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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Filtering by Tag: bass

Kate Davis: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

One of the reasons I love twitter is because of the wonderful clips like this that pass through my feed that I might ordinarily miss.  It was hard to escape Meghan Trainor's "All About That Bass" this summer.  It's a great pop tune that's quite catchy.

This clip is a cover of New York City vocalist and bass player Kate Davis doing a jazz cover of the tune with her jazz trio.  I instantly fell in love with her voice and playing and watched this video three times in a row the first time I heard it.  It is a brilliant re-setting of the tune and Kate's voice just oozes style.  Her website says she has an album forthcoming and I very much look forward to hearing it.



Steve Dumaine: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

Steve Dumaine is the tuba player in the National Symphony here in Washington, DC but has many talents beyond his immense orchestral abilities.  I first met Steve when we were both in high school in New England.  He played the Vaughn-Williams Tuba Concerto with the Greater Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra back then and pretty much scared me with how good it was.

This clip is not him playing the Vaughn-Williams or anything close to it! This performance is from the 2008 Army Tuba Conference and features Steve playing a solo by the original bass player for Metallica, Cliff Burton.  I saw Metallica perform at the Worcester Centrum back in 1991 and it remains to this day one of the best rock concerts I've ever attended.  1991 was after Cliff Burton had passed away, but Steve does a great job of getting to the essence of Cliff's playing in this clip.

And my favorite part of this clip, for humor reasons, may very well be at the 2:00 mark.  Steve Dumaine is a beast on the tuba!


Chick Corea, Michael Brecker, Eddie Gomez & Steve Gadd: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

With a lineup that includes these four guys, there's not really much left to say.  All four of these players could headline on any given night and yet they appeared as a quartet at the Blue Note on April 22, 2003 at the Blue Note in New York City. Chick Corea is one of the greatest creative forces in all of art over the last half century.  The scope of his impact can not be articulated.

Michael Brecker played with everyone from Frank Zappa and Steely Dan to Chet Baker and Charles Mingus.  He appeared on over 700 albums before his death in 2007.

When a bass player has both appeared with the Kronos Quartet and been a member of the Bill Evans Trio on their resume, as Eddie Gomez has, you know they've left quite an imprint on the music business.

Steve Gadd is my favorite drummer of all-time.  The specifically melodic quality he plays with is unique to my ears.  Don't get me wrong, there are tons of drummers I admire, but for me, Gadd stands alone.



Oscar Peterson Trio: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

If I could play the piano like Oscar Peterson, I would never get off the piano bench.  His ability to solo both vertically and horizontally in such a fluid manner was truly stunning.  I love listening to him periodically sing along with himself in this clip. Ray Brown has always been one of my heroes, someone whose playing I try to emulate when playing bass lines on the tuba.  You then throw in the sweeping phrasing of Ed Thigpen on the drums and you've got one hell of a band.

This version of C Jam Blues was recorded live in Denmark in 1964.  Oh to have been in the crowd on this occasion.  It makes me happy to see that this video has over one million views.


Eric Dolphy: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

Eric Dolphy was one of many genius musicians who was taken from us way too early.  He tragically died from a coma brought on by an undiagnosed diabetic coma at the age of 36.  Whether he was playing the saxophone, the flute, or as in this clip, the bass clarinet, his phrasing had a purity and urgency that demanded the listener's full attention. As any musician will tell you, playing an unaccompanied solo in any genre is one of the most difficult things to do in music.  Even for a short clip like this one, it is difficult to keep things interesting.  I find this version of God Bless The Child absolutely mesmerizing.  Dolphy's playing is beyond engaging.  So many notes and yet the phrasing, not the virtuosity, stand out above everything else.

He had so much music left to make.  It is a shame we lost him so soon.  And unlike many of his contemporaries who also died at an early age, Dolphy was not involved with drugs and did not kill himself through excess.  Such a shame.

