Unless it’s your group, people want you to play behind them. And they love it when you play great solos – but let’s face it: they don’t care as long as they are playing great solos.
– guitarist Herb Ellis
No matter what kind of music you’re playing, the bass enhances the sound and makes it more beautiful and full.
H: One of my students at CalArts asked me why I close my eyes when I play. The obvious answer is for concentration, but I told him, “The first night we opened at the Five Spot, I looked across at the bar and there was Charlie Mingus, Wilbur Ware, Percy Heath, Paul Chambers, and just about every great bass player in New York, looking right at me. And from that moment on, I closed my eyes!”
F: Is that true?
H: Yeah! Not really, but . . . . [Laughs all around.]
All over New York it has been noticed that, with most of the prominent bands, the string bass, alias ‘bull fiddle,’ alias ‘dog house,’ is replacing the tuba. Leaders agree that the string bass has a far greater carrying power than the tuba, and that it blends much more effectively. Practically all of the exponents of the tuba double in string bass, so the only inconvenience resulting from the switch will be the difference in sizes of the instrument cases, which, take our word for it, is plenty.
Billboard, April 10, 1926
If you hit a wrong note, then make it right by what you play afterwards…
“Every once in a while, if I see a beautiful double bass lying backstage at a festival, like Charlie Haden’s bass, I’ll pick it up and hit the E string, just to feel it vibrate against my body. It’s one of the great feelings in life.”
(answering the question if he ever picks up the upright instead of an electric bass guitar, e. g. “for old-times sake” …). Found at All about Jazz.
“Your the best bassist I’ve ever had on this band but you’re fired! I can’t hear a note you play.”
Stan Kenton, when he fired Scott LaFaro
“He was amazing. Duke Ellington’s band came through St. Louis and played a dance—back then it was dances and not concerts. Afterward Duke went back to the hotel to sleep, and all the musicians went to an after-hours session. This young bass player was playing, and these guys flipped out. They went back and woke up Duke Ellington, and brought him to the session. Duke hired Jimmy on the spot, and the band left St. Louis with two bass players. Jimmy Blanton made all those records in 1940 and ’41, and then he got what they called “consumption” back then, tuberculosis. He got very sick in L.A. and they had to leave him in a sanitarium. He had no family there; he was by himself in a little isolated cabin. Milt Hinton told me he went there every day to see him. Milt was playing in Cab Calloway’s band at that time, and every night they’d dedicate a song to him. Milt said he was there when Jimmy took his last breath. He was 23 years old. But if you’ve ever heard him play … man!”
Flea: The most incredible thing about the upright bass—the few times I’ve played one—is the way you can feel the whole thing vibrate when you have it up against your body. It’s like your body is resonating with the instrument. It’s a very fulfilling feeling.
Haden: It is! That’s why I stand so close to the instrument when I play. I put my head next to it. One night in 1959 I was playing at the Five Spot with Ornette, Don Cherry, and Billy Higgins, and I always play with my eyes closed—but I opened my eyes, and there was some guy onstage with his ear next to my ƒ-hole. And I was like, “Who is this guy?” And Ornette was like, “That’s Leonard Bernstein!” And I was like, “Okay . . . .”