When I was studying at university (many moons ago) I would hear many tuba students talk about who they would like to sound like. Names like John Fletcher, Owen Slade, Patrick Harrild and Oren Marshall were some of the tuba players we were trying to emulate. However, for me I also had the sound of Tower of Power’s bass player Rocco Prestia in my head. There’s something about his direct, punchy, fat sound and style I’ve always loved and tried to recreate in my playing. I think that if we aim to make a sound that is beyond someone else playing the same instrument as us, then we may well stretch the possibilities of what we can do on our instrument. One of the most common bits of feedback I get after a gig is ‘I thought that was a bass guitar’, which I usually take as a compliment because when I’m playing any afro-american based style I’m generally not trying to sound like a tuba, but a bass.
Anyway that’s a long winded introduction to my transcription of ‘Drop It In The Slot’ from one of my favourite Tower of Power albums, ‘In The Slot’.
Rocco’s playing in the A section is quite high on the bass which sits nicely on the tuba. He plays the riff on F7 pretty much unaltered throughout the opening and only embellishes the tail of the phrase on F#7.
In the B section, however, I’m not sure he plays exactly the same thing twice! There are some rhythmic hooks but he’s mainly freestyling on Dmin using the root, 6th and 7th.
The outro, after the chromatic shifting of the original riff, is where Rocco starts to let his hair down with some of his trademark semiquaver chromatic runs.
This is a fun tune to play on tuba and I actually think the interactions between the sound of tuba and the rest of the TOP horns works better on a brass bass than an electric one (but I would think that wouldn’t I)!
Download the full bass transcription here.