Essential Blues Bass

A forum devoted to the discussion of playing bass with the blues.

Essential Blues Bass

Postby costa » Tue Dec 16, 2003 2:48 pm

I invite you all to post which albums you feel every blues bass player should own. If known, the bass player’s name should be included. And by no means does a bass player need to be present for the album to appear in this list.

Here are some of mine:

Bricks in My Pillow, Robert Nighthawk (Delmark). Ransom Knowling slaps the $@%# out of the doghouse bass. Probably my all time favourite blues bass record (and a slide guitar classic).

The Best of Little Walter MCA/Chess). Willie Dixon and Dave Myers (on guitar) share the bass duties and swing like there’s no tomorrow.

A man and the Blues, Buddy Guy (Vanguard)
Hoodoo Man Blues, Junior Wells (Delmark)
Jack Myers was by far the most inventive electric bass player in 60s blues. These albums are just a sample of his genius.

Once again there’s a Chicago bias here, but it’s what I cut my teeth on so I can’t help it.

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RE: Essential Blues Bass

Postby barbequebob » Tue Dec 16, 2003 3:47 pm

I'd also recommend getting anything T-Bone Walker recorded in the 40's and 50's, and also in the same period, just about any Jump blues recordings, as they ALWAYS had great standup bass players, and I'm talking guys like Tiny Grimes, Big Joe Turner, Wynonie Harris, Roy Brown, Annie Laurie, Big Maybelle, and many more.
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RE: Essential Blues Bass

Postby bosco » Tue Dec 16, 2003 4:58 pm

I'm not much into Jazz and the majority of people don't usually listen to music for the bass. This one is an exception, one of my favorite recordings and one that I tout often:

John Mayall- Jazz Blues Fusion, Live in Boston And New York
(1972) Polydor.

Larry Taylor is best know as the bass player for Canned Heat, but has backed everyone form Albert King and Little Milton to Tom Waits. He deftly anchors this All-Star band on his fretless bass and proves why he is world class. When Mayall introduces the band, bassist Taylor gets the loudest applause! How often does that happen?

Don't let the title fool you, this CD is decidedly blues with a pinch of jazz influence surfacing in some of the horn solos. The quality of the playing and material is more than enough to offset Mayall's vocals.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED !!!

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RE: Essential Blues Bass

Postby notsonhouse » Mon Jan 26, 2004 6:07 pm

For some good blues bass, I like Albert Collins, he went through so many band members that I can't really name the players off hand here.
If your looking to really here how the bass can be played, and not just in the blues genre, then I can't recommend Jaco Pastorius enough. The original with the fretless bass. Sadly he is gone now. After hearing him play "Portrait of Tracy", what can I say? Another would be Stanley Clarke. These two took the bass from the backup instrument and made it into the frontline sound. No, they aren't blues musicians, but in my book, you can either play your instrument or not, doesn't matter if it's blues, country, jazz or what.


Larry Taylor, aka: 'The Mole' from Canned Heat.!! Man I grew up on that. My first bass solo was from their recording of "Refried Hockey Boogie" way back when. Been steady downhill from there.
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RE: Essential Blues Bass

Postby costa » Fri Jan 30, 2004 12:45 am

bass solo (...)
(...)Been steady downhill from there.

Couldn't have said it better myself... ;)

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RE: Essential Blues Bass

Postby notsonhouse » Thu Feb 05, 2004 5:27 pm

[updated:LAST EDITED ON Feb-05-04 AT 12:28 PM (EST)]Costa....You keep striving for mediocroty and I am sure that someday you just may attain it. Who knows, you may even be able to sit in with a band someday. Just pray that they don't ask you to leave the basic 12 bar structure behind, and they are willing to only play in a key that you are familiar with.
Are you even a musician? i just can't accept that someone who actually owns a guitar, bass or whatever, would be so close minded as to not want to know all that they can about their instrument of choice. What would you do if you showed up for a open jam and someone handed you the sheet music to what they were playing? YES! There is sheet music for blues, and many people use it to learn their assigned parts. How would you react if they wanted you to perform a solo?
Just what are your credentials as a bassist? Do you have any degrees in music? Do you teach? Are you a professional working musician? Do you even own a bass? I don't mean to attack you, but as you started it!
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RE: Essential Blues Bass

Postby costa » Fri Feb 06, 2004 1:18 am

[updated:LAST EDITED ON Feb-05-04 AT 08:20 PM (EST)]>Are you even a musician?

Yes I am, thanks for asking.

I just can't accept that someone who actually owns a guitar, bass or whatever, would be so close minded as to not want to know all that they can about their instrument of choice.

I would rather know all I can about Blues...

What would you do if you showed up for a open jam and someone handed you the sheet music to what they were playing?

Admit that I can't read music and hand the bass to someone who can.

YES! There is sheet music for blues, and many people use it to learn their assigned parts.

I prefer to actually LISTEN to blues and LEARN the music.

How would you react if they wanted you to perform a solo?

To be honest I actually do play the occasional "solo" where I maybe mix in a few double and triple slaps into my walking line.

Just what are your credentials as a bassist?

None really. I own a bass, I'm punctual, And most people I know like me. Gets me tons of gigs.


Do you have any degrees in music?

Strike one!

Do you teach?

Strike two!

Are you a professional working musician?

Semi-professional...working on quitting the day job soon. You're repeating yourself though.

Do you even own a bass?

Two electric and an upright. More repetition.

I don't mean to attack you, but as you started it!

That's OK, my feelings aren't hurt...but I was joking you know.

Costa

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RE: Essential Blues Bass

Postby blueswriter » Fri Feb 06, 2004 1:15 pm

Joking or not, I'd side with Costa on this issue... not that anyone even asked. But, there are people who have a desire to play straight-ahead twelve bar blues and not veer much from that. Personally, I applaud folks who have that sort of tunnel-vision. I don't fault people for learning everything they can about any instrument, but those who want to learn one particular style shouldn't be faulted because they have one goal in mind. I'd tend to doubt that Willie Dixon was a schooled standup bassist, but he certainly got around with his friendly demeanor and grass roots playing. Was it necessary for him to know how to do all that popping and farting common among many bass players today? Nope. Was his bass work seriously lacking anything? Well, aside from the occasional misguided note, Willie was in the pocket.

While I appreciate musicians who desire to learn everything about an instrument, for straight blues, bass players need to know how to hold steady and walk, and not a whole lot more than that. I'm one of those old guys who thinks bass should be felt more than heard, and I'm not a fan of the Steinberger bass crowd in blues bands either.

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RE: Essential Blues Bass

Postby bosco » Fri Feb 06, 2004 2:51 pm

Being a harp player with several years of gigs under his belt, I have really developed a sharp ear for the art of staying out of the way of other players in a tune...comes with the territory I suppose.

I recently listened to several hours of recordings of my 6 piece electric blues band, (both live and studio) while preparing for an important interview to get the band into a festival. What I basically heard was 6 guys fighting for space and ALL overplaying. The bass was way too busy and pushed the tempo. The drummer tries too much fancy crap and occasionally drops the beat because of it. The lead guitar graps every fill. The harp rhythms sound awkward because the B-3 never stops playing. And somewhere under all of that, the rhythm guitar is buried.

Don't get me wrong, I'm being hyper critical here- the band sounds good and we have a huge following and a lot of work. But for blues, more than any other style, LESS is more. The music has to breathe. Now if you are into jazz, or Advant-garde splooge as Lummo calls it, by all means play away.

But for blues, if you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem.

Bosco

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RE: Essential Blues Bass

Postby blueswriter » Fri Feb 06, 2004 3:04 pm

"I recently listened to several hours of recordings of my 6 piece electric blues band... What I basically heard was 6 guys fighting for space and ALL overplaying."

1) the bass was way too busy
2) the drummer tries too much fancy crap and drops the beat
3) the lead guitar graps every fill.
4) the harp rhythms sound awkward
5) the B-3 never stops playing.
6) the rhythm guitar is buried.

"Don't get me wrong. The band sounds good..."

