You’ll be missed.


christmas straight, no chaser

I love when someone has vision for a tired old song or two:


eat your heart out, drew carey!

MorganOn Thursday, the wife and I, two cats, my brother-in-law, and his newlywed bride will all take a road trip to Cleveland to spend Christmas with our families. It just so happens that both of the jazz clubs in town are featuring bassists while I’m home. Unfortunately, they’re both the same night!

Dave Morgan
, Youngstown State faculty member and Cleveland Jazz Orchestra composer/bassist will be performing his tunes with a nonet at the Bop Stop this Friday. As Dave and Jack performed at our wedding reception, I had to give top bill to the Tom Knific Quartet, which is playing at Night Town Friday night. Tom is the chair of Western Michigan‘s jazz department. I’ve secured a lesson with Tom for Saturday morning, pending schedules and Dave Morgan pointed me in the direction of a very generous Jared Craig, who is lending me a bass with which to practice for the week and a half I’m home. I’d love to get a lesson with Dave, too, if time permits.Knific

When it rains it pours! I spend so much time at home laying around, watching TV – this will be a good opportunity to practice, learn and hear some live music! I wish I lived in a town with a real jazz club or two.

picking up the pieces

SchallerThe Double Bass Guide has the most exhaustive list of double bass pickups I’ve ever seen. My particular favorites (not because I’ve heard them, just because they look interesting) include the Schaller pictured to the left, which looks like someone took the hood ornamant off of a 1957 cruise-mobile and wedged it onto the end of a bass fingerboard.

The Wilson has always looked interesting to me, but I’m so afraid of a pickup that requires sending my bridge away for installation. Wilson It’s also never seemed convenient to spend time with a bass, but no bridge.

YamI think the most interesting-looking is the Japanese Yamahiko, whick looks a lot like the nearly ubiquitous Full Circle, but convenient in the fact that you can actually turn the wheel conveniently.

I have been very happy with my Upton Rev Solo II, which I’ve had for over a year now. I think, like many bass players, I’d love to have a mic setup, but am happy to find a rather neutral-sounding piezo system to fill in the gap.

well, not that i really need one…

dampitIn Central Florida, keeping your bass humidified is not really a great concern. More often than not, I’m more worried about the heat and humidity causing my bass to literally fall apart at the seams. I’m pretty sure that it won’t be long before I’m in an environment that requires constant humidity to keep my bass safe. To that end, the Peabody Double Bass Blog‘s Jeffrey Weisner posted a recipe for a bass humidification system that looks as though it may be a much more effective upgrade from the ubiquitous Dampit (whose “m” is often removed when its users refer to it).

Jason Phillips’ Bass Humidifiers

    2 large kitchen sponges
    2 plastic Ziploc-type bags. (I used to use a type that was sold as “breathable” and had lots of teeny holes in them to allow air to circulate. These must have not been very commercially successful, since I haven’t seen them in stores for awhile. If you can find them, buy them and give some to bassists everywhere… If not, follow the instructions below.)
    4-6 feet of nylon fishing line, available at any sporting goods store
    1 safety pin

Tie the line fairly tightly around each sponge, then moisten the sponges and squeeze them out enough to that they won’t drip into your bass. If you don’t have the breathable bags, poke lots of holes into your plastic bags with the safety pin. Then slip the bags over the sponges, and insert the sponges into your f-holes. The nylon line should rest on the bridge.

all i want for christmas is a new tailpiece

Violin+Tailpiece+Tree+OrnamentCorner Violin Shop is a great example of blogging to give your customer base the ability to peek into your world. Lately, they’ve been lamenting their lack of posts and inability to keep up with their good intentions (seems a little familiar, huh?). Well, this post took the cake. What upstanding string player wouldn’t want a tree decorated with tailpieces or a wreath of chinrests?

OK, I have no use for a chinrest and my tailiece would cause the tree to fall over, but this picture brought a nice close to this very busy, sometimes quite unmusical week.

the problem with blogs…

Nothing philosophical here. Last night, I upgraded WordPress and wound up blog-less overnight. There was some problem with wp-cache that was fixed by removing the plugin entirely.

