Friday, June 19, 2015

What Bass Players Practice

Hi All,
I forgot about this blog for a minute, sorry I haven't posted in almost a year.  I have been re-organizing, and have a list of half a dozen or so planned blog entries to start going through about various projects, pieces of music, etc...  HERE is my bandcamp link, if you haven't checked it out in awhile, there's a lot of new recordings up, from Cornelius Cardew, to Don Cherry, to a recent Ornette Coleman tribute show.

For this post I emailed some bass player friends and simply asked them what they practiced, as I feel like I've been in a rut, playing the same old things.  Here's the responses I got below, use as a resource, lots of great ideas here!  The main take away I got out of it was that I really need to work on pizz string crossing exercises, seems like everyone does it, and it never occurred to me (except back in my high school electric bass shred days).  Enjoy!



WHAT DO BASS PLAYERS PRACTICE:



I do a lot of work with the bow, practicing scales and arpeggios. I like to run scales in odd time signatures, making my own patterns with the intervals. It's fun and more applicable to jazz playing while still working on intonation and mechanics.

-----------

The Flesch Scale book is intreresting. Rabbath books. Storch-Hrabe 57 Studies. Stokin' bow exercise books.

Then to get my left and right hand to work together more fluidly I've been working on an exercise where the metronome is set between 70 and 90 while I articulate 16 note triplets with the bow and run up and down a scale changing on different subdivisions, for example - (/ marking a blow stroke) F// G// A// etc. then F/G/A/, then F/// G/// A///. That one tends to wake up my hands and get my brain working.

Loosening up the bow hand/arm - Left hand over the harmonics two octaves above the open strings, simply with your arm hanging in thumb position and playing G, D and A with an OPEN E. Metronome anywhere between 40-120, changing subdivisions, notes slurred, etc. but essentially playing E-A-D-G (Bow change) G-D-A-E and focusing on getting everything smooth in the right hand. You cover string crossings, time, bow placement, and more stuff I cant think of because I'm a buffoon.

My jazz stuff is always changing... Currently it's transcriptions (playing along with records), time (playing along with records) and just playing (along with records, and then not, Free, in time with or with out metronome on a weird setting, blah blah blah). "Variations on a theme about playing along with records"


-----------------


Lately I've been doing a lot of daily review of heads and transcriptions, then learning new tunes or refreshing old ones, playing the melody, bass line, soloing, usually with some sort of DIY playalong or Aebersold. Targeting different pitches, soloing with arpeggios, alternating melody and bass line, playing in different keys, etc.

I also like to do some sort of technique/intonation work. Start with long tones arco, ff dotted quarters on open strings, quarter=60, then playing scales slowly with some sort of pitch reference, (drone, playalong), not correcting the pitch if its off but rather doing it again and playing in tune (a Rabbath idea). Sometimes will do the same with arpeggios. Might also work on some classical rep or do Zimmerman or Rabbath exercises (esp. if I have to play some classical soon).

Will also just play through tunes, usually with another cat or two. And work on new transcriptions (I use the transcribe! software). Also I sometimes like to do this Ari Hoenig exercise where you take the first thing you play and try to develop it into a 2-3 minute composition. Oh yeah and learning tunes in different keys on the piano.
 
I don't do this stuff everyday, I usually just rotate it in a non-systematic way.  

-------------- 

Scales - arco with a drone & pizz
RH pizz w/met - different finger combinations, string crossings
Tunes - changes/melodies
Transcriptions - working up new or reviewing old
Licks - II-V's, etc.
Classical rep - working on new rep
Up tempo - a few minutes of playing an up tempo tune (300+)
Listening - just a few minutes of focused listening

---------------

I'm almost always just trying to prepare for the next thing I've got to do.
But when I DO have time, the things that have always had the most impact on my development are:
-scales over the whole register of the bass with the bow. I really like 2 strokes per note with the second stroke overlapping onto the next note to highlight my shifting.
-jim vaughn's handframe exercise. 
-my own variations on the simandl strength exercise. 
-whatever I feel like playing (tunes/free/bach)
-odd numbered groupings of two finger alternating pizz with all sorts of string crossings.
-brainsplitting (singing and playing different subdivisions against one another)
-shifting exercizes with a drone
-standing with both heels down (and other Alexander technique stuff)
-translating everything from the lower positions into thumb position
-tune learning/listening!







