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Album Review: Brad Russell, Metal Improved

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Album Review: Brad Russell, Metal Improved

Brad Russell, Metal Improved…

We have been listening to Brad Russell play bass over the years, and it is quite clear that versatility is at the heart of his talent. Whether it is playing in the pit for a musical or on stage at the NAMM Show, Brad has serious chops. With Metal Improved, he is giving us a sample of what it sounds like when he applies a focused, overdriven, metal approach to a collection of tunes.

Brad has teamed up with hardcore drummers Gregg Bissonette, Jason Furman, and Aquiles Priester to produce seven tracks of high-intensity, calculatedly frenetic, musical wizardry. Three of the tracks are Brad’s original compositions and the others are very recognizable tunes by Billy Sheehan, Edward Van Halen, Chick Corea, and J. S. Bach.

This EP is badass… if Metal is your thing you will want to give it a listen.

Metal Improved available on Amazon.com

Bass Books

Bass Gym – 101 Chords & Harmonic Accompaniments

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Bass Gym - 101 Chords & Harmonic Accompaniments

Bass Gym – 101 Chords & Harmonic Accompaniments…

We all know that the bass guitar is primarily a melodic and rhythmic instrument. We can
play fat huge bass notes on it with any finger technique, slapping, picking or tapping. In
most cases, however, we will play single notes that build on each other to form a bass line.
The guitarist or keyboardist is in charge of playing the chords, right? So there’s no point in
playing chords on the bass, because we’ll just be wasting our time.

Wrong! Playing chords gives us a tremendous amount of insight. We learn to hear and also ‘see’ chords. In many cases we will have to adjust our fingering and voicing (the way the chords can be interpreted).

On the bass, we very often play double stops (two notes at once) and power chords (either as a double stops with a root and a fifth or as a triple stops with a root, a fifth and an octave). These are the simplest chords that we can incorporate into our bass lines right away.
For example, Lemmy Kilmister was a master at playing power chords! And the likes of Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller, Victor Wooten and Justin Chancellor of Tool have many grooves or riffs built around playing double or triple stops.

Purely from the point of view of music theory, a chord is a chord if it consists of at least three notes – a root, a fifth and a third. It is a constellation of the simplest major and minor chords. If we proceed further in the chord hierarchy, all chords with a number seven in their name consist of four notes (the three notes mentioned above plus a major or minor seventh), ninth chords of five notes (we add the so-called ninth note, which is a second played an octave higher), eleventh chords of six notes, and finally thirteenth chords of seven notes. So suddenly you realise that you are actually using all the notes of a scale that consists of exactly seven notes (not including the octave).

Yes, the composition of chords and their whole system is closely related to intervals and scales. It is such a great building block for any playful musician.

So, let’s summarize why it’s good to master playing chords on the bass:

1) Understanding the connection between intervals, scales, and chords
2) Improving the visualization of the fingerboard
3) Expanding the register with new techniques for playing
4) Challenging left hand finger coordination
5) Understanding chord formation and note hierarchy aka voicing
6) Insight into the mindset of guitarists or pianists
7) Understanding the harmonic aspects and structure of a given piece of music

As in all the books in the Bass Gym 101 series, we have a total of 101 exercises
targeting all important aspects of the topic. In our case, chord playing and harmonic
accompaniments. Each exercise is briefly described in the title and consists of a notation and tablature that shows you where and how best to play the exercise.

I recommend being particularly consistent in the way you play the exercises. Begin with small sections – one bar at a time, slowing down and looping. Gradually add more bars and also increase the tempo.

I was especially careful to write each exercise in a practical, musical way. These are not just boring etudes or purely mechanical practice. You can take the exercises and use them straightway in a song or jam session with a drummer or other musician. Or use them in your own original composition. There are no limits to your imagination and creativity.

The main focus is on musicality, challenging progressions, fingerings and combinations which will enhace your playing skills while keeping it real and practical. Often exercises are written as passages in songs – a verse, a bridge or a chorus.

I hope this musical approach will motivate you even more to incorporate chordal playing into your bass lines. Personally, I always immediately think of a new song when playing chords and often end up playing it with the band. You never know, maybe chord playing will inspire you enough to become a songwriter and bring not just grooves or bass lines to the table, but also complete songs and arrangements.

