> Is Jimmy Smith really playing all that bass on "The Sermon?" It doesn't
> sound like B-3 bass to me. It sounds more like an electric bass. I
> didn't see a bass player listed on the album credits. If he is playing
> all that bass, how did he get that sound?
Yes, Jimmy is really playing all that bass! Now you see why they
The drawbar setting on the LM, which is mostly where the bass is coming
from is 848, or 838, depending on the particular organ being used and
the room acoustics. The second drawbar adds growl to the folded back
notes, and a slight nasal quality (I don't know what to call that) to the
rest. The attack you're hearing as the pluck of a bass string is made by
tapping the pedals very quickly at the beginning of most notes, the amount
of attack being controllable by:
1. The length of the hit, 2. The depth of the particular pedal note
selected, or 3. Not hitting at all.
Other tricks used include walking some bass lines in parallel with foot
and fingers for extra emphasis, and playing grace notes before the main
beat, often from a fifth or fourth away, just as a string bass player
Often the chorus vibrato is used for the bass lines as well, as it adds
bit of clarity and life to the notes.
If you don't believe it's organ, consider this: Great as that bass playing
is, a string bass player would likely be varying the lines a little more
than what you hear here; Jimmy's bass is somewhat on "automatic," and
tends to not change alot (he's *busy* elsewhere), although certainly there
are times when one has a second to think of a variation to throw in.
That's one reason I like McDuff's bass so much, he seems to have more time
to split his brain and come up with variations to the bass line.
> > It has been my observation many times that many of the 'organists'
> > don't use the pedals for much more than beating time. I recently
> > watched a group that uses an organ along with a Roland and when I got
> > around to the side where I could watch clearly all I was the same pedal
> > being played all the time. He could have removed the other 12 and it
> > would not have made a bit of difference to him.
This organist that you saw may well have been keeping
time on only one pedal; master jazz organists do this, but also have
full mastery of the rest of the pedalboard when needed. The timekeeping
that you saw is for the purpose of adding a percussive attack to the
beginning of each bass note, the attack being so short that the note
sounded is atonal, like a drum. This is a great sound, and makes a big
difference to the sound of LM bass alone.
However, as stated here ad nauseum, other pedal tones are played by the
master jazz organist in parallel with those played on the LM, particularly
when doubling with the lowest octave and for dynamic emphasis.
In addition, for ballad playing, the older style of pedal bass and LM
chords often is employed.
Some organists "tap" each pedal tone in parallel with each LM note, (Don
Patterson), but the difference is negligible.
The use of pedal bass only for jazz does not work; the sound is too heavy
and ponderous for the fleet, light lines that must be played, and
precludes the use of grace notes in the bass, which fingers are good at
I think they are, in a mind-over-matter sense. When you grease
just right or make the right face to make the note come out right, it
seems to make a difference. But when you talk about dynamic use of the
exp. control, it brings up the real beauty of the plan in the "tapping"
system. Which is, how *much* pedal tap you use, how long the duration,
when you do it or not, and what notes do you hold pedal tones on, all
makes a big difference in the dynamics of the bass part. To me, there are
far more choices available to the organ bass player who plays this way.
OTOH, I sure would love to be able to play those boards like the theater
and classical pros.
BTW, I found the secret to beautiful ballad playing on the pedals: the
point where each note cuts off is critical to the pulse of the tune.
After all, one important element of music is the elegant division of time.
Subject: Bass Lines for Jazz/Blues
Okay, here is just *one.* It is generic, that is, not specific
to any one
performance, but it is a hybrid of Jack 'n Jimmy's work. Fingerings are
left to you-- roll yer own!
Notes with a * after them are meant to be played on the pedals as well as
the keyboard. All other notes should get merely a *quick* tap from any
pedal that sounds good to make a percussive noise on the attack of the
F2 A1 D2 Db2 | C2 D2 D#2 E2 | F2 Eb2 D2 Db2 | C2 Gb2 F2 A2 |
|F7(Am7) D7 |
Bb2 D2 G2 Gb2 | F2 A1* Bb1* B1*| C2 F1 C2 Bb1*| A1* Eb2 D2 Ab1*|
C7alt | F13 D7alt
| Gm7 C7alt
G1* G2 D2 Ab1 | G1 Db2 C2 E2 | F2 A1 D2 Ab1 | G1 Db2 C2 Gb2 |
Notes: These chords are arbitrary and optional.
Some players will tell you that Gm7 for the ii is wrong, that "Jimmy plays
G13." Sometimes he does, sometimes not. The beauty of organ bass is
that, since *you* are supplying the root, *you* get to also play whatever
chord you see fit.
Where you see the F7 right before the Bb, try forms of B7 with the same
bass. Where you
see D7, try alt forms of Ab, or Ab13.
You might be wondering why there is added pedal indicated on some of
bottom octave notes and not others. This is personal preference, but
those lower notes where I have left out the pedal tones are ones that, to
my mind, are not meant to be prominent in the progression; you are on your
way to somewhere else, namely *C7*, so you save your thunder.
> I understand the effectiveness of doubling the bass line with
> value notes in the pedal for accents, but I would like to know of a
Cool. But this is, IMHO, a special effect only, best postponed
want to heat things up.
> system to make it easier.
> Any help is appreciated.
Try this. Pick a pedal note that is below middle C. When
taught me this, he used B. On the instruction video, he's way down on G.
I often use A. Tap *only* this note regardless of what your LH is playing.
If your tap is both well-timed and short enough, just the one note will be
The note selection factors are two: How heavy do you want the percussion
(after all, that's exactly what it is) to sound? And, where might you
want to go with your foot in the key you're playing in? This is totally
personal, but since you will most often be wanting to double the weakest
part of the lower manual, from A on up, it's nice to be somewhere around
there and to know where you are.
This is correct and professional procedure for this style, but you will
confused when you hear things like, Don Patterson tapped every different
note down there. Apparently from reports, he did. Jimmy Smith moves his
foot around some, but it doesn't correspond to all the bass notes. This
has confused almost everyone for 42 years now, but he is in fact using the
same system. All he really does (at least when tapping) is to use one
note, then use adjacent black notes for some chromatic passing tones when
he feels like it;they still aren't necessarily the notes being fingered.
