I’m sure there are some people out there who don’t like Daft Punk’s recent release Random Access Memories but I haven’t met them yet. This will be a record I can come back to again and again and never get tired of it. It wasn’t until after I first listened to the record that I learned that there are real live human beings playing instruments throughout the record. What a novel idea for a dance/pop record in these digital days. Get Lucky features Omar Hakim on drums and Nathan East on bass. It’s a master class in rhythm section playing between two of the best in the business.
The song is straight forward harmonically with a chord progression Bmi – D – F#mi – E for the entire tune. It might be simple but the song has hooked 1000s of people world wide. Have you heard that old joke that pop/rock musicians play 4 chords for thousands of people and jazz musicians play 1000s of chords for 4 people? It’s a 5 string bass tune. Nathan hangs out on the low B and D a fair bit. Read More
I’m back in Manhattan for the 5 or 6 time. I really can’t put my finger on why I like being here so much although having a great place to stay on the Upper West Side while I cat sit certainly makes it easy to enjoy. I’m lucky to have access to a really cool apartment and feel like am living here. Although given the rent is $4000 per month, I won’t be living here any time soon.
In no particular order, here’s a list of reasons I love being here. Read More
One of your most important tools to becoming a better bass player is your metronome. Practicing with a metronome or click track will help you develop a strong sense of time. You could practice with a drum machine pattern as well but the issue with that is that a drum pattern can help in finding the time because there are a lot of percussion parts like kick drum, snare and high-hat that make it easier to follow the time. A metronome is just a simple click on certain beats and you have to work on feeling or counting the beats that aren’t there as you play along with the click. I should point out that there is a difference between having good time and being able to groove. You will come across musicians who have good time but it doesn’t groove or feel good. Groove is a post for another day. Read More
I’ve been a fan of Pino Palladino since I first heard his fretless playing on Paul Young’s Wherever I Lay My Hat and Tear Your Playhouse Down. There were quite a few UK fretless players in the 80s but Paul Young’s record was the first time the bass was so far forward in the mix in a pop tune. Pino went on to play with so many great artist. The Pino Wiki is worth a read. It’s a who’s who of pop music.
One of my favourite records from the last few years is The John Mayer Trio – Try. It’s a live recording with Pino and Steve Jordan on drums supporting John’s guitar playing and singing. I expect John’s playing on this record surprised a lot of people who were used to hearing his Top 40 pop tunes. He can play!
I decided to lift and transcribe this tune to get a better insight into what Pino does. Read More
This one of my favourite apps. While I’m working on learning and hearing jazz progressions, iRealbook via its forums let me store chord changes for 1000s of tunes from jazz standards to The Beatles. There are no melodies for copyright reasons. One of the best features is that I can loop sections of tunes to work on bass lines or improvisation. On the gig the best feature is that I can transpose a tune to any key. I can also make playlists for anyone I work with so that I am prepared for the next gig.
iGigBook lets me store all my fakebook PDFs on my iPad. A fakebook contains a transcription of the melody and chord changes for a tune. Currently I have about a dozen books on my iPad and through the app I can search for tunes in a matter of moments and be ready to go on a gig. I can also prepare set lists for future gigs.
One of my students mentioned that he was working on the Level 42 tune Seven Years so I listened to the tune and transcribed the bass line. Mark King was one of my bass heroes after my early Paul Simonon/The Clash period had passed, although I still love The Clash. Mark was doing things on a bass I had never heard before like really funky finger style bass lines and busy slapping and popping. Later on I would learn that he was inspired by bass players like Larry Graham, Stanley Clarke and Marcus Miller. Not only does he play syncopated bass lines but he sings over them as well! Read More
I came across this YouTube clip from Jeff Berlin. Jeff gives his view on using the blues scale over all the chords in the 12 bar blues. At the 2:30 mark Jeff plays through the 12 bars using only chord tones.
I transcribed the short solo so that you see where Jeff places the chord tones. I think he sounds great even if the last couple of bars get a bit funny rhythmically. The guy has monster chops. The link will take you to a copy of the the transcription.
A lot of my work as a bass player involves reading charts or written parts. Sometimes I’m provided with music. In other cases, if I have a very short time to prepare for a gig, I will listen to the music and make notes so that I can have my own charts or cheat cheats. I’ll either scan these and store as PDFs in my iPad or put them in a binder. At least the iPad looks cooler and more high-tech than a music stand and binder.
This is a chart I made for a Jay Allen tune. Click to open image. Some of the terms I use are probably easy to figure out. INT=Intro, V1=Verse 1, CH=Chorus, BR=Bridge. Beside the title SHOP is a circled D indicating the key the recording is in. The rest of the numbers represent the bass root movement. 1 = D, 4 = G, 5 = A and so on. One number represents 4 beats or a bar of that chord. (1 7) represents D for two beats and C# for two beats. It’s a short hand that gets me through the tune and the numbers let me play the song in any key the singer wants. Read More
I have a bit of an obsessive compulsive habit for buying music books. I have shelves full of books for bass technique, theory as well as a seemingly endless number of Fakebooks from as far back as my Humber College days in the late 80s. So many of the books have hardly been used but I’ll get to them somewhere along the way. I thought I’d show you some of the books I recommend and use for teaching. Read More
To build the dexterity and strength in your fretting hand use the three exercises below. Your focus should be on repeating the pattern slowly with an even tone while you build the strength on your left hand. This will improve coordination between your picking and fretting hands.