Thursday, August 7, 2014

Peaceful Contact Proved Elusive (album release!)



Hello to all my friends, family and fans!

I just released a duo album, on the Dazzle recording label, with guitarist Alex Nauman. The album, "Peaceful Contact Proved Elusive," contains all original compositions and arrangements by Alex and myself. It is available on limited edition vinyl or as a digital download through iTunes, Amazon and Bandcamp, see links below. To purchase your copy of the vinyl email either myself or Alex at 1smileymn@gmail.com or alexnaumanmusic@gmail.com. The album comes with a free digital download that includes additional material'.  There is a description of the music below. 

Thanks for your continued support!

-Matt Smiley





About the music:

1.     Hic Hip – composition by Matt Smiley, May 7th 2012, dedicated to Christian Wolff, made possible by Greg Heimbecker, who brought Chinese gongs and a very large frame drum to the recording session.  The score is a single melodic line with chord changes, dots, thick black lines and long tones, while the second line is rhythmic, with a few graphic explosions.  Matt Smiley plays gongs and bass, while Alex Nauman plays guitar and frame drum.   
2.     Bends – composition by Alex Nauman, July 9th 2011, dedicated to Derek Bailey.  First performed as a solo at Pat’s Place in Billings, MT.  There are two versions of the piece on the album, clean and distorted.  The notation calls for all possible ways and combinations to bend pitch(es).
3.     Gradual Coalescence – composition by Matt Smiley, May 7th 2013, dedicated to Ken Vandermark, originally titled SQHN and composed for a trio with an additional trumpet part.  The piece is made up of 12 cells that the musicians improvise the connection between, and each cell can be played in any order.  On the album the cells are played forwards and backwards in the same ordering on both instruments.
4.     Rotting Watermelons – composition by Alex Nauman, 2013, dedicated to Frank Zappa.  The composition is inspired by two Frank Zappa songs Black Napkins and Watermelons in Easter Hay.  
5.     Take the Bandaid off – composition by Alex Nauman, 2013.  Early in the recording session Alex cut one of his fingers, and had to bandage it up, hence the title.  This is the ballad of the album and one of the only pieces that employs [semi] traditional harmonies.  
6.     Lorraine is a Good Name for a Bat – composition by Matt Smiley, December 17th 2012, dedicated to William Burroughs.  Five very different sections of music that can be played in any ordering with improvisation in between each section.  The title comes from a line from Jack Kerouac’s "On the Road." 
7.     Sketches for Ornette – composition/arrangement by Matt Smiley, August 1st 2013. This is a duo version of Ornette Coleman’s "Free Jazz," and is based on a transcription/arrangement of the piece for double quartet that I performed in 2010.  Includes the same amount of solo sections, including the bass duet, and the two drum solos.  
8.     Ice Trains – chance composition by Matt Smiley, September 8th 2013, dedicated to John Zorn.  Each performer has 7 pages of any notated music, and the modular score involves specific interpretations of the combination of random notated music.  The 7 pages should be different if possible, but any arrangement could be made: 7 pages of a Beethoven string quartet, or one page of Charlie Parker, Brahms, John Cage, REM, Bulgarian music, Moondog, and a church hymn, or 3 pages of AC/DC and 4 pages of Chopin.  Each of the four versions of Ice Trains uses different orderings of the score, and different notated scores.  

