All the soloists are having fun, exploring and interacting with the band in their improvisations and suddenly that mysterious and doubtful moment arrives where no one knows what to do … The Bass solo! 🙂
The drummer suddenly stops playing and only keeps a hit hat in beats 2 and 4, or some basic pattern, when he does not think it is a good idea to try all the polyrhythms and metric modulations he knows. The guitarist begins to play a walking/ groove in the lowest strings compensating for the “lack of bass”, and even thinks that it is great to play slap. The pianist/ keyboardist when he does not bend the bass line that the guitarist is doing, begins to play all those chords and re-harmonizations that he was studying in the week, and even thinks that is the best time to try all the sounds of his keyboard. Strange things could also happen with the winds, especially those that are on a register similar to the Bass. Funny, huh?
Ladies and gentlemen, the Bass (Electric / Acoustic) is also a solo instrument, which should be accompanied like any other solo instrument. But as Bassists we must also know what we want, need and how to ask for, so we can feel more comfortable during our solo.
Below are some suggestions that can be put into practice in a band situation and allow us to convey what we may be looking as an accompaniment.
- Drummer/ Percussionist can continue to accompany on a regular basis, as any other soloist and interact in what they believe necessary so that the situation of the solo can manifest as a “conversation.” It is also fun and challenging to be able to perform “Trades” (2, 4, 8, 12 bars, etc …) between Drum and Bass.
- Guitarists/ Pianists can continue playing chords and defining harmony, using their musical experiences to interact or leave space with the soloist. IT IS NOT NECESSARY to replace the role of the bass player by playing a Bass line, Walking, etc, and win the appreciation of many of us, who will be very grateful.
- Another interesting option, if in the composition/ arrangement is present, is to use Stop Times, Kicks or as you like to call them to accompany the Bassist. In this way the possibility that the Soloist can create a Conversation of Questions and Answers with the Band is generated.
- In case of playing in a Trio/ Duet or any other formation that does not contain instruments like Piano/ Guitar, such as a Jazz Trio (Saxo, Bass, Drum) or a Duo (Bass, Voice, etc …), Accompaniment can be performed with the melody of the song/ standard, or fragments of it, keeping the form, harmony and tempo with it.
- In case of leaving alone the Bassist as the chosen color, the Bassists must be able to keep the improvisation (Melody, Harmony and Rhythm) without the need for someone to accompany us. For this it is necessary to be able to define these three things and a great exercise to practice this topic (and demolisher in the beginning!) is to improvise on any song/ standard using only as a accompaniment a click/ metronome in beats 2 and 4, in this way to define the harmony of the tune with our melodies, giving to understand the form of the same one.
It is noteworthy that although this post is oriented towards a more jazzy environment or styles that contain improvisation (and Bass solos!!!), these ideas presented can be used on any style without problems.
Finally the myth of how to comp a Bass solo (or if the solo of Bajo exist!) has been unveiled and there are no more excuses to continue mistreating the rest of the musicians when they do not know what to do during solo. 😉
Until the next post!