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Jazz Studies With Bill Harrison: Play-Along Tracks Lesson 6 – Learning Tunes

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Meet Bill Harrison –

This month’s column is a bit of a departure from past entries. I’m going to describe a method I’ve successfully used to add tunes to my repertoire. As bass players, our primary functions are to supply rhythmic forward motion and to clearly define the root motion from chord to chord. So learning new songs poses a couple of challenges that other instrumentalists don’t have to reckon with:

1) Most of us play an accompaniment role most of the time, so we rarely get the opportunity to play melodies (after all, the saxophone player doesn’t want to stand idly by as we play the majority of the in- heads).

2) The bass is primarily a single line instrument, so it is not ideal for providing chordal accompaniment.

Here’s a method for learning tunes that addresses these difficulties, and won’t take you ten years to master. It’s not fast but it is thorough.

Pick a tune with a melody that you’re already familiar with or that moves slowly enough for you to be able to learn by ear. (All The Things You Are would be a much better choice than Donna Lee). DO NOT use sheet music or a fake book to begin with. Music is an aural art; you want to involve your ears as much as possible in this process. While reading is an excellent skill, it is not the best way to internalize material that you want to master as an accompanist and improvisor.

1) Learn the melody and form by playing along with a recording. Sing it, play it, whistle it in the shower, rinse and repeat until you’ve really committed it to memory. (It helps to pick a tune you like to begin with). Notice what sections repeat and where the bridge (if any) occurs. When you start getting sick of it, that’s how you know you’ve got it.

2) Go back to the recording and learn the roots of the chords, again by playing along with the track until you to get it. I suggest doing this in 4 or 8 bar chunks. Much of this may have sunk in subconsciously while you were learning the melody; now make it conscious.

3) SING the melody and play the roots of the chords simultaneously. This will help you cement the relationship between the top line (melody) and the root motion that it’s connected to. You don’t have to sound like Sinatra to do this – just sing as best you can.

4) If you are able to transcribe the harmonies, do it. The melody notes will point you in the right direction a lot of the time but you will have to go back to the recording to listen to what the pianist or guitarist is playing. If you can’t hear the chord qualities, now’s the time to break out an accurate fake book (Chuck Sher’s books are excellent).

5) Use a play-along track without the bass part and play everything you know: the melody, the roots, arpeggios, walking lines, solo lines. SING the melody to yourself whenever and however you play the tune – that’s the best way to keep your place in the form.

The idea is to depend on your ears, not your eyes, for as much of the process as possible. I guarantee that you will never forget a tune you learn with this technique.

To help you get started with this process I’m including a PlayJazzNow play-along track for Sonny Rollins’ classic tune Doxy.
Doxy Pno_Dr

If you don’t know the melody, spend 99 cents and download Sonny’s recording: http://tinyurl.com/39qeqz8. I doubt you’ll need a chord chart, but if you do you can grab a free pdf here: Doxy

Bass Videos

New Gear: Aguilar Amplification Next-generation Tone Hammer and AG Series Amplifiers

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New Gear: Aguilar Amplification Next-generation Tone Hammer and AG Series Amplifiers

New Gear: Aguilar Amplification Next-generation Tone Hammer and AG Series Amplifiers…

Aguilar Amplification is excited to unveil the next generation of Tone Hammer and AG series amplifiers. These amplifiers are designed to meet the exacting standards of today’s bassists, enhancing their musical expression through in-demand features and fresh new designs.

The latest innovations in the Tone Hammer and AG series include the introduction of the Aguilar Cabinet Suite, dual XLR outputs, expanded connectivity options, and power section upgrades. These features not only provide superior sound quality and flexibility but also maintain the classic Aguilar performance that musicians have relied upon.

Key features of the next-generation amplifiers:

Aguilar Cabinet Suite: This new software allows players to load Aguilar ’s custom-designed SL/DB cabinet impulse responses (IRs), or their own custom IR files. This feature is available through both XLR and headphone outputs, offering new tone shaping and cabinet emulation options.
 
Dual XLR Outputs & Expanded Connectivity: Musicians can now tailor their tone and utilize cabinet IRs for their monitor mix, while also sending a pre-EQ ’d signal directly to the front-of-house. This dual functionality ensures optimal sound for both the artist and front-of-house. The new amplifiers include auxiliary input and headphone output options for silent practice. They also feature mix controls to fine-tune the listening experience, ideal for both practice and performance.

Upgraded Power Sections: Previously exclusive to Aguilar’s 700-series, the upgraded power sections in the Tone Hammer and AG 500 now support a 2.67 ohm load and include universal mains. These enhancements make the amplifiers perfect for international touring, offering seamless voltage adaptation.

“The new Tone Hammer and AG series amplifiers are a testament to Aguilar ’s commitment to world class sound and performance, providing bassists with the tools they need to define their sound on the global stage,” remarks Jordan Cortese, Brand Manager, Aguilar Musical Instruments.

The next-generation Tone Hammer and AG series amplifiers are available for purchase through www.aguilaramp.com and Aguilar’s extensive dealer network worldwide. For more information about the new amplifiers and other Aguilar products, please visit www.aguilaramp.com.