Monday, July 7, 2014

Bookmarks for days



I haven't been updating the blog much these days, realizing it's impossible to keep up with social media.  I'm now actively using (with the help of my new iPhone) facebook, twitter, instagram, this blog, bandcamp, cdbaby, reddit, talkbass, youtube, soundcloud, and probably more that I'm forgetting about right now, to try and promote my music and get my ideas out there.  I'm torn between keeping up this charade of diving into the internet feet first in helping hustle for gigs, for work, and for simply wanting to archive my music as best as I can.  It's too much to keep track of, and too many hours in the day lost to this rat race!  Whew, it's enough to make you want to live off the grid!

Recently in the last 6-8 months my computer bookmarks are piling up with things to check out down the road, so I'll try and go ahead and list off them here, so I can come back to them, and who knows, you the reader may find these interesting as well!

Jack Wright Essays  Saxophonist Jack Wright Essays on music, art, life, and more!

Codex Seraphinianus  Wiki article on this amazing coded piece, so far undeciphered.

Cheap Eye Glasses  This is a great company that sells cheap frames/lens, need some new specs.

Tim Berne, David Torn and Ches Smith Video  This is a show from the Walnut Room in Denver I was at, one of the best I've seen in years, and the audio/video is very high quality.

Christian Wolff Lecture I haven't watched this yet, but the only other lecture I found by Wolff is in German, so I'm glad this one is in English.

Matt Smiley July Update


Hello all!
Welcome again to the email list for bassist/composer Matt Smiley!  Listed below are all of my gigs for the month of July, including multiple performances at Ace Gillett’s, John Galt Coffee in Greeley and at the Garden’s at Spring Creek.

The special events to be on the lookout for are my performance of Treatise in Greeley on Thursday July 10th at the John Galt Coffee Shop at 7:30pm.  I have an 11 piece ensemble premi√®ring an original composition of mine that I wrote 5 years ago.  There will be a projection of the score playing in real time with the music, as well as free food and drink! 

Also I will be performing as part of the Garden’s at the Spring Creek Concert series with the great Kelsey Shiba performing all music by Cole Porter, Sunday evening July 20th from 6:30pm-8:30pm.  For more information check out their website: http://www.fcgov.com/gardens/programsspecial-events/special-events/music-in-the-gardens
   
Thanks for listening and for your support!
Matt Smiley



MATT SMILEY’S JULY 2014 GIG CALENDAR

Sunday July 6th – Ace Gillett’s in Fort Collins 7pm-11pm – Amanda Riggers on vocals/piano and Matt Smiley on bass

Wednesday July 9th – Ace Gillett’s in Fort Collins 7pm-11pm – Amanda Riggers on vocals/piano and Matt Smiley on bass

Thursday July 10th – TREATISE in Greeley at John Galt Coffee (709 16th st) at 7:30pm - Matt Smiley (bass, electronics), Nathan Ahlers (guitar, electronics), Kristen Dye (flute), Aimee Niemann (violin), Michael Schreier (keyboard), Tom Amend (keyboard),
Shilo Stroman (vibes/percussion),
Mike Gersten (clarinet),
Rob Borger (trombone), Jenna Hunt (harp) and Kenyon Brenner (sax/ewi)

Friday July 11th  – Ace Gillett’s in Fort Collins 8pm-midnight – Subterranean Jazz Quartet featuring Annie Booth on piano, John Olson on drums, Josh Reed on trumpet and Matt Smiley on bass

Saturday July 12th  - Ace Gillett’s in Fort Collins 8pm-midnight – Subterranean Jazz Quartet featuring Ben Markley on piano, John Olson on drums, Josh Quinlan on saxophone and Matt Smiley on bass

Sunday July 13th – Ace Gillett’s in Fort Collins 7pm-11pm – Annie Booth on piano and Matt Smiley on bass

Wednesday July 16th – Ace Gillett’s in Fort Collins 7pm-11pm – Kelsey Shiba on vocals/piano and Matt Smiley on bass

