domenica 26 febbraio 2017

A work in three movements.

How many musicians does it take to assemble a tin shed? Just two, but you need to get the base part right and work in harmony. We'll play the third movement next Saturday. It's important to follow the score on a work like this.

martedì 21 febbraio 2017


This is at a place called X Bookshop and Music Lounge in Dixon Street.

Got to have a go on bass too.

I have a long day at work today but it's worth being tired when you've been out jamming.

Hey, I bet The Curmudgeon will leave a comment saying something like,
"I can understand why you stand well back from that trombone player.
I guess it can be pretty loud in the enclosed space of a bookstore."

domenica 19 febbraio 2017


Domenica. Ieri ho frequentato un matrimonio in Nuova Lazio. Ho piovuto ma lo spirito non è stato inumidito. E 'stato speciale vedere persone che non avevo visto per un lungo periodo di tempo. Spero che la sposa e lo sposo sarà molto felice.

Oggi faccio pratica il contrabbasso e il violino perché domani vi è un jazz jam a Wellington e andrò con mio figlio. Cercherò di suonare bene se l'occasione.

Questa mattina ho un sessione parlare con un uomo a Milano. E` bene parlare on Skype con gli italiani nativi. Sono molto fortunato perché conosco un paio di persone che amano parlare su Skype.

Penso che oggi bisogno di visitare mia vecchia zia. Zia Maureen ha 97 anni. Lei dimentica che io sono, ma a volte, ricorda. Le piace avere una scherzo e ridere.

Buona giornata. Ciao.

sabato 18 febbraio 2017


My son wants me to go to a jazz jam with him on Monday evening. I've been to quite a few jams in Wellington with him but have never played. Mostly there are a lot of people lining up for a shot on the bass and I sort of get cold feet. It's not that I don't think I'm up to it, it's just that most people there seem to know each other and I only know a few.

I thought that this time I'd take Signora Violina. This particular jam is in a small space and you wouldn't even need an amp. I could just stand up and join in at the appropriate time.

Jamming on fiddle is different to playing the bass. Rather than worrying about chord changes, you'll do better if you know the tune. Still, once an unfamiliar tune has been played, it's probably a bit easier to pull off a solo over something you don't really know - you just have to have your ears turned on.
I went to a Bluegrass jam the other weekend and a guy asked me, "How do you know where to find all those notes you play?" (I was playing over a lot of tunes I didn't know, but they were all easy 3 or 4 chord tunes)
I said something like, "Just don't think."
I was being a bit of a wanker here, but it is essentially true. I'd read a couple of interesting books over Christmas. One was given to me by an old friend named Wade. His partner is a reader of this blog.

Hi Abby!

The idea is that, while you're performing, you're really like an obsever - you're just listening to the performance unravel. Of course a lot of practice, conscious practice, will really help you when you are in this performance state. I played with some good jazz musicians at a gig a few weeks back and I think I pulled this thing off. Mind you, I had had a couple of wines.
I think I need to get into this state on Monday.
This weekend will require a fair bit of practice, and mental 'rehearsal' of getting into the space.

Come Monday I'll be ready.

domenica 12 febbraio 2017

Could Inflatable Jesus make a violin so big that even he couldn't lift it?


Questo pomeriggio andrò a Petone di un Bluegrass Jam.

Prenderò il mio violino. Questa mattina faccio pratica accordi sul violino perché sono importanti in Bluegrass.

Vorrei anche parlare con un nuovo amico su Skye questa mattina. Egli è chiamato Francesco e vive a Milano.


sabato 11 febbraio 2017

Take a solo Inflatable Jesus!

Saturday Morning at Richard's Bass Bag.*

The coldest part of the night is just before dawn.

That's not supposed to be meaningful - it's just a true statement.
I woke at about 4.30am this morning (not unusual as on week days I get up at 5am - when Robert is probably doing his first cleaning job for the day) and noticed that I was cold. Shelley (of RBB) had removed the extra quilt that was on the bed the night before.

That's me on the right.

This is the first February that I ever remember wearing a jersey. I've got one on as I write, although it looks like it will be a nice day.

I'm going to pop up and check on the cross today.

I built it and erected in in a cemetary in Wellington to mark the spot where Shelley (of RBB)'s grandfather and aunt are burried.

I didn't ask permission, in case someone said 'no', I just did it. I put in a good dollop of quick dry cement to add to its permanence. Though I suppose someone could saw it off at the base.

