Canadian Musician

JAY WALKING

Jason Raso

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Video Lesson 1: Bass Chords

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

Here is the first of three new video lessons!

Let’s talk about bass chords…

The Unstoppable Michael Manring

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

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Michael Manring is a true pioneer of the electric bass. It’s more than fair to say he possesses one of the most distinct and innovative voices in the history of the instrument. I first heard of Michael in 1994. There was huge buzz about his album “Thonk” and I knew I had to hear it. I was not prepared for what I heard. I had been playing bass for 6 years at that point and thought I had an idea of what was possible. “Thonk” blew my mind. It forever changed the way I saw the bass and inspired me to push further. Mr. Manring is still pushing the boundaries of the electric bass and is showing no signs of slowing down.

Michael graciously agreed to answer a few questions ahead of his performance at The Canadian Guitar Festival in Kingston, Ontario this July.

JR:  When did you start playing bass and who were your early influences?

MM: I fell in love with the bass when I was about 10. In those days we didn’t have much information about the records we listened to and originally I didn’t know what instrument was making the sound that captivated my imagination. Gradually, as player credits appeared on LP record jackets we began to be able to sort out who was playing what. When I figured out it was the bass guitar that was fascinated by, I begged my parents to let me buy one.

The Woodstock Festival record was popular at that time and was a big early influence. There was a relative variety of music at Woodstock, so it was kind of a nice place to start as a bassist. After just a few years I got into jazz, so its rich history became very important to me as well. From there I got interested in classical music, contemporary music, ethnic musics — lots of different sounds inspired my musical upbringing.

JR: At what point do you feel you came into your own as a bass player?

MM: For me, being a musician is a constantly evolving process and I certainly feel I’m still growing and learning. However, I suppose there was a point in my twenties when a certain personal path started to become apparent. Jaco Pastorius had been my idol at that time and much of my musical pursuit had revolved around trying to come to terms with the great innovations he brought to the instrument. When I got to study with him and get to know him a bit, I’m not sure why, but I began to feel a need to branch out a little. It’s difficult to describe because it was an intuitive process, but I started hearing certain sounds in my mind’s ear and I began to have an unstoppable urge to follow a particular set of dreams.

JR: Which non-bass player has had the biggest impact on your playing?

MM: That’s a tough question to answer! I suppose the people who’ve had the biggest impact on who I am and therefore, the kind of music I make, were my parents, but I doubt that generic an answer will be satisfying to you! I have lots of heroes, musical and otherwise, so it really is impossible to pick just one. Maybe, for the sake of dialog I’ll name William Shakespeare, only because he has had such an enormous impact on all western art as well as on me personally.

JR: It’s very exciting that you are coming up to Canada to play the Canadian Guitar Festival in Kingston. How much of your solo set is planned out and how much is improvised? How do you decide on the set list?

MM: These days I like to improvise a lot of my live performances. Again, I’m not sure why — it just feels like the right thing to do. The music-making process is a kind of passion for me and it can be a bit difficult to put into words how some decisions are made. If this year’s Fest ends up being a typical set I’ll spend maybe 70 percent of the time experimenting with various ideas and the remaining time playing stuff I know how to play! Sometime the day of a show I seem to get a feeling for what direction I need to take, so I follow that impulse as best I can. However, I’m always so grateful that folks want to listen to what I’m doing so I always try to make sure to play a few things I think they’ll find entertaining. I need to follow my muse, but I’m not interested in completely alienating my audience!

Visit Michael at www.manthing.com

Solo Bass Transcription: Here Comes the Sun

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

Please check out this solo bass arrangement of George Harrison’s “Here Comes the Sun.” It was a lot of fun to arrange.

Also, if you are interested in a free PDF of the transcription, please email info@jasonrasomusic.com

What kind of musician are you?

Monday, May 18th, 2015

Are you a versatile musician? Someone who can play multiple styles with conviction? Sight-read? Take direction? Be ready to perform with little or no prep time?

Yes? Well, that makes one of us!

I’ve always admired musicians who can do this. It’s a skill that I’ve never fully developed. I’m content writing and performing my own music and trying to be versatile within that format. Everything I learn serves the purpose of pushing my writing and performing forward.