Exercise methodology:

1-10 – practicing double stops
11-20 – practicing double stops and open strings
21-29 – tenth chords
30-39 – chords with three notes – triple stops
40-49 – grooves with double stops and chords
50-60 – seventh chords
61-65 – ninth chords
66-70 – sus4 chords
71-75 – chords using all four strings
76-80 – flamenco style chords
81-90 – voice leading
91-101 – etudes and grooves in different musical styles

Bass Gym – 101 Chords & Harmonic Accompaniments is available online at Amazon.com

All exercises are available as mp3 downloads at basslinepublishing.com/free-stuff

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This Week’s Top 10 Basses on Instagram

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This Week’s Top 10 Basses on Instagram

Check out our top 10 favorite basses on Instagram this week…

Click to follow Bass Musician on Instagram @bassmusicianmag

FEATURED @dingwallguitars //// @officialspector @pipedreamfretworks @yusuke_koshino_otf @s.martyn_custom_basses @xvector_basses @ottobassdesign @cb_basses @sireusaofficial @mauriziouberbasses

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Bass Videos

Jeff Pilson, Foreigner Low End – January 2024

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Jeff Pilson - Bass Musician Magazine - January 2024

Jeff Pilson, Foreigner Low End – January 2024…

Those of us who were around back in the 70’s remember how certain songs on the radio resonated with us. It turns out that many of these iconic melodies came from Foreigner and they were part of our personal soundtracks! 

After all these years, the band is going as strong as ever with Jeff Pilson firing away on bass midstream into a 2-year farewell tour. 

I am excited to be able to bring you all the details about Jeff’s musical Journey, the farewell tour in progress, how he gets his sound and his plans for the future.

Cover Photo: Krishta Abruzziini / Video Photos: Krishta Abruzzini, Karsten Staiger, Gina Hyams

For more news on FOREIGNER and upcoming Farewell Tour dates, fans can visit:
foreigneronline.com
facebook.com/Foreigner
twitter.com/ForeignerMusic
instagram.com/foreignerlive
youtube.com/user/FWebTeam
Also on FB @officialjeffpilson

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Bass CDs

New Album: Mark Egan, Cross Currents

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New Album: Mark Egan, Cross Currents

Bassist Mark Egan to release “Cross Currents” with Shawn Pelton and Shane Theriot – Release Date: March 7th, 2024…

After five decades of touring and recording as an in-demand sideman and leader in his own right, acclaimed bassist Mark Egan has finally released an album that encapsulates his myriad of musical influences in one all-encompassing package. “In many ways this is a new production sound for me,” said the bassist who studied privately with Jaco Pastorius during the mid ‘70s while attending the University of Florida before becoming a charter member of The Pat Metheny Group. “My early influences are from playing r&b, soul and rock before becoming indoctrinated into jazz in the Miami years.

This trio record explores those rootsy R&B funk-rock grooves coupled with my jazz and world sensibilities and utilizes the various fretted and fretless basses that I’ve worked with over the years. It’s a culmination of the many worlds of my experiences and is the reason that it’s titled Cross Currents.”

Completing this potent trio with Egan are drummer Shawn Pelton (a 30-year veteran of the Saturday Night Live band and first-call New York City studio player who has recorded with everyone from Bob Dylan, Rod Stewart and Bruce Springsteen to Elton John, Billy Joel, Van Morrison, Sheryl Crow, David Byrne, Pink and Luciano Pavarotti) and Louisiana-born guitarist Shane Theriot (musical director for Hall & Oates who has also recorded and/or performed with The Neville Brothers, Dr. John, Boz Scaggs, Allen Toussaint, Rickie Lee Jones, Willie Nelson and Todd Rundgren).

Together they cut a wide stylistic swath on Cross Currents, from funk (‘Homebrew’, ‘Pocket Call’) to ambient (‘Big Sky’) to swamp rock (‘Gulf Stream’), second-line (‘Ponchatrain’) and ballads (the Jimi Hendrix flavored ‘Sand Castles’ and the moody ‘Roll With It’) with allusions to Cajun (‘Nonc Rodell’) and Indian Raga (‘Eastern Blue’).

Recorded at Power Station New England in Waterford, CT (a perfect replica of the storied New York City recording studio where Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, David Bowie, Madonna, Sting, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Stevie Ray Vaughan, John Mayer recorded iconic albums), Cross Currents is Egan’s most versatile and ambitious offering to date. While his past outings as a leader, like 2006’s As We Speak, 2010’s Truth Be Told, 2014’s About Now and Direction Home, 2018’s Dreaming Spirits and 2020’s Electric Blue, have been primarily organic trio and duo affairs, Cross Currents is a power trio with orchestrated layers of rhythms and textures by the participants.

“The intent of this recording was to capture the interplay and energy of the trio and orchestrate it by adding additional guitars, bass and percussion to enhance what the songs were calling for.

