I was lucky enough to do this amazing event on the 10th, 11th and 12th of November. Organised by Paul Turner and Rob Harris (of Jamiroquai / Brother Strut fame!), it brings together bassists and guitarists for a mixture of 1-2-1 and group sessions, with a lovely human feel (and great food.. plus lots of beer!)
This is day 1 – day 2 and three coming in next posts!
Boom n Twang – Day 1
OK – this journal is also the content I’ll be publishing elsewhere on this amazing event. What a day! I type this at 7:15, after a day with some excellent music in it.
My day started in a Travelodge near Cambridge (my bad! But it was cheap… and comfortable, and clean, and simple!) – 30 mins or so later, I’m here, before the guys have finished setting up! Cue me getting some breakfast in (full English!) for £15, which was really good for the food – the bacon was PROPERLY COOKED! Astonishing for a buffet breakfast!
The morning was a group session, with the cable passed around – we looked at groove, and the pocket: taking a bassline from a Mark King track – Love Meeting Love – the basic line modulates through pretty much a cycle of 4ths, and fair tempo, but we slowed it right down to really concentrate on the note placement: the analogy was that when you hear a drummer nailing an 8th note funk hihat with basic snare and bass, you can hear the precise placement and that’s what makes it sound so good – which is fair.
When my time came to play this exercise, I really got into it, playing with note length – and even trying a swing feel on it, just to feel the difference: it was a cool exercise, even just as a mediation (I think I used to do this with Jamiroquai’s “Blow Your Mind” – I’d always just zone out on it. But the playing slow exercise is really handy! We had a LOT of anecdotes from both Rob and Paul about Jamiroquai and how it’s changed over time – Jay does indeed call it like James Brown, and he like to mix it up onstage, often coming up with totally different versions of tracks – e.g. “Funktion”, which they apparently rehearsed for ages, then it only got used on one gig(!) – the reworked version sounded excellent, and the bass was totally different.
Lunch was great, the fish and chips was very welcome. Lots of chat and smiles flowed as we got to know each other, where we are and what we do musically. It so good to just mix with other musicians – bassists and guitarists, it’s a great bunch.
After a good walk to get some of the calories burned, we settled into the 1-2-1 sessions in the afternoon, which Paul obviously REALLY enjoys – so much, in fast, that as I type (19:26) the final one is still in! I went in at 6:30ish! Half hour sessions each, and we co-ordinated on WhatsApp too. I should have nipped into the group session in the guitar room!
Paul and I talked about basses, pickups (his 60s jazz is a lovely bass – the Stenback is so light, it’s unreal, and sounds good) – and Paul asked if I used a compressor: I do – the Warwick one is usually on, and when I use the pedalboard I always have the Cali76 on: he noticed me digging in a lot – and that’s a great observation, because I do enjoy that, and I suspect I dig in too much precisely because of the compressor! The licks we traded were lovely, him demonstrating some cool little ideas around how you turn around a section (like 2-bar, 4-bar, that kind of thing) and we even got into some of the technicals – see below!
I’ve been wanting to work out how to get more nuance in my playing – to have more headroom to allow me to control my own volume more – and I suspect my routine use of compression may have made me over-expressive – which explains fatigue at jam nights (although in my defence recently I’ve been playing for 2 hours +!)
We then got talking about little fills, and he turned me on to some little solo / fill ideas over a simple Em7 – informed by some excellent playing by a fella called Byron Jones, playing for George Duke. That guy WAILS on pentatonic soloing, and throws in interesting stuff like little 6th fills. We also talked about using descending 6th dual-tones as end-fill markers – like up the neck, back down to the E at fret7, sort of like the little tritone stuff you can do to end a fill.
What a day. Time for me to find out what dinner is like, and then I think it’s time for a beer or two!
Those beers were lovely. I got a round in for most of the people there – and as a result, my drinks just kept coming! Ah, these peeps are just lovely. Jason has his family here from Canada!
Boom n Twang Day 1: ENJOYED.