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Free Bass Jazz Question

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This question is for anyone who plays free bass of any kind. In regards to jazz, do you find that songs fit and sound better on free bass layouts? Classical I know is almost universally agreed upon as needing free bass for the extra note range, but you never hear too much from jazz accordionists if it has similar requirements. Players like Frank Marocco and Ernie Felice make it seem like Stradella is all one needs for a rich sound.
 

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Hey AccordionJustice, in my humble opinion there is no big need for freebass in Jazz. That said, I don't focus too much on Jazz because there are great swathes of it that I do not enjoy on the accordion. Occasionally I will listen to recordings of the heavyweights on Jazz accordion. To me this is the playground of the Americans, and so if it's accordion, I love Van Damme and Marocco. I do not like European Jazz so much. To me American Jazz is the real deal (but mainly non accordion). However, the Englishman Jack Emblow was as good at Jazz as British accordion players ever get. He was really cool. And when the Italian, Simone Zanchini isn't too modern he can be very enjoyable to listen to also. On button accordion, simple - Galliano.

So I am a bit picky about Jazz, but none of the guys above need free bass to play it. But Galliano could easily add free bass if he wanted.

That's my two cents, I look forward to hearing what the Jazz connoisseurs think on the subject.
 
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losthobos

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Great American Songbook/Swing Standards...they were all written following Bach's cycle of fifths so the stradella works just dandy...

Free jazz...get a free bass...get lost...
 

John M

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Tom,

So did you actually play the Wrong note or was it the "Stradella" effect that sounded wrong to your wife?

John M.
 

Tom

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Tom,

So did you actually play the Wrong note or was it the "Stradella" effect that sounded wrong to your wife?

John M.
It was definetly a wrong note on the treble side in this case. But like I always say to my friend who tries to always get me to play with sheet music, "I can screw it up either way!"
 
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Hey AccordionJustice, in my humble opinion there is no big need for freebass in Jazz. That said, I don't focus too much on Jazz because there are great swathes of it that I do not enjoy on the accordion. Occasionally I will listen to recordings of the heavyweights on Jazz accordion. To me this is the playground of the Americans, and so if it's accordion, I love Van Damme and Marocco. I do not like European Jazz so much. To me American Jazz is the real deal (but mainly non accordion). However, the Englishman Jack Emblow was as good at Jazz as British accordion players ever get. He was really cool. And when the Italian, Simone Zanchini isn't too modern he can be very enjoyable to listen to also. On button accordion, simple - Galliano.

So I am a bit picky about Jazz, but none of the guys above need free bass to play it. But Galliano could easily add free bass if he wanted.

That's my two cents, I look forward to hearing what the Jazz connoisseurs think on the subject.
Thank you Walker. I should've specified in my original posting that I wanted to play Swing and not regular Jazz. I find free form Jazz and its players to be very impressive but its not my preferred variety. Perhaps you'd feel differently on American Jazz with accordion if the instrument boasted a bigger following in the community, Back in the 1940s and 1950s, multiple groups, orchestras and quartets utilized the accordion to great affect and produced wonderful sounds ( though now writing this I assume when you say American and European Jazz you don"t mean swing specifically).

That song is a lovely interpretation of a Jazz standard! Everyone talks about how accordion and violin pair well, but lets give some love to the accordion and vibraphone paired up. :)
 
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Great American Songbook/Swing Standards...they were all written following Bach's cycle of fifths so the stradella works just dandy...

Free jazz...get a free bass...get lost...
I know I certainly would get lost. I feel its probably best to master the Stradella system before I learn how to work the ins and outs of free bass.
 

Walker

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I understand what you mean now @AccordionJustice! If you like music with a bit of Swing, here's something that might just hit the mark.🎯

Sergey Osokin is the man on stradella bass piano accordion playing Mack the Knife by Kurt Weill (1928) with his sublime band including trumpet, guitar, tuba & drums.


Stradella works perfectly!

Special bonus feature of stradella - if you learn to play it well, then you can (by default) virtually play quint converter free bass - it's the same thing over 3 octaves or more - easy as pie.
 
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Special bonus feature of stradella - if you learn to play it well, then you can (by default) virtually play quint converter free bass - it's the same thing over 3 octaves or more - easy as pie.

The quint system is definitely one I'm keeping on my radar. I find that its more readily available than other systems (and likewise less expensive). Who knows, maybe a nice Titano is in my future. :)
 

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Every free bass system is good in it's own way, but for a piano accordion player in the USA, quint makes sense to me. Titano are great accordions and there are lots of them - Virtuoso, Cosmopolitan, Royal, Emperor - at reasonable prices. In 120 bass form they are light and compact. I would love to see America re-discovering this aspect of it's own accordion heritage. Stradella bass in my opinion is very important as the foundation instrument, but it can be developed with ease by extending it to quint.

But there is nothing wrong in also looking further afield and stretching yourself too. If you are adventurous and want to explore the outer edges of the accordion (quite literally) you can play accordion with chromatic free bass. Take your time, do your research and you will discover your preferences with the accordion.

 
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stickista

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Every free bass system is good in it's own way, but for a piano accordion player in the USA, quint makes sense to me. Titano are great accordions and there are lots of them - Virtuoso, Cosmopolitan, Royal, Emperor - at reasonable prices. In 120 bass form they are light and compact. I would love to see America re-discovering this aspect of it's own accordion heritage. Stradella bass in my opinion is very important as the foundation instrument, but it can be developed with ease by extending it to quint.

But there is nothing wrong in also looking further afield and stretching yourself too. If you are adventurous and want to explore the outer edges of the accordion (quite literally) you can play accordion with chromatic free bass. Take your time, do your research and you will discover your preferences with the accordion.

