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Ask Damian Erskine

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 am too heavy with my...

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Reviews

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 remarkable player on both electric...

The Lowdown with Dr. D

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 Most of us understand that...

Bottoms Up

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 Oscar Pettiford, we are going...

Reading a Lead Sheet – A How To Guide
Ask Damian Erskine

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 who are unfamiliar with them,...

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

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 like a smiley-face). Most guitarists...

Approaches to Soloing
Ask Damian Erskine

Approaches to Soloing

Q: I have a question. How do you go about soloing for various styles? Quite often I get the nod to do a solo for 4/8/16 bars. I’ve tried approaching by working out what key I’m in and then by trying different modes… but it just seems that my phrasing is limited and that it never seems to have a...

Reviews

Book Review: Jack Bruce Composing Himself – The Authorized Biography

When word reached me that Harry Shapiro’s just released biography on Jack Bruce was available I raced to the bookstore. What a satisfying read; not the typical star worshipping pabulum one might expect in a biography focused on the life of a man who changed the face of rock and electric bass playing 40 odd years ago. Interesting early highlights...

Rhythm Series: Keeping Time
The Lowdown with Dr. D

Rhythm Series: Keeping Time

Keeping a steady pulse is a fundamental skill for any musician, and it is especially important to any one who is part of the rhythm section. Even in styles of music that encourage flexible rhythmic expression (i.e. rubato, etc.), the ability to maintain an accurate pulse is essential for a musician. No matter what style of music we play, or...

What Doug Did: A Retrospective on Doug Rauch
Retrospective

What Doug Did: A Retrospective on Doug Rauch

Doug Rauch (14 September 1950 – 23 April 1979) I’m a huge fan of Doug Rauch, a unique bassist who sadly was taken from us at a young age. He had a funky, bubbling, percolating style based on 16th notes which never failed to ignite the music. I wrote a blogpost about him and am always pleased (and a little...