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Kind of Eulb

Like many jazz fans, I number the 1959 album Kind of Blue among my favourites. I have also had the pleasure of performing most of the tracks on the album myself over the years with a variety of different combos. (only Flamenco Sketches left if anyone is up for a jam).

The one I have found trickiest on double bass is So What, where the bass sets up the foundation for the tune with probably one of the best known jazz riffs of all time. On bass guitar it is easy to reach the notes: 1, 5, 6, b7, 8 and 9. On upright, the higher string tension and bigger stretches make it more challenging to hit the notes and stay in tune as it repeats.

I’ve experimented with different approaches but hit on what seems to be a good one tonight. I’ve been practising scales where you play a couple of notes on each string, meaning your left hand moves in reverse of the normal direction. I discovered that playing the first note with the fourth finger (D on the A string), then jumping back with the first finger (to A on the G string) set me up for further shifts on the G string.

It seems that one of the conceptual leaps I need to make as I develop my upright playing is not to shy away from large shifts but to approach them in a disciplined fashion. With electric bass playing, I have generally tried to work out ways to gradually spider across the fingerboard. Sometimes you have to think backward to move forward.

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