Seems Jason Heath is having a different kind of problem

This Account Has Exceeded Its CPU Quota

Please contact this site’s webmaster.

Wait a few minutes and use your browser’s “Back” button or click here to try again.

If you are the webmaster, your account may have gotten this error for one or more of the following reasons:

* Your account has used more than its share of the cpu in the past 60 second sliding window.
* Your account has too many concurrent processes running simultanously.
* Your account has consumed too much memory.
* Your site was recently very busy trying to run inefficient scripts.

The solution would be to optimize your applications to use less CPU.
Adding appropriate indeces to your SQL tables can often help reduce CPU.
Using static .html documents instead of painful .php scripts will practically eliminate CPU usage.

the frozen north

DarcyDJA is taking a trip north for a Secret Society North hit at IAJE 2008. I’m really excited to see him on a panel discussion with Neil Tesser (Listen Here) and others entitled “The Blog.” It’s disappointing that there aren’t more people involved in major scenes blogging the way Darcy does. It seems like he’s out every night, either playing or attending another great hit in NYC.

I’ve mentioned before that I first met Darcy at the last IAJE conference, where we were often internet kiosk neighbors. I intend to liveblog this year’s conference, if the schedule accompanying my new position with the CJC permits.

All this is meant to serve as introduction to something I want to spend more time looking at: Darcy is using a service called Fractured Atlas to assist with travel to IAJE Toronto. Fractured Atlas is a non-profit organization that…well, here’s what they say:

Fractured Atlas is
a non-profit organization that provides services and support to artists and arts organizations.
Fractured Atlas is
a community of artists and arts groups from every discipline across the country and around the world.
Fractured Atlas is
an innovator in the use of technology and 21st century business models to empower the community we serve.

Your donation to Fractured Atlas, on behalf of Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society North, is a tax-deductible way to assist these deserving artists make their way north. This is an amazing service I will be looking into for future use myself. In the meantime, I’ll be sending a few dollars Darcy’s way to ensure we get to see DJA’s Secret Society at IAJE.

a spicier blogroll

formanekGood to see Michael Formanek becoming an active member of the Peabody Bass Blog. I’m looking forward to his addition to an already superb collective bass blog.

how in the world did i miss this one?

rufusI’m well aware of the excellent Rufus Reid interview videos at, but was not aware of last month’s article at Rufus is a giant among bass players. His book, “The Evolving Bassist” taught countless jazz bassists how to fulfill their role in an ensemble.

If you study consistently and are thorough, you should know when you are in control. All members in the group desire a positive, confident and consistent posture by the bassist. The desired musician has what everyone wants and needs to make the ensemble the best.

I’ve heard Rufus say it in person, and he repeats it here: The bassist has the power to destroy an otherwise excellent ensemble.

When one says they are a jazz bassist, it is assumed they know how to ‘swing’, can play the ‘blues and rhythm changes’, know numerous standards and jazz tunes, can play fast, can play in any key well, etc. Those attributes become crystal clear rather quickly if they are, in fact, under control. Your musical savvy is known immediately or not.

mw and rrI’ve spent plenty of times fooling myself into thinking I possessed these qualities only to be called out for not having my “stuff” together. It’s humiliating and can be a real turning point is a musician’s career – it was in mine. I’m still working on getting it together and have appreciated direct help from Mr. Reid in doing so.

In the article, Reid outlines four important facets of effective jazz bass playing:


“The pulse is intangible to the touch but can be felt incredibly when executed properly.”

“When the bassist plays a song ‘a cappella’, one should be able to render the melody and harmony as suggested by the music. ”

“All bassists must be clear to one’s self before one can be truly clear to our listeners.”

“(It) is the player’s choice to respond or not, but actually hearing the event go by while you are doing what is expected of you is the important thing to establish a musical thread throughout the group.”

Please do youself a favor and read the whole article. In the meantime, I’ll include the videos here: