In 1948, a female bass player has still been something remarkable. “A lovely California blonde makes a career out of a fat old viol” wrote LIFE magazine (issue July 5, 1948) about former Los Angeles symphony bass player (and part-time Hollywood actor) Helen Perry. Read the complete article and issue at Google books.
Ranaan Meyer has recently published a new issue of his magazin “The Next Level Bassist” with articles by Sarah Hogan of the St. Louis Symphony and John Patitucci, legendary jazz bassist, and a spotlight on the Pittsburgh Symphony bass section.
In order to read this magazine online, you need to register, but it’s free of charge.
DiscoverDoubleBass.com is a new website by Geoff Chalmers, providing freely available video lessons for double bass in HD quality. Geoff covers topics like standing posture, sitting position and good posture, scales and arpeggios, cycles of 5ths, right hand exercises, accurate shifting, and others.
Based in the UK, Geoff has performed on numerous gigs, shows, cruise ships, tours and recording sessions. He has a degree in jazz bass, as well as a postgraduate diploma in classical music. In addition to being a busy freelance bassist Geoff is also an experienced educator teaching bass at schools, colleges and universities, as well as private students.
Jazzleadsheets.com, a resource for sheet music, has published some new transcriptions of music featuring the double bass: “Our bass corner has been created with the player in mind, to focus on improving technique and expanding repertoire. It’s a tool to learn about great bassists, to listen to them, and to learn how to incorporate their techniques while developing one’s own sound. It’s also a great resource for the accomplished bassist to get pieces that showcase the bass and let them have some fun fine-tuning their chops, and then showing off.”
“Double Basseast” its the title of bassist Hagai Bilitzky’s weblog. He is a specialist in classical arabic and middle east music, and has written a method odor double bass and middle eastern music – “A Perfect Match ”
The “eastern positions” for the double bass are a way to execute the micro tonality, or ‘quarter tones’*, that are in use in Middle Eastern music’s modal frameworks, making it possible to play the double bass in an ensemble and also to bring the double bass into prominence as a solo instrument in this genre.
Do you need lead sheets of jazz standards? http://www.jazzstudies.us/ offers 1200 jazz charts – just the chords and no melody, but: you can transpose all tunes to any key you need with just one click.
JazzCapacitor is a YouTube Channel that features tons of transcribed music – mostly double bass solos of legends like Ray Brown, Scott LaFaro, Charles Mingus, Ron Carter and Eddie Gomez, but also of contemporary greats like Scott Colley and Christian McBride.
The BBC has published a report about protecting your ears, if you work as a musician in an orchestra. Using earplugs and sitting further apart are two of the suggestions. Players are also told to consider chewing gum to avoid a clenched jaw, which can exacerbate symptoms of tinnitus, although the report concedes that chewing gum ‘may not be appropriate on stage’.
While watching some YouTube clips of one of the greatest guitarists ever – Wes Montgomery – I became aware of the band’s bass player: Arthur Harper, unknown to me until watching this footage, taken at Wes’ concert tour in 1965 in Europe. But not knowing his name is probably just my fault: he played with the Charlie Parker All Stars, vocalist Betty Carter, pianist Bud Powell, and was part of J.J. Johnson’s world-traveling sextet for many years. He passed away in 2004.
His playing is very interesting, so I really wonder why his name lacks wider recognition.
But the first thing that attracted my attention was Harper’s weird left arm position. His left forearm is almost parallel to the neck at the beginning of his solo – something that is widely considered as a very bad habit. He also stands very close to the bass, leaning over it while keeping his back upright.
Probably, I should have listened to him first, rather than watching him. I really dig his playing, and the whole band is just amazing.
Minoru Kimoto of Yamamoto Strings (Tokyo, Japan) has send me a YouTube link of double bassist Yoshi Utumei, playing arco on Presto Jazzicato Tungsten strings.
The Presto Jazzicato string has a steel core with black nylon wrapping. We (the Presto staff and I) designed the Jazzicato strings primarily as a (Jazz-) pizzicato string. But Yoshi’s performance shows that they are a fantastic orchestral arco string, too! Yoshi’s tone has a nice, cello-like timbre, but doesn’t lack the deep fundamental bass.
In comparison, the Jazzicatos’ tension is already low, and putting them on a 1/2 size bass lowers the tension even more (due to the shorter string length). I guess his bass is pretty easy to play.
Instrument: Montelibro 1/2 size
Strings : Presto Jazzicato Tungsten
Bow: Pfitzner (half black, half white hair)
Bassist: Yoshi Utumei, Piano: Acchan Kobe
The late Motown bassplayer James Jamerson, mostly known for playing the Fender Precision bass guitar, was also a double bassist. In this video, his son talks about his bass playing and shows the double bass he played.
All About Jazz talks with double bassist, author and teacher Bertram Turetzky:Contrabassist Bertram Turetzky’s career is nothing short of extraordinary. He almost single handedly redefined the role of the bass in 20th Century classical music, from one of back row support to that of featured and celebrated soloist. Even within the confines of classical music, Turetzky’s range is huge: he is a master of early, pre- Bach music; a noted performer of chamber music; a veteran of symphonic ensembles; and he’s played everything from Brahms and Strauss to 20th Century mavericks like John Cage and Edgard Varese. Well over 300 composers have written works specifically for him to perform. (…) Even before his career in classical music, Turetzky loved jazz. His depth of experience in the many genres that define the idiom is likewise astonishing. As a young Jewish kid, he jammed with black Swing-era stars in the 1950s-playing, to this day, with an Ellington repertory band. Charles Mingus accepted him as a student, (though Turetzky backed out). (…) One of Turetzky’s defining characteristics is his creation of what are known as extended-techniques. You could say that he wrote the book on extended contrabass techniques-literally. His master edition of these ideas, The Contemporary Contrabass (University of California Press, 1974), is still the standard practicum for both virtuoso bass studies, and a kind of cookbook for New Music composers. Indeed, many of those 300 commissions were written for him after composers got a look at what the bass was capable of.Read the interview at www.allaboutjazz.com