After listening to this *very* hard for a very lomg time, I have decided
that this does make a slight difference in timbre, maybe, sometimes.
This is not to say that you don't ever tap a correct note down there;
especially when hitting a change it is nice to tap the right note if you
have the time and wherewithal.
If you are lucky enough to watch Jack McDuff or, say, Charles Earland
you will see that what I say Is True.
Oh BTW, Jack plays the keys in a bouncy way that leaves a little space
between the notes. This makes the notes seem louder and leaves more room
for the pedal sound and for grace notes. It also cooks!
> in "tapping" the pedals do you usually tap just
> 1 pedal and only move around when laying on notes in unison
Usually one. BUT....sometimes, especially on turnarounds or big
I'll follow more than usual. That also depends on the key, if you want to
emphasize something a little more, and the important notes might want a
little goose. It's kinda like you were going to lay on in unison, but you
don't, or else, suddenly...you DO, because you CAN, because you were
already there. Pretty hard to describe.
Another thing, if you are playing interesting lines that have changing
shapes, there's no freakin' way to follow them on pedals. No way.
Then it turns into a big mess trying to shift foot position when hand
pattern didn't change.
On top of THAT, note selection for the tap is important from an acoustic
standpoint-- you need the right "bass drum" for the room and the organ, or
even for the tune. Attempting to track the line with the pedals destroys
that "tuning" you need.
> Is that how McDuff does it? [tap all the different notes]
No. He hangs near one note, G, A, or B, (I play the same as he does),
which gives him a reference for taking off from. His foot is trained and
ready to jump anywhere to emphasize a change, turnaround, or fill a
weakness. This is essentially the same as what Jimmy does, he just does
*alot* more of it than JS. Also, Jimmy uses two adjacent black pedals as
generic "passing tone" pedals, mostly in turnarounds. This *might* be
unconscious, at least nowadays, but also serves to give his line a feeling
of movement, in his mind at least. You hafta see it, then you would
understand. But DON'T take on this habit. Also, I think he does it to
add to the mytholgy that he's playing everthing on the pedals.
> I find it very hard if my hand and foot have to leap to
> the opposite directions (probably lots of pratice can make this easier).
> Moving the foot in parallel with the hand feels
> very natural. So what do you do in those situations? Do you keep on
> tapping one pedal or don't tap at all until the left hand comes down from
> the high register or just leap to the opposite direction with the foot when
> needed ?
No, don't even GO there! Just pick one good, loud note.
> When playing funk bass with pedal taps, do you play the taps only
> important notes perhaps in a way a drummer would use his bass drum to
> create syncopation?
Precisely. With funk, first and foremost, is always the ONE.
If you were
Groove Holmes, though, you just did anything you want!
> I saw a gig of the Real Thing in Stockholm (Palle Wagnberg on
> organ) 10 feet away from the organist so that I saw his hands and feet. He
> left hand bass almost exclusively in the second octave of the
> lower manual using notes from C2 to about F3. Because of that he didn't
> have to move foot and hand to the opposite directions.
I've heard that this guy is real good, but I haven't heard him.
But if he
ignores the bottom octave, he's missing a major chance for dynamic
variation in the bass lines. If you're interested in how the Big Three
(Jimmy Smith, Jack McDuff, Groove Holmes) played organ bass, then stop
watching Paul, cuz from your description, he's not doing it "right."
> He took his shoe off from
> his left foot playing only with socks. I find that I feel the pedalboard
> better without the shoe and don't hit accidentally two pedals at the same
> time so often (I have a very wide foot). On the other hand I can't do pedal
> without shoes. I have practised with the shoe on most of the time.
> Any comments on these things?
Yes, playing pedals without shoes stinks! hahaha
Given that the tap note has to really *stab*; it has to be short and
*sharp*, I would be surprised if doing it without shoes would allow for
enough attack. I mean, we are not tip-toeing through the tulips here, we
are *kickin'* the B3!
I'm not opposed to people doing this their own way-- innovation is good.
The above info is simply what the old masters did, for your information.
In the recent Keyboard interview with Larry Goldings and Charles
> Earland, Charles talks about how sore his left leg gets from playing.
> Since left-hand bass is never mentioned in the article, one is left with
> the impression that he plays the bass part entirely with his left foot,
> leading to much confusion on my part.
It never ceases to amaze me how Keyboard never tries to clear this up.
have written them a detailed description similar to what I sent to you,
which they declined to print. In the early days, critics wpould
perpetuate this nonsense about Jimmy, and Jimmy always let it stand. He
never had any interest in letting people know what is really going on.
The first time I saw him, I asked him: "It looks like you're not playing
all of the bass notes on the pedals!?" His response (lip curled to
maximum setting), "Oh REALLY? Is that right?" After the show, he sat me
down WITH him on the bench (I was working there at the club), and played
for me, for half an hour, "Summertime," in Bb minor (!!), playing ALL of
the bass notes on the pedals!!!!!! This was an act both incredibly
generous and totally hostile in terms of spreading understanding.
It took Uncle Jack to straighten me out the following year.
> I've heard references to a book about this subject that is in progress,
> are you the one creating it? Hope so.
Subject: Re: [HL] LH Comping Techniques
>>Wondering if anyone could suggest LH comping techniques on the Hammond
without getting too "clunky" sounding or getting in the way of my RH solo... I
find that if I'm not too careful, things can occasionally sound a bit muddy or
drown things out. I really like the subtle technique that Reuben Wilson
has, but haven't figured out a general method to the madness.>>
Here's a concept to mess with.
