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The Low End

THE LOW END

Part 2: The Mysterious Inner Workings of the Rhythm Section--A Bass Player

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Part 1 | Part 2 – The Musical Exchange

In the first part of this article, I described what the initial meeting and “getting-to-know-you” pre-bandstand event is for the rhythm section. Bassist meets drummer. Drummer meet bassist. Let the vibes begin. The goal, obviously, is for the entire band to work its way toward a meaningful musical exchange that delights the audience. But what exactly do I mean by “musical exchange,” and how do you know when ...

THE LOW END

Part 1: The Mysterious Inner Workings of the Rhythm Section--A Bass Player

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Part 1 - Before the First Note Is Played | Part 2 When I was first starting out as a young musician, I wanted to play everything. Piano, bass, drums and guitar were my first instruments. I started gigging professionally on drums, guitar, and bass. My experience has taught me a lot about the roles of these instruments, and after 33 years of gigging I can describe myself as someone who strives to be a “complete bassist.” ...

THE LOW END

The Art of Improvisation: Going Solo

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What exactly is improvisation? The Latin form “improvisus" literally means “unforeseen." Merriam-Webster describes the verb “improvise" this way: to compose, recite, play, or sing extemporaneouslyto make, invent, or arrange offhandto fabricate out of what is conveniently on hand This definition serves as a good reminder for how we should approach our music. I admit that I need this kind of reminder. As a musician, it’s easy to forget to play ...

THE LOW END

On the Verge of Extinction: Is the End of Live Jazz Near?

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It was the year 1971 when my brother and I made history. We had a record player – you know, one of those things only DJ’s seem to be able to master these days – and sat listening to James Brown performing Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved with his band. At the time, it seemed like a parody of the previous funk Brown had produced. To my young ears, the horns sounded a bit atonal ...

THE LOW END

What Jaco Said: Thoughts on the Man and His Legacy

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When I first heard Jaco, I was 16 years old. I walked into the music store where I worked in Utica, New York, and didn’t see anyone minding the store. Everyone was over by the stereo section. A few of the older musicians were standing in a circle, passing this album back and forth. They were shaking their heads and listening.

I said, “Who is this?” And one of the guys said, “It’s Jaco. We played with him ...

THE LOW END

Shame on the Bandstand: Rites of Passage -- What They Don

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We know how long it takes to become a musician, even a mediocre one. But the real test of talent doesn’t come until we hit the bandstand. Eventually, every young (or at least inexperienced) musician playing traditional jazz -- in this case, the one type that has survived for decades: bebop or bip-bop -- hits the infamous “Jam Session” to test his or her musical prowess. No matter how much practice or training a musician has had, the unwitting instrumentalist ...