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Play Boring Blues... #2367252
12/16/11 07:18 AM
12/16/11 07:18 AM
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Jeff Huber Offline OP
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Jeff Huber  Offline OP
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An open letter to Bass Player and the bass community in general:

Bass “gurus” like Ed Friedland give persistent traction to the joke that begins “What do you call a guy who hangs out with musicians?” The four rules for blues bass playing he listed in January’s Woodshed section could be more candidly restated as 1) imitate, never innovate, 2) play as few notes as possible and 3) play the same thing over and over and over until you 4) put people to sleep.

What unutterable tripe. The blues, perhaps more so than any genre, allows bass players to expand not only their own musical range but to push back the boundaries traditionally imposed on their instrument. Listen to Ronnie Wood play blues bass guitar on Jeff Beck’s Truth and Beck-ola albums. Listen to Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen play blues on the doghouse with Dexter Gordon and Kenny Drew and Joe Pass. Wood and Pedersen soar in the finest traditions of improvising jazz bassists, adding deep texture to the music while still performing basic root and groove duties and without walking over the featured soloists (though, frankly, horn, guitar or keyboard soloists who can be walked over by a bass should rethink their futures in music). That’s what blues bass playing should be: not the “inside the box” bullroar Friedland is trying to get us to play.

Lamentably, Friedland’s mindset of mediocrity is dominant among teachers of the stringed bass instruments today. Whatever you do, they’ll tell you, don't strive to become a Mingus or a Scott Lafaro or a Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen or a Jaco Pastorius or a John Entwhistle or a Larry Graham or a Victor Wooten.

If you succeed, you’ll make all those guys who hang out with musicians jealous.

Re: Play Boring Blues... [Re: Jeff Huber] #2371483
01/02/12 02:37 PM
01/02/12 02:37 PM
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"Call me what instrument you will, though you can fret me, yet you cannot play upon me.'-Hamlet

Guitar solos last 30 seconds, the bass line lasts for the whole song.

Re: Play Boring Blues... [Re: Bottom End] #2383653
02/07/12 02:02 PM
02/07/12 02:02 PM
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EddiePlaysBass Offline
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I think the "walk before you run" expression suits perfectly here ... To belittle Mr Friedland and call his mindset mediocre, is proof of narrowmindedness IMHO. I for one am curious to find out where this "Blues You Can Use" series is headed.


"I'm a work in progress." Micky Barnes

The Ross Brown Shirt World Tour
Re: Play Boring Blues... [Re: EddiePlaysBass] #2384529
02/09/12 03:37 PM
02/09/12 03:37 PM
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Eric Iverson Offline
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I agree that blues bass parts are often boring to listen to, and probably to play (I know blues guitar parts can be), but they don't HAVE to be!
I still like the bass parts on B.B. King's "Live and Well" album, after all these years, BTW.

Re: Play Boring Blues... [Re: Eric Iverson] #2384579
02/09/12 05:24 PM
02/09/12 05:24 PM
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Oh yeah, Jerry Jemmott tears it up on that album.

Another great blues bass player is Johnny B. Gayden on the album "Showdown"


"Call me what instrument you will, though you can fret me, yet you cannot play upon me.'-Hamlet

Guitar solos last 30 seconds, the bass line lasts for the whole song.

Re: Play Boring Blues... [Re: Bottom End] #2386823
02/16/12 09:48 AM
02/16/12 09:48 AM
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Chad Thorne Offline
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First of all, Jeff, welcome!

The answer to your joke that I always heard was "drummers..."


For me it's not an either/or proposition, and I doubt it is for
Ed Friedland, either. My own approach involves hewing pretty closely to a consistent bass part. If it's right, it becomes, for me, anyway, sort of mantra-esque. I hear guys who change it up every time around and I don't like that. IMO, in blues the groove is everything, and a bassist who is too busy trying to be Jaco, how can he lock in with a drummer? (Jaco DID, of course. Emulate that.)

The guys you mention: Ronnie Wood. Not really a world class bassist IMO, but a rock guitar player. Nels etc., jazz player; somewhat different aesthetic I think. Jemmott is freakin' awesome. But the variations, ornamentations he plays are subtle, and he's always rock-solid on the one.

I saw Victor Wooten in a clinic last year and he talked about how he's known for his prodigious technique, but that the message he wants to send to bass players is: play the groove. I think that however that's done is o.k. I tend to be a bit on the "less is More" side; somebody like Jamerson could play a lot of notes and still have the groove nailed down at all four corners and bleeding from every orifice. I say, play the way you want to as long as the groove is strong.

Just an FYI: Ed Friedland has been around a long time and is a good friend of the forum, as well as personal friends with a number of people here. Not that you shouldn't criticize him, but it may raise a hackle or two.

Thanks for your contribution! Hope you stick around.



Re: Play Boring Blues... [Re: Chad Thorne] #2389717
02/25/12 04:17 AM
02/25/12 04:17 AM
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JimmyM Offline
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Whoa! Someone takes himself a tad too seriously wink

Re: Play Boring Blues... [Re: JimmyM] #2390353
02/27/12 11:16 AM
02/27/12 11:16 AM
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THE REAL JERSEY SHORE
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Tom Richards Offline
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Hey all, I finally drank the Bass Player koolaid and I'm on here as well.

You cannot ever tell or encourage someone to innovate. That is the mistake many make. Want proof? Tell your kids to get up today and innovate! Yeah, they will look at you like you are demented and need to be put away.

All innovation comes out of an understanding of the fundamentals and then finding them too constricted for your personal being. But if you don't understand the fundies, its almost moot. Lets face it, Scott LaFaro couldn't have been the artist he was if he didn't understand and command the fundamentals of jazz first. Jaco the same.

I have always been one of the less is more crowd. My "innovation" if you want to call it that, is my somewhat percussive pick style developed over 35 years of playing in clubs that had inadequate sound systems and trying to keep up with some of my punk brothers. But I still mostly play the beat or groove, trying to keep the ladies moving. If you can't do that, you, IMHO, suck.

I recently bought Ed's Blues book and CD so I can go back and revisit my understanding of the blues. I have found it enjoyable, just listening to the CD while I drive, getting to hear turnarounds and fingerboard movement I may not have immediately thought about.

If you want to innovate, then do it. Go listen to Bitches Brew until your ears bleed. That is fine. But don't even think of trashing Ed. He didn't set out to teach you how to rule the world. He set out to teach you how to play it right.

Re: Play Boring Blues... [Re: JimmyM] #2390413
02/27/12 02:36 PM
02/27/12 02:36 PM
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Chad Thorne Offline
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Originally Posted By: JimmyM
Whoa! Someone takes himself a tad too seriously wink
Who, me?



Re: Play Boring Blues... [Re: Chad Thorne] #2390665
02/28/12 07:24 AM
02/28/12 07:24 AM
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I think he meant the OP.


"Call me what instrument you will, though you can fret me, yet you cannot play upon me.'-Hamlet

Guitar solos last 30 seconds, the bass line lasts for the whole song.

Re: Play Boring Blues... [Re: Bottom End] #2393315
03/07/12 04:02 PM
03/07/12 04:02 PM
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Eric Iverson Offline
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It's fine to innovate, IF it fits in the context of what the rest of the band is doing. (Of course, that's subjective, and lots of fine innovative musicians have been fired from bands that wanted to hear the same ol', same ol').
Still, it's good to have SOME respect for the overall band direction, isn't it? I mean, I probably wouldn't play my Holdsworth wannabe licks in a country-rock band too often! Or the fifths licks I've been practicing lately that sound nice in "Maiden Voyage" - maybe once in a while, LOL!


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