Hopefully from this example of blues in 'C', you can transpose and extra-
polate for what you need. Let's assume the root is being played by a bass
player, or the organist's left foot. All the LH needs to do is to play
the third and the seventh of the desired chord. The sparseness (new
word?) of this voicing will never sound muddy, and is common practice in
piano playing, the right hand being reserved for extensions of the chord,
Bb A B
(C-root) (F) (G)
Here's the same idea with color-tones added to the basic seventh chords,
i.e., ninths and sixths (a.k.a. thirteenths):
Bb A B
E Eb F
(C) (F) (G)
Notice an important relationship here: when the bass changes up a fourth,
or down a fifth (it's the same thing), these types of chord voicings may
be changed by dropping everything 1/2 step! This is part of the concept
of "tri-tone substitution," but it's easier to just think of it as magic
and just learn it. Learning to verbalize what it is adds an unnecessary
>>And with the flip of a harmonic, the problem is solved... though I could
have sworn I saw Jimmy Smith with that big black feller pulled all the way
> Hi, maybe I am getting my signals crossed here but are you talking
> about walking bass lines with your left hand or comping chords ? For
> bass lines I use 848000000 or 808400000 the later registration sounds
> more bass like to me but foldback is much more noticeable ( console
> models ) , the former registration hides the foldback better but has
> the organ type bass sound.
JS uses 838. BUT, Jack McDuff, who is, in my considered
opinion the finest walking-bass player to ever play jazz on the Hammond,
uses plain 808, and believe me, you won't hear any problem from foldback.
Why? Good question! 1. Lines are played with total confidence. It
sounds right because he means it to sound right. The importance of this
cannot be over-emphasized. 2. This has been discussed many times before
on the list, but I'm always ready to repeat the info for newcomers: When
needed, the pedals are used to fill in some of the fold-back notes. The
rest of the time (ballads not included in this statement), pedals are used
only to add "percussion" to the fingered bass line. 3. The common bass
lines that have evolved for jazz organ over the years, thanks to Jimmy,
Jack, and Groove, use the foldback very cleverly, so that the "weak" notes
appear at just the right spots in the line where those particular notes do
not need, or even want, emphasis. In a word, dynamics. For example, if
you were playing a blues in 'A', you need another gig! Seriously, if you
were, you would be unlikeky to start the bass on A1, the weakest note
there is. You would choose A2. On the other hand, on a blues in 'F,' the
line: F2 A1 Bb1 B1 / C2 C#2 D2 E2 / puts the "weak" notes in a place where
they sound just fine; the important notes in this line are F and C.
> Left handed chords get different
> registrations depending on style and type of song , try 008400000 (
> played in 2nd and 3rd octave , as stated before 000800000 in the first
> octave is not bad . I do mix in the higher harmonics with these
> registrations but just a little to taste .
Also, 0086 is common. Same idea, you mix to your own requirements.
> He normally plays left handed bass lines and the 868000000
registration would be used for that style . <
838000000, B preset, lower manual.
And the farther out, the growlier-sounding. The standard for jazz organ
is that this is rarely louder than 3 or 4, but pulling it farther out
proves that you are either (a) willing to think for yourself or (b)
ignorant of standard practice. Larry Golding's first organ record uses
this DB way out, probably to try to make up for the lack of proper pedal
technique; on subsequent records, he toes the line and plays the bass
"normally." I have noticed this time and again- the guys that play at 868
and the like, never play the pedals properly if at all.
>When playing L.H. chords he would use another registration . <
>>Wrong. Same registration. Smith rarely plays chords on the LM, and
usually plays them on ballads with his right hand and plays the upper
manual with his left hand while covering the bass with the foot. Unique
crossed hands ballad style, and it works. Unless you study and can really
play this style, the logic of this technique will escape you. Just one of
the many subtleties of the master.>>
XXXX is the man here. I'm not correcting what he said at all,
I just want
to add to or qualify the remarks: On up-tempo tunes, the LM is used for
comping-- even during organ solos the RH will drop quickly to the LM to
add puncuation ("pop") between phrases. Jimmy McGriff might be the best
example of this, though we all do it.
In addition, I should say that most of the rest of us mere mortals,
including Mr. McDuff, use the same octave registration for lower manual
chords in ballad playing, but do NOT play cross-handed. This does put the
LH up very high under the right, but it's easy to get used to with a
little practice. The reason for not changing registrations is this: in
this style of ballad playing, one wants to be able to switch back and
forth seamlessly between pedal bass with LM chords, and standard LH bass.
This ability to switch adds immensely to the dynamic variation available
to the organist. For awesome examples of this switching back and forth,
check out Jimmy's "What's New?", from "Crazy, Baby!", or "What Kind of
Fool Am I?", from "I'm Movin' On." BTW, theatre organists will have a cow
if they listen to these cuts, and eat any unkind words they may have
uttered re Smith.
Also, I believe that Smith's use of cross-hand dates back to pop stylists,
and also, to what I believe is his inability to play these chords
left-handed! Of course he could have taught himself to play LH chords,
but he didn't. Another advantage he gained by playing this way is the
ability to have the easisest hand available with which to change presets
or push buttons without missing a beat. (Again, listen to "What Kind of
Fool Am I?")
>>Scott Hawthorne will no doubt
enlighten us all on this one, but adding the 5 1/3 does indeed create a
sub-harmonic, which helps the lh bass sound get around the foldback thing,
where the 16' bass 'drops out' below C2.Unfortunately, doing this
'thickens ' the tone further up the manual.>>
I do not agree. I do prefer the comp sound without the 5 1/3,
anything, I think the extra harmonic makes the voices clearer. Derek
probably has goo in there mucking things up!
>>Personally, it is a constant compromise between the tone I like for
manual chord tone , 806 in my case, and the need for bottom end below C2
when lh bassing, which usually results, for me, in 868. Speaking as
primarily a player, why DID Hammond do this foldback thing, I've never
understood it - makes no sense to me that the 16' disappears below C2.>>
OK, look, Hammond wanted "complex" tones and therefore tonewheels for
bottom notes. Without a complete, and
prohibitively expensive redesign of the tone generator, there was no room
for 12 new tonewheels. Hammond undoubtedly assumed that most bass-playing
was going to be coming from the pedals, after all, it's an organ, and
Jimmy Smith had not yet appeared to shake up prior organ bass playing
habits. Older Hammonds "went all the way down," but they also had "pure"
sine-wave type pedal tones, as far as the tonewheels were concerned.
