I came across something really cool this morning. It’s a ‘build thread’ (i.e. a forum thread detailing the process of building a bass) by an Israeli builder named Gil Yaron, who hand-builds replicas of what he calls ‘Golden Era’ guitars and basses. I hadn’t seen one of these threads before so it was pretty interesting, and the guy’s attention to detail is just astounding, both as a builder and as a photo-documentarian. On page 5 he even provides a nice interlude detailing the ‘building’ of his breakfast, having just finished hand-winding a pair of pickups.
The end result looks pretty great, but the main value of this is the microscopic level of detail that goes into the building process. Amazing. Here’s the thread.
The stats on my site tell me a few things. One is that, particularly on Fridays, my visitors are predominantly Gardener’s World fans who have arrived here through the TV show’s ‘Community’ page on the BBC website, thanks to a pretty nothingy post I wrote about it one time. It has 33 comments.
Another thing is that quite a few people get here by searching for ‘Laurence Cottle transcription’ (brave souls), which is the kind of visit I’d prefer to encourage. So…
Here’s a transcription — the hideously fiddly yet actually quite listenable bass part from Laurence Cottle’s ‘Quite Firm’. There’s a few versions of the track on his website, a couple on the big band album and a small band one from ‘Live!’. I’ve used the Live! version as a template and transcribed the head. It’s really good writing, fits in brilliantly with the horn lines and in a perverse sort of way falls quite nicely under the fingers — definitely a bass player’s line. Here’s the PDF:
Quite Firm – Bass Guitar
And here’s a clip of me just about getting through the A and B sections (playing along to the ‘Bonus’ version from big band album, because the Live! one is out of tune with A=440Hz):
Great weekend — a day after my lesson with Geoff Chalmers, I went for one with another Leeds-based player, Scott Devine who by all accounts is one of the very best electric bassists in the UK. His website and free video lessons are extremely popular, so when I found out he was based in Leeds I had to go for a lesson in person. We focused on building a consistent technique, listened to a lot of cool stuff and went over some soloing approaches and a few clever tricks. Most of all, it was great to meet someone with so much experience who is still head over heels in love with playing and talking about bass.
The important thing about Scott and Geoff is that neither of them have a dogmatic approach to either technique or theory, so there was no prospect of any overloading or confusion despite having the two lessons back to back. It’s very true that, (paraphrasing George Millard), ‘there are some things you have to be able to do and that’s how it is’, but my two teachers were well aware that the details of how you approach doing those things can vary dramatically to suit each person.
Whether you prefer to think of a G altered scale or an Ab harmonic minor, they’re both good ways to pull off wicked-cool altered licks and impress your friends. It’s important to be able to get the fat, punchy sound that Geoff in particular emphasised to me, but whether you descend by raking or strict finger alternation is down to comfort. Both Geoff and Scott had rock solid technique and focused on giving me ways to develop my own, rather than sticking religiously to the particular details of their techniques. These two are highly recommended!
Recital season at Leeds University is just finishing, and I played on a couple of the jazz ones: George Millard‘s and James Kelsall‘s. Good fun. They all get recorded on one of those handheld recorders, so I’ve grabbed the audio and done a bit of tape-simulated mastering as best I can.
I’ll be putting some more up on my media page soon, but for now here’s a couple from George’s. He put together a septet with Steve Hanley (drums), Aron Kyne (piano), me (bass), Matt Yardley (trumpet), Ben Lowman (bari) and his teacher, Jim Corry (tenor). All of them were great and very generous with their time, and the recital just seemed like a really nice gig. Blues for CT is a Parker blues from Jim Corry’s Tribute to Atlantic Jazz project, and Clinicology is a Phil Woods head over Cherokee, with a Nigel Hitchcock intro stuck on the beginning. Enjoy:
[All the original recital recordings are up at: http://www.personal.leeds.ac.uk/~lecdrhg/final_recitals_summer_2012/]