Attention: Drummers and Bandleaders – Get With The Bass!
“Where the bass puts it is where it is.”
These are not my words – they’re Milt Hinton’s.
If you want your music to feel right, you need a good bass player. He/she has more influence on how your band feels than anyone else on the bandstand. Does it swing? Is the beat clear and energetic? The beat’s got to move the feet. All else flows from that, like life on earth flows from the sunshine. A happy beat lifts the hearts of the whole room.
If there’s one “ringer” (old pro) in the band, it should be the bass player.
It takes a long time to learn how to play the bass with real authority. A bass player needs to get a firm left hand, get the swing into their spine, and listen with the belly (you heard me right!) – all without straining. A bass player needs to be able to put accents in the right places without changing the tempo. A bass player needs to know how to ornament chord tones, and when to play wrong notes (you heard me right, again!).
You can hire your friends who play, or hire someone cheap. You can let the drummer bash away and not listen to the bass. Your band, your music and your career will suffer.
If you don’t know any better, you can think the drummer is “in charge of the beat.”
The true story:
A good bass player is worth his weight in gold. Pay attention!
Many of the world’s great bass players are in New York, active and working. Some of my favorites are Ron Carter, Buster Williams, Rufus Reid. Scott Colley, John Patitucci, Jay Anderson, Cameron Brown, Harvie S, Ron McClure. Tom Kennedy!, Drew Gress, Ed Howard, Nicki Parrott, Marco Panascia.
I left out a lot of people, but I’ll be back adding folks as I think of them.
Photo by Gordon Blanz of the Pike’s Peak Jazz Society