>>Actually it seemed to me that he was alternating between walking bass
with his left hand and root bass pedal, and chords/walking bass pedal..
but I'm begining to suspect that his hands might have been quicker than
the eye, and he could have quickly flipped the thing without me paying
attention and being overwhelmed by what was going on between his right
hand and his feet. I'll have to rent his Jazz Scene U.S.A. video to check
it out closer.>>
Check the list archives for MUCH more on this subject. Yes, that
video reveals the truth, if you are willing to believe what your eyes and
ears tell you. The time-honored assumption, which I believe Jimmy did
NOTHING to debunk, (bass lines coming from the pedals) seems to have taken
root to the point that it is almost impossible to convince people of it's
I also need to qualify something here about the pedal-playing.
see at times what appears to be bass notes actually played on the pedals.
I'm talking about up-tempo tunes here. It is common, in the Smith style,
to use the pedals for bass notes during intros, outros, and codas.
Also, to use them to add emphasis, particularly in the turnarounds, or
when modulating through a chord change. So, it is very confusing to
figure this all out by watching, but armed with this info, you will see.
>>Have to agree - I saw him do this on a video, and have tried to crack
ever since, to no avail ("Laura", I believe). Looks easy, and natural, but
in fact entails reversing your normal thought processes completely - very
difficult, but much better than the conventional 'lh under the right elbow'
style of ballad playing, if you can crack it - I can't. (Yet)>>
Folks, if you ask me (you didn't!), don't waste your time on that.
None of the other great players did.
I hope this answers a host of common questions on this subject.
> grace notes, would those typically be played by the pedals or the LH?
LH. Do you have some of the records. You can hear this,
> I do miss the ability to play chords w/ the LH sometimes, esp. ballads.
Oh yes, on ballads you *should* play pedals!! And it is common,
and exciting, to switch around ad lib while playing ballads. Listen to
some JS ballads. Melody jumps around between manuals, chord soloing, LH
chords w/ Rh melody, (actually Jimmy only plays chords RHded, but I don't
Subject: Bass and drawbars
> I have been studying the "bass lines" thread, and there is one thing
> do not quite understand..
> In Scottīs latest post, he talked about blues in F. The basslines
> were great, but I cannot help wondering about the registrations used...
> as I gather most organists like to use 808000000 for bass; but then
McDuff uses that one, for a purer comping tone. Jimmy Smith and
others use 838, which adds growl *and* the impression that the bass is
going down below the foldback point (the harmonic does go down).
> what happens when you play a line that crosses over the foldback point
> at the 2nd C from the bottom? I currently only have access to my L100,
What happens is: 1. You will be playing the same way as The Masters,
You learn to add a bit of help with the pedals, to taste, and 3. It
> but I remember from trying to play bass on the A100 at school that
> results of crossing the foldback point is a bit uncool to my ears.. F2
> sounds like the same note as F1 but with a slightly different timbre.
Some organs (see thread from two weeks ago) are much weaker than others
"down there," but the different timbre is part of the deal, as *INVENTED*
by the much-maligned but truly brilliant Jimmy Smith! You learn to love
it. It is certainly possible to play basslines that avoid the foldback; I
spent many misinformed years doing just that, as did others (some
well-known), but it is a waste of time, and the effort destroys the wealth
of possibilities for playing interestingly shaped patterns. I have found
that different shaped patterns engender different kinds of (mini)-moods,
in the same way that melodies can. Listen to Ray Brown on bass for
inspiration on *that*.
subject: Bass and Drawbars
Myself (>>) and Scott (>) wrote, respectively:
> >that different shaped patterns engender different kinds of
> >in the same way that melodies can. Listen to Ray Brown on bass for
> >inspiration on *that*.
> I guess what somewhat bothers me is the melodic content of the
> bassline.. I
Why? Bass is better thought of as rythym (never could spell that)
shape than (horrors) *scales*.
> notice that you speak of basslines as "patterns"; and I realise that
> when soloing
> you're probably better off playing a "pattern" for coordination
Small dissertation: When I say "pattern," I'm meaning a shape that I
or "see" in the air, rather than something that repeats over and over. In
fact, my brain contains dozens of mini-patterns that I plug in modularly
every few seconds. This occurs when I have a moment in between right-hand
phrases or while playing a RH figure that is on automatic (another
program, practiced separately). I don't know how other organists deal
with that, but I notice that Jimmy often seems to be playing very
repetitive bass patterns, while some others, e.g. Joey and McDuff, seem
more able to "reprogram" at will. Not to say that Jimmy isn't a superb
bass player; his timing and execution and taste are untouchable, IMHO.
So the idea here is not to teach "a bass line," but to encourage you
to come up with as many variations as possible, then mix 'n match to
taste, as time and concentration permits. So I won't say that any bass
line is "wrong," though it's tempting sometimes. For example, the figure
that kept repeating in xxx's very helpful examples (from the Bb):
|Bb Bb Ab Ab|G G Gb Gb| is fine, it is sometimes used, but there are so
*many* more, and they all have different shapes which seem to propel the
groove in different ways. Jack McDuff, Jack McDuff, Jack McDuff. Vastly
underrated because of the perception that he is only a blues player. This
man plays more music just playing bass than I ever could with all four
> have trouble just keeping time steady when soloing; but I guess that's
> just a
> matter of practicing. And listening to the greats also proves the
Yes, and practicing the parts *separately,* though it seems wrong to
that. You have to load your memory buffer one hand at a time, *then* put
> Being mainly a bassplayer, I tend to really like lines that make
> melodic sense as well as
> having a good "drive" to them; say as an example four bars of comping
> an F
> (like the first four bars of an F blues):
>F1 A1 Bb1 B1 / C2 D2 Eb2 E2 / F2 A1 D2 Db2 / C2 F1 F2 B1 / (go to
Also try variation: C#2 D2 E2/
> As I tend to think of the first two bars as one continuous
> upward-moving phrase,
> landing on the "1" of the third bar, I get disturbed by
OR: begin II/V to the IV, Cm to F7 or to B7
> the fact that the "whole" of
> that phrase gets divided into two bits when foldback occurs.
