Here’s a good exercise I practice when I want to work on my phrasing in soloing, especially over jazz standards. As bassists, we need to work lots on this area, to avoid the dreaded “bass tourettes” (more on that later) or even worse the “bass diarrohea” that is so common when the 4 string gets the spotlight. But don’t fear, hopefully, this exercise is the phrase-immodium that you’ve been looking for!
The idea is to “borrow” some of the phrases from great solos you’ve heard from the masters of phrasing such as Miles, Bill Evans or Chet Baker. Ignoring the notes, the aim is to take a snapshot of their phrasing from either a whole solo, or a particular phrase and then superimpose that over a standard tune that you are working on. You can then use whatever notes or harmony you want, but the phrasing or rhythmic phrase stays the same.
There are two ways you can do this:
1) Analyse a whole chorus
2) Choose a rhythmic phrase and try to impose that over the whole solo
Example 1 – Whole Chorus
I’m going to look at the whole chorus concept and I’ve chosen a live version of the classic track “So What” by Miles Davis, as Miles left clear spaces in this solo, which helps demonstrate the concept here. Check the solo on YouTube here:
- Do this with a solo that has clear phrases you find of your own.
- Tip: it’s easy if you count along and simply draw a line when you can hear notes from the solo and then raise your hand when there are gaps.
- Try to then use the solo phrasing over a different standard or a funk jam… e.g. I though about You, Donna Lee or something similar with 16/32 bar form.
It’s been a while since the last update and for any regular readers of this blog, or bassists looking for more learning articles and videos, please hang in there for now! The last 7 months have been busier than ever playing my bass in Brazil and around Europe which is a good thing, but I will keep sharing some more top instructional and learning ideas in the future.
Last month I got to do a fair bit of work with the Crystal Fighters again, firstly some promo work on BBC Radio 1 and Spotify in London and then off on tour with them in Austria as part of their 2013 summer europe tour, promoting their new album Cave Rave. I’m still mostly a part-time player for the guys (I step in when the synth bass is having it’s day off or the lineup requires more of an acoustic vibe) but it’s always a ball to play with them. One of the highlights was the set at the Acoustic Lakeside festival in Austria which has it’s own lake for artists and fans to jump in at the end of a day of 35 C summer weather in the Alps. Here are some pics from the last months going on with “Love Natural” from the album….
”Love Natural” by The Crystal Fighters (Zirkulo, 2013)
Here’s a clip from the recent BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge session I was lucky enough to play bass on with the Crystal Fighters last week in London. This is the cover of “Waiting All Night” by Rudimental which we played along with their new single “You and I” which was on Radio 1 this week. Fresh off the Brazil Thriller Live Tour, I returned from Sao Paulo with 1 hr sleep (I can’t on planes) and headed straight to Hackney to rehearse, before slipping matchsticks in my eyes for the late session that night, by the post gig meal I was seriously tripping out on sleep deprivation.
The Crystal Fighters are currently promoting their new album “Cave Rave”, which was recorded in the Spring in LA, under the guidance of producer and Beck bass player, Justin Meldal-Johnsen. You can check out the new album here.
They are just off a really successful tour of US festivals and hitting the Europe festivals culminating in their very own Cave Rave in Spain later in the summer: