A little about me

I’m one of those guys, you know the ones, who pastors a church by day and plays the tuba by night (although sometimes it’s the other way round).

This blog is a little insight into my tuba world with a few sounds, sights, musings and nerdings.

If however you were wanting to hear me preach, you’re on the wrong site so you’ll need to either click on the church link or come to my regular gig on a Sunday morning.

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Bassline Academy – Maybe It’ll Rub Off, Rocco Prestia

This bassline transcription is a request from Dwayne Dixon. He’s a fellow church minister and low note player and sent me a message asking if I’d do a version of Maybe It’ll Rub Off by Tower of Power, so here it is Dwayne!.

The bassline is typically Rocco; punchy, percussive, funky and at times follows the unison riff in the rest of the band. The main A section riff uses a kind of bee bop blues scale (that’s what I shall call it, I don’t know if anyone else does!). The F, E, Eb are like the top of a bee bop scale (in F) with the following C, B, Bb, Ab part of the blues scale (in F) so to my mind that’s a bee bop blues scale or possibly a blues bee bop scale, depending on which way you look at it!

In the hammond organ solo section the bass guitar drops out and bass duties are picked up by Chester Thompson on bass pedals! This section is probably the most difficult to play on the tuba as there’s no where to breathe!

On the whole I found myself playing the bass part on this track with quite a lot of hard tongue attack to get the same sound and style as the bass and bari sax.

You can download the pdf transcription here – Maybe it’ll rub off

SDG

Bassline Academy – Thinking About Your Body, Bobby McFerrin

Here’s another Bobby McFerrin transcription taken from the Spontaneous Inventions album. It’s funny how you find music sometimes, I first heard this track (sort of) on a Cadbury’s chocolate advert! I’ve always loved it (and Cadbury’s chocolate – maybe marketing does work after all) so it’s been great to learn it and get inside the groove. With all of Bobby McFerrin’s solo stuff, there’s an amazing sense of feel and pulse which makes it sound like there’s more than just one person playing/singing it. As with Opportunity it works really well down the octave on the tuba, although the acrobatic leaps are a bit a of a challenge.

Get the PDF transcription here – Thinking about your body

SDG

Haugesund 2018

I had the usual fun at Silda Jazz again this year with The Brasshoppers. The gigs were warmly received by the raucous Norwegian crowd and we were joined again on stage by members of the Huntertones (if you haven’t heard of them check them out they’re great!). One of the highlights was breaking into a unison version of Dean Town with Jon Lampley, the trumpet/sousaphone player from the Huntertones, in the middle of one his solos. Below is a little snippet from SHM, a tune I wrote many moons ago!

SDG

Keswick Convention 2018

Just back from a couple of days at the Keswick Convention with Kairos Ensemble. It was all too short but we had a great time. One guest spot on the main stage (see video below), an opportunity to play some tunes from Rejoicing Blues (including a silly noise tuba solo on In Step) in the late show, and then a full performance of Passion Suite the following day featuring the very soulful and talented Miriam Jones. The Passion Suite gig was particularly memorable as Miriam had written some extra material to extend and enhance Pete James’ already profound composition. It came together beautifully and was a very moving experience.

I love playing with these guys!

Bassline Academy – Spider, Paul Jackson

This is a slightly obscure bassline to learn but there’s a story behind it!

Spider is a track from the Secrets album by Herbie Hancock. As with other albums of this era (Head Hunters is probably the most well known) Paul Jackson is Herbie’s bass player. If you don’t know any of Paul Jackson’s stuff then check him out, he’s Mr Funky!

I first heard this track on a live recording played by The Brasshoppers with the mighty Gideon Jukes on tuba. Gideon sounded amazing! It was a crazy tuba funk masterclass and I had no idea where to begin getting my head around the lines he was playing. Then, last year Gideon did a studio recording of the track with The Brasshoppers (check it out here), which was equally great. The problem was over the last couple of years I’ve found myself back in The Brasshopper tuba chair and they were keen to keep playing this tune. I bodged my way through it a few times but decided it’d be a good idea to learn the original which is the reason for this transcription. I’m still learning……

After the initial sustained bass notes in the introduction the majority of the tune is based on one riff/progression which has 3 main variations. The first variation uses some bass guitar harmonics which I play down the octave and gradually builds up with additional fills and improvised nuances. After a short breakdown the second variation also builds in complexity and intensity as it heads to a brief bridge section. After this the third variation stays relatively simple as it motors on to the outro. Jackson’s rhythmic placement and ghost notes are super cool throughout.

Download the complete bass transcription here. (The low C# in the last chord isn’t played by the bass but I’ve included it here because it’s fun to play!)