Thursday, November 27, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
So why the return to German? I didn't mind the French grip. Certainly, there are advantages and disadvantages to each. And those disadvantages can be worked through successfully. But one of the difficulties that I had was trying to transfer the weight of my arm to the string. I could get a nice enough sound, but it wasn't very loud. This is compounded by the fact that my bass isn't very loud to begin with.
I've been doing a bit of playing with the bow lately with both the orchestra and B2S. About two weeks ago, my first finger on my right hand really started bothering me. I figured I just overworked my bow hand and needed to give it a rest. It took more than a week for the pain to subside. Finally, I started playing again and immediately noticed the issue. I'm putting too much pressure on my finger trying to play loudly. The leverage in the French grip just isn't working for me without straining my hand. I played with the orchestra for two hours last night, and today my first finger is swollen and sore.
So back to the German grip it is. I think that's ok though. Yes, I realize that, with effort, I could probably work through my problems and continue with the French, but I don't really see the need. My arms are long, which lends itself better to the German grip, and I can easily get more power and a nice sound with this grip. Since one isn't necessarily better than the other, why deal with the pain, right?
Along with the grip change, I'm also going back to my old rosin, Carlsson (see my post on rosin for details).
The String Emporium is currently out of stock on the bow. They'll be getting the next shipment after Thanksgiving, so it'll be a couple of weeks before my new bow gets to me. Once I get it and live with it a little, I'll write a review. Until then, I'll have to reacquaint myself with the only other German bow I have - a cheap fiberglass student bow. Yuck!
Friday, November 14, 2008
In addition to the orchestra, we're almost finished recording the Billy Two Shoes CD. I have four more songs to record, plus I've promised to do a 70's AM radio cover for the Javelin podcast, due December 1st.
Finally, our calendar has been filling up with concerts, which all seem to have fallen into a one-week time frame.
So here's my schedule for the next week:
- Friday evening -practice for Billy Two Shoes recording session
- Saturday @ 11 AM - PBJ & Jazz at Ft. Hayes Metropolitan Education Center
- Saturday @ 4 PM - One Union Project concert (a friend's daughter plays in the band and is debuting a song she wrote)
- Saturday evening - Jazz with Gene Bertoncini at BOMA
- Sunday morning - practice!
- Sunday afternoon - Billy Two Shoes and 70's AM radio cover recording
- Monday evening - Columbus Philharmonic Youth Orchestra concert (same friend's daughter plays in this as well)
- Tuesday evening - Cardinal Health Chamber Orchestra rehearsal
- Wednesday evening - practice or more recording, not sure yet
- Thursday - Lakeview Jr. High Orchestra concert - Lea's first performance this year playing bass
- Friday evening - AC/DC concert
- Saturday - practice or more recording
- Sunday - Mark Flugge Chamber Jazz Series
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Billy Two Shoes is the brainchild of James and Jason, with whom I played in The Intolerables. B2S can be described as bluegrass or even the more general Americana. They recorded and released a full-length CD last February with the help of some friends and are in the process of recording a second CD, on which I will be playing bass. All proceeds from CD sales are donated to help people in need.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
Clintonville Elementary School
10 Clinton Heights Ave
December 4, 12 pm
Dublin Retirement Village
6470 Post Road
December 9, 1 pm
Colonial Hills Elementary School
5800 Greenwich St.
December 11, 1 pm
Wellington Senior Living
5863 Scioto-Darby Road
December 13, 7:30 pm
Union County Care Train (Fundraiser)
233 W 6th Street
December 15, 1 pm
Trillium Place Retirement Center
December 17, 12 pm
December 18, 1 pm
Dublin Recreation Center
5600 Post Road
Friday, July 18, 2008
During this whole time I've been reading Miles Davis' autobiography Miles. It just happened that, while I was at jazz camp, he was telling me about his days with Bird and Diz and about recording my favorite Miles album, Kind Of Blue. But Miles didn't stand still. By the time Kind Of Blue came out, he had already moved on to something else. He seemed to have been like that throughout his career.
When I got to the last sections of the book, he was complaining about how everyone wanted him to play "that old shit." But he refused to play it anymore because he felt that everything was said that needed to be said with the music, and that the world had moved on and he did too.
