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Posted by Carol Kaye on May 03, 2000 at 16:27:46:
All the lines I wrote in my first books ("How To Play The Electric Bass"
and the basslines books "Bass Lines Nos. 1-5") were from my playing and
creating experiences in the thousands of recording sessions on bass in the
studios 60s on.
At first, I was a very popularly-hired studio guitarist (discovered by
Bumps Blackwell playing in jazz clubs in Dec. 1957 and hired to do the
Sam Cooke sessions from then on, Ritchie Valens, Pat Boone, lots of guitar
hits -- see credits on the website) and worked as about no. 3rd or 4th call
in the studios constantly on guitar since then until I had to play the
Fender Bass late 1964 when someone didn't show up at Capitol Records).
It felt like a helluva lot more fun to play the bass on rock hits beginning
in late 1964 than guitar altho' I was innovative not only on guitar, but
rhythmical riffs on the acoustic and elec. 12-string too as well as lead
guitar parts and
certainly was known for my rhythimcal and funky riffs on that guitar
period. Rhythm has ALWAYS been easy for me, having heard music constantly
from my professional musician parents since I was a baby.
And having worked some 100s of vip dates on guitar before I ever picked up
the bass (and then was totally no. 1 call on bass by most record cos,
film cos, movies, commercials, etc.), I had a good "education" as to what I
tho't should have been played on the bottom of the hits we were
recording - the challenge was in creating a fine hit-record that people
could dance to and snap their fingers to -- I had my own rhythmical 8th
and 16th note ideas.
And so accidently I began a creative career on bass, playing what I wanted
to play (in their song-style framework) and producers all loved
it, had to have me or instructed others to get that "Carol Kaye" sound and
feel when I was already booked for dates. Sure, I played always
with a hard pick, had that system of down-beat and up-beat picking so well
together, I could play HARD all day and all night without getting
tired and the notes sounded not only EVEN, but I whacked the b-jesus out of
the strings too, even tho' they were extremely high (Fender Precision
with Fender med-gauge flatwounds always with open-back Fender 4-10s Concert
Amp, always miked until very late 60s, about 1968 I switched to the
Versatone, closed back small clean amp) - was fun to play hard and to
"drive" the band.
I traded in my Fender Precision when I needed to "change strings", about
every 2 years, always wiping the strings on top and underneath EVERY
time I played with a good chamois.
I'm re-posting what Earl said about our CREATIVITY.....he's right, very few
people KNOW about how we CREATED our own parts, and that's why
there's so many fine multi-styled lines in my books, still un-paralleled
today in education (so many have tried to write good lines, they simply
can't....it's in the experience).
And that's why Sting, John Paul Jones, Nathan East, Abe Laboriel, Dave
Hungate, Bill Laymon, even Ron Carter, Will Lee, and Christian McBride
told me how much they enjoyed learning elec. bass from my books (Jaco
included back in 1977 when I met him), why all of the "influenced" and
privately-taught (see partial list on my website) bassists all give
compliments to these books - those lines were from years of experience of
not only performing but creating them in the studios too.
Earl is being quoted again below from his recent LA Times interview, he's
right, we all love Earl, he is MR. DRUMS, no doubt about it, bring his fine
funky rhythms and great jazz composing feel to the 1958 LA scene after a
vip recording hit career in New Orleans from 1949 on:
>>>>>The melting pot that is New Orleans contributed to the flexibility
that over the years has enabled Palmer to shift from sessions with Pat
Boone and Professor Longhair ni the '50s to Sam Cooke, Phil Spector and the
Monkees in the '60s to Tom Waits in the '70s and so on.
"People living in New Orleans just like music, period" Palmer said. "They
like somethnig they can shake their fannies to and pat their feet
to. New Orleans people have their own music that has tniges of this and
tinges of that in it.
"So what we were playing on those early records was funky in relation to
jazz," he said. "What we were playing already had that natural New Orleans
flavor about the music. I played the bass drum how they played bass drum
in funeral parade bands. I had to do something to make it funky."
"Making it up as they went was one of the defining concepts of rock 'n'
roll. "This kind of music is almot totally creative," Palmer said. "We
had no (written) music for those things -- the music was learned and it was
up to the musicians to add to it. A lot of it came from the musicians" (he
means the studio musicians cutting the records in LA).
