I don’t have a HUGE amount of time to practice right now but when I do I’m trying to hit things that keep me engaged but I also keep it enjoyable. Music is still a major refuge for me. Practice has become the therapist who listens to my cares/concerns and tells me everything is going to be OK. I usually believe her.
Lately I’ve been using small snippets of time to learn solos on bass. Mile Davis Summertime solo is hands down one of my all time favorites. Miles using space over a lush Gil Evans arrangement is absolute heaven. I spent a few minutes to get one chorus down but will probably make time for more.
Bassist and educator Todd Johnson (my bass teacher) has a great series of videos where he plays through standard tunes. He provides a bass line, solo and even chords to comp. I’ve decided to use this to improve my ear and transcribe lines. The cool thing is it includes a video and written music. I never check the written music until after I finished to compare notes. I also usually only use the audio to figure out what is going on.
Below are my attempts at learning two choruses of his solos on Blue Bossa.
The last video was also my first attempt at using Garageband to record audio and iMovie to handle video. The result is a much better sounding file. I’ll provide recording details later but I may be using this much more in the future.
For a few months now I’ve gotten together with a couple of cats to jam. We don’t have any gigs lined up – we’re just trying to improve as musicians and we love music. I have to say I’m liking how things are shaping up even though there is still much work to do. Here is a video of the tune “Darlin, Darlin Baby” by the O’Jays.
One thing bass guitar has reconnected me with is my love for all types of music. I will admit to being a bit of a jazz snob when I played trumpet exclusively. The bass has kept me in touch with my first love (jazz) while allowing me to further explore Motown, R&B, classic rock and other wonderful genres of music. I believe it is making me a better overall musician. John Coltrane cut his teeth playing in rhythm and blues bands and I’ve read stories of him “honking” while walking on the bar to get the crowd pumped up. I’m not comparing what I do to Coltrane by any stretch but I do see value in playing everything you can.
A friend of mine hipped me to Bill Wither’s +‘Justments recording. The entire recording is fantastic but this song in particular stuck with me. I enjoyed it so much I decided to learn the bass line. Performed here on my American Fender Jazz fretless.
Growing up my father played a lot of Otis Redding. One recording that received frequent play was his legendary Sitting on the Dock of the Bay with Donald “Duck” Dunn on bass. Here is my attempt at honoring that music and thanking my father for exposing me to good music. It is such a great song.
I start every practice session with this. Major, minor and Dom7 scales / chords. I do it from two different finger positions. Need to add a third to make things complete. Also working on speeding up the tempo. Comfortable up to 145 bpm. I can get through 160 bpm but technique falls apart a bit.