This got me thinking. Yes, I love listening to jazz. This, of course, makes me want to play it. But the reality is that I will never be able to play it at more than a rudimentary level. I just don't have the time available for that kind of intense study. And that's ok. As Miles stated, it's all been said already.
I promised myself some time ago that if I ever started playing again, I would not play music I don't like or don't listen to. So what else do I listen to? Well, my guilty pleasure is hair metal from the 80's, but I don't want to play that. I've done that before. I also love the music of the 70's that always seem so much larger than life: Queen, ELO, Rush. And let's not forget the true rock of the 70's: Led Zep, The Who, AC/DC, Kiss, VH.
So where does that leave me? Well, I ain't quite worked that part out yet. I was thinking it'd be cool to play in a cover band playing music from the bands mentioned above. I don't know that Queen and ELO get touched on much at the local bars, but I could be wrong. But, that doesn't really agree with Miles' philosophy; I'm just trading standards from the 50's for standards from the 70's. The only difference being that I have a connection to the music from the 70's and can actually play it. Maybe it's a combination. Find people with similar tastes, learn some covers together, then start writing our own.
My compass is wobbly, but at least it's moving.
Sunday, July 06, 2008
I was very worried about the audition. I really didn't want to be in bass lines 101 again. I auditioned for John Goldsby and Rich Armandi. All in all, I didn't do too bad. I was quite nervous and could hardly move, and my intonation was awful, but it was still better than last year, so I can't complain.
For the weekend rhythm section primer, they divided us up into groups of similar skill level. We had 5 bassists, 4 drummers and about 6 guitarists. We ran through several songs: Impressions, Watermelon Man, Song For My Father, Satin Doll, Maiden Voyage, Cantaloupe Island, Doxy. All of the guitars comped together while the bass and drums traded off every couple of choruses. Rich Armandi was our instructor. He was my primary bass instructor last year. He has a very in your face approach, which hits a lot of people the wrong way (including me). But I remembered everything he told me last year, avoided making those same mistakes again and everything was fine. I had a good time and couldn't wait for the week to continue (which was very different from what I was feeling last year at this point).
Bass Master Classes
I successfully avoided bass lines 101 and was able to pick and choose which master classes I wanted to attend. Monday was an all hands lesson: an introduction to the faculty and a discussion on our role in the combo. Tuesday, I want to a class on jazz bowing techniques given by John Goldsby and Lynn Seaton. They discussed a lot what is covered in John's book on the subject, but it was nice to get it in person. We got to try some of the techniques, too, which helped me on performance day. Wednesday was another all-hands meeting to watch a multi-media presentation on the history of jazz bass. I saw it last year, but it was still fun. Thursday, I went to J. B. Dyas' class on how to learn tunes. I'm anxious to try out some of his pointers. Friday was a summary class when we got to see 3 bass duets performed by students, followed by the faculty playing a blues tune with 11 basses (plus Jamey took a couple of choruses).
This years' combo was an absolute joy. Eight pieces total. Us older folk were outnumbered by the youngsters 5 to 3, but we all got along very well. I was able to connect with the drummer immediately. We played several songs together during the week, including Sonny Rollins' "Pent-up House", Wes Montgomery's "Cariba" and Herbie Hancock's "Maiden Voyage." We also worked on a tune that the trombone player wrote. We tried very hard to make this tune work for our performance, but we just didn't have enough time to work out all the kinks. These young players are really amazing. I wish I had the commitment they have when I was that age. Maybe I'd be making music for a living instead of writing software.
As part of our combo experience, the rhythm section (piano, guitar, bass and drum) got to play with faculty horns. We played with Don Braden and Randy Salman. Don tore up the stage the night before. We played a couple of songs with them and they gave us some very helpful advice on our playing. It was a very positive experience.
Tom Walsh, our instructor, was great to work with. He really took the time to work with each of us on various aspects of our playing. He had the horns doing some really cool stuff. And he was very encouraging and helpful to me with my solos.
After much debate and voting, we settled on "Pent-up House" by Sonny Rollins. I was very happy with this decision, because I personally felt most comfortable with this song. Earlier in the week, I had played a solo which didn't completely make me want to cringe, and it was to this song.
