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soulpope

George Mraz (1944 - 2021)

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10 hours ago, Shrdlu said:

George Mraz was a superb bass player, with a great sound. He will be missed.

He certainly had great intonation, but he wasn't the only one. Red Garland said that (at whatever point he said it) Doug Watkins had the best intonation of all the bassists he played with. I listen carefully to the bass on recordings and I've found that pretty much all of the well-known ones play in tune most of the time. As a saxophone player, I am amazed that they can do so without frets. How do they remember where to place their fingers? (Rhetorical question.)

My favorite bass player is Ron Carter, and I've never heard him play a bad note. Paul Chambers is arguably the best of all jazz bassists. He was almost always in tune, and even if he wasn't, his superb feel and sound was enough to make the music good. No complaint from me.

George Joyner was way off on the late 1957 sessions with Red Garland (Paul should have been used.) and it spoils the music for me. Curley Russell sounded bad on Bird's "Now's The Time", but was O.K. on other sessions, notably the Blakey Birdland date with Lou Donaldson. Pee Wee Marquette was out-of-tune though.

Andy Simpkins has great intonation on the Three Sounds sessions, and always plays a nice double-stopped tenth just when one thinks it would be good to include.

And Ray Brown was always in tune.

Interesting review of different bass players ! 

About Ron Carter: I like him very much now, but during the time I heard him most, (70´s ) sometimes his extremly amplified sound and those many glissandi annoyed me and I didn´t find his solos as exiting as those of Mingus let´s say. But now I listen very much to jazz of the 70s and really like it as part of the time of that sound. 

Paul Chambers was my first love on bass. I was so fascinated about his playing on my first jazz LP (Miles´Steamin´) that I decided to buy a bass fiddle and learn it (autodidactic) as a second instrument. I still have that bass fiddle and very good bass players wanted to buy it, but nope....., though I concentrate on piano and due to some health issues with my left hand in the past can´t handle it any more.....

Very interesting the point of view about that George Joyner with Garland. I also was surprised that Garland used on that session a more old fashioned player with the bop sound of Curley Russel or Tommy Potter or Gene Ramey, that someone like Chambers or Watkins. But as you said, I love Curley on the 1954 Blakey session, and on "Blowin´in from Chicago". 

Ray Brown, well all those years with Peterson....., and sometimes he is too loud. He is terrible loud on the 1956 Bud Powell session for Verve, which otherwise would be a very good album. And in later years he was even louder. 

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1 hour ago, Gheorghe said:

Interesting review of different bass players ! 

About Ron Carter: I like him very much now, but during the time I heard him most, (70´s ) sometimes his extremly amplified sound and those many glissandi annoyed me and I didn´t find his solos as exiting as those of Mingus let´s say. But now I listen very much to jazz of the 70s and really like it as part of the time of that sound. 

Paul Chambers was my first love on bass. I was so fascinated about his playing on my first jazz LP (Miles´Steamin´) that I decided to buy a bass fiddle and learn it (autodidactic) as a second instrument. I still have that bass fiddle and very good bass players wanted to buy it, but nope....., though I concentrate on piano and due to some health issues with my left hand in the past can´t handle it any more.....

Very interesting the point of view about that George Joyner with Garland. I also was surprised that Garland used on that session a more old fashioned player with the bop sound of Curley Russel or Tommy Potter or Gene Ramey, that someone like Chambers or Watkins. But as you said, I love Curley on the 1954 Blakey session, and on "Blowin´in from Chicago". 

Ray Brown, well all those years with Peterson....., and sometimes he is too loud. He is terrible loud on the 1956 Bud Powell session for Verve, which otherwise would be a very good album. And in later years he was even louder. 

Yes, very informative discussion of bass players by Shrdlu. Back in the early 60s I had a bass player friend who couldn't share my enthusiasm for the Parker quintet sides because, as he said, the bass player was "playing the wrong notes". Interesting, then, to read what Shrdlu says about Curly Russell. I notice that, with the emergence of a more advanced bass style in the 50s, Russell was the first of the Parker bassists to disappear from the scene. (I recall reading that he was reduced to driving a taxi.) Potter, perhaps a little more sophisticated as an instrumentalist, survived to play with Gil Evans much later, not to mention his Hard Funk album from Scandinavia. For my bassist friend the first "acceptable" player was Percy Heath and his favourites were Chambers and Watkins. In the later 60s we went to see the Junior Mance Trio with Bob Cranshaw. My friend was swooning at the bass playing! :)

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It IS enjoyable to discuss bass players. No disrespect intended toward George Mraz, of course. Perhaps this should be a separate thread, but it doesn't really matter.

One of the very first decent jazz bassists was Walter Page with Basie. He wasn't restricted to an oompah style, on 1 and 3, implying or playing a 2/2 time signature. His intonation was spot on. He played a lot of root notes with a diatonic choice of notes, because his section mate, Freddie Green, played the notes from the third upward. Walter coached that matchless rhythm section. He paved the way for the bop bassists, such as Oscar Pettiford and then Ray Brown.