Well, I think I could help you re-think that if you like: the important
bit is, as you say, the beginning of the third bar, that is, that's where
you're headed, so therefore, what matters most is the destination. The
road to the destination can be interesting to the ear, including
modulation (II/V to the IV), foldback, chromatics, etc. But, having said
that, there are many classic organ bass lines that *do* avoid the foldback
in that part, if that's what you want. In fact, I often think of the
lines themselves "folding back", that is they invert instead of going
below the foldback point. This makes 'em interesting, instead of those
boring old scales!
> nothing to do with the sound or the drive; just the fact that I am
used to playing
> the same sort of basslines regardless of key, and the foldback, to me, gives my
> melodic thinking a severe blow; at least in certain keys.
Actually, classic organ bass lines are often very different in different
keys because of the foldback. But they don't have to be; it's really a
way of thinking about the foldback as an asset that creates interest and
variations, rather than as a problem.
Trust me on this: once you start playing cooking organ bass lines with
pedal, you won't even be thinking (much) about foldback! Damn the
torpedoes! You just *PLAY*!
> Strangely enough I find it easier to walk the basslines on the pedals,
> with my left, and solo with my right than to just play bass w/LH and solo w/RH.
Then you are probably a monster player, and I can't teach you.
Jones plays this way, and he is *awesome.* For most of us mere mortals,
including Joey and Jimmy, this way doesn't swing as much. With foot
lines, I'll wager there is *no one* who can play the grace notes that make
all the difference in the groove.
Don't despair; I forced myself to learn this stuff, and I can't even
my teeth and sing at the same time!
> should I just order a pedal sustain kit and be happy?
NO!NO!NO! Those are for wussies! (C'mon, I'm kidding.) It *does
for traditional jazz organ style. However, don't let us old-timers deter
you from blazing new trails.....
> Well Done Mr Know It All! This is great stuff and I want to thank you.
Thank you for the thank you. Suggestion: listen to Smith, McDuff,
DeFrancesco, and listen for those tiny grace notes, and add 'em in! They
make all the difference between simply playing a line out of a book and
playing bass that is living and breathing and grunting and making people
say Yeah! The grace note to use not all that important IMO, though a
fourth or fifth away, or previous played note are all commen methods.
Advanced organ bass trick: leave a space between *every* note big enough
to put a grace note in, even if you don't. More leeway for swingin' and
more *distinct* bass.
> From: Scott Hawthorn
>> May I cut in? If we're talking blues here, this is why it is common to go
> *up* for the change to Bb, if we're playing bass lines in the Smith/McDuff
> idiom. Try two things: If you're tapping bass pedals, hold a bit on your
> Bb kick, actually using the Bb pedal. Also, there are several pleasing
> lines that get you right back down into range from the high Bb, e.g.,
> (quarter notes): Bb/D(down)/G(up)/Gb/F/A(down)/Bb/B/C (etc).
> Though it's nice to have extra oomph in the basement on your B3, bear in
> mind that Jimmy designed the bass lines just for these darned fold-back
> *AND*, what really drives the chord change (sometimes), is to play II/V to
> the change, i.e., in the last bar before Bb, play in the bass:Cm/F7 or B7.
> Then your ear is set to go for Bb!
Subject:Bassline for "All Day Long"
Bb blues by Kenny Burrell, from "Jimmy Smith At The Organ, Volume 1"
BLP1551. Reissued several times on various compilations. It's one most
would recognize-- it starts with bass solo.
One of the interesting things about this example, besides the odd changes
going into the turnaround, is: Foldback? What foldback??
Using the format where C1 = bottom note on lower manual.
Important grace notes indicated by showing the note coming from this: c2)
up to the main note, F2, like so: F2
Chords not shown. c2)
Bb1 Ab1 G1 F1 | Eb1 Bb1 E1 Bb1 | F1 D1
F1 C1 | Bb1 Ab1 G1 F1 |
Eb1 Bb1 G1 F1 | Eb1 Bb1 E1 Bb1 | F1 Bb1 Eb1 Ab1 | A1 D1 G1 Db2 |
C2 D2 D#2 E2 | F2 F1 G1 A1
| Bb1 Ab1 G1 Gb1 | F1 Eb1 D1 F1 ||
2nd verse, add guitar:
Bb1 Bb1 Ab1 Ab1 | G1 G1 Gb1 Gb1 | F1 G1 G#1 A1 | Bb1 D2 F2 E2 |
Eb2 G1 G#1 A1 | Bb1 D1 D#1 E1 | F1 Bb1 Eb1 Bb1 | A1 D1 G1 Db2 |
C2 D2 D#2 E2 | F2 C2 F1 A1 | Bb1 Ab1 G1 Gb1 | F1 Eb1 D1 A1 ||
c2) a1) d1)
Subject: Bassline For "Gracie," by JOS (Minor Blues)
Learning minor blues is another important key to getting around on the
organ and playing changes.
There are a few good tricks to learn when studying how Jimmy Smith plays a minor blues bassline. Often, you will hear the beginning organ player do something like this in the bass: C Bb A G, C Bb A G , etc., etc. The thing to keep in mind is to modulate back and forth from mI through ii-V with the bass. (Or iib7 V, or II V.) You'll see this in the example.
Another key thing is the turnaround. Very often, the dominant seventh chord a half-step above the V chord is played first, including the "ii" that goes with it, i.e., (in Cm) Ebm7 Ab7/Dm7 G7.
Harmony aside, to play this like JS does (sort of), one should play grace notes in the bass. They are used almost constantly in this performance (it's on "Home Cookin'"), but are played so lightly they are impossible to notate. It should sound kinda like: Bum-t-dum, bum-t-dum, bum-t-dum. Easiest note to use for this is often the note previously played, or a fourth or fifth away.
I spent years playing lines like this almost entirely up in the second
octave, before realizing that playing down in the foldback is not only
subtler sometimes, but crossing the foldback line
can help with the dynamics of the bass part, depending on the key you're in. In this key, it's easy to see that 'C' gets nicely accented with this foldback situation. But by all means, try this all in the second octave as well, to train your hand to make these changes in that register (it feels different).
Apologies to those who weren't in the mood for a lecture....
