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Accompanying Myself

Setting aside Larkin-esque objections to the very principle (Larkin P. All What Jazz: A Record Diary, 1961-1971, 1985), I find two main challenges to the art of the bass solo. Firstly, as a bassist, you have to switch your head from providing the underlying heartbeat of the music to a different approach to the music. It depends on the nature of the song but that can be quite a wrench. Secondly, most of the rest of the band has often dropped out by that point; you can get part way through and experience a Wile E Coyote moment where you become aware that the ground has gone from under your feet!

At last night’s jazz jam, with no keyboard present to keep the low end ticking along, I pressed my looper into service on a couple of the simpler tunes. Earlier in the song, I captured a bassline for a run through the changes and then unleashed it as I took my own chance to fly. It is a shame I wasn’t recording the session but, in the moment, I think it worked pretty well, certainly for the blues groove feel of the two songs I applied it to.

Interestingly, leaving the bass loop running didn’t work when other people were doing their solos and you could hear the timing drifting after a loop or two but, having done a fair amount of practise in that area, I was able to keep the pulse together while playing over the top. Hopefully not too over the top but at least I had solid ground over which to fly.

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