Bass Player Magazine, May 2014 Woodshed — Audio Examples

Sight-Reading In The Studio, Part 1

Here are the examples from my Woodshed column in the May issue of Bass Player Magazine. It’s on the newsstands now—pick up a copy and improve your reading! Let me know what you think.

A Sound For Sore Ears – Bass Lines from Jimmy Heath

AT MY REGULAR GIG WITH THE WDR BIG BAND, I WORK WITH A ROTATING roster of great jazz composers, arrangers, and soloists. I was thrilled recently when saxophonist, composer, and arranger Jimmy Heath came to lead our band for a production. A jazz legend at age 87, Heath has written over 125 songs in his career, many with great bass lines that define his compositions.

Read more …


Silent Night – Bass Player Magazine Playalong

Play-along for the holidays! Here’s the bass duet track from my two-bass arrangement of ‘Silent Night’ from Bass Player Magazine (December, 2013)

Here I play both parts of the duet. The first chorus is “as written” in the Bass Player Woodshed. For the second chorus, I improvise a little Silent Night solo, and then go back to the melody for the third chorus.

For inquiring minds, I play the Bass 1 part (the bass line) on my ’65 Jazz Bass. The Bass 2 part (melody and solo) I play on my Sadowsky Will Lee Model.

Here’s the Bass 1 track for you to play along with. You can play the melody from the Woodshed on top, and then blow two more choruses. Have fun & happy holidays!

Bass Player Magazine: Arpeggios—What Goes Down, Must Come Up

WHY DOES ALMOST EVERY BASS METHOD BOOK ONLY SHOW SCALES and arpeggios beginning on the root, and then moving upward? Bass players often start at the top of a chord or scale and play down, or up and down, or down and up. Last month, we looked at arpeggios starting on the root and moving up, arpeggios starting on the 9th and moving down, and arpeggios moving both up and down. Playing the bass can be a roller-coaster ride!

Great bassists have mastered this simple truth: Arpeggios can move in any direction: up, down, up and down, down and up. We can also start a walking bass line or a solo on almost any note of a scale. Even when a chord is written Cm7, it is accepted practice that we could also use the notes D, F, or A (the 9th, 11th, or 13th) in our line. This month, we’ll explore the ups and downs of arpeggios. You can use this lesson as a jumping-off point to turn your playing upside down, or right side up, depending on how you hear things.


Be sure to check out the video demonstration of this lesson here!

Video Lesson: Arpeggios — What Goes Down, Must Come Up

I made this video for you to hear and watch the examples from ‘What Goes Down, Must Come Up’ [Bass Player Magazine, Oct., 2013]. Chime in if you have a comment or question. Enjoy!

The Groove Factory, Part 3: Some Skunk Funk and More

AFTER MY LAST TWO WOODSHED COLUMNS HIT THE NEWSSTANDS, mailboxes, and iPads, I got a couple of reader emails saying something to the effect of, “Where’s the hip stuff ? This is too easy!” That’s the way it should be; a good groove sounds easy. If a bass line sounds hard, then it’s probably not really grooving. By mastering the basics—the nuts and bolts of rhythm—you can breathe life into both simple and very complicated lines.

I recently had the pleasure of working with trumpeter Randy Brecker, who writes always-groovy yet sometimes complicated bass lines, like his classic “Some Skunk Funk” (Ex. 1). This segment of the bass line is heard in the interlude of the song between the melody and solos. There are several basic eighth- and 16th-note combinations in this two-bar funk fest, and when combined, these rhythms give the line its special, agitated funk feeling.


Video Lesson: Groove Factory, Part 3

I made this video for you to hear and watch the examples from The Groove Factory, Part 3 [Bass Player Magazine, August, 2013]. Chime in if you have a comment or question. Enjoy!

Outliers, Jugglers, Musicians: Developing Your Practice Schedule: Sligo Jazz Workshop Presentation

Here are the supporting materials for my presentation at the Sligo Jazz Workshop. Click on the link below to download materials from the workshop:

Outliers, Jugglers, Musicians: Developing Your Practice Schedule

Video Lesson: Groove Factory, Part 2

I made this video for you to hear and watch the examples from The Groove Factory, Part 2 [Bass Player Magazine, April 2013]. Chime in if you have a comment or question. Enjoy!

Groove Factory: Part 2

It’s Easy When You Know How!

WHEN I WORKED WITH TENOR SAXOPHONIST BILLY MITCHELL many years ago, he’d often reply to compliments about his swinging rhythmic style by saying, “It’s easy when you know how!” With a wink and a sly smile, Billy confirmed a straight truth about music: Playing a great groove is not about playing all of the notes, it’s how one plays the best notes. Easy, right?

Read more …

Bass Player Magazine