emm and Chris.
In the third and final part of my Q & A, John tells us what makes a good bass player and a few other topics. There’s a bit of gear talk as well. I hope you’ve enjoyed this interview. I’ll do more of these in the future and get other bassists takes on similar questions if they are willing.
Part 2 of my interview has John talking about his journey to Nashville and his approach to studio sessions.
SCoB: You spend a lot of time in Nashville studios these days. How did you get there? Was it difficult to become part of that scene?
JD: In 1996 I lived there for most of the year, I was touring constantly with Lisa Brokop, and had relocated. I started to get some songwriter demos, but decided to come home when that gig dried up. But there’s so many Canadians there, including Colin Linden, who moved there 14 years ago, that I find all kinds of things that keep me going back. Colin produces a lot, and as well as a lot of the country producers I have worked for in the past, have started doing more and more stuff down there. The wealth of talent, as far as players goes, is staggering. And for me as a session guy, it’s so damn exciting to play with that A team down there, I don’t want to miss any of it. I routinely get to play with some of my idols, which still knocks me out.
John Dymond has collaborated with a who’s who of Canadian music. If you’ve listened to artists like Bruce Cockburn, k.d. lang, Colin Linden and Blackie and the Rodeo Kings you’ve heard John.
I’m always interested in what makes bass players tick. My questions come from my own curiosity as well as a bit of my own insecurities. I asked John if he would be interested in participating in an interview. Thankfully he agreed. You’ll find some great insights and advice for life as a bass player who splits his time between Toronto and Nashville and points in-between while on the road. John has been very generous with his time in answering my questions. So much so that I’ll split the interview into three parts.
I came across an article on www.musicradar.com written by Joe Bosso. I’ve reposted it with permission from Joe Bosso. I expect for many it’s not new information but it never hurts to hear from an icon like Leland Sklar. What kind of person is Leland? Years ago when I first had a website he came across it and took time to post in the comments section. He posts regularly on Facebook. He really seems like a genuinely decent human being. That will be one of many reasons that he gets all the gigs.
Intro – Lee Sklar’s Top 5 Tips for Bassists
I came across this post via the Berklee Bass Department page on Facebook. John Clayton posted his practice routine. He says, “Tuesday Tip of the Day: It works best for me if I have a Practice Routine. They change, depending on my schedule, the current projects, etc. I stay open to editing the list—maybe working on something lead me to another thing, maybe I have extra time and can add to the list, or I may have listed more things than I can handle. Anyway, this is what I’ll be doing for the next couple of weeks…”
There are a number of comments following his post. Todd Coolman sums it up nicely with his comment. “Note to students: The “pros” are not busy practicing the, “secret stuff.” Instead, it’s all about the grits and gravy. Forever. Just do the work! There are no short cuts…ever. John Clayton…..are you copying off my routine sheet”
I should go practice!
From time to time I play bass with ElizaBeth Hill. She’s a First Nations artist originally from Six Nations in Brantford. She’s travelled extensively with her music to places like Japan and Easter Island as well as time writing in Nashville. I met her relatively early in my return to music. Through ElizaBeth I’ve been able to experience First Nations culture through performances at different reserves, Pow Wows and even the National Conference last summer. Read More
Anthony Vitti is a graduate of the Berklee School of Music and now part of the faculty at Berklee. He’s put together a series of videos he calls The Forgotten Grooveyard. He’ll bring in a guest bassist who could be another faculty member or a student and they will play a groove together and improvise over the bass line.
There is so much to learn from each video. Everyone’s sense of time and note placement while playing with a click is a workshop all on its own. This is what bass players do. You can get a close up look at different players approaches to the bass line and their technique. Occasionally we get to step into the spotlight and take a solo and there are lots of examples to listen to in the Forgotten Grooveyard.
I’ll be spending some more time with these videos lifting the bass lines and solo ideas. Hopefully I’ll write some out and post on the blog. In the meantime go to Anthony’s YouTube page and watch and listen to some great bass playing.
Here’s a taste with Anthony playing with John Patitucci. John lays down a tasty, funky groove.
If you are like me you are a fan of music and the musicians who make it happen. I’m also a fan of shows that go behind the recording of a record where the engineer or the producer take apart the different track and show you how the record was put together.
I came across this conversation between two icons of the bass. John Patitucci is one of the giants of both electric and double bass in the jazz world. Leland Sklar is one of the most recorded session bassists in the world today. Their discographies represent a who’s who of popular music and jazz. It turns out that they are both really humble guys when they talk about themselves or each other. If find most people who are established in the industry are all like these two. There’s no room for jerks. Lee Sklar even wished me happy birthday on my Facebook wall.
If you’ve got some time to listen there is definitely some good advice about the role of the bass player in music.