"Gracie" by Jimmy Smith, from "Home Cookin" Blue Note 53360
Bass line for C minor blues-- begins at solos-
| Dm7 G7
C2 D2 Eb2 Db2 | D2 Ab1 G1 Db2 | C2 G1 D2 G1 | C2 D2 E2 Gb1 |
| Dm7 G7
F1 C2 Ab1 Eb1 | D1 Ab1 G1 Db2 | C2 G1 D2 G1 | C2 D2 Eb2 Gb1 |
Ebm7 Ab7 |
Eb1 G1 Ab1 Db1 | D1 Ab1 G1 Db2 | C2 D2 Eb2 Db2 | D2 Ab1 G1 Db2 ||
Subject: Left/Right Brain
> I have no problem with rhythmic independence
> between rh and lf (left foot) , unlike rh and lh, where I have to 'keep
> ckecking' on the lh. [snip]
> Is the part of the brain
> in control of the lh (right side of the brain, as I understand it) the same
> part that controls the left foot??
A brain surgeon I ain't, but I have watched all those TV shows about
Brain. I think that each set of motor nerves has it's own bit of brain it
is hooked up to. I also think that it can be developed, though more
slowly than when you're a kid. Women supposedly have superior development
of the corpus callosum, which is the nerve bundle that communicates
between the two hemispheres of the brain. I should think that this would
be an aid in playing independent left and right parts.
> I've listened endlessly to my Hammond icons (we all know who they
> it's obvious that they play 'memorized' lh bass lines most of the time (you
> know, F2-A1-Bb1-B1-C2-D2-Eb2-E2, etc) , with the odd ad lib,
This is a tricky subject, and impossible to prove, but I do have some
opinions on that, having taken apart these basslines for years. In my
estimation, Smith, great as he is, plays more memorized bass than several
others, namely Jack McDuff and Groove. That is, fewer variations in each
tune. It is clear from his records that he does design specific basslines
for each tune, and pretty much sticks with them.
Groove was left-handed, and presumably had to work harder on his RIGHT
hand stuff, which, I think, shows sometimes on his records.
His LH patterns change fairly often.
McDuff is capable of switching patterns often within a tune, and since
pretty much follow his bass-playing methods, I think I can speak to what
goes on here, although, every brain is different. What I think is
happening is: lots of patterns get memorized, then "plugged in" during
VERY BRIEF moments of attention to the LH. While I'm "breathing" with my
RH stuff, I think, for a nano-second, "OK, THAT one," and change the bass
pattern. No time for analysis, just a recognition of what pattern would
fit the case. Then, the memorization kicks back in. It's multi-tasking
the same way a computer does; not really all at the same time, just
quickly in between other calculations.
The line quoted above is quite common, but an entirely different mood
achieved playing, say, F2 A1 D2 Db2 C2 C3 G2 Gb2 (F2). Or:
F2 Eb2 D2 C2 Bb1 A1 Bb1 B1 (C2).
> and I've practiced these FOR HOURS (days, weeks, eons....),
> but, when I get excited, the lh 'forgets' where it is, and I get what I
> call a 'tilt' (as per pinball). My question (to our resident brain surgeon)
> is, 'how come I don't get this problem when playing with my feet'?
You may well have a better hook-up to your feet. But, speaking
myself, I would say it takes years of practice. Keep working on it!
But if you have a whole bunch of patterns really drilled in, when your
hand gets lost you will be able to instantly plug in a different pattern
that gets you out of it. It will become second nature. If I can do it,
you can; I was always the least co-ordinated kid on the block.
Another good way to get these patterns under your fingers is to sing them
to yourself; memorize them as MELODIES. When you're playing, hopefully
your thinking is melodic and rythmic, rather than analytical, and a new
bass pattern will occur to you as a recognizable melody, a piece of your
tool-kit you can just grab without thinking about it.
Subject: Bass trix
> Yeah, those were the lines I was after, I just remember them being
> angular and intervalic instead of just scalewise type lines......Thanks
Don't forget your octave jumps. One basic pattern that works all
place is G1 G2 D2 Db2 / C2.
Conversely (McDuff): G1 A1 Bb1 B1 / C2 Db1 C1 Gb1 / F1
And what I call the "turnover" (in terms of degree of the scale):
1 (down)3 (up)6 b6 5.
1 " 3 " 5 b5 4.
These days, JS has taken to playing, on an F turnaround:
G1 Bb2 B2 Ab1 / G1 C#2 C2 E2 / F
Subject: Pedal/Lower Manual syncopation.
> I have a question about the timing of the pedal and left hand notes
> when playing bass lines. I've read that the pedal is basically a
> "thud" that happens right at the beginning of the note, but since it's
> so quick, it's really just an attack transient like plucking a string
> and its tonality is not really that important. That's why you
> away with not playing the bass line exactly with your feet, and as you
> noted in a recent e-mail, there's no need to waste years trying to get
> the feet to hit the right notes all the time.
> My question is on the timing of the pedal and left hand. In Mark
> Vail's new "Beauty in the B" book, Jimmy McGriff and Tom Coster both
> describe it as syncopated, where one of them happens a split instant
I wouldn't call it that. Perhaps Jimmy was refering to grace notes,
> before the other. However, they don't explicitly say that it's
> pedal note that comes first, and then the left hand note, though it
> seems that's the only sensible order. I've been practicing it that
> way for a couple of days. However, I want to be sure I have the
> timing right:
> 1. Does the pedal note come before the left hand note?
> 2. Does the attack come before the downbeat, or right on it?
> 3. Does the left hand note come right on the downbeat?
> 4. Is the syncopation similar to stride piano (bay-ump,
> is it quicker than that (ba-dump, ba-dump)?
Does not compute! *Grace notes, however, could be described as sounding
like "ba-dump," I spose.
> 5. Are you going to include this information in
your book? Here
> is where a cassette tape would be invaluable to communicate
> the correct feel to the listener/reader.
YOU BET I AM
> 6. Does Jack McDuff cover this on his video tape? I've just
Yes he does, but he doesn't discuss these timing issues. The IMPORTANT
THING here is to listen listen listen until your mind "knows" how the
timing should be without your intellect getting involved at all! (One
needs that for other tasks while playing). Technique, of course, is very
important, but you should listen enough so you just *know* the timing in
> 7. Could you point me to any recordings on which this technique would be easy to hear?