I don't see how it's doing anybody any harm.

Anyway, if it has gone, I'll simply build another. Hey, but let's be positive.

I see there is a bluegrass jam on tomorrow in Petone.

I think I'll go. I'll take my fiddle (really the same instrument as my violin).

Okay, I'd better go - I'm talking to Antonio on Skype at 9am and I haven't done my bathroom and breakfast stuff yet.

Ciao, ciao.

* the original bass bagging site

lunedì 6 febbraio 2017

In a Jam at a Jam.

If a jam turns to custard sometimes it's not much fun being the bass player.

Shelley(of RBB) went on a course recently called Crucual Conversations.
The idea is that, when you have a problem with someone, you ask the most important questions and then tell them how you feel.
I was playing contrabbasso at a jazz jam in Nuova Lazio yesterday and a guy best described as a blues guitarist showed up.
He seemed like a nice guy but he wasn't schooled in the basic skills and etiquette of playing jazz standards.
When you are jamming on a jazz standard this happens -
  • You play the tune (called The Head)
  • Individual players get a chance to solo
  • You play the head.
The rhythm section plays behind the soloists. The rhythm section generally consists of drums, bass, guitar and/or piano. If there is a guitarist and a pianist, one of them backs off a bit while the other plays the chords.
Mr Blues Guitarist didn't seem to be familiar with playing jazz standards so he played pentatonic riffs over everything and everyone.

The form went like this -
  • Head with pentatonic solo
  • Guitar solo (pentatonic solo)
  • Other instruments soloing with guitar playing pentatonics
  • Head with pentatonic solo.
When my first bass solo came up I had to abandon it half way through because -
  • It was hard to hear the chord changes
  • The pentatonic backing was louder than the bass
  • I sort of had to try to make things I played fit with what the guitarist was doing, which stifled my flow of ideas.
I signalled to the rest of the band, "No bass solos today."

For the rest of the gig I concentrated on trying to make the chord changes obvious and the rhythm section solid. Not a lot of fun really.
I said nothing to Mr Blues Guitarist.

Shelley (of RBB) pointed out later that I should have had the Crucial Conversation and she was right.

This is what should have happened...

Richard (of RBB): Have you played a lot of jazz?
Mr Blues Guitarist: No, not really, but I've been to rock jams and used to play in a blues band.
Richard (of RBB): These tunes that we are playing are called standards. The general idea is that, after the tune is played, everybody who wants to gets to play a solo over the form. You can play a solo, but then you stop playing and somebody else has a turn. Don't play when someone else is soloing.
Mr Blues Guitarist: But I was just playing riffs to fill out the music and make it all sound good.
Richard (of RBB): Well, don't do that because you're getting in the way of the soloist. In music it's important that we listen and be sensitive to other players. You're playing the same sound over all the chords and that doesn't help the person who is trying to solo, especially if he is playing a quieter instrument like the bass.
Mr Blues Guitarist: Okay, but my riffs seemed to fit. You could have turned up your amp. I think that...
Richard (of RBB): No. Don't play when others are playing. Learn the chord changes and drop in a few chords if you like but don't solo while it's someone else's turn. Don't do that because it makes it hard for the soloist.

* * *

Would this work?
I told my son and he said, "Next time take your trumpet and play over his solos."
Not a bad Plan B.

sabato 4 febbraio 2017

Saturday Morning at Richard's Bass Bag.*

Good morning.
I've just been reading apologies from lots of Americans to Australians and their prime minister for Trumpy's rude phone call. For some reason it reminded me of Robert and I having to remove social media comments we made after a few drinks.

I guess the difference is that Trumpy doesn't think differently in the morning.

Okay, okay, I know you want an update on my practice.
Running Total as at 3rd Feb = 43 hours 20 minutes.
That's after 34 days.
Not too bad at all.

The Gloria

On 14 hours 20 minutes The Gloria is ahead, on hours, of Signora Violina, Jim Dandy and Tromba Verde. However, I do need to step up my contrabbasso practice. Being back at work means that contrabbasso practice happens after I get home and all my jobs are done. By this time I'm getting a bit knackered and contrabbasso practice has been short lately.

Jim Dandy
We have the Nuova Lazio Jazz Jam on Sunday, so that will be a good workout for The Gloria.

Well, I'd better leave it there - I have a big Italian conversation coming up this morning with my friend Antonio. Antonio lives near Verona in a town called monteforte d'alpone.

Ciao amici.

* the original bass bagging site