Monday, August 14, 2006

So, uuhhhh yea, its been a while since my last blog. Been busy.
Kai has me learning his home grown slap technique that he says is derived from Marcus Miller, Larry Graham, Bootsy and Victor Wooten. It involves first knowing where the major and minor pentatonic scales are in all 12 keys all over the neck. THEN we can move to actual slap technique. Ascending it is PLUCK, thumb, hammer, pluck. For the pentatonic in E, the notes are (there are 9 of them) E>F#>G#>B>C#>E>F#>G#>B. So that's, root, second, third, fifth, sixth, octave, ninth, tenth (third), twelfth (fifth). It is the same notes going down, but a different series of right hand movements. I think its, Pluck, Pull Off, Hammer, Thumb, then repeat the Pull Off, Hammer, Thumb. Not sure about this one, I will have to check my notes. Just a little bit of this technique will go a long way to big funkyness. It's exciting to be learning something new again, something that I never really got into in the past. So many folks slap and pick on bass that I never really thought it would be necessary to learn it but the opposite has been true. It has little to do with shredding and technique, rather it's a vehicle for developing the musical voice on the instrument of choice. Just like knowing more words (and how to use them) an musician or artist can express more of what they are feeling. More brushes, more choices. Ah, but therein lies the difficult part, when and where to use the musical brushes. The more they are used the less they are needed. That's deep brah...

Monday, June 05, 2006

Friday June 2nd
It's official. We are now called Left Coasting. As per PatB's email:

"Alright, I've got it.
Left Coasting
I don't give a f if there are lots of "Left Coast" references on myspace, or elsewhere out there. This deviation has multiple meanings, and a google and myspace search reveals that it isn't taken. You don't have to be on acid to get it, and when you look at it, you don't think "jamband" right away, although it fits.
-it hints on the Michigan/California connection. Some of us were born out east, some out here, but we're all "Left Coasting" now
-our music is often "coasting" somewhere (hence, implied movement) and we like to "leave" it that way
-we play a song, and when the structure/theme is done, we don't stop. It's "Left Coasting."
-we all are "Left Coasting" with by living out here (hence, a geographic theme that could be shared with any audience on the "left coast.")
-both words have two distinct meanings
-i don't think we'd have to explain it to people, it's easy to understand
With all that being said, I still prefer the Wifebeaters. I'm still down with:
Fog St./Street Fog
I'm personally against the acid trip names, or anything that lumps us in with every other jamband out there.
I think it's a huge waste of time to use a quarter of our practice time working on this. The music needs more work than anything else, and we can do this name exchange all day while were not at practice with our instruments plugged in and ready to go.
You all sounded great last night, and I hope we can move forward with more original music soon. I love the songs and the progress we've made, and I want to keep that ball rolling."

Yup I agree with you Pat, less musing more music. Left Coasting

Oh and BTW, Andrew is sounding astounding on tenor!

Saturday and Sunday 6/3, 6/4
As far as practicing, yesterday I sat with the bass unplugged, tapping the foot, trying to hit the 5-8 subdivisions. They are coming along nicely. Also just worked on the fingerings for the 5ths, no metronome
Saturday I was just playing arpeggios of different sizes to lock in with certain rhythm's at 60 bpm. 3 notes, 3 beats, 4 notes, 4 beats, 5 notes, 5 beats and so on. 5 notes/beats is cool because it hits up to the 11 (hehe) root, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 and down again, 5 beats each in one key but hitting all modes in that key.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Wednesday May 24
Agave Practice. Getting closer to nailing down a name, finally. Also getting closer to finishing up the demo.
Played Red Eyed Loon at a much faster tempo with the click track. Sounds great when we are tight.
Before rehearsal, I got to practice a new thing Kai showed me called "Saying Hello to the rhythm's." It's similar to "Saying Hello to the Notes" which just means playing every note on the bass from lowest to highest string by string. The new thing goes like this: set the metronome to 60 (super fukin' slow) and start with straight rhythm's, play notes on the one's then doubles, triples, 4's, 5's, 6's, 7's, 8's like the bass marathon but without the improv, just play the rhythm's moving thru the keys preferably in fourths. After playing through all the subdivisions, go back and SWING the doubles, triples and quad's. I was able to do all of the rhythyms fairly solid, straight 7's and 8's were tough as were swing 3's and 4's. Still cannot play the swing 4's. Going to have to try and slow down even more.
Tuesday May 23
Lesson with Kai. See above. Thankfully, I could practice the interval study and add some triads in all 12 keys before the lesson.
Monday May 22
BCP practice cancelled. Only one rehearsal between gigs (almost 6 weeks apart) no problem! Not sure how much longer we can keep this going with Brian being away at work so often.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