"Groove's Groove" on the well-recorded album "Soul Message" is a textbook example of blues in F with very audible pedal accents, several "standard" bass lines, pedal "bombs",and inteerludes of straight pedal-walking.
If you can spring for Mosaic's 3-CD Jimmy Smith set, listen to
Long" by Kenny Burrell. Jimmy walks the intro for a whole chorus, and his
pedal accents are extremely obvious. If you understand the pedal accent as
the pluck of a bass string, you will see that it really is a question of
seamlessness 'tween your fingers and your accenting, rather than seperate
timing. *I* had to practice playing the accent a little ahead, only
because otherwise I tended to play it a little *late*. But that was my
problem and how I solved it. Practice playing one perfect quarter note
after another, all the same note, until you have *one* instrument going
instead of 2.
Also, listen to any McDuff blues and learn to distinguish the accent from
the "played" note. You can hear the bumping on most notes. When your ear
gets attuned to that, you be able to distinguish other pedal effects
easily when they are played. (The pedals sound much "growlier" than the
L.H.). The tiny notes and huffs and puffs you hear *before* the beat are
being played on the lower manual, not the pedals.
A qualification to the previous post: It should be said that playing
*on* the beat is entirely personal, subjective (difficult to quantify),
and a matter of musical taste and swing. Beat placement is important but
totally individual to each player. The beautiful division of time is
Subject: Left-hand bass: how d'ya get really good???
> I'm planning to put together a soul-jazz group, but need to work on my
> left-hand bass a little first. Does anyone have any practice tips or
> routines they would like to share?
> I play electric bass, and knowing what to play and when is not a
> problem. What is a problem is the syncopation on some of the funkier
> material. Is left/right hand rhythmic independence down to practice, or
> is it a case of you either have it or you don't?
> Also, does anyone use an XB-2 in a left-hand bass context? I'd be
> interested to know how you set up the keyboard split.
In addition to the three excellent answers already posted to
question, I have a little more for you.
1. Get out your old Jack McDuff, Jimmy Smith, and especially Groove
records and listen up! When you get sick of them, listen some more! Pay
particular attention to the little grace notes, most of which come 1 16th
note ahead of the beat. These notes are partly what keep your lines from
sounding as if played by a robot on a synth.
2. Don't play too legato. Groove can if he wants, but he's special.
Leaving a small bit of air between each bass note gives you more
definition and swings better. A practical way to do this is to try to
"bounce" your left hand a bit. (Watch Jack McDuff's technique on the BT
3. Practice in my case was way more important than talent. (my talent
for listening and learning; I was *very* un-coordinated before I mastered
jazz organ bass.)
4. You may know what to play as a stringster, however, open your mind
new patterns as played by the organists; some things work better on organ
than a string bass. Certain lines on organ have certain flavors as
compared to string playing.
5. You will sound a lot groovier with a real TW organ with foot pedals
than on an XB-2, not because the X sounds bad, but because to get the real
deal you need to be playing percussive attacks to most of your fingered
notes using a quick tap on a pedal (any note of your choosing; it's like a
staccato bass drum). If all you have is the X, try to set it up with as
much attack as possible. Believe me, the more you study the old cats (and
Joey) the more you will wish you were using a real B.
6. The standard settings are 808 or 838 (or 848, whatever sounds good).
Subject: Left-hand bass
> and two foot pedaling is cool to do - if only I could only learn where the hell they are and some cool rhythms/patterns/progressions (hint, hint Scott) this might be fun.
Hey, don't think about where they are. You'd be surprised how
foot "knows" where they are if you let it. OTOH, Jimmy Smith said the way
he learned it was to tape a picture of the pedals up in front of him, then
he just looked at *that* while he played.
Also, if you are using the "tap" method on one note, it helps to use
note as a reference point. I often use the lower 'A' pedal for that. Then,
when you feel like walkin', your foot will get used to coming back to your
Subject: JS Bass
> Thanks, Scott. Now I understand what JS does with bass; didn't
> get it from the previous posts. If I could get my brain to think in
> three channels, I might have a chance of doing this technique. Playing
> like this would be somewhat like running three real-time asyncronous
> concurrent (run together at the same time communicating with each other
> at varying speeds) processes or computer programs, to make an analogy to
> the world of software engineering. I don't know if I can get my brain
> to do that. Just sight reading a piece with very different phrasing for
> right and left hand is hard enough.
Try playing quarter notes with your left hand to a metronome, just one
note over and over, while practicing your pedal taps. The trick is to get
the tap early enough (meaning: not late!).
When practicing bass lines, don't run your right hand. When you have
worked the bass lines long enough, they will be automatic enough to run
themselves when you add right hand.
Subject: Jimmy Doesn't Play String Bass Units
> The bass notes I heard at the show sounded like "string bass" notes...
> was a nice sustained bass note after he "tapped" the pedal. Is there
> another bass pedal contraption for the B3? I had a setting on an old
> Wurlitzer called "String Bass" that worked exactly like what I heard last
There are several contraptions. Smith uses none of them.
note you hear is played with the left hand on the lower manual. The tap
made on the pedal gives a similar impression as the percussive noise that
a string makes as it is plucked. It then dies away into it's fundamental
tone, which in this case is being played on the lower manual. On top
of that, Jimmy is playing grace notes before the beat (LH), which is
standard practice for string bass players, but not much remarked on in
regard to organ bass playing.
Sound complicated? As Jack McDuff sez: You just pat your foot. In
practice, the main thing you are hearing is bass coming
from the keyboard, with "percussion" (and doubling as-needed) coming from
the pedals. Note selection for the patting varies among players and is an
arguable subject. One note works fine, however.
This method was then adopted by hundreds of players, including Jack
McDuff, Groove Homes, Jimmy McGriff, Joey DeFrancesco, and most of the
What you saw was a show by a master improviser, in his day, but also
player who dominates his instrument so completely that the illusion of
string bass is second nature to him. OTOH, the more you listen closely to
this kind of bass, the more you start to appreciate the different
qualities that it has over upright bass. Not better, just different.
