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  • Scales vs. Chords

    Q: What scales are best to know for improvising and how can I go about trying to memorize them? A: Although it is important to learn your major and minor scales as well as all of the others (melodic minor, harmonic minor, blues scale, etc.), I’ve found that scales don’t really help me at all.... »

  • A Review of John McLaughlin and the 4th Dimension’s “To The One”

    Wow! This is the record I was hoping for: John McLaughlin letting rip within a band context. To The One is a passionate sonic blast. McLaughlin, bassist Etienne Mbappe, and drummers Mark Mondesir and Gary Husband set up in one room on the studio for a live recording with keyboard added by Husband. McLaughlin is... »

  • Because It’s There…

    I took my 6-string to have the nut adjusted recently and I was talking to the guitar tech about adjusting the action to make the bass more playable around the middle to high register. He looked at me and said, “Be honest, how often to you play up there?” “All the time” I said, “I’m... »

  • How To Start A Fire

    As bass players, we brethren of the low end are aware of something that normal listeners, and even other musicians, take for granted. We know that a song starts and stops with us. We know that a great drummer can make or break a band in general, but once that slot is filled with a... »

  • Ask Damian Erskine: Reductive Practice

    Q: I have a question regarding funk slap bass techniques. Are there any certain key techniques to doing this? I listen to a lot of bass-heavy funk lines in music and want to play them, but the speed at which they are able to do that stuff is incredible. I have often wondered if I... »

  • A Review of Avery Sharpe Trio: Live

    There seems to have been something of a resurgence in the jazz trio recently and Avery Sharpe Trio’s Live is another soulful piano, bass, drums recording with plenty of swinging goodness. Sharpe is familiar to most bassists as McCoy Tyner’s long-term sideman but since 2000, he has been focussing more on his own music. A... »

  • Rhythm Series: Improving Rhythmic Accuracy by Subdividing

    Rhythmic Accuracy Last time we talked about one of the major physical components rhythm: feeling the beat internally. However, for the performer there are two components to rhythm, physical and mental. Accurate execution of musical rhythm requires the cultivation of both aspects. One important mental element needed to precisely perform rhythms is active subdivision. Subdividing... »

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  • A Look at Oscar Pettiford’s “Tricotism”

    I’d like to give a big thanks to everyone for their encouraging words on my first column; John Goldsby shared that he and John Patitucci have recorded “Bohemia After Dark”, and I’d encourage folks to take a listen to their respective versions of the tune. Now, back to the show. In our second installment on... »

  • Reading a Lead Sheet – A How To Guide

    Reading a Lead Sheet – A How To Guide

    Q: Do you know how to read a lead sheet? What is a good way to learn how to play with a lead sheet? A: Learning to navigate a lead sheet is one of the most useful and important things a working musician must get comfortable with. While lead sheets seem to baffle many musicians... »

  • Decoding Graphic Equalizers: Get Past “Scooping” Your Tone

    Decoding Graphic Equalizers: Get Past “Scooping” Your Tone

    I get a lot of calls and e-mails from fellow bassists and guitarists alike pertaining to all sorts of equipment problems. One of the most recessing issues I deal with is walking someone through the steps of setting-up their graphic equalizers (you know, the thing with all the sliding tabs that you arrange to look... »