It's been a while...
Yea well no big deal.
Been practicing the interval study but the fives have been throwing me every time. Need to slow down and find the most comfortable fingerings again.
The study is much more fun with the drum loops on Garageband. But I did however have to use the metronome set to 70 bpm for the subdivisions of 4. It still takes about 30 minutes to go through all 12 keys and all intervals and I like that it has become so efficient. After the interval study I have been following up with root third fifth octave arpeggios in all 12 keys with the drum machine or metronome. It kind of offers a full circle sort of study. Any trouble spots within either method get more attention AFTER I complete each cycle. I.E. if I am struggling with Db major 3rds or Db major 6ths, I wait until I am done with all the intervals in 12 keys before I go back and run through the trouble spots. Same process applies to the arpeggio study. That way I can focus on completion of the study and afterward focus solely on trouble spots. It seems to be working as there are fewer problem areas now than before.
I would like to point out that even though I have become quite comfortable playing the intervals and can hit them in time while subdividing the beat, they are not yet coming out in my all to infrequent solos. I think this is because I have spent so much more time, especially in the beginning of my bass study (now in its 15th year) playing nothing but scales. Time to let them go and focus on apreggios and intervals.
Tuesday May 16
Met with Mike Henry, singer/songwriter/guitar player. He is a great person and a big talent. I dug his songs and look forward to forming a band with him and the right drummer.
Thursday May 11
Agave practice, still no band name and no demo. Sigh...
This time though, we had Andrew Ferren on sax, and what a great player he has become! He hit it out of the park. Solo's were sick, he either knew or learned the tunes quickly, has really interesting, cool sounding effects and a great attitude. I hope we can keep him.
Wednesday May 3 to Monday May 8
What a time. Music, heat, food, friends, more music. So much to do and so little time. When I go to NOLA I feel like a Muslim in Mecca or a Jew in Jerusalem. All are there to participate and show their love of music, asking for little in return, other than that the bands DELIVER. And do they ever. I think the fest brings out the best in the artists musically, as they feel there are fewer limitations and constraints on what they do and when. For example guest appearances abound, more so than any regular weekend of music or festival that I have attended. A musical orgy if you will. Upon returning -- with a hangover -- besides having a bit of a headache I feel inspired. Little else other than the HSMF does this to me or, more accurately, I do this to myself by letting it happen. Just like everything else in life I control how I feel and no one else. By putting myself in a place where people come to hear great funky music all day and night is like nothing else, I feel I can connect with more people in that my vast knowledge of music history, theory, and its interconnectivity is far more well received than on normal days.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Sunday April 16
Had a jam session with Laramie, Wendi and Randall. The project is called Holy Hedonist House Party I was refered by Kai and had a blast. Easy, old timey, gospel-rock with lots of "guitar keys" A, G and E por ejemplo. They were really nice folks, feeding me smoothies and sammy's and I really liked the original songs they had to offer. Randall the drummer is great. Solid time, cool ideas, big ears and he can sing! I think they want me to come back as they had a lot of nice things to say about me and my playing. Cool. We shall see. I am trying to get more gigs for Agave and BCP, but nothing is going to happen until those bands have good demos. The good news is we are very close with both bands.