I am very fond of Slam Stewart, having first heard him on the 1945 Red Norvo date with Bird and Diz. A few years ago, I saw a video of him from the 60s or early 70s, where he was playing well in the current style (and not humming).

I like Tommy Potter on the Bird recordings and don't recall any bad notes or faulty intonation. He showed up on a 60s session (I forget which) and sounded great.

Re Ron Carter, I like him for his rich, deep sound. Rudy captured it well on the early to mid 60s Blue Note sessions. As the 60s wore on, Rudy altered his setup for the bass players, and the sound was rather trebly. He spoiled the sound. Not the players' fault. That is one reason why I don't like the 70s C.T.I. recordings. Ron's bass extends the E string down to a low C, and he is able to get a fantastic sound out of the low notes. They seem to grow in volume after he has plucked them. My late wife, a violinist, told me that the left hand causes that. It comes across well on Herbie Hancock's "Speak Like A Child" album. 

Another bass favorite is Richard Davis, whose trebly sound contributed greatly to many experimental 60s sessions (Andrew Hill etc.), but who was also great in straight ahead sessions such as with Milt Jackson (e.g. "The Jazz 'N' Samba") and the Thad Jones Mel Lewis orchestra.

Reggie Workman and Art Davis were great with Trane and others, and, of course, Reggie was fine with Blakey.

All of these played in tune.

(Hope this hasn't derailed the thread.)

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Very sad news, sorry that he has left us. I was lucky enough to see him perform with Hank Jones, they made a very compatible pairing.

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3 hours ago, Shrdlu said:

It IS enjoyable to discuss bass players. No disrespect intended toward George Mraz, of course. Perhaps this should be a separate thread, but it doesn't really matter.

One of the very first decent jazz bassists was Walter Page with Basie. He wasn't restricted to an oompah style, on 1 and 3, implying or playing a 2/2 time signature. His intonation was spot on. He played a lot of root notes with a diatonic choice of notes, because his section mate, Freddie Green, played the notes from the third upward. Walter coached that matchless rhythm section. He paved the way for the bop bassists, such as Oscar Pettiford and then Ray Brown.

I am very fond of Slam Stewart, having first heard him on the 1945 Red Norvo date with Bird and Diz. A few years ago, I saw a video of him from the 60s or early 70s, where he was playing well in the current style (and not humming).

I like Tommy Potter on the Bird recordings and don't recall any bad notes or faulty intonation. He showed up on a 60s session (I forget which) and sounded great.

Re Ron Carter, I like him for his rich, deep sound. Rudy captured it well on the early to mid 60s Blue Note sessions. As the 60s wore on, Rudy altered his setup for the bass players, and the sound was rather trebly. He spoiled the sound. Not the players' fault. That is one reason why I don't like the 70s C.T.I. recordings. Ron's bass extends the E string down to a low C, and he is able to get a fantastic sound out of the low notes. They seem to grow in volume after he has plucked them. My late wife, a violinist, told me that the left hand causes that. It comes across well on Herbie Hancock's "Speak Like A Child" album. 

Another bass favorite is Richard Davis, whose trebly sound contributed greatly to many experimental 60s sessions (Andrew Hill etc.), but who was also great in straight ahead sessions such as with Milt Jackson (e.g. "The Jazz 'N' Samba") and the Thad Jones Mel Lewis orchestra.

Reggie Workman and Art Davis were great with Trane and others, and, of course, Reggie was fine with Blakey.

All of these played in tune.

(Hope this hasn't derailed the thread.)

One of the bass players I most enjoyed was George Tucker. He had marvelous sound. I often found that when he was on a recording his playing was so good that my focus would be on him as much as the main soloists.

Unfortunately he died too young.

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Ron Carter never played out of tune, eh?

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Yes, Peter, George Tucker was great, too. He was in the great trio with Horace Parlan (about whom I just commented in the Mosaic thread) and Al Harewood. Alfred Lion used that trio to back horn players on several sessions. It had a nice gait.

George really pulled on those strings hard. He must have been very strong.

Edited by Shrdlu

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I have a sentimental fondness for Walter Booker.

What is this group's opinion of him?

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On 9/17/2021 at 11:41 AM, Peter Friedman said:

A shock. Was not aware of any health problems.

According to his website, he had a pretty major health scare back in 2015. They even started a gofundme for him: https://www.gofundme.com/f/2ndyn24?r=80337

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20 hours ago, Shrdlu said:

It IS enjoyable to discuss bass players. No disrespect intended toward George Mraz, of course. Perhaps this should be a separate thread, but it doesn't really matter.

 

 

 

Agreed. Who of us will start a bass-players thread ? 

Back to Mraz: Well, as I said, his playing with Tommy Flanagan was one of the highlights in my live experiences. By the way, the Festival I saw then, where he played was only a few miles from the border line to the then communist Cehoslovacia, his birth country. 

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