What happens when you guys have an off-night?

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RE: Essential Blues Bass

Postby costa » Fri Feb 06, 2004 3:25 pm

I always liked Keith Ferguson's (of T-Birds fame) quote: "bass players should be heard but not listened to. People should only notice you when you stop playing"...

This gem (from Roomful's press kit) was sent to me by a musician whose band I often sub in (he said it reminded him of me...I assume it was a compliment):

The bass position was filled by Brad Hallen, who joined Roomful at the same time as DuFresne.

Blues enthusiasts will appreciate Brad as a man who knows that a blues bass has four strings, two of which are spares.


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RE: Essential Blues Bass

Postby bosco » Fri Feb 06, 2004 3:40 pm

>What happens when you guys have an off-night?<

We get paid anyway, pick up some gut bombs at the Taco Bell late night drive through and all go home...

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RE: Essential Blues Bass

Postby barbequebob » Fri Feb 06, 2004 3:47 pm

[updated:LAST EDITED ON Feb-06-04 AT 10:59 AM (EST)]The huge problem with too many bass players who tend to adopt what appears to be the fusion school of lead bass playing is that in blues, the main focus is the vocalist, and when the vocals are done, it's the one called upon for the solo. However, playing a busy bass in the fusion school might be great for stroking their egos, but they lose the bigger picture of the continuity of the groove so that no matter what, the groove keeps stable and danceable. For every gig that fusion players have people dancing to their music, you'll see ten times as many blues players have people dancing. Fusion players don't understand the KISS concept which prevails in blues, meaning: keep it simple, stupid. It's great to know whatever you can about your instrument, regardless of genre, but when you have to throw every single technique you know how to play (or think you do), you're not much more than a technician.

Johnny B. Gayden, who played with Albert Collins for several years, is the closest thing to anything a fusion guy is going to enjoy, because during his solos you hear stuff that's closer to that, but unlike most fusion players thrown into a real blues situation, he does know when it's time to shut that stuff up and keep true to the groove, avoiding the thing fusion players outside of playing in a fusion thing too often fail miserably to understand.

Ehrn you're hired to do a particular thing, and this is what the bandleader wants, and then you do something that doesn't fit in, regardless of what you may have thought was really cool to play, clearly you did not do the job you were hired to do and deserved to get your sorry butt fired.

The full time studio pros too often get laughed at by musicians not playing studio gigs because they don't do X, Y, and Z, like some non studio players would say they should do, but even though they usually can outplay many people who brag about how well they do all this stuff, but they're hired to play the stuff that's required and not pull the kind of crap to make themselves stick out, checking their egos at the door, and they're the guys when NOT in the studio are gonna usually be the first to get the call for a gig, and are rarely going to be without a gig for any stretch unless they want it that way.

Blues is more of a "people music," and more people are going to dance to it far more easily than fusion, which tends to be more of a "musician's music," and let's face it, how many people, unless they're trained in jazz dance or ballet, can dance to it without problems?

If this ticks off the fusion oriented guys, so be it, but this is something I've observed in about 30 years of professional playing, and this doesn't just apply only to bass players.
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RE: Essential Blues Bass

Postby blueswriter » Fri Feb 06, 2004 4:09 pm

"Blues is more of a "people music," and more people are going to dance to it far more easily than fusion, which tends to be more of a "musician's music," and let's face it, how many people, unless they're trained in jazz dance or ballet, can dance to it without problems?"

Most crowds I've encountered have problems dancing to anything rhythmic. To quote George Costanza... "It's like the dry heaves set to music."

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RE: Essential Blues Bass

Postby hot rod juan » Sat Apr 24, 2004 11:45 am

"It ain't what you play, it's what you leave out that counts." I was at a jam night at the checkerboard lounge in chgo. about 30yrs. ago when some cat told me that after I come off the stage and I never forgot it. The pocket is what you should striving for,forget all the flash.You should be secure enough in your playing to not have to"strut your stuff"every time you hit the stage.There"s alotta flashy players out there, but the ones that get called back are the ones that can hit the groove and stay there.
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