Steinway & Sons Köln, Jazz & Talk Concert Series 2017

Here’s some info and a little video presenting the outstanding roster for the 2017 edition of my “Jazz & Talk” concert series at Steinway & Sons, Cologne. It’s a very nice vibe and atmosphere — come by and check it out! *** John ***

 

 


 

 

Jazz Concepts: Ben Tucker’s Beatnik Vibe

In the new Amazon series Crisis in six Scenes, Woody Allen frames his meandering plot with classic jazz hits from the ’60s: “Moanin’” played by Art Blakey with Jymie Merritt on bass, “Topsy” played by the Jimmy Guiffre Trio, and “Comin’ Home Baby.” Bassist Ben Tucker composed and performed “Comin’ Home Baby” with flautist Herbie Mann on Live at the Village Gate [1961, Atlantic]. Over the past 60 years, Tucker’s tune has been recorded often by both jazz and pop artists. The beauty of his composition lies in the sexy, hypnotic, double-stop boogaloo bass groove. On Live at the Village Gate, Tucker joins Mann’s band alongside Ahmed Abdul-Malik—Mann’s regular bassist at the time—for a two-bass romp that draws the listener into the smoky, dank zeitgeist of Greenwich Village in the ’60s.

Bob Dorough later put lyrics to the bluesy melody, which became a hit for vocalist Mel Torme [Comin’ Home Baby!, 1962, Atlantic] and Michael Bublé and Boyz II Men [Call Me Irresponsible, 2008, Reprise]. A strong bassist, Tucker eventually found a more profitable niche in the world of songwriting, music publishing, and radio . . .

Read more . . .

Jazz Concepts: Leroy Vinnegar & His Deep Beat

WHAT ARE THE OPTIMAL CONDITIONS FOR RECORDING A HIT JAZZ–POP crossover album? A well-rehearsed band, good recording conditions, and new material? The 1969 live album Swiss Movement fulfilled none of those requirements, yet it became a million-selling crossover record. Anchored by Leroy Vinnegar’s punchy, funky upright groove, pianist/ vocalist Les McCann and saxophonist Eddie Harris delivered an incredibly powerful set that captured the politically charged spirit and musical developments that characterized the era.Swiss Movement was a seminal recording in the world of jam-band-style funky jazz.

Read more …

The Upright Bass Handbook

Welcome to The Upright Bass Handbook — a great starting point for beginning and intermediate bass players.

 

 

Yes, We Can-taloupe! Bass Player Magazine, Oct. 2016

Here are the examples from my column “Yes We Can-taloupe” in the October issue of Bass Player Magazine!.

This one with the bass solo

 

and here’s a playalong track for you, without the bass solo. Enjoy!

 

 

Thanks for checking out my articles in Bass Player Magazine.

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You also might want to re-read my

 Woodshed on How to Build a Solo Using Licks and Patterns.

 

 

The Super Summer Workshop Post

Like many musicians, I often teach at workshops during the summer. I always learn as much from the students as I hope they learn from me. It’s a teachers’ cliché, but I  learn from other musicians of all levels—students, beginners, hobbyists, semi-pros; and also from the huge breadth of talent, expertise and dedication embodied by my fellow teachers.

This summer I revisited a couple of my favorite.workshops: The Sligo Jazz Workshop in Ireland, and the Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshop in Louisville, Kentucky, USA. Both camps feature dedicated teachers, enthusiastic participants—and I did, once again, learn a lot and experience great joy through sharing music with people from all walks of life.

Chris Potter, Phil DeGreg, Carl Allen, John Goldsby, Louisville, KY, July 2016

Chris Potter, Phil DeGreg, Carl Allen, John Goldsby, Louisville, KY, July 2016

I’d like to thank all of the students who participated. Without you, these weeklong music-learning experiences wouldn’t exist, and the world would be less enlightened, less tolerant, and not as groovy. Jazz workshops focus on music, not on any kind of Olympic-style competition or pressure to be super human or fierce. Jazz is the great equalizer. A student who just recently took up saxophone can revel in the amazing energy of Chris Potter, Matthew Halpin or Eric Alexander. They’re all in the same club; they’re all musicians. The kid who just bought a bass finds the same Db on the neck (where was that again?) that Federico Malaman, Steve Rodby and Rufus Reid play. They’re all part of the bass community.

