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Gheorghe

Why do so many solo pianists play walking bass in the left hand ?

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During my Holiday I spent some nights at a local piano bar and the pianists who worked there seemed to have all the same style. If they played "jazz Standards" , mostly "All the Things You Are", "Night in Tunisia", "Billie´s Bounce" and so on, the kept playing Walking bass lines in the left Hand. 

I must admit I don´t like how Walking bass sound´s on piano. Let the bass Player do it. Well, i like it on organ, that´s cool, but on piano I find it quite unnerving. 

I must admit I´m not a typical solo Pianist, I Play in Combos, but if I´m forced to Play only solo, I try to do something else, let´s say chords and punctations in the left Hand, sometimes if it´s fittin in, some stride and so on, but never a Walking bass line. 

How do you think About pianists who Play Walking bass on the left Hand ? 

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So you don't like eight-to-the-bar walking bass lines as in boogie-woogie?

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47 minutes ago, EKE BBB said:

So you don't like eight-to-the-bar walking bass lines as in boogie-woogie?

Well I´m not the biggest fan of Boogie-woogie, there´s  not enough space to open up Things....., but yeah, some old Boogie Maybe really nice. Heard Sun Ra do it with his Archestra at one certain Point and everybody went nuts, but as i said, i don´t like the regular Walking bass played on piano. Especially if the Player does Walking with the left Hand and single lines with the Right Hand. 

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5 hours ago, Gheorghe said:

How do you think About pianists who Play Walking bass on the left Hand ? 

I have fewer issues with walking bass conceptually than I do with pianists who do the same thing throughout.  For me, it's all about mixing it up.  Walking bass gets monotonous, but so does every other left hand approach if not varied.  

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Lennie Tristano used it effectively on solo recordings at one stage in his career - not with a bass player (as I recall).

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7 minutes ago, Larry Kart said:

Dave McKenna

I was specifically thinking about Dave McKenna as a player with very good technique with a monotonous left hand. I think the key to interesting solo piano is to have enough devices to vary the approach, both from tune to tune and within a single tune.  Walking bass is one of many valid approaches, but any of them can get monotonous. 

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It's a piano. 88 tuned drums, and an orchestra on a keyboard. You got options, especially if you have two hands and/or ten fingers (not counting Earl Hines, who had three hands and 75 fingers).

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Walking bass in and of itself is OK, long as it doesn't always walk where I'm expecting it to.

Excessively predictable performance techniques, employed religiously, is a definite recipe for my mind to wander.

I need to left turns! - or a bunch of unexpected switchbacks.  It's not the "walking" itself that's the problem -- it's where it goes (or always goes, more so), that might leave me cold (or colder than otherwise).

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2 hours ago, Rooster_Ties said:

Walking bass in and of itself is OK, long as it doesn't always walk where I'm expecting it to.

Excessively predictable performance techniques, employed religiously, is a definite recipe for my mind to wander.

I need to left turns! - or a bunch of unexpected switchbacks.  It's not the "walking" itself that's the problem -- it's where it goes (or always goes, more so), that might leave me cold (or colder than otherwise).

I don't like surprises anymore. I've had enough of them. This may be part of the reason I like records more than live performances, but not the only reason.  

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I never liked it either. It tends to sound confusing and monotonous, because it's the same timbre paying single note lines and playing single note bass lines

At least when they play piano duos, they're both free to add chords that define the harmony more, but when one pianist does it on an acoustic piano, it's the same repetitive pattern of Root, second, third, approach note to the new chord, over and over again. They use it when they're practicing blowing, but without changes, it sounds like an idiot's version of counterpoint.

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I agree that it does sound monotonous. However, sometimes I have played with drums and horns, but without a bass player, on the Fender Rhodes. Then I play bass lines behind the band, and also to some degree when I am soloing. Somehow it sounds better (and is also quite fun to play) even though the Rhodes in itself is at least as "monotonous" as a piano. 

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Anything a pianist does with his left hand will sound monotonous if he does not mix it up.  Dave McKenna doing stride sounds monotonous, because he does not vary his accompaniment.  There is nothing wrong with walking bass on the piano if done tastefully.   

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2 hours ago, Teasing the Korean said:

Anything a pianist does with his left hand will sound monotonous if he does not mix it up.  Dave McKenna doing stride sounds monotonous, because he does not vary his accompaniment.  There is nothing wrong with walking bass on the piano if done tastefully.   

be prepared for some blowback; well, maybe not here - but when I criticized McKenna - who I always found uninteresting - on Facebook I caught a lotta crap.