Because of the spontaneous, improvisatory nature of rock music, many
onlookers assumed the musicians were untrained. And while many star
performers could neither read nor write music, the same wasn't necessarily
true of the players working with them.
"I went to music school on the GI bill," Palmer said. "I minored in drums
and that's where I learned how to read music. I took theory and
harmony, and actually was a piano major, though I never really played it
much. I studied arranging and composition."
"I knew I was never going to be a Buddy Rich -- a great soloist. That's
why I went to music school. I wanted to learn about arranging," he said.
"I came to work in Los Angeles for Latin Recods to do arranging and
producing. What stood me in good stead was being able to come and work as
a producer and arranger."
With his reputation preceding him as a drummer on those early rock hits out
of New Orleans, he quickly found as much demand for his intrumental
services in L.A. as back home.
Palmer said he came to appreciate a camaraderie among West Coast studio
players. "When some of the guys later would come out from New York,they
brought that New York animosity wit themm," he said. "But we were always
helpful to people doing those sessions. . . . That was some of the most
fun: playing with guys who, if you were a little better than some, you
never felt that you were so much better than anybody. It was always
refreshing to go to work."
That, he said, made it easier to bring freshenss to whatever he was called
upon to play -- whether a wall-of-sound pop session with legendary producer
Spector or the theme to a TV show or movie -- no matter how many ties he
might have to pay the same piece.
"Thdy don't want you saying 'I'm tired.' You have to bring yourself up
every time, and lock into a way to do it every time with something
interestings, yet without totally changnig it," said Palmer, who still
plays club dates as often as he can. "You always want it to sound like
it's the first time the musicians have heard the music, that it has all the
fire of playing it the first time."
>From CK, "so true, no matter how many takes".
The great Earl Palmer says it all so well. He was wonderful to work with
(I think he did most of the Phil Spector sessions) and we had fun locking
in together with grooves, etc. No, I played something different on the
bass than what he played on the bass drum, and it fit so well
together always. See his pics on my website.
My education was very short with Horace Hatchett, teacher of Howard Roberts
and Oscar Moore, John Gray, many other fine then-pros of Hollywood studios
etc. Hatch was a graduate cum laude of the Eastman School of Music, also
went to the Manhattan School of Music before he went on the road subbing
for the great Eddie Lang in the 30s, served in WWII, came back to Phoenix
where he taught Howard, and then moved to Long Beach. He had great ideas
chordally to get a guitar student going in the right direction for jazz.
He taught me how to trascribe (after 3-4 mos. lessons in 1949, he hired to
help him teach and about that time at the age of 14, I also started working
jazz-gigs with people, Benny Goodman style jazz etc.) and I soon
transcribed practically every
Charlie Christian guitar solo on records (off the 78s), some Artie Shaw
big-band and Grammercy 5 things, even some Bing Crosby things for my
It was the fine George Smith chord books as well as Hatche's fine teachings
that laid the foundation for me to later get the fine bebop styles that
were being played in the 50s (after the 1-year solid traveling with the
big-band on the road across the USA 1954-55) and I followed Howard Roberts
footsteps in playing gigs in the black part of town (some swanky nightclubs
in those days) and really got it together playing with the best. Something
that the 70s-80s musicians never had the advantage of I feel, which is too
bad....rock and roll doesn't provide the fine chordal foundations need to
play jazz and other styles of music unfortunately. But it can be learned
if presented logically and with teaching experience.
I feel that transcriptions, while fun to play with the records for awhile,
do NOT teach you anything about how to get your jazz chops together AT ALL.
You need fine chordal pattern approaches, learning your cycles, how chords
function etc. to get that. Fine Jazz soloing was started by KNOWING and
using chords in music, never scales (which are simply passing notes
*sometimes*) and learning how to alter chords, using their extended triads,
and especially the great pivotal b5 chordal things.
Copying jazz solos is NOT creating and like tab stopping one from learning
the easy way of learning to really read, transcriptions can stop you from
learning how to really create jazz solos. Best to do it the right way:
chordal learning, and functioning in music, it's not hard once you get away
from "scale" backward ways of thinking, and it's a lot of fun once you
acquire the chordal habits you need, the doors are open then.
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