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Steve's Blog: Solo Bass & Beyond



End of year eMusic round-up…

December 31st, 2007 · Comments Off on End of year eMusic round-up…

So, end of December, time for everyone to do their end of 2007 best music lists… I’m just going to offer the stuff I got off eMusic, and a few of them were released in 2006 even though I didn’t get them til 2007 – with the way digital releases go, things released on CD one year might not end up being available for download until early in the next year anyway, so there’s a little ambiguity about what a ‘release date’ is these days…

Draw Breath – Nels Cline Singers – LA-based avant guitarist keeps on melding ‘out’ weirdness with amazing tunes. This new one is no exception.

Line By Line – John Patitucci – John continues to grow as both a composer and player on this beautiful guitar-led album of introspective jazz and beautiful chamber music. My favourites of his since One More Angel.

Double Talk – Theo Travis – push comes to shove, probably my favourite album of the year. Theo just gets better and better, and here his band are just amazing. It’s no wonder he’s so in demand right now… Look out for our duo live album some time in the next 12 months….

Shine – Joni Mitchell – seems like a very personal record, much smaller in scope than anything she’s done for years, a beautifully understated return to the recording world. Now let’s hope she tours…

The Antisocial Club – Alan Pasqua – anyone savvy enough to put Jimmy Haslip and Nels Cline on the same record HAS to have it going on. A beautiful album of spikey post-miles jazz, and the kind of project that Jimmy excels at, even though people don’t think of him as an out player…

You’ve Got To Laugh – Nik Kershaw – when are people going to wake up and realise that he’s one of the finest songwriters of the last 25 years – how long can one man’s reputation be defined by his mullet of two decades ago?

Sermon On Exposition Boulevard – Rickie Lee Jones – mad freewheeling gospel album, sounds unlike anyone else that I can think of. In a good way.

These Friends Of Mine – Rosie Thomas – really a trio record with Sufjan Stevens and the wonderful Denison Witmer, Rosie’s yet to record a bad song, let along a bad album. Now when is Sheila’s first album coming out?

Rock Garden – Ty Tabor – Ty finally allows himself to really rock out without the rest of King’s X.

Strange Conversation – Kris Delmhorst – as with everything she does, it’s full of great tunes and great words.

there you go, no Radiohead, no Britney, no Arctic Monkeys, no… whatever, you can go and read about their tedious nonsense elsewhere… :o)

Tags: music reviews

Reverb Nation picking up a head of steam…

December 28th, 2007 · Comments Off on Reverb Nation picking up a head of steam…

I’ve blogged about Reverb Nation quite a few times, but it’s always worth another heads up as the user base is growing, and people’s familiarity with the two Facebook plug-ins (My Band for musicians and Reverb Nation for fans) is also growing.

The widgets on their site are a great way of compiling players for all your favourite artists onto one page, as Kev Cooke has done on his myspace page.

They still don’t accept information ‘pushed’ to the site, and don’t allow all that much tweaking and customisation of the widgets themselves, but the range of sizes available is a great idea, and the basic design is pretty cool looking…

Here are a few of the widgets for me, for playing music, adding to the mailing list, and showing your gigs…


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Oh, and if you go to my reverb nation page and click on the ‘favourites’ tab, you’ll see all the fantastic musicians I know that are on there, with more stuff being added all the time!

Tags: New Music Strategies · tips for musicians

Oscar Peterson RIP

December 26th, 2007 · Comments Off on Oscar Peterson RIP

Jazz pianist Oscar Peterson died on Christmas Eve. His album Night Train was the first jazz album I was ever able to play along to, due in large part to the amazing lines and tone of his long-time bassist Ray Brown, but also the relative simplicity of the underlying harmony. The magic though was in what they were doing over the top… It’s a principle I’ve held onto with most of my jazz playing ever since – keep the changes simple and give the players room to stretch. And from Ray’s playing on that record, I got a sense of how a line can be supportive, swinging and clear in its statement of the harmony.

It was one of the first jazz albums I understood at all – I liked a lot of jazz that I’d heard before it, but didn’t really know what was going on. It got me on a more emotional, visceral level. With Night Train, I could follow the changes through the solos and pick out a lot of what Oscar was doing in relation to the chords in his solos. It was beautiful stuff, and to this day it’s the album I go to first when recommending a first jazz album to get to my students.

So in memory of Oscar, here he is with not one by TWO world class legendary bassists – Ray Brown and NHOP –

And here’s the obit. from the Guardian.

Tags: Musing on Music · obituaries · tips for musicians

Spinnin' around…

December 25th, 2007 · 2 Comments

Yesterday was the closest I’ve come to being killed for a very long time. Driving back from a lovely trip to Kitchener, Canada (more on that in a moment), Lo. and I hit a patch of black ice in the road, just at a point when the wind was blowing hard enough to knock us and the cars in front of and behind us into a spin – the car in front of us spun off the road, I turned to go around him and the car spun across the road, did 180 degrees and we ended up on the central reservation facing the wrong way with more cars and SUVs spinning off the road around us. The spin itself was scary, but we didn’t hit anything, and the central reservation brought us to a fairly quick halt. However, the feeling of watching other cars spin, knowing that if one of them came in your direction it would very possibly kill you – given that we were facing the direction they were coming, so it would’ve effectively been a head-on collision – is quite the most gut churningly horrible feeling I’ve had for a very very long time.

And after that, when the road cleared a little and we’d got turned round and on our way again, the next 50 miles back to where we’re staying was the most stressful nastiest drive of my life, every little movement of the car felt like we were going to spin again, every bridge felt like it was covered in ice, and on a couple of occasions we did slide a little, and my stomach knotted even further. I’ve never ever been so happy to step out of a car as I was when we got back.

So we’re not dead, and very thankful to be alive and in one piece, and to not even have to report a smashed up car to the rental firm (we had fully-everything insurance anyway, and I suggested that they check the wheel alignment, given that the wheels took more of a jolt when we hit the reservation than anything else…)

The reason we were in Kitchener in the first place was to go to a gig by Rob Szabo and Steve Strongman, two fantastic singer/songwriters, with very different but complimentary styles. They traded songs off one another, backed eachother up, and generally made a fantastic singer-songwriter-y noise for a couple of hours. Marvellous marvellous music. Definitely worth checking out both of them.

Anyway, happy christmas, bloglings, thanks for bothering to read this stuff through the year, I hope it’s been entertaining and informative. Here’s to a blogalicious, gigtastic 2008!

Tags: Uncategorized

Bass Masterclass – 'Bass 2.0' – San Jose, California, Jan 12th

December 19th, 2007 · Comments Off on Bass Masterclass – 'Bass 2.0' – San Jose, California, Jan 12th


date
Sunday January 13th, 10.00am-6pm
venue
Bass 2.0 Masterclass, San Jose, California
details
Bass Masterclass – fourth year of my California bass masterclass weekend. Sunday is a more specialised ‘solo bass and beyond’ day, looking at what’s possible with the instrument outside of it’s traditional role.
weblinks

Tags: gig dates · Music News · teaching news

gig – Don Quixote's, Felton nr Santa Cruz, California, with Lobelia and Michael Manring, Jan 24th

December 19th, 2007 · Comments Off on gig – Don Quixote's, Felton nr Santa Cruz, California, with Lobelia and Michael Manring, Jan 24th


date
Thursday January 24th, 7.30pm-11pm
venue
Don Quixote’s, Felton, nr Santa Cruz California
details
Gig with Lobelia and Michael Manring – all playing solo, duo and trio stuff.
weblinks

Tags: gig dates · Music News

Gig – House Concert, San Jose California, with Lobelia, Jan 13th

December 19th, 2007 · Comments Off on Gig – House Concert, San Jose California, with Lobelia, Jan 13th


date
Saturday January 12th, 7.00pm-10pm
venue
House Concert, San Jose, California
details
Gig with Lobelia – both playing solo and duo stuff.
weblinks

Tags: gig dates · Music News

Bass Masterclass – San Jose, California, Jan 12th

December 19th, 2007 · Comments Off on Bass Masterclass – San Jose, California, Jan 12th


date
Saturday January 12th, 10.00am-6pm
venue
Bass Masterclass, San Jose, California
details
Bass Masterclass – fourth year of my California bass masterclass weekend.
weblinks

Tags: gig dates · Music News

Gig – The Red House, Walnut Creek, California, with Lobelia, Jan 11th

December 19th, 2007 · Comments Off on Gig – The Red House, Walnut Creek, California, with Lobelia, Jan 11th


date
Friday January 11th, 8.00pm-11pm
venue
Red House, Walnut Creek, California, USA
details
Gig with Lobelia – both playing solo and duo stuff.
weblinks

Tags: gig dates · Music News

Why I love David Byrne

December 19th, 2007 · Comments Off on Why I love David Byrne

Three great reasons to love David Byrne:

Firstly, Talking Heads are one of the greatest bands in the history of music. Right now they’re also probably the most influential band on the planet, given how many crappy indie bands are trying to sound like them and failing miserably… But that aside, they made some of the most engaging, interesting, funny and downright funky music of the 70s and 80s.

Secondly, he writes one of the most interesting blogs on the planet. My understanding of the sub-prime mortgage fiasco came from reading his blog (I’d seen all the news reports, but no-one had explained it with the same clarity as he did…) Reading it makes me want to live in NYC, not to say play bass in his band.

And Thirdly – and for now most importantly – he’s just written the best article I’ve yet read summarising what’s going on in the music world, Music 2.0, digital worlds, indie marketing etc… loads of great recorded interviews with people like Brian Eno and Radiohead’s managers… It’s utterly unmissable for anyone wanting to see where things are going.

One of the most glorious things about the internet is that people like David Byrne are emerging as creative industry polymaths – he’s a great musician, thinker, writer, cultural critic… and we can find out about all of in a way that wasn’t really possible before the interwebs. Hurrah for le net.

(thanks to Jeff Schmidt for the link to the David Byrne piece….

Tags: Musing on Music