The stage was quite hot and my finger were sticking together, making it difficult to play, but I think we did a good job. We were really tight and I don't think anyone got turned around too much. I was debating what I was going to do for my solo right up until my first bar. I knew the melody and knew that I would incorporate that into the solo, but I wanted to play it with the bow rather than fingers. I had only tried the melody with the bow a couple of times before our performance, so it was a risk, but during the first bar, I found myself reaching for the bow. I'm sure it didn't sound anything like what I heard in my head, but people applauded. The whole thing was over before I knew it, but I think we pulled it off.
The faculty concerts alone are worth the price of admission. These are some great players. James Moody was absolutely fantastic. And to be given the opportunity to was some jazz greats such as Rufus Reid, Lynn Seaton, Anonio Hart, Don Braden, Steve Davis (trombone) , Steve Davis (drums), etc. The list goes on and on. There was a singer, whose name escapes me, who really impressed me. She quite often would act as a soloist, much like a horn player, and never assumed to be the "leader" of the band. Oh, and her voice was lovely.
A great week indeed. I can't wait to go back next year. I bought many books and many more CDs. I got another massive blister on my finger. I met (and played with) some really cool people. I learned a lot.
Please visit my photo album:
|Summer Jazz Camp 2008|
Friday, June 13, 2008
This year, I know what's coming. Worse yet, I don't think I'm any better now than I was last year. I know that, no matter what wrong notes I play, don't stop. Beyond that, I'm pretty much in the same boat as before.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
About six months ago, I noticed he was using a new rosin: Pops rosin. I knew from reading various bass player forums, that Pops rosin is very controversial. Everyone has an opinion on it, and everyone either loves it or hates it. I asked Doug what he thought of it, and he said that he used to use it all the time before and was just going back to it. His only complaint is that it melts easily.
After I got my new bow, I was working with Doug some more and he suggested I give Pops a try. So I finally broke down and bought some last week and used it last night during orchestra rehearsal. So far, I'm falling into the hate it crowd. I get a very screechy sound at the beginning of pulling the bow. However, I can't help but wonder if this noise isn't just the different rosin amplifying my own poor bowing technique. As such, I'm going to keep using it for a while before I make up my mind completely. I do like the idea that it's made in the USA, so I'm not adding to global warming by having my rosin shipped from Sweden. Besides, Doug's been right about everything else so far.
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
Since Lea decided to switch from violin to bass, and since she bought herself an electric bass a couple of months ago, we are now a 6 bass family. Her upright is the one on the left. Her electric is the red 4 string on the wall.
Friday, May 30, 2008
It moves me. I listen to it and I want to play it. Nothing else I listen to these days does that for me. I still like the classic rock/metal of old, but very little of the new stuff strikes me as interesting. So, even if there's no one to hear me play, as long as I enjoy myself, that's what counts!
BTW - I thought briefly about just deleting that post, but it contained links to a couple of interesting articles, so I left it in tact.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
A recent article on jazz.com asked the question: Have bass solos ruined jazz? I found this article through a double bass player's email list. What surprised me most about the response was not "bass solos belong in jazz" or "jazz is not ruined", but "bass solos didn't ruin jazz...this did!" There were different theories on what ruined it and why it's no longer popular, mostly involving its evolution into something only other musicians can enjoy.
So why is it still played? Why do people study it in school?
Of course, the death of jazz does have its upside: Smooth Jazz RIP 1985 - 2008?
Friday, May 23, 2008
Then, in the late '80s, I met a drummer named Jim Paxson. His mother is pianist Sunnie Paxson, who at one point played with Stanley Clarke. He pointed me to Return To Forever and Weather Report. This completely changed my playing and the way I listened to music. Bass playing became important, and not just a way to meet chicks.
It didn't take me too long to begin working backwards from fusion. I began to listen to more traditional jazz and really appreciate the sound of the upright. Meanwhile, I was a frustrated bass guitarist because I just couldn't find my role. I toyed with the fretless for a time and enjoyed it, but it still felt like something was missing. Plus, I was listening to less and less electric jazz.
Now I find myself totally immersed in "traditional" jazz: bebop, hard-bop, post-bop, modern. I find it to be the ultimate form of musical expression. Don't get me wrong, I still like rock - the heavier the better. Not overly fond of anything that's being released today, but that's probably because I'm old. Jazz, to me, has it all: emotion, musicianship, feeling, etc. Plus, the bass is not relegated to doubling the guitar.