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1 hour ago, AllenLowe said:

be prepared for some blowback; well, maybe not here - but when I criticized McKenna - who I always found uninteresting - on Facebook I caught a lotta crap.

A steady diet of McKenna can be wearing, but in moderate doses I find him quite satisfying/interesting. I'd recommend his duo albums with Buddy DeFranco.

51boEYFpsVL._AC_UY218_.jpg

51RPfuBGjPL._AC_UY218_.jpg

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Thank you for your many replies with really worthful Infos. I apreciate them all ! 

I´m also pleased to read that I´m not the only one who find´s walkin bass lines on piano boring. 

About Lennie Tristano. I intended to Mention him, but didn´t. I love all of Lennie´s Combo records, the stuff with Billy Bauer , Lee Konitz and so on, but have difficulties to enjoy those Things he did after he disappeared from public, it sounds dull, even if at some Point there are interesting chords. I think I heard some mid sixties live material of very individual rendidions of ballads like "Darn That Dream" and so on.....

Enough About Lennie Tristano. 

Yes the piano has 88 keys but nobody must Play them all. When I was Young I thought I must Play Play Play , now as I get older I think About the inside of the song. I don´t think About the fact that I Play piano or Play an Instrument, I think About the essence of the song, the chords and what I can do with that. 

When I had those Occasion to be forced to listen to Walking bass piano Players for some Hours and some Point i did what I usually do when I feel the urge to Play myself: 

During Intermission I hurried to the piano Player, told him how much I love what he does, and that he has such an Incredible left Hand, and how poor is my own pianoplaying but if he´d be so nice and let me Play a song, not for myself, for my wife. With that "Gimmick" I never was refused and played a tune …… of Course not a Walking bass tune. 

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7 hours ago, Gheorghe said:

Yes the piano has 88 keys but nobody must Play them all.

Not all at once, for sure!

But if the piano usually has 88 keys, most pianists usually have two hands, ten fingers (again, Earl Hines is the exception)...if they're not going to be used, cut them off. Worked for the Rhodes, worked well for all kinds of electronic keyboards, might well work just as well for pianists.

Too much of a good thing is a function of too much, not good thing. And a good thing done poorly is no longer a good thing. But, some guy starts walking 10ths in the right way at the right time, yeah, that works for me. But only if it's not too much and only if it's not poorly done.

It's a resource!

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11 hours ago, AllenLowe said:

be prepared for some blowback; well, maybe not here - but when I criticized McKenna - who I always found uninteresting - on Facebook I caught a lotta crap.

The thing is that I generally like Dave McKenna.  But when I hear him doing solo stuff, I keep waiting for a change of color, a change of register, something.

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I've found hardcore Dave McKenna fans to be a pretty militant bunch. Can't say that I see what all that much fuss is about.

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Just now, JSngry said:

I've found hardcore Dave McKenna fans to be a pretty militant bunch. Can't say that I see what all that much fuss is about.

When you lived in Boston and had limited entertainment dollars, you could have done a lot worse than having a drink at the Copley Square Hotel and listening to McKenna play standards.

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If you were in that place at that time and were entertained by that sort of thing, I suppose so.

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6 minutes ago, JSngry said:

If you were in that place at that time and were entertained by that sort of thing, I suppose so.

Yes, drinking while listening to music is one of my favorite things in the world.  And when I can do it inexpensively, that's a plus.  

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I used to enjoy drinking while playing music. For listening, I preferred non-alcoholic moodifications. Nowadays, hey, straight, sober, and boring.

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12 hours ago, Larry Kart said:

A steady diet of McKenna can be wearing, but in moderate doses I find him quite satisfying/interesting.

I agree.

 

12 hours ago, Larry Kart said:

I'd recommend his duo albums with Buddy DeFranco.

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51RPfuBGjPL._AC_UY218_.jpg

Will check those out, Larry. :tup 

 

This is probably my favorite Dave McKenna record:

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I guess I will be the guy who ticks up for Dave McKenna. I like his playing very much. Have seen him in person numerous times and always have found his playing highly interesting and he swings like mad. I particularly enjoy his compilations of tunes that have similar words in their titles. He has unique way of putting 5 or 6 tunes together so that they almost sound like a suite.

I would not want every jazz pianist to use the walking bass the way McKenna does. One of the things that makes jazz so interesting to me is the broad variety of styles and approaches. It is easy for me to greatly enjoy Dave McKenna just as I can also enjoy Bud Powell, Hank Jones, Tommy Flanagan, Sonny Clark, Jimmy Rowles, Barry Harris, Ray Bryant, Sammy Price, Bill Evans, Steve Kuhn, Cedar Walton and many others.

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