Monday, November 23, 2009

Virtual Jam with Steve Gadd!

This morning I found a wonderful video of Steve Gadd's drum groove. The video was so inspiring that I couldn't resist adding a bass track. The recording process was fun and educating at the same time. Initially I had a hard time locking the groove because Steve's groove has such a deep pocket and my bass often sounded too ahead/rushing. After many takes, I finally managed to place the bass groove in the right place (I think). The idea of adding a video of myself came in later, so in the video I'm just pretending as if I'm playing the recorded line. If you see closer (and if you are a bass player), you can tell I'm cheating, from the wrong fingering. :-D

If you possibly like to dub your own sound to this, here is the uncompressed AIFF file of the track. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

About time to blog again?

Sometimes I don't know if I should express my thoughts in a blog or tweet, or even in English or Japanese. That's my excuse why I hadn't posted much here recently. Plus, these days I'd rather write my comments about my playing in English in the description section of YouTube, and typically feel I'm done there, without making another post to this blog.

That said, I still feel I should keep the habit of blogging here, so here I go...

These days I'm working on a composition for a friend who is running an online gaming (Mahjong) site in Japan. His requirements are very specific, and I'm enjoying working on them. The song must be an instrumental fusion tune in a tempo of 130BPM with a lot of groovy 16th notes in the bass line. This will hopefully be used as background music of the waiting lobby of his multiplayer Mahjong site, so there need to be the feelings of excitement, ambition, glory, honor etc in the tune. We will see how it goes...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Yokohama After Dark (Jazz Haiku #2)

This is the 2nd work of my Jazz Haiku project. Even this tune sounds pretty modern, this is still in the 12-bar blues format. As I want to keep the sound variety open in this project, I intentionally chose a different style from the 1st one.

Here I learned that I don't need to use a lot of notes in this type of composition. First I came up with the D-Eb-F-D motif in the 2nd bar and expanded the idea, but the number of notes at the beginning stage was about double of what you see above. As I continue to tweak around, I felt most of the notes are unnecessary so I dropped many of them. (BTW, the basic policy of this project is to avoid spending too much time on each piece, so the details in the backing instruments are left plain.)

Now starting to think about the next one...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Blues In The Kitchen (Jazz Haiku #1)

I'm recently trying to work more on my original tunes, but often I feel I'm still weak in composition. So I thought I should compose a lot of 12-bar blues tunes to gain more experience in writing. Most of the tunes I usually write are actually in fusion or acid jazz styles and not in typical swingy jazz, but still 12-bar blues form is a great platform to learn composing melodies, motifs, chords etc.

I named this project Jazz Haiku, because a 12-bar blues is just like a haiku. Well, I actually have never written a haiku, but I guess it is. I hope I don't fail to continue this project - I'll try!

In the short term, my goal is to flush all the melodies that I can come up with instantly, so that I can dig deeper. So please don't mind if you hear lots of typical phrases and licks. Comments are most welcomed!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Concert on 4/19 with Daniel Raynaud and Jason Lewis!

I'll be playing in a mini concert with fantastic piano player Daniel Raynaud and marvelous drummer Jason Lewis. Stop by at the cozy Studio Pink House in beautiful downtown Saratoga to spend a nice Sunday evening with jazz!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Testing from iPhone

I've been really lazy on blog posts. I think I should start blogging
from iPhone.

This is a shot taken at Hedley Club jam this Wednesday. Marcus
Shebly's bass was so very cool!

Monday, February 9, 2009

All of You w/Lee Pardini + Yuichi Hirakawa

"All of You" written by Cole Porter
Lee Pardini (Keyboard)
Noriyuki "Ken" Okada (Bass)
Yuichi Hirakawa (Drums)
Recorded live on Feb 3, 2009 at Sumika, Los Altos, CA

So here's "All of You" from February 3 Sumika gig. This song was written by one of the greatest composers of all time, Cole Porter. As often seen in his compositions, this tune has a bright color with slight touch of shade, which I like very much.

After vamping in the intro, the theme (or "head") starts from 0:21. I used 2-beat feel with some rushing or delaying to make it sound interesting, with the intention to start walking in 4 beat sometime later. With Lee's cue, I start my bass solo from 1:00. I extended the 2-beat floating feel for my 2-chorus solo, finally starting to accelerate by running bass line to bridge to Lee's keyboard solo