Sax on the Web Forum banner

1 - 20 of 35 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
130 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I'm thinking it might be cool to learn to do walking-bass style comping on tenor or bari, using the sax like a bass for another instrument to improvise over. Someone must have done this before if only as a novelty, right? Can anyone point to audio or video of a sax being played like a walking bass?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,241 Posts
We do this sometimes in our sax quintet, using the bari. If we're playing an arrangement that includes a rhythm section as well as five saxes, the bari player may skip the bari part and play the bass line instead if it sounds better, especially if another horn is playing a solo at the time. I never thought of it as especially unusual.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,528 Posts
The really cool thing about bari sax low notes is how phat and buzzy they are - somewhat like a funky low clavinet. To me, this is the same quality that makes them not so great for a walking bass line. Does anyone *really* want to hear that sound, non-stop, for 3 minutes in a row? I'm thinking of something like the walking bass line on Chicago's "Wake Up Sunshine". That's what makes an electric bass so good for this type of part - it creates those notes down low in such a clean way, that you can keep hearing it for the entire length of a song, and not tire of it.

This is just my opinion.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,400 Posts
I had the same idea some time ago. I play in a trio with drums and bass so it would make a lot of sense (in my opinion) to try to give some harmonic help while the bass is soloing. Beside that, my teacher says that I'm playing more "around the chords" than "in the chords" so it would be a nice exercise anyway...
Too bad I had little time to study and never went away learning the technique.
 

·
SOTW Columnist, Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
23,123 Posts
If you're talking strictly about a walking bass line, I'd probably leave that up to the bass player. However, on tenor I sometimes double up on a bass line that also works as a 'horn line.' Not for a whole tune, but for a chorus or two. There are some 'signature' horn lines that mimic the bass line in a fair number of blues tunes. But maybe that's not what you're talking about?

Here's an example of what I mean. Go to 1:54 in this clip and listen to what the horns are doing:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oW04DMdB1yU
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,470 Posts
In a trio or quartet I sometimes play 3rds, 7ths or altered 5ths ( soft or subtone w/no vibrato) over the bass line while the piano/guitar solos.
I try to make these lines melodic and slow moving like strings.
Sometimes it's better on alto flute.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2007-
Joined
·
7,187 Posts
Well, if you go back to the 1920s a lot of the bass saxophone players were doing things like this, although it really wasn't walking bass line. It was more of a Dixieland two step.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,871 Posts
I found that playing bass on my alto helped me learn the chords and keys. Also, I've heard a lot of groups use bass or bari sax instead of an upright bass. How I started was to just play the scale stepwise in quarter notes and add/subtract accidentals as the keys changed. Then I learned to jump to the root with an approach tone when the chord changes. That's a lot of it.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2008
Joined
·
1,521 Posts
I've experimented with many wind substitutes for the double bass. I have found the the contrabass clarinet is great for the low notes and is about the same range as a string bass.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVaoMKJ1IVk
however for the deep sonorous sound of a bass string that fills the bottom of the sound landscape the tuba is best.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2008
Joined
·
1,521 Posts
Return to sender by Elvis immediately springs to mind, there's a double bass in the band as well, but the baritone is playing a walking bass line two, and slap tonguing too I think, see what you reckon...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PU5xxh5UX4U
Nice :) Love Elvis
This bari though is no substitute for the bass. Bari doesn't get low enough. I would like to see a rock (or street band) use a bass or contrabass sax to substitute the upright bass. Sax ensembles don't count;)
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2009
Joined
·
1,564 Posts
Scott Robinson knows what a bass line is all about:


Lefty on trombone.....
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2008
Joined
·
1,521 Posts
WEEEE.. Scott Robinson smokes . Check out the counterpoint at 4:45
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
1,244 Posts
more bass saxes:
 

·
Forum Contributor 2015-17
Joined
·
1,910 Posts
Scott Robinson can do anything.

So, i'm a bass player, and we like to think that we're not so easily replaced, and that there really is lot involved in creating a good walking bass line. It's a lifetime study. BUT, plenty of organists play a line with the left hand that sounds great. It can be simple and repetitious and still work perfectly.

I don't like bari for a bass line though, personal taste, although I think bass sax fits very well for earlier styles and could probably sub in anything if someone wanted to work at it.


 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member/Bass Sax Boss
Joined
·
1,820 Posts
In the early jazz groups, the bass saxophone was the best bass instrument. There was no electronic amplification of the string bass, so it got buried by the ensemble. Some groups used a tuba, but the tuba has a somewhat nebulous attack on each note, and the bass line needs a definitive envelope of sound on the attack of each note to define the time. The bass sax did it without a microphone. As technology improved, things changed.

Also, most early jazz bass lines were 2 beat bass parts - The tonic and the fifth on beats one and three. Plenty of time to take a breath and even rest the chops for a fraction of a second. A good bass sax player could play forever.

When needed, the bass saxophone player could join the other horns to harmonize a line, or even provide a separate line. String bass was ineffective in this department.

Adrian Rollini, the virtuoso bass saxophone player, was also a concert pianist. He was completely familiar with the several roles his bass saxophone could play in any ensemble, and he demonstrated his skills on every recording he made. With the exception of Sydney Bechet, Adrian was the first jazz saxophone player. Any saxophone player who plays a bass line on his horn owes Rollini a debt of thanks.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
14,286 Posts
blowhead: Thanks for the Red Nichols' video. That was Joe Rushton on bass saxophone. My claim to fame was that I stood next to Joe Rushton in the men's room at Marineland one evening when we attended a Red Nichols and The Five Pennies' gig there in the early 1960's.

The clarinet in that video was Rosy McHargue. He recorded an LP album with my band, The Jazzin' Babies, in the early 1980's. By then, Rosy was 89 years old and only played C-Melody, but he knew every darned tune from the 1920's, including all the vocal verses and choruses. He was a genius player and a real gentleman. He wrote a special tune for us for that album - ECHOES OF BIX.

Over the years I've played with some fine bass sax guys - Paul Woltz (now in Seattle with Uptown Lowdown) was the best of the bunch. Robert Young was another (after Paul moved away and left the Golden Eagle Jazz Band), and John Goodrich (Whitefish, MT, who plays soprano, clarinet, and bass sax duets with Paul Woltz in Uptown Lowdown - there are a couple of videos of Paul and John doing bass sax duets on youtube) is another superb bass saxophonist. I played with him in Whitefish last February (John on bass sax and soprano/clarinet). A good bass sax can fill the bass role very nicely in a trad-band. DAVE
 
1 - 20 of 35 Posts
Top