For example, the noise it makes: "Bfmmmm! Bfmmmm!," etc. Also the growl
when you suddenly go way down, after plying in the high, singing part of
the keyboard. Precision is another thing that organ bass is good for, in
the hands of a master player, slicing up time into perfect, elegant
pieces. (ex., Groove Holmes.)
Subject: Bass playing on pedals
> I have been trying the bass pedal technique you have prescribed and
> having some mixed results . Thought I might get some pointers from you
> as to what I am finding most difficult . First of all , do you use 16'
> pedal drawbar all the way out ? When I have tried this on my organ the
> pedal tone seems overbearing and not complementing the L.H. sound . I
> reduced the drawbar to 6 or less and seem to get closer to the tap
> attack at the beginning of this note that you are talking about .
Usually, I do. But this entirely a matter of personal taste.
to me (his favorite comparison), "It's like when you're making a pound
cake. It just depends on how heavy you want it; how much oil you put in
the cake." I swear to God!
BUT, But, But! It may be that your taps are too long in duration.
don't know, since I can't hear you, but they must be QUICK and deadly
accurate as to time. This is another variable that can be used to control
bass dynamics. Think of it as a "percussion circuit," with human feel.
> course the hardest thing for me is that I have always used my left
> for tapping time ( a habit that I have had since Jr. Highschool band
> days ) and that foot now just doesn't like anything but a downbeat
What has helped me is to practice repeating just one note on the LM,
practice pedal tapping with that, maybe with metronome. This way, you can
concentrate on re-wiring your brain for the timing and tapping, without
worrying about note selection, for now.
> CD would you recommend to listen to that would be the best ( easiest
> hear ) this practice .
Groove Holmes' "Soul Message" on Prestige CD. Excellent bass record.
Set your "loudness" button on hi, and you will hear every pedal technique
in the book.
> I know it's like anything else as for as practice
> is concerned , as you stated earlier you have to learn it and then
> unlearn it . The other thing I am finding is the position of the foot ,
> do you suspend your foot over the pedal
Yes, or you can even rest it on the pedal if the tension is set properly.
(The simple weight of your foot should not turn on the pedal.)
If you watch Jimmy, you will see him "toe-tapping." Jack likes to think of
it as "patting" the pedal. Earland and others make a stabbing motion with
the toe of the boot. With any of these approaches, your foot must be free
to swing about, and near both black and white pedals. If this makes your
thigh tired, then you need to sit up higher on a bench pad, since that
means you are wasting energy trying to constantly keep your foot up. It
should just hang there at the right height.
This is Richard "Groove" Holmes, note-for-note walking bass, doin' "The
Shadow of Your Smile." This isn't the same performance as the one on
record, but from a tape of a live gig. It's slower than the record
version, and in a different key, maybe because on this gig, he sang the
Set your metronome at 106.
C2 on the LM.
Since we all know the melody(?), sing along or play it sparingly w/
Play the line on the LM, while tapping lightly on the ped., stacatto.
A few grace notes are indicated ["g)"], but feel free to add more.
(Grace note comes just before the beat as a "ghost note," played from a
fourth or a fifth away, or from previous note, or a half-step away; *your*
choice. Try the different effects.)
Where it says "gliss," we're talking doing a smear smoothly up or down.
Groove's bass lines are very distinctive from the other jazz organ
players'; passing-tones are not always standard, and notice the
full-octave jumps, and the use of two full octaves. The chorus
vibrato helps the very high parts really sing, if you make them.
Time is very strict and straight-ahead.
Notation: Top line=chord
Next line=bass note on lower manual, C1 being the bottom note.
Bottom line=grace notes or gliss
* = hold pedal tone in unison with fingered note
Some email programs will garble the justification of the lines; using
space and backspace keys, you can usually line up the two bar lines: |
Em7 |A7b9 |Dm7 |Dm7 |
B1 E2 B1 Bb1|A1 C#2 E2 Eb2|D2 A1 E2 Eb2|D2 E2 F2 F#2|
G2 G#2 A2 D3 |C3 G2 C2 E2|F2 F1 G1 A1 |Bb1 D2 Eb2 F2|
`gliss' `gls'`gls' * * * *
E2 B1 E2 Bb1|A1 C#2 E2 Eb2|D2 D3 C3 C#3|D3 Db3 Db3 C3|
g) g) * * (don't forget to tap in this part!)
B2 B2 Gb2 F2 |E2 G#2 B2 Bb |A2 E2 Bb2 E2 |A2 E2 A2 D2||
E2 C3 D3 D#3|E3 Bb2 A2 E2 |D2 C2 B1 Bb1|A1 C#2 D2 G#2|
g) * *
G2 D2 G1 C#2|C2 D2 Eb2 E2 |F2 F2 Eb2 Eb2|D2 D2 A2 Ab2|
G2 A2 Bb2 G2 |Bb2 F2 Eb2 Bb2|A2 A2 E2 Eb2|D2 Bb2 A2 Ab2|
|Eb6/9 E6/9 |F6/9
G2 F#2 G2 D2 |C2 E2 G2 D2 |Eb2 Eb2 F2 E2 |F2(break) ||(solos)
Though Groove could walk the pedals with the best of them, and sometimes
did as a piece of showmanship for a few bars at a time, most of what
you're hearing is left-hand bass, with help from the pedals. After all,
he was left-handed! To make the bass really swing, ya gotta be able to do
the grace notes, which are fingered as part of the bass line.
Besides that, the pedals are really too heavy; ponderous sounding, for the
subtle effects needed for jazz, IMO. It would be similar to trying to use
a Sousaphone for jazz bass-- it could be done, but 'twould be bombastic.
This way, when you *do* choose to add extra pedal to the mix, you have the
ability to add accents or fatten up the sound for emphasis, increasing
your (limited) dynamic range.
When walking the pedals, the effect was smooth, as you mention, due
use of heel-and-toe technique.
There are many roads to Rome, but if you want to do the classic jazz organ
thing, no pedal sustainer is needed or wanted.
OTOH, someone who threw out the rule book is the supremely gifted Bobby
Jones, who recorded two albums with altoist Bobby Milatello. As mentioned
here before, Bobby plays his lines with his foot while comping with his
left hand while soloing. When accompaning (sp?), he reverts to the
classic LH style.