Saturday April 15
BCP Gig. The gig went well considering we had not rehearsed for a week. Props to Jesse and Brian. Jesse and I both got to solo more often and I REALLY dug that and am excited about the prospect of more soloing in the future. Jesse's soloing was mad fun! Pushing, and pulling the beat with smooth polyrhythms and creative ideas. Brian's voice sounded especially good that night and his solo's are always interesting and creative. My solo's were pretty good too ;)
I did get to practice that day, 40 minutes at 60 bpm on the interval study and about 20 minutes of triads in all keys moving up in 4ths. I find that if I practice the day of the gig (and everyday for that matter) that I am far more comfy, loose and relaxed on stage. One thing to point out is that I had NO STAGE FRIGHT at all. A big shift for me when in the past I was almost paralyzed with fear and it took a lot of energy just to remember what I was supposed to do. Don't get me wrong, I did make mistakes but, my pants did not fall down and even better, my head did not explode. Good thing too. Once a BCP demo is set and I can inundate Myspace with clips, photos and video, things will pick up. We did get a few friends out and the usual crowd of inebriated locals. Some who requested songs as we were playing! Well more later.

Friday April 14
Hung out with Paul most of the day, playing basses shopping for laptops and shooting the breeze. That night I saw Umphrey's McGee at the Fillmore in SF. Great band, great show, great songs but the sound sucked! Both guitars and all vocals were fine, almost no keys except for solos, and almost NO BASS AT ALL. The bass drum, over powered the bass guitar both sets. It was annoying to say the least. I really wanted to hear Ryan's Lakland/GK/Eden rig and even though I was 30 feet from his set up, I couldn't hear a damn thing as the bass drum was the loudest instrument onstage. I was bummed to say the least.

Thursday April 13
Agave Practice. We need to change the name, it was invented by a guy we booted from the band a YEAR ago. We have been kicking around some more names recently:

Second Street (2nd Street)
Mountain Madman
Permanent Toast
Flux Mgr
Worked By the Rain
Grampa's Medicine
Universal Mind
PS Allstars
2nd sonic
The New Deal

I kind of like, Second Street, Universal Mind, Worked By The Rain....

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Wednesday April 12
Haven't posted in a while. Had no time after work to practice. Went to Paul's on our way to see the John Scofield Quartet, with Bill Stewart, Dennis Irwin and Eddie Henderson. Saw both sets for the price of one. Needless to say it was sick... So instead of hammering away on my instrument, I got to see 4 masters of jazz tear it up on stage, I only remember one cover song, Louis Armstrong's "Do You Know What It Means (to Miss New Orleans)". All of it was like attending a masterclass in modern jazz. Keep your head up, improvise from the heart and groove as hard as possible. The number of notes matters less than the feeling put forth behind each phrase. Theme and variation and more variation, and most importantly, HAVE FUN.
Tuesday April 11
40 minutes with the interval study, subdivision of 2's at 96 bpm in all twelve keys and triads over 2 octaves in all twelve keys no metronome. All told, about 75 minutes of practice. I hope to get it up to 120 minutes soon. Tonight I doubt if I will have 2 hours as we have Agave Practice but I think I can squeeze in 40 minutes.
Friday I will likely have BCP practice for the Saturday gig but still might be able to whittle some time to warm up.
I don't remember what I have been up to since my last post, but I know I have been sticking to the interval study and playing only triads over 2 octaves, it's kept my chops at a decent level but I really want to step it up. Maybe I should leave my job and go to music school, that should keep me busy.
More later.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Friday, March 31st
Had the day off, thanks Senior Chavez!
Spent the day practicing, I think I did 6's this time and some work out of the new book, Reading Rhythms.
Making good progress on both, kept the metronome on the slow side, 50 - 60bpm as it's a challenge to cram in 6 beats between clicks. In the Bass Marathons, we do the same but with 7 and 8 beats! It requires total relaxation and a very slow metronome. The folks who study Indian music, tend to use this method as it promotes and trains the player to explore freedom inside the beat. The music tells it all, listen to Zakir Hussain or Ali Akbar Kahn for better examples. I do not claim to be their progeny but it has helped my time greatly and it's a great challenge to keep good time when there is such a slow click.
Saturday, Sunday, Monday.
SICK AS A DOG. It started a few hours after eating a pizza dinner Friday night. I knew there was something wrong with me by 2am when I started vomiting profusely. It did not stop until mid morning. By that time there was nothing left in me and I felt like hell. Sweats, chills, body aches, cramps, dehydration and TOTAL exhaustion as I could not sleep from the unbearable abdominal cramps. Needless to say playing the bass was not available to me at that time, I could hardly sit up or walk without feeling like shitty, let alone play music. Sad but true. Basically all I could to was sip Pedialyte and water and try to nap or watch movies. Saturday and Sunday were a wash. Monday I was feeling better but still tired, and a bit woozy. Today is a bit better for me.
I plan on practicing with BCP tonight. We need to go over a few songs that we want on the demo. Jog in Jeans, Kissing the Boo Boo, 5B4Funk, Loser, Fearless, If I Could, Fast Enough for You, and the new song are all possibilities. Gonna try and put in a hour of practice before I go, this always helps me warm up and get in the groove.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Wednesday March 29
Interval study continues. Last night was the subdivisions of 4. It's taking less time to complete this session as I am so much more familiar with the fingerings. The metronome helps a lot too as it inspires me to be as fluid as possible. Although as the subdivisions increase, I still need to slow the metronome down to about 63 bpm. With the 2's and 3's I can still hit it at higher tempi; up to 132 bpm.
I got a new book called Reading Rhythms (??) from MIT Press. It's tough but fair. I could get through the first page and found it easier at 94, 115, and 120 bmp but much harder at 44 and 49 bpm. This book should help my reading problem a ton. More later