When I first started attending jazz workshops in the late ’70s, and teaching for Jamey Aebersold in 1980, his Summer Jazz Workshops were the only weeklong summer programs for small-group improvisation, with the exception of the Stanford Jazz Workshop and a few scattered college offerings. The workshop audience was very different from the audiences at the jazz clubs where I had been playing. At workshop performances, hundreds of people hang on every note, and most of them listen deeply. They want to not only be entertained by the music, but also know how and why the musicians onstage are doing what they do. They want information, along with great music, and these workshops deliver.

A few of my vivid memories from the past 40 years of workshop performances include, as a student:

  • Hearing Joe Henderson and Woody Shaw play a very fast completely burning, frighteningly aggressive tune with Rufus Reid on bass and Ed Soph on drums (Louisville, 1977). I didn’t know what they were doing at the time, but I knew I wanted to know what it was and learn how to do it myself—inspiring.
  • Watching Dave Liebman give his very first clinic/performance (Iowa, ca. 1978). Dave talked about his time with Miles Davis, and the New York “loft scene.” That made me want to move to New York, which I did two years later.
  • Having Ron McClure give me a five-minute lesson and “show me” how to play in thumb position on the bass (Louisville, 1979). He pointed out that it’s easy when you know how. I discovered, after I practiced for another few years, that he was right.

As a teacher at various workshops, I remember a few sublime moments:

  • Playing some sets with Dave Liebman with two bassists (early ’80s). I played electric, Todd Coolman played double bass. Liebman would sketch out the whole set on three or four lines on a set of staff paper . . . an intro on a certain chord progression, an odd-meter vamp, some beautiful ballad changes, something fast and crazy to end the set. Exciting stuff.
  • Playing trio with Ed Soph and Steve Erquiaga—two incredibly musical players. You can find some of those performances on YouTube now (mid-80s).
  • Playing with James Moody in quartet (Louisville, 2009). From the early years of bebop, up until the conclusion of his life in 2010, Moody was a driving force on the jazz scene. He was in a way the ultimate teacher, because when he played or talked, he filled the room with an undeniable power, joy, and love of music and life. I had played with Moody on various occasions over the years, but I was thrilled with this particular performance at the Aebersold camp. He brought the entire history of jazz to the students (and faculty) that night.
  • This summer, I played a lot of music with incredible musicians, and to pick any particular set as “the best” would be selling the others short. I would say though, that playing “So What” with Jimmy Cobb, Phil DeGreg, Randy Brecker, Eric Alexander, Jim Snidero and Steve Davis was just one of the many high points (Louisville, 2016).
  • This *is* my blog post, but it’s really not all just about me, me, me. Another highlight from this summer was sharing the stage with Liane Carroll (Sligo, Ireland, 2016). Yes, I was also playing bass, but Liane’s duet with Sara Colman was brilliant—thank you Liane and Sara.
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Liane Carroll & Sara Colman, Sligo, Ireland. Photo © 2016 Lieve Boussauw

My goal when teaching at a workshop is to show participants at all levels that they can make music now, in the moment, no matter what their level of musical development. Great musicians play within the boundaries of their technique, possibly even pushing the boundaries for a bit of risk, excitement and fun. Once students realize where they are in their development, and the work that needs to be done to get better, they can begin to make great strides towards solid musicianship. There are no magic pills for becoming a better musician, but at the Aebersold and Sligo workshops, students are shown a clear path to improvement as instrumentalists and improvisers, and given more enjoyment of music as listeners. Thanks to everyone who made the effort to come, participate, listen and play.

Here are a few of the nice folks who I encountered this summer:

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Aebersold Combo, Louisville, KY, Week 1

 

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Aebersold Combo, Louisville, KY, Week Two

 

Sligo_Combo_2016

Sligo, Ireland Combo, Photo © 2016 Lieve Boussauw

Of course, it wasn’t just all about workshops. I did a couple of nights at the NachBar in Louisville with my friends (l. to r.) Jason Tiemann, Corey Christiansen and Jacob Duncan. Extra-curricular jazz!