Thursday July 17th  - Ace Gillett’s in Fort Collins 8pm-midnight – Subterranean Jazz Quartet featuring Ben Markley on piano, John Olson on drums, Andrew Vogt on saxophones and Matt Smiley on bass

Friday July 18th  – Ace Gillett’s in Fort Collins 8pm-midnight – Subterranean Jazz Quartet featuring Annie Booth on piano, John Olson on drums, Ryan Fourt on guitar and Matt Smiley on bass

Saturday July 19th – Performing at a private wedding

Sunday July 20th – Gardens at the Spring Creek in Fort Collins 6pm-8pm – Matt Smiley Quintet plays the music of Cole Porter – Kelsey Shiba on keyboards and vocals, Josh Reed on trumpet, Ryan Fourt on guitar, Shilo Stroman on drums, and Matt Smiley on bass

Wednesday July 23rd  – Ace Gillett’s in Fort Collins 7pm-11pm – Kelsey Shiba on vocals/piano and Matt Smiley on bass

Thursday July 24th   - Ace Gillett’s in Fort Collins 8pm-midnight – Subterranean Jazz Quartet featuring Ben Markley on piano, John Olson on drums, Andrew Vogt on saxophones and Matt Smiley on bass

Friday July 25th   – Ace Gillett’s in Fort Collins 8pm-midnight – Subterranean Jazz Quartet featuring Annie Booth on piano, John Olson on drums, Alex Weitz on saxophone and Matt Smiley on bass

Saturday July 26th  - Ace Gillett’s in Fort Collins 8pm-midnight – Subterranean Jazz Quartet featuring Ben Markley on piano, John Olson on drums, Wil Swindler on saxophone and Matt Smiley on bass

Sunday July 27th  – Ace Gillett’s in Fort Collins 7pm-11pm – Amanda Riggers on vocals/piano and Matt Smiley on bass

Wednesday July 30th   – Ace Gillett’s in Fort Collins 7pm-11pm – Kelsey Shiba on vocals/piano and Matt Smiley on bass

Thursday July 31st    - Ace Gillett’s in Fort Collins 8pm-midnight – Subterranean Jazz Quartet featuring Ben Markley on piano, John Olson on drums, Andrew Vogt on saxophones and Matt Smiley on bass

Monday, June 16, 2014

Charlie Haden and Keith Jarrett - Jasmine and Last Dance


mediafire

The link above is to download my full album transcription of Charlie Haden's bass parts on "Jasmine" with Keith Jarrett.  I spent a lot of time digging into the album when it first came out, and slowly worked on these transcriptions as a way to develop my piano/bass duo playing, slow tempos, and also to get deeper into Haden's solo language and phrasing.

I am excited to be listening to the new Keith Jarrett/Charlie Haden ECM release "Last Dance" that came out today!  I didn't know anything about this album coming out until a bass player friend of mine mentioned it to me yesterday.  The first track "My Old Flame" so far has a long and incredible bass solo, that shows off both Haden's his musicality and muscularity on the instrument.  I can't wait to hear more!

(If you have any problems with downloaded the pdfs, shoot me an email at 1smileymn at gmail dot com)


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Monthly Email List (MARCH)



Hello all,
Welcome to the first of a once a month music email list for bassist/composer Matt Smiley!  Listed below are all of my gigs in the month of March, including multiple performances at Ace Gillett’s, and the Crown Pub in Fort Collins, CO and at the Denver School of the Arts Day of Percussion (3-8) and The University of Wyoming Jazz Festival (3-27/3-28) with guest artists David Scott, Kelsey Shiba, Michael Rodriguez and Damani Phillips. 

On the recording front be on the lookout for the new Alex Nauman/Matt Smiley duo album “Peaceful Contact Proved Elusive,” coming out soon on the Dazzle recording label on limited edition 100 vinyl, and as a digital download featuring original compositions inspired by the music of Frank Zappa, Derek Bailey, and Ornette Coleman.