Tuesday March 28
Interval study, again?
Well yea it's the new black, in bass playing anyway. 3's were the call of the day, and was able to keep it solid (mostly) at 116 bpm. Have also been integrating a new arpeggio study that makes it easy to go up and down the scale with each arp. As it turns out, the 7th of each chord is a whole step above or below the next chord. NEaTo! Also, according to Carol Kaye bassists should stick to the root, 3rd, 5th and octacve for most chord/scales. She says to add the 6th for major and that playing scales uses up most of the players options. Ya see, bassists don't play chords very often, especially when playing with chordal instruments or horn sections. Keeping simple by using mostly chord tones offers more flavor and anticipation for the listener. I tend to agree but there are plenty of opportunities to solo using scales, probably to many. In a jazz harmonic progression, most chord tones are very close to the next chord tones root or other chord tones. For example the first 4 chords in Sonny Rollins "Oleo" are:
Bb7 -> Gmin7 -> C7 -> F7
Where the 3rd of Bb7 is the 5th of Gmin7,
The 3rd of Gmin7 is the 7th of C7,
The 3rd of C7 is a half step below the root of F7
and the 3rd of F7 is a half step below the root of Bb7 which is the next chord in the progression. This information is important to both lead (horns, piano, voice, guitar etc) and comping instruments (bass, piano, guitar, sections etc) because the melody and harmony is outlined and what notes make up these parts? CHORD TONES!
By sticking to the roots 3rd's 5th's and octaves of a chord, jazz not only becomes slightly easier to play. How does this fit with the interval study. ANY interval pattern can be used over any chord tone of any chord, as long as it resolves on a chord tone or root.

Saturday and Sunday March 22, 23
Spent Sunday jamming with Paul. We played Oleo, Surrey with the Fringe on Top, Sirhaborn, Wave, I Remember Clifford, Naima and maybe some others. We sound pretty good together, and Paul kicks my ass sometimes, when I fuck up. YEA!
Saturday I had the day to myself so I practiced a bunch. Interval studies, reading, jamming etc.

Friday, March 24, 2006

March 23 Thursday
Agave Practice
Even when we are off, we still sound ok. The work ethic is there and the sound is THERE. It's a matter of closely listening to each other and being in the moment. I would like to gig soon, and I know we could but... in due time.
I did not have time to do the interval study so maybe tonight I will before BCP practice. Time to hit the 6's!
Carol Kaye's reading method is starting to work and I have barely been using it for a week. The combination of marking and focusing on the downbeats as well as singing the rhythms helps immensely.

Check out these sick Lakland X-Rays! I play a Lakland so naturally, they appeal to me and my geeky leanings.