I asked Ludovic Beier why he plays Stradella (with slight mods) and he says he can play anything he wants on it and doesnt have the uncertainty of large jumps. And his playing certainly shows complete mastery.
If I were told I could only play Stradella, I really wouldn't have a problem with that. There are actually things you can do with Stradella by combining triads to form beautiful polychords that I envy. I think its biggest limitation is the fact that your voicings and inversions are inflexible. With free bass I have complete control over that, and for me, inversions are where its at.
You really don’t always want to be playing full chords with the left so Stradella’s inablity to produce sparse shells of just root/3 or root/7 is a limitation, particularly in groups, which is why you see a lot of players play RH only.
On both systems, the key to complexity of voicings, extensions, and alterations is the right hand.
For me, by using CBA-C on both sides I am more able to leverage the huge world of piano technique, including shell voicings, counterpoint, and additionally an overlap of notes that even pianists don’t have.
Its not just ‘free jazz’ that strays from vanilla ‘cycle of 5ths’ composition (Brazilian for example), and once you incorporate tritone substitutions, you’re again jumping all over the place with Stradella.
 
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stickista

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This question is for anyone who plays free bass of any kind. In regards to jazz, do you find that songs fit and sound better on free bass layouts? Classical I know is almost universally agreed upon as needing free bass for the extra note range, but you never hear too much from jazz accordionists if it has similar requirements. Players like Frank Marocco and Ernie Felice make it seem like Stradella is all one needs for a rich sound.
Here’s a great video using polychords to create gorgeous, complex voicings on Stradella.

Diminished is really critical in jazz. How common is a diminished row on Stradella?
 
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losthobos

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I asked Ludovic Beier why he plays Stradella (with slight mods) and he says he can play anything he wants on it and doesnt have the uncertainty of large jumps. And his playing certainly shows complete mastery.
If I were told I could only play Stradella, I really wouldn't have a problem with that. There are actually things you can do with Stradella by combining triads to form beautiful polychords that I envy. I think its biggest limitation is the fact that your voicings and inversions are inflexible. With free bass I have complete control over that, and for me, inversions are where its at.
You really don’t always want to be playing full chords with the left so Stradella’s inablity to produce sparse shells of just root/3 or root/7 is a limitation, particularly in groups, which is why you see a lot of players play RH only.
On both systems, the key to complexity of voicings, extensions, and alterations is the right hand.
For me, by using CBA-C on both sides I am more able to leverage the huge world of piano technique, including shell voicings, counterpoint, and additionally an overlap of notes that even pianists don’t have.
Its not just ‘free jazz’ that strays from vanilla ‘cycle of 5ths’ composition (Brazilian for example), and once you incorporate tritone substitutions, you’re again jumping all over the place with Stradella.
This shell voicing thing is gonna be the key...check out CJS accordion system...if I lived in Italy I'd have modded my stradella by now..less is more..
 

stickista

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This shell voicing thing is gonna be the key...check out CJS accordion system...if I lived in Italy I'd have modded my stradella by now..less is more..
You have any more technical info on this CJS system? Sounds interesting but the ste is in Italian and kinda vague re details
 

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@stickista, thanks for sharing your experience. I agree stradella can be ideal for lots of things. (y)

I also think your choice of C griff button with converter is a super one in many ways. Though I have no real experience of button accordion, I think there are important strengths. If I were to experiment with a second free bass system, I would probably choose C system button accordion over B system. However, that is more for historical and cultural reasons rather than performance. I think there is little to differentiate the two systems in performance, but I feel C griff is more associated with Western Europe, and I do not see the point playing a system that is too different and exotic.

What I particularly like about ⭐C griff⭐on both hands is:

1. Right and left hands mirroring each other in note sequence. Appealing from a logical perspective.
2. Big range of notes on both hands, which allows flexibility to play a variety of music easily.


From my own music background (speaking generally) I do not play jazz music, I just have an insterest in free bass. But I am from a land where the piano accordion is the most frequently played type of accordion, by a long way. Plus it is 99% stradella bass. This is all I have played for the last 30 years. However, when I wanted to expand to free bass, I wanted to simply build and develop what I already knew. I never studies at a music school or wanted to follow a career in music. So, to me as a piano accordion player, it made less sense to add chromatic free bass as in my mind it's not really a mirror image with the piano keys, and I was satisfied with the piano key, so had no desire to change to buttons. That's why intellectually quint PA made more sense to me, as it's the just stradella that I knew - except over a few octaves.​

What I would like to ask you @stickista is - do you find the chromatic bass is the equal of the chromatic treble in performance? I mean, are the hands in complete balance? I have watched so many free bass classical wizards, but I sense that the left hand has slightly less capabilities, due to the hand position, size of buttons, bass strap etc.

CJS is a very cool system - it must be if @losthobos has sniffed it out. :cool:
 

losthobos

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@stickista the CJS website is indeed in Italian but you used to be able to scroll to the bottom of page and it would repeat in English, though I didn't manage yesterday...basically it cuts the triads of the stradella down by dropping to diads (if there is such a word)..so for me the most important is the dom7 becomes a tritone shell of 3rd and 7th...cut the clutter...Harry Hussey always told me he'd try and avoid playing the same notes with both hands and unfortunately the wide chords on stradella throw a lot of notes at you
@Walker if I could begin again I'd definitely have chosen B Griff as ergonomically it allows the slur from flat to natural thirds,fifths and sevenths...I sort of spotted this the first day I bought a chromatic but underestimated the importance and followed your line of thought and stuck with western tradition
 

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