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I want to hear what you think!

Please comment below.

 


From Bass Line To Solo: The Organic Way

Thanks to all who have attended my workshops in recent weeks. It’s a pleasure to meet each one of you, and I feel like I learn and am inspired by every bassist I talk to — some are just starting out, and others are already strong players. We’re all part of the bass community!

Here are the supporting materials from my recent workshop:

From Bass Line To Solo: The Organic Way

 

Enjoy!

Fingerings for Artificial Harmonics on “Three Short Stories”

I got this email recently from Jack, a bass teacher who was looking for new material for his jazz student:

Hi John,
I just picked up the print copy of Three Short Stories. 
I have a graduate student who is pretty proficient 
with the bow, and I thought it would be a great piece 
for him to possibly play for an upcoming recital. 
Despite having listened to your 
“Tale of the Fingers” CD for years, 
it didn’t dawn on me that those are 
false harmonics in the second part?
How are you fingering those? 
Are you stopping the string below the written note? 
Any insight would be greatly appreciated.
Best, Jack

*************************************************

First of all, I assume you’ve heard the original recording on Tale Of The Fingers [Concord Jazz]. We also did a live version way back in 1993, and you can watch that here:

 

 

So, Jack —
You’re right — in part II, the first few notes are artificial harmonics. The part you’re asking about starts at about 5 minutes into the video above. The way I play them is by stopping the string with my thumb a 4th under the harmonic to be played (Actually an octave and a 4th). So, the first note is a high Bb harmonic. I stop the high F on the G string with my thumb, and then lightly touch the Bb in thumb position on the G string . . . and then hope the harmonic comes out! Then I move that up to the next harmonic C, with my thumb stopping the G.

Same thing in bar 5, except on the D string: I stop the C# on the D string and play the F# harmonic high of the D string. Then slide that up a whole step to play the stopped D# and harmonic G#.

Bar 6: Stop the F# on the A string while playing the C# harmonic, and slide it down to the stopped E and harmonic B on the A string. It’s low on the neck, and that is a big stretch.

Bar 9: Stop the high A on the G string, play the D harmonic. Slide that up a whole step.
Bar 10: stop the E on the D string, play the A harmonic. Slide that down a whole step to play the stopped D and harmonic G.

There are a couple of hard technical things about this: The stretch of a P4 is really big, so players with small hands might have to play some of the notes with a different artificial harmonic fingering (maybe on a different string, higher up). You really have to anchor the thumb hard in order for the artificial harmonics to come out. If your student absolutely can’t reach the notes, you might have him just play the part ponticello, close to the bridge, with a light, airy bow sound and a lot of overtones.

In the pizz section of Part II that follows this section, I play all of those as natural harmonics, except in bar 14, I play the C as a normal, stopped pizz note (The listener does not hear that it is not a harmonic because I play it lightly and it is followed by two harmonics). In bar 15, I play the F as a regular stopped pizzicato note. Bar 16, the C is stopped, as in bar 18. In bar 19, the F is a regular stopped note.

“Three Short Stories for Contrabass and Piano” is a three movement suite written by pianist Bill Mays. We recorded the piece on my Concord Jazz album, Tale of the Fingers.

By the way, the solo on this track is in the new edition of Jazz Bowing Techniques for the Improvising Bassist.

I hope this cleared up some of your questions . . . .

Best, John

60 Things To Practice Presentation

Here are the supporting materials for my “60 Things To Practice Workshop.” Download and enjoy!

Click here to download the zip file:

Goldsby_Practicing_Presentation

Please check out my new online video lessons from Truefire . . .  

a great way to jump start your practice routine!

“Embraceable Red” Bass Player Magazine Example, June 2016

“Embraceable Red”

Here’s the audio example from my Bass Player Magazine article “Play Like Red,” from the June issue of BP. Enjoy!