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Basso Profundo


A Quick read.

Beginning around 1890, the African-American communities in early New Orleans used a jazz ensemble which played a mixture of marches, ragtime, and dixieland music. This ensemble was initially a marching band with sousaphone (or occasionally bass saxophone) supplying the bass line. As the music moved from playing for funerals on the street and into bars and brothels, the double bass gradually replaced these wind instruments. Many early bassists doubled on both the "brass bass" and "string bass," as the instruments were then often referred to. Bassists played "walking" basslines—scale-based lines that outlined the harmony and provided a foundation for the tunes.

Because an unamplified double bass is generally the quietest instrument in a jazz band, many players of the 1920s and 1930s used the slap style, slapping and pulling the strings to make a rhythmic "slap" sound against the fingerboard. The slap style cuts through the sound of a band better than simply plucking the strings, and make the bass more easily heard on early sound recordings, as the recording equipment of that time did not capture low frequencies well.[2] For more about the slap style, see "Playing styles," below.

Double bass players who have contributed to the evolution of jazz include the Swing era player Jimmy Blanton, who played with Duke Ellington, and Oscar Pettiford, who pioneered the instrument's soloistic use in Bebop. The "cool" style of jazz was influenced by players such as Scott LaFaro and Percy Heath, whose solos were very melodic.

Paul Chambers (who worked with Miles Davis on the famous Kind of Blue album) achieved renown for being one of the early jazz bassists to play Bebop solos in arco (bowed) style. The first player known to do that was Slam Stewart, who would scat in octaves with his bowed bass in his solos, good examples of which can be found on the trio recordings he made with Art Tatum and Tiny Grimes. Ron Carter (another bassist who worked with Miles Davis in his second great quintet), is credited as a key figure of the modern school of jazz bass playing.[citation needed]He is one of the most-recorded bassists in jazz.

Free jazz was influenced by the composer/bassist Charles Mingus (who also contributed to hard bop) and Charlie Haden, best known for his work with Ornette Coleman. In the 1950s, some big band bandleaders began to ask their upright players to use the then-newly available Fender bass, the first widely available electric bass. In the 1970s, as jazz and rock music were blended by performers to create the "fusion" genre, players such as Jaco Pastorius began to develop a unique sound using the electric bass.

Apart from jazz fusion and Latin-influenced jazz, the double bass is still widely used in jazz in the 2010s. The deep sound and woody tone of the plucked double bass is distinct from the sound of the fretted bass guitar. The bass guitar produces a different sound than the double bass, because its strings are usually stopped with the aid of metal frets. As well, bass guitars usually have a solid wood body, which means that the sound is produced by electronic amplification of the vibration of the strings. The solid body upright, also known as a "stick" bass or "EUB" variation is still widely used by bass players in salsa and timba bands, because its sound is so well suited to those styles. The EUB is smaller and lighter than a double bass, making touring and travelling easier, and its solid (or mostly solid) body enables bassists to play at a much higher volume with a bass amp without feedback.



Arvell Shaw (September 15, 1923, St. Louis, Missouri – December 5, 2002, Roosevelt, New York) was an American jazz double-bassist, best known for his work with Louis Armstrong.

Shaw learned to play tuba in high school, but switched to bass soon after. In 1942 he worked with Fate Marable on riverboats traveling on the Mississippi River, then served in the Navy from 1942 to 1945. After his discharge he played with Armstrong in his last big band, from 1945 to 1947. Shaw and Sid Catlett then joined the Louis Armstrong All-Stars until 1950, when Shaw broke off to study music. He returned to play with Armstrong from 1952 to 1956, and performed in the 1956 musical High Society.

Shaw performed with Louis Armstrong and his All Stars with Velma Middleton singing vocals for the famed ninth Cavalcade of Jazz concert held at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles. The concert was produced by Leon Hefflin, Sr. on June 7, 1953. Also featured that day were Roy Brown and his Orchestra, Don Tosti and His Mexican Jazzmen, Earl Bostic, Nat "King" Cole, and Shorty Rogers and his Orchestra.[1][2]

Following this he worked at CBS with Russ Case, did time in Teddy Wilson's trio, and played with Benny Goodman at the 1958 Brussels World's Fair. After a few years in Europe, he played again with Goodman on a tour of Central America in 1962. From 1962–64 Shaw played again with Armstrong, and occasionally accompanied him through the end of the 1960s. After the 1960s Shaw mostly freelanced in New York and kept playing until his death. He recorded only once as a leader, a live concert from 1991 of his Satchmo Legacy Band.

if you fast forward to 4:20 you'll get a short clip of the master Milt playing hi slap style.