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New Gear: Spector Doug Wimbish USA Custom Series Basses

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Doug Wimbish, pictured with the new Spector Doug Wimbish USA Custom Series basses

Spector offers Doug Wimbish USA Custom Series basses…

Spector, a leading authority in bass guitar design, unveils two new Doug Wimbish USA Custom Series basses. Synonymous with bass excellence since 1987, Wimbish collaborated with Spector’s USA Custom Shop to create the DW-4 and DW-5 models, echoing the iconic instruments that have been favored heavily throughout his recording and performing career.
 
These signature basses faithfully replicate Wimbish’s originals, down to the smallest details like neck contours and nut widths. Customized EMG pickups, developed in collaboration with Wimbish, capture the distinctive sound that has shaped his monumental musical impact. These models invite players to explore the feel and response that have defined Wimbish’s signature style over the years.
 
Available in 4-string and 5-string versions, each model boasts unique features & finish options. The DW-4 comes in Amber Stain Gloss and Black Stain Gloss options, while the DW-5 offers Dark Blue Stain Gloss and Faded Natural Gloss. Every purchase includes a certificate of authenticity signed by Doug Wimbish. Wimbish comments, “Spector took the time to get every little nuance right, and that to me is dedication and being thoughtful enough to know ‘I want to nail it,’ and they did. I’m able to pick these instruments up for the first time and play them like I’ve already had them for years.”

For more information, visit spectorbass.com/doug-wimbish-usa-signature-series/.

Photo: Doug Wimbish, pictured with the new Spector Doug Wimbish USA Custom Series basses

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New Campaign: Alberto Rigoni, Nemesis Call – Queens Of Strings

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New Campaign: Alberto Rigoni, Nemesis Call - Queens Of Strings

Italian bass master and composer ALBERTO RIGONI is thrilled to announce his brand new project “Nemesis Call – Queens Of Strings”.

Nemesis Call – Queens Of Strings features a super talented drummer from Japan (TBA) and tons of female guitarists such as SAKI, Giusy Busetto, Alexandra Zerner (TBC) and many many others (TBA). Furthermore, Alberto has also launched a Fundraising Campaign for the project. 20% of the income will be donated to Lega del Filo d’Oro legadelfilodoro.it/it, an Italian association that helps deaf and blind children!

Alberto shares:
“Hello friends and music lovers! I’m Alberto Rigoni, an Italian composer and.. a BASS GUY! Between 2008 and 2024 I released 13 solo albums, spanning from progressive, rock, ambient to funky and experimental music, which also features contributions from musicians such as keyboard wizard Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater) drummer Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree) and Marco Minnemann (the Aristocrats), keyboardist Kevin Moore (ex Dream Theater), singer John Jeff Soto (ex  Goran Edman (ex Y. Malmsteen), bassists Nathan East, Stu Hamm (Joe Satriani), Nik West (ex Prince) and many others. I’m also bass player for BAD As, Sunset Groove Society, Kim Bingham, The Italians bands and co-producer of Mistheria’s Vivaldi Metal Project.”

Alberto on the new project Nemesis Call:
“Even if my latest album “Unexpected Lullabies”, dedicated to my newborn Vittoria Parini Rigoni, will be released on June 4th, 2024, when Vittoria came to life I felt the need to compose new music (yes, I really can’t stop!!!!!). This time will be quite challenging because I’m willing to release an instrumental ambient/prog/rock/metal album, that will feature a talented and young drummer (TBA) and tons of female guitarists (that’s why I will call the album “Queens of the Strings”) such as Alexandra Zerner, YOKA and many others (TBA/TBC)). It won’t be easy to manage all such great musicians but I will make it!! Are you ready to face a new prog experience? The album will be released in Digipack CD and in high-quality digital format approximately at the beginning of 2025.”

The Fundraising Campaign:
As an independent artist, Alberto is looking for supporters who can help him reach the budget for the production (recordings, mix, mastering, artwork etc.) of this new album and has started this fundraising campaign that will end successfully on October 15th, 2024.

Get further information about Alberto Rigoni’s new project Nemesis Call Fundraising campaign at albertorigoni.net/nemesiscal

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Bass Videos

Artist Update With Bassist Derek Frank

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Artist Update With Bassist Derek Frank

Bassist Derek Frank…

Many of you will remember the last time I chatted with Derek Frank was back in 2017. The main thing that impressed me was how busy Derek was and how he juggled playing with many huge acts.

Now, I am happy to hear that Derek launched a new album last March titled “Origin Story” where he digs deep into his roots and pays homage to Pittsburg.

Join me as we get caught up after all these years and hear the details about the new album, how Derek gets his sound, and his plans for the future.

Photo, Stephen Bradley

Visit Online:

www.derekfrank.com
www.instagram.com/derekfrankbass
www.youtube.com/derekfrankbass
www.facebook.com/derekfrankbass

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This Week’s Top 10 Basses on Instagram

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TOP 10 Basses of the week

Check out our top 10 favorite basses on Instagram this week…

Click to follow Bass Musician on Instagram @bassmusicianmag

FEATURED @foderaguitars @bqwbassguitar @lecomptebass @xvector_basses @vuorensaku_guitars @phdbassguitars @meridian_guitars @sterlingbymusicman @ramabass.ok @overwaterbasses

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