Finding Time vs. Making Time

Andrew Hitz

I taught a young guy from New York City who plays the bass, Ray Cetta, a lesson on tuba today. He's started to get a lot of calls to play Sousaphone on gigs and wanted to take his first ever lesson on the instrument. I was immediately impressed when he told me he had no car (typical New Yorker) but was willing to take the train all the way to DC with his Sousaphone! It was a really great experience for me. He is exactly the kind of student that we all enjoy teaching. He grasped concepts immediately and was eager to learn. One remark he made in response to something I said really jumped out at me.

He asked me about playing really softly with control. I showed him a number of exercises to work on that, then told him the obvious: to work on the extremes of playing the most important aspect is doing it every single day. Much more important than the total amount of time spent on practicing a skill like pianissimo playing is the regularity of the practicing. I told him I knew that was a pain, especially on a secondary instrument. His response was right on the money:

"I will find time ..... no, I will make time for it. I needed to do it on a gig once and that's enough times for me to need to make time to do it."

This is from a 23 year old kid who is about to release an album, is a band leader, has a very active freelance career, and has more irons in the fire than most of us. The difference between finding time and making time for essential work is what separates those who make it and those who don't. I learned something during his lesson today as well.

Ray is a Yankees fan so this is for him.

Jaco Pastorius "Modern Electric Bass": Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

This is an incredible interview with Jaco Pastorius, arguably the greatest bass player to ever live.  His bass playing is interspersed throughout the interview.  He was a transcendent talent that has inspired countless players of all instruments. The number of subjects he touches on is incredible.  He talks a lot about bass playing but his message also speaks to the mastering of any instrument.  Talk about someone who never accepted the limitations of his instrument. 

I particularly love his discussion about learning how to read music to such an incredibly high level.  One of his bands, Weather Report, had really intricate lines that many bass players can't even begin to read or process let alone play.  This exchange happens just a little ways into the interview:

Interviewer: "What did you use to get to that (high level of reading)?"

Jaco: "Believe it or not it sounds corny but just hard practice.  You've got to put in lots of hours."

He then goes on to describe reading anything he can get his hands on in any clef.  How many electric bass players practice reading out of books written in alto and tenor clef?! There is a reason he was such a virtuoso and it wasn't just the luck of the draw.  He also worked harder than just about anyone else.

There is more stuff in this interview than you can imagine.  I think you'll be riveted even if you've never touched a bass in your life.

The flow of his bass playing in this interview is inspirational for any musician but especially for a tuba player.  There truly are no limitations to any instrument if you simply insist there aren't any and then do the work to back it up.  What an inspiration!


Monday YouTube Fix: Renaud Garcia-Fons

Andrew Hitz

Rarely do I hear a musician who makes me reevaluate what I think an instrument can do.  That is exactly what happened the first time I heard this man play the bass. It is nothing short of criminal that this video has less than 10,000 views.  I'm not sure how anyone can watch this clip and not be mesmerized by the artistry and virtuosity in that order.  Simply incredible!

This man raises the bar for all of us playing bass clef instruments.  I've got some practicing to do.


Monday YouTube Fix: Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown & Ed Thigpen

Andrew Hitz

Oscar Peterson is such a bad man that it's hard to process.  Combine him with one of the best bass players in the world and a drummer with amazing touch and you've got a winner. Tunes don't get much more simple than C Jam Blues.  Couple that with the elegant and transparent instrumentation of a piano trio and it allows for a lot of space for these three gentlemen to operate.  I love the piano breakdowns.  As with any great jazz musician, Oscar keeps grooving his you know what off when the rhythm section drops off.  We classical players can learn a lot from that.



Monday YouTube Fix: Ranaan Meyer

Andrew Hitz

Ranaan is one of the greatest bass players in the world and I am lucky to call him one of my best friends.  He is also an incredible entrepreneur and is one of the founding members of the wildly successful trio Time for Three. The bass and the tuba of course have a lot of similarities.  Any time I am having trouble making something sound effortless on the tuba I like to listen to musicians like Ranaan.  The basses limitations are obvious compared to a violin or a trumpet, yet when Ranaan is playing they seem to not exist.  The clarity and "amount" of tone he can achieve on very fast sixteenth note passages in this version of Czardas is nothing short of amazing.

Ranaan is a bass clef inspiration to many.  Enjoy!