 Pops Foster can be heard and seen playing Bass on a few you tube clips (https://youtu.be/I31-stq7H6s) playing slap bass. I've always

been intrigued by the different approaches to this style. Some one who comes to mind is bassist Milt Hinton who in my mind was a master in his own right. clik here to view https://youtu.be/-lyOWuc0T4E


George Murphy "PopsFoster (May 19, 1892 – October 29, 1969) was a jazz musician best known for his vigorous slap bass playing of the string bass. He also played the tuba and trumpet professionally.

Foster was born to Charley and Annie Foster, who "was nearly fullblooded Cherokee,"[1] on a plantation near McCall in Ascension Parish near Donaldsonville in south Louisiana. His family moved to New Orleans when he was about 10 years of age. His older brother, Willard Foster, began playing banjo and guitar; George started out on a cello then switched to string bass. Foster married twice: to Bertha Foster in 1912 and Alma Foster in 1936.

Pops Foster was playing professionally by 1907 and worked with Jack CareyKid OryArmand PironKing Oliver and other prominent hot bands of the era.

In 1921 he moved to St. Louis to play with the Charlie Creath and Dewey Jackson bands, in which he would be active for much of the decade. He also joined Ory in Los Angeles. He acquired the nickname "Pops" because he was far older than any of the other players in the band.

In 1929 Foster moved to New York City, where he played with the bands of Luis Russell and Louis Armstrongthrough 1940. He gigged with various New York-based bands through the 1940s, including those of Sidney BechetArt Hodes, and regular broadcasts on the national This Is Jazz radio program. He also recorded for the Mezzrow-Bechet Quintet (Bechet, Mezz Mezzrow, Fitz Weston, and Kaiser Marshall[2]) and Septet (on two consecutive dates in 1945, with Hot Lips Page (as Pappa Snow White),[3] Sammy Price (as Jimmy Blythe Jr.),[3]Danny Barker and Sid Catlett, and on the second session with Pleasant Joe on vocals[3]).

In the late 1940s he began touring more widely and played in many countries in Europe, especially in France, and throughout the United States including returns to New Orleans and California.

In 1952, Foster toured Europe with Jimmy Archey's Band. He played regularly at Central Plaza in New York and briefly in New Orleans with Papa Celestin in 1954.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, he played with Earl Hines' Small Band. In 1966, he toured Europe with the New Orleans All-Stars but remained based in San Francisco, where he died.

The Autobiography of Pops Foster was published in 1971, with a new edition in 2005. Foster is quoted, "Some of the books are fouled up on" the times in New Orleans", "and some of the guys weren't telling the truth." "The citics and guys who write about jazz think they know more about what went on in New Orleans than the guys that were there." [4]


Bassist John Levy composed the title of my blog Basso Profundo. A great composition which features the bass throughout

the piece. The tune was recorded on The MGM recording Shearing in Hi Fi with  Cal Tjader - vibraphone, Al McKibbon - bass and Bill Clark - drums.



Bassist John Levy was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. In 1944, he left his family home in Chicago, Illinois, and moved to New York City, New York, where he played bass for such renowned jazz musicians as Ben WebsterErroll GarnerMilt Jackson, and Billie Holiday. In 1949, he became the bassist in the original George Shearing Quintet, where he also acted as Shearing's road manager. In 1951, Levy opened John Levy Enterprises, Inc., becoming the first African-American personal manager in the pop or jazz music field. By the 1960s, Levy's client roster included Shearing, Nancy WilsonCannonball AdderleyJoe WilliamsShirley Horn, Soul singer Jimmie Raye, and Ramsey Lewis.

In 1997, Levy was inducted into the International Jazz Hall of Fame, and in 2006 he was named a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts. He died, aged 99, in Altadena, California.[1][Jimmy Jones 1947 (Gottlieb 04671).jpg2]