Thanks for listening and for your support!
Matt Smiley



MATT SMILEY’S MARCH 2014 GIG CALENDAR

Saturday March 1st - Ace Gillett’s in Fort Collins 8pm-midnight – Subterranean Jazz Quartet featuring Ben Markley on piano, John Olson on drums, Kenyon Brenner on saxophone and Matt Smiley on bass

Sunday March 2nd – Crown Pub in Fort Collins 7pm-10pm - Ryan Fourt on guitar, Shilo Stroman on drums and Matt Smiley on bass

Tuesday March 4th – Hilton Hotel in Fort Collins 5:30pm-9:30pm – Steve Johnson Group with Matt Smiley on bass

Wednesday March 5th – Ace Gillett’s in Fort Collins 8pm-midnight – Kelsey Shiba on vocals and piano, Matt Smiley on bass

Thursday March 6th – Ace Gillett’s in Fort Collins 8pm-midnight – Subterranean Jazz Quartet featuring Ben Markley on piano, Shilo Stroman on drums, Andrew Vogt on saxophones and Matt Smiley on bass

Friday March 7th - Ace Gillett’s in Fort Collins 8pm-midnight – Subterranean Jazz Quartet featuring Annie Booth on piano, John Olson on drums, Brianna Carrasquillo on saxophone and Matt Smiley on bass

Saturday March 8th – Denver School of the Arts Day of Percussion 1pm-4pm – Greg Tanner Harris on vibraphone, Josh Quinlan on saxophones, Ed Breazeale on drums and Matt Smiley on bass

Saturday March 8th - Ace Gillett’s in Fort Collins 8pm-midnight – Subterranean Jazz Quartet featuring Ben Markley on piano, John Olson on drums, Gabe Mervine on trumpet and Matt Smiley on bass

Sunday March 9th – Crown Pub in Fort Collins 7pm-10pm – Adam Bodine on keys, Shilo Stroman on drums and Matt Smiley on bass

Wednesday March 12th - Ace Gillett’s in Fort Collins 8pm-midnight – Kelsey Shiba on vocals and piano, Matt Smiley on bass

Thursday March 13th  – Ace Gillett’s in Fort Collins 8pm-midnight – Subterranean Jazz Quartet featuring Ben Markley on piano, John Olson on drums, Andrew Vogt on saxophones and Matt Smiley on bass

Friday March 14th - Ace Gillett’s in Fort Collins 8pm-midnight – Subterranean Jazz Quartet featuring Jeff Jenkins on piano, John Olson on drums, Josh Reed on trumpet and Matt Smiley on bass

Saturday March 15th - Ace Gillett’s in Fort Collins 8pm-midnight – Subterranean Jazz Quartet featuring Jeff Jenkins on piano, John Olson on drums, Wil Swindler on saxophones and Matt Smiley on bass

Wednesday March 19th – Ace Gillett’s in Fort Collins 8pm-midnight – Annie Booth on piano and Matt Smiley on bass

Thursday March 20th – Ace Gillett’s in Fort Collins 8pm-midnight – Subterranean Jazz Quartet featuring Ben Markley on piano, John Olson on drums, Andrew Vogt on saxophones and Matt Smiley on bass

Friday March 21st  - Ace Gillett’s in Fort Collins 8pm-midnight – Subterranean Jazz Quartet featuring Annie Booth on piano, John Olson on drums, Sam Williams on saxophones and Matt Smiley on bass

Saturday March 22nd  - Ace Gillett’s in Fort Collins 8pm-midnight – Subterranean Jazz Quartet featuring Ben Markley on piano, John Olson on drums, Ryan Fourt on guitar and Matt Smiley on bass

Wednesday March 26th – Ace Gillett’s in Fort Collins 8pm-midnight – Kelsey Shiba on vocals and piano, Matt Smiley on bass

