“You Don’t Mind If We Post This, Do You?”

I’ve been doing gigs for about 50 years now, if I count the rock, top-40, and fusion bands that I played with in my early teens. A few audio recordings from those halcyon days exist, which I rarely (read: never) revisit because of their awkward youthfulness. I do wish I had videos of some of […]

Step on Some Toes — the Richard Davis—Mel Lewis Rhythm Section

This excellent article by Vinnie Sperrazza gave me food for thought. Sperrazza dissects the dynamic between Richard Davis and Mel Lewis in the early carnation of the Thad Jones—Mel Lewis Orchestra. I sometimes get tasked with playing the TJ-ML classics with the WDR Big Band, and it throws me into an introspective conundrum about how […]

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 […]

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 […]

Questions, Answers, and more stuff you might not need to know.

I receive quite a few questions from bass players, fans, and “others” from around the globe. Here is a sampling of a some recent inquiries. Am I too old to learn the bass? How Do I Hold My Bow? Gig Inquiry Fail What The Sus? 1. From Vincent the bass player Question: Hi John, Just wanted to […]

But Is It Music?

Chord/Scale Theory Practicing scales is great for your musicianship, but it’s not music! I recently got an email from Hector in Florida asking for my thoughts on chord/scale theory and whether it’s okay to play notes outside the generally accepted chord/scale sounds. Hector boiled several far-reaching questions down to this one, simple question: “Is it […]

Whaddya’ Know? Learning Jazz and Standard Repertoire

I recently got a dub from a cassette recording of a gig I played in 1979. I was young, in over my head, and playing with Buddy DeFranco and Jimmy Raney, a couple of true jazz masters, plus the swinging Louisville drummer Darryl Cotten. DeFranco and Raney were featured for a week at Stanley J’s, […]

Why Did I Write a Jazz Bowing Book?

I recently received an email from a masters student who is doing research on jazz bowing techniques. He asked a few interesting questions about my book Jazz Bowing Techniques for the Improvising Bassist, which I thought I would present here. From Art in England: I am currently writing my Master Thesis in Musicology on the […]