Friday, April 17, 2009

Bass Lessons

I've always loved the way that drummers and bassists play off of each other in music. From the double bass and tympani of a symphony orchestra, to the drum and bass sequencing of hip-hop and every music in between, there is a powerful connection between bass and drums.

I started playing drums at a young age and took to them quickly. It didn't take long for me to find out that rock and roll really is a joy to play. Soon thereafter, I discovered Jazz - and my life took a whole new turn in a great direction. After studying Jazz in college, I went and played in a rock band for a number of years while simultaneously gigging with Country, Funk, Swing, Jazz and Heavy metal artists. Upon relocating to the Northwest, my life has taken on a "settling" period and these days I'm happy just playing Jazz. It truly is a work in progress for me, as I don't practice much at all - but when I play, everything comes back to me. Maybe not technically, but certainly on a spiritual and happy mental level. Drumming makes me smile.

I've played with many, many bass players and have enjoyed grooving with most of them. Not too many that I remember having rhythm or time struggles with...but there have been a few! I guess what attracts me to bassists is their ability to synchronize with me on an instinctive level. Playing a dirty, sloppy 12-bar blues is all well and good, but really locking up the groove with a bass player, to me, means not even realizing that they are playing. You stop listening to the note choices, the rhythm and the timing - it simply happens between the two of you and it is magic. I guess you could say that I briefly leave my senses for awhile when the groove is really happening. I imagine it's similar to what runners feel in the middle of a marathon....?

So, I've been practicing bass almost every day for the past month or so. I've got one on loan from my buddy Adam and another from my neighbor, Jenni. Both are Fender Jazz models, but Adam's is American and Jen's is Mexican. Although the American Jazz is more powerful with a clearer and more defined tone, I think I prefer the Mexican bass. It's got kind of a cool growl to it and it's way more worn in. I think I'll play 'em a bit longer before I decide which model I'm more comfortable with - I hope to have my own some day soon. My buddy Michael from the jam session says that playing bass will definitely help my drumming; I think I agree with him and look forward to hearing the proof!

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