So here's the problem I'm facing: I want to play jazz, but jazz is all but dead. Now that the Columbus Music Hall closed, there's nowhere left in Columbus to listen to good jazz on a regular basis. So, even if I do manage to ever learn to play it, I won't have anywhere to play.
Another issue is this: I'm 44 years old. My background in jazz is limited to the last 5 years or so. The upright bass is a completely different beast from the bass guitar. Playing jazz takes knowledge and courage. Can I play it? I'm signed up again for the Summer Jazz Workshop, but that doesn't help with the courage.
Playing with the orchestra does help. And I do enjoy it. But it's not my goal. Jazz is my goal. I just hope there are people who care to listen when I reach it.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
May 6 , 12 pm
Dublin Retirement Village
6470 Post Road Dublin, Oh
May 7, 7 pm
Dublin Scioto High School (FUNDRAISER)
4000 Hard Road, Dublin
May 9, 1 pm
Hilliard Senior Center
3800 Veterans Memorial Drive, Hilliard
May 13, 12 pm
Whetstone Garden of Roses
Hollerback Drive, Clintonville
May 15, 1 pm
Upper Arlington Senior Center
1945 Ridgeview Road, Columbus
May 17, 8 pm
Thank You Concert,
Church of Latter Day Saints
Coffman Road, Dublin
May 20, 1 pm
Trillium Place Retirement Center
May 22, 1 pm
Abbey Theater at Dublin Recreation Center
5600 Post Road, Dublin
June 14, 7:30 pm
Union County Humane Society (FUNDRAISER)
Veterans Memorial Auditorium
233 W 6th Street
Thursday, March 06, 2008
The above image is from Bob Gollihur's excellent site, which includes an FAQ on bows.
For the first year of playing, I played with a French style bow because that's what my instructor used and that's what came with the bass. However, I was never able to get comfortable with it. I could not relax my grip enough to be effective. So, I decided to make the switch to German. I found an online source for quality, inexpensive bows in Upton Bass, and ordered their German style bow. Soon after, I joined the Cardinal Health Chamber Orchestra as second bassist. The principal bassist also played a German bow, and my instructor was able to give me some tips, so I felt fairly comfortable with my decision. I found the bow easier to hold, and it gave me a decent sound.
But there was still this nagging question: Is this really the right bow for me? I found the grip to be somewhat awkward, like I was also having to reach to play. And I always felt as if I were trying to cut down a tree with it. I would watch other German bow players, and they could produce such lovely sounds, yet I always sounded like a cow fighting a goose. My instructor, being a French bow player, could only help so much, and getting a new instructor was not an option because I really like him and his playing, and since my primary goal is to play jazz, he really is the right one for me.
Then I saw some instructional videos from Andrew Anderson. His grip on the French bow is very much like the grip of my instructor's. And after seeing how he placed his thumb and hearing his theories on grip and producing sound, I felt I had to give the French bow another chance. So, I ordered the French version of the Upton Bass bow.
I received the bow via UPS last Monday, and proceeded to work with it that evening. I was able to get decent sound from it, but it still felt uncomfortable, particularly when switching back and forth between the two. I was beginning to think I made a bad decision. But I knew I was not giving it a fair chance, and wanted to spend a week with it before deciding if I should keep it or not.
Tuesday was our next orchestra rehearsal, and while I toyed with the idea of bring the new French bow, I felt I was struggling enough with the music, so I brought my old one. Upon my arrival, I set up my music stand, got out my bow, tightened it up and hung it on the little hook on my music stand where I always hung my bow, got out my music and placed it on the stand. As I was leafing through the music to the first piece, the edge of my hand knocked the bow off of it's little hook and it hit tip-first onto the hard wood floor.
I had always heard that bows are fragile, particularly when under the stress of being tightened. At this point there wasn't much I could do, so without saying a word, I packed up my music stand and left rehearsal. Needless to say, I will not be hanging my bow in the music stand any longer.
Last night I played for quite some time with the French bow, and I found that without the option of switching back and forth, I was able to become much more comfortable with it. It'll take some work, but I think it'll pay off in the long run. Sometimes I need to have decisions made for me.