159 Recommend It! 1,645 views

Listen to the Bass Player: Part 3, Bill Crow

SOURCE: Published: 2009-11-05
As you may recall from parts 1 and 2, our theme in this series is that by concentrating on the lines played by a good string bassist, you can gain an understanding of the shape and structure of a piece of music, feel its heartbeat, sense its soul. Duke Ellington's Jimmy Blanton in the early 1940s opened the possibilities of the bass as an improvising instrument in modern jazz. Oscar Pettiford followed, then Ray Brown, Charles Mingus, Red Mitchell (this is a limited and selective list) and Scott LaFaro.

From the early 1960s, in great part due to LaFaro's influence, bassists went beyond the instrument's traditional basic function in jazz of supplying swing and harmonic guidance. In many cases for better, in others for worse, virtuosity to the point of acrobatics became a part of standard bass operating procedure.





A consistently satisfying bassist from the pre-gymnastics era of the instrument, still at work, is Bill Crow. A trumpeter, then a drummer, then a valve trombonist, Crow became a bassist in 1950. A very few of the leaders he has worked with are Stan Getz, Claude Thornhill, Terry Gibbs, Clark Terry, Bob Brookmeyer, Al Cohn, Lee Konitz, Marian McPartland and Eddie Condon. I'm showing you a picture of Bill because in the clip that follows, you will get only a glimpse of him behind the front line of the Gerry Mulligan Sextet.



This was Rome in 1956, the same year the picture was taken. The other players are Mulligan, baritone saxophone; Bob Brookmeyer, valve trombone; Zoot Sims, tenor saxophone; Jon Eardley, trumpet; and Dave Bailey drums. The piece is Mulligan's “Walkin' Shoes." The absence of a piano means that the bass is crucial to the harmonic life of the tune. The listener can let it be his guide without a redundancy of chords from a piano. You may notice that the members of the big band in the background are paying rapt attention. No wonder.


View the original article...

This story appears courtesy of Rifftides by Doug Ramsey.
Copyright © 2014. All rights reserved.
comments powered by Disqus
Read the All About Jazz Magazine - Free!

Read the All About Jazz Magazine - It's free!

Jam-packed with 100 pages covering a wide range of styles, subjects and from around the world—each issue includes interviews, profiles, columns, album reviews, web site news, and free MP3s. The AAJ magazine is available across all devices, can be shared socially, and opened from anywhere without the need to download an app.

Read the Winter 2014 Edition

Weekly Giveaways

Matthew Shipp

Matthew Shipp
About | Enter

Matt Ridley

Matt Ridley
About | Enter

Tord Gustavsen

Tord Gustavsen
About | Enter

Alfredo Rodriguez

Alfredo Rodriguez
About | Enter