I used to go out and gig as a sideman but it never felt quite right. I never did a great job and that certainly wasn’t fair to the bandleader. I’m also a musician who likes a lot of prep time so I’ve never been great in sub-in situations. So, in a way I decided to specialize and I’m happy with that.

These days I’m content to record and perform as a guest from time to time in situations where I get to be myself, but I still work on developing those skills because one never know what lays ahead!

What kind of musician are you?

Practice Apps!

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

This time around I’d like to write about a couple of apps I’ve been using as practice tools.

The first is a drum machine app called FUNK BOX. It’s a collection of old school drum machines like the LINN, the 808, the MRK2, the CR78 and more. It’s very easy to edit beats and change sounds. You can save up to 18 beats and there is a built in mixer.

The second app is iReal Pro. This app reminds me of a little of “Band in a Box.” You can load in your own chord progressions, choose a style and it will build a backing track for you. The mixer allows you to mute your own instrument so you can play along. It also comes with several practice progressions. The forum also allows you to download jazz standards, pop tunes etc. There are thousands of songs on the forum.

Funk Box and iReal Pro are more expensive than your average app but well worth the cost.

Here is a sample of the two apps…

Spice up your practice routine!

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

I do my best to keep a solid practice routine going, but sometimes you just need to change things up. The last thing I want is for my routine to go stale. This year I thought I would try something a little different. Each month I will choose a different player to study. Now, it doesn’t have be a bass player. For example, in March I plan on tackling guitarist Wes Montgomery!

January I went with bassist Gary Willis (Tribal Tech) and learned some different concepts and grooves. This month (February) I’ve been studying the great Canadian bassist Alain Caron. His playing is intense to say the least and it’s been a real challenge for me, which is great news! You should be challenging yourself with practice.

My favourite Alain tune is “Had to Go” from 1993’s Le Band. This week I decided to give it a shot…

Next time we’ll look at apps I’ve been using to spice things up!

See you next time!

 

Man of 40 Faces – Live Preview

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

A little more shameless self promotion? Why not?

Man of 40 Faces – New Album!

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

I am very proud to announce my new album!
Introducing “Man of 40 Faces.”
Eleven new compositions. 8 solo performances and 3 duets featuring legendary bassist Alain Caron, trombone phenomenon Wycliffe Gordon, and brilliant vibraphonist Francesco Pinetti.

COMING SPRING 2015
PRE-ORDER the Limited Edition CD now!
PRE-ORDER the MP3 album download now!
http://www.jasonrasomusic.com/man-of-40-faces

New Year Rant!

Monday, January 12th, 2015

Happy 2015! Let’s start the new year with a rant…

I just can’t understand why so many “experienced” bass players (well, not just bass players) seem to discourage other players. I hear and read it over and over again. Don’t play this, don’t play that, that’s not musical, blah, blah, blah! My current favourite is “you won’t get hired if you do that!” Who cares? Find like-minded players, start your own band, be creative, put on your own shows – there is more than likely an audience for what you want to do!

I was very fortunate to grow up with musicians around that encouraged me. They never told me not to tap or slap or solo! But, they also expected me to lay down a groove and play good notes! Shouldn’t you be able to do it all?

Also, here’s a news flash! Your declarations on what you believe to be “real music” are not likely shared by everyone! You can’t win this argument – music is a matter of personal taste – you either dig something or your don’t. Something you believe to be a masterpiece may not resonate with me at all and vice-versa!

It seems to me that many bass players praise mediocrity. Well, I say go out there and be yourself and be AMAZING!

Don’t get me wrong, I like “meat and potatoes” as much as the next guy, but I don’t want it every meal!

This rant was brought to you by Lavazza Coffee, which I may have drank too much of this morning!

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

2014 was a fun year for Jay Walking!

I very much enjoyed touching on topics like practice, slap, walking bass lines, gear, six string basses, and musical self-worth!

Like last year, the real highlights for me were the interviews!

Thank you to Matt Bissonette, Orin Isaacs, Brad Cheeseman and Stanley Clarke for talking bass with me this year! I look forward to more interviews in 2015!

I wish you all the best and I’ll see you in the new year!

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