Everyone had so many great ideas for orchestrating and arranging the material. The record has electric and acoustic guitar as well as bass and percussion overdubs. We wanted to make atmospheric pads to create a backdrop for us to improvise over. Once I had decided on recording this trio format I spent nine months of composing and arranging the compositions. Shane and Shawn also spent a lot of time conceptualizing and contributing songs. We had three days to record and orchestrate the eleven compositions so the preproduction allowed us to have the time to be creative in the studio and focus on the group interplay and soloing.”

For Egan, interplay and soloing means digging down on his fretted bass

groove lines to lock with the rhythm section and using his fretless electric bass for his signature singing sound that has graced his own recordings since 1985’s groundbreaking and decidedly bass-centric Mosaic. That quality comes across throughout Cross Currents and is particularly evident with him carrying the melody on tunes like ‘Gulf Stream’, ‘Big Sky’, ‘Pocket Call’ and the title track or by his uncommonly lyrical improvising on tunes like ‘Ponchatrain’, ‘Homebrew’, ‘Sunflower’ and ‘Eastern Blue’.

The bassist had high praise for his comrades Shawn and Shane on Cross Currents. “They both came very prepared for the sessions. I had sent them demos along with arrangements with suggestions for solo sections and overdub possibilities, and we rehearsed one day before going into the studio to work things out. Shane and Shawn both brought so much to the table and did their homework by creating and practicing grooves, melodies and instrument choices as well as coming up with great orchestration ideas. They are both so fundamentally strong in everything they do that it made the recording process creative and a lot of fun.”

Egan had previously recorded with Theriot on the bassist’s 2018 album, Dreaming Spirits, an Indian flavored trio project with tabla player/percussionist Arjun Bruggeman. “I loved Shane’s contribution on Dreaming Spirits and thought he would be a perfect fit for the trio on Cross Currents. And though Shawn and I have played together on many sessions in New York over the years, he had never played on any of my records before.”

The three players had actually first established some chemistry on a show backing NYC poet Frank Messina back in pre-pandemic times. “This was late 2019, before the COVID shut down,” Egan recalled. “Frank asked me to recommend people for this show that he was performing in New York City and I recommended Shane and Shawn. There was no rehearsal but just a very loose structure to it all with a lot of improvisation. Frank gave us a lot of room to improvise and play off of his poetry. At one point that evening we were playing trio — just Shane, Shawn and myself. That was the ‘light bulb moment’ for me, when I thought, this is very happening. I want to record a project with this trio. In the fall of 2022 I was in touch with Shane and Shawn about recording a trio project and I started writing songs for the group. Shane also sent me a few of his songs that inspired me to write others in a similar style. We co-wrote ‘Big Sky’ as Shane sent me the song as a demo with acoustic guitar chords and a groove and I wrote a melody and added an extended section for his acoustic guitar solo. Shane also contributed ‘Ponchatrain’, ‘Sunflower’ and ‘Homebrew’. Shawn contributed ‘Nonc Rodell’ which is a tribute to his uncle.

‘Nonc Rodell’ showcases Shawn as a world class groove drummer as well as the depth of his creative drumming abilities. Shawn pre recorded his tracks at his studio with his drums, squeezebox (accordion), and added tenor guitar parts as well. We brought those tracks into Power Station New England studio and Shane and I added guitars and basses on top of Shawn’s prerecorded tracks. It’s a very creative track that features Shawn’s amazing drumming and I love it.”

An in-demand New York City studio musician who has played on multi-gold and platinum-selling recordings by Sting, Arcadia, Marc Cohn, GRP Christmas, Mecano and Joan Osborne, Egan has also recorded with a wide variety of artists from pop stars like Roger Daltry, Sophie B. Hawkins, Marianne Faithfull, Judy Collins, Cyndi Lauper and Art Garfunkel to jazz notables like David Sanborn, John McLaughlin, John Abercrombie, Randy Brecker, Gato Barbieri, Freddy Cole, Pat Martino, Jim Hall, Joe Beck, Mark Murphy and Larry Coryell. A member of the Gil Evans Orchestra for 13 years, he has 14 albums as a leader to his credit and another 10 as a co-leader of Elements, the fusion band he formed in 1982 with his Pat Metheny Group bandmate, drummer Danny Gottlieb.

And now Cross Currents, on his own Wavetone label, may be his crowning achievement to date as Egan continues to push the boundaries of his creativity.

For more information visit markegan.com

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Bass Player Health

Do You Have Trigger Finger? with Dr. Randy Kertz

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Dr Randal Kertz - Bass Player Health - Oct 2022

Do You Have Trigger Finger?

In this month’s video, we will cover trigger finger and possible treatments.

Dr. Randall Kertz is the author or The Bassist’s Guide to Injury Management, Prevention and Better Health – Volumes One & Two. Click here to get your copies today!

Dr Randy Kertz - bassist Guide to Injury Management

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