Thursday March 27th – University of Wyoming 7:30pm Concert – with David Scott on vocals, Kelsey Shiba on vocals, Ben Markley on piano, Ed Breazeale on drums and Matt Smiley on bass

Friday March 28th – University of Wyoming Concert – with Michael Rodriguez on trumpet, Damani Phillips on saxophone, Ben Markley on piano, Ed Breazeale on drums and Matt Smiley on bass

Saturday March 29th   - Ace Gillett’s in Fort Collins 8pm-midnight – Subterranean Jazz Quartet featuring Ben Markley on piano, John Olson on drums, Josh Quinlan on saxophones and Matt Smiley on bass

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Midwest Jazz Tour with the Josh Quinlan Quartet




Josh Quinlan Jazz Tour January-February 2014

January 16th – Crossroads Theatre concert/masterclass in Denver, CO with the Josh Quinlan Quartet plus Aldo Salvent (saxophone), followed by another concert/masterclass for Josh Quinlan’s Jazz History class at CU Boulder, CO with Ben Markley and Ed Breazeale

January 18th – Ace Gillette’s in Fort Collins, CO with Josh Quinlan, Aldo Salvent, Ben Markley and John Olson

January 26th – Frank Nichols House Party in Aurora, CO with Josh Quinlan, Ben Markley, and Ed Breazeale (ELLINGTON/STRAYHORN)

January 27th – University of Wyoming concert/jam session with Josh Quinlan, Ben Markley, and Ed Breazeale (COLTRANE)

January 29th – Dazzle show in Denver, CO with Josh Quinlan, Ben Markley, and Ed Breazeale (ELLINGTON/COLTRANE)

January 30th – University of Iowa in Iowa City, IA with Josh Quinlan, Ben Markley, and Ed Breazeale  (COLTRANE)

January 31st – Truman State University in Iowa, MO concert and masterclass with Josh Quinlan, Jeff Riley (saxophone), Ben Markley, and Ed Breazeale (COLTRANE)

February 1st – Circle M Music in Kirksville, MO with Josh Quinlan, Tim AuBuchon (saxophone), Ben Markley, and Ed Breazeale and Take Five in Kansas, MO with Josh Quinlan, Clint Ashlock (trumpet), Ben Markley, and Ed Breazeale (COLTRANE and ELLINGTON/STRAYHORN)

February 2nd – The Record Bar in Kansas, MO with Josh Quinlan, Clint Ashlock (trumpet) Ben Markley, and Ed Breazeale  (JOSH QUINLAN MUSIC)

The tour went really well, and it was good to get back on the road again.  This was the second jazz tour I have done (not including ones affiliated with my undergraduate jazz program).  The first tour was with Reid Poole and Britt Ciampa which you can read about from a few years ago on my blog.  This tour was with the Josh Quinlan quartet, featuring Ben Markley on keys,, and Ed Breazeale on drums.  We all fit in one vehicle with Ed behind the wheel, and I brought my electric fretless bass along for the ride!  Josh was able to secure upright basses for me for most of the dates, and got to play a few gigs on the electric.  I already am starting to brainstorm some projects in the near future playing electric bass jazz.

I didn’t keep a tour journal this time like I did with the last one, but all I can really say was that it was good to play the same music for most of the gigs, develop some things with the musicians in the band, and make some great contacts throughout the different places we were at.  The tour has resulted in multiple recording sessions that will happen in the next year, and we’re already setting things up for a June tour in NYC and Boston!  I’m truly grateful to have such good musicians to play and hang with, and I can’t wait to keep digging into more of these projects.  The quartet will be performing in Colorado in the fall as well with Greg Osby, so I have a lot of work to do to get ready for that!  I’ll keep the post short, but it was a great 5 days on the road, and looking forward to doing it again.  One of these days I’ll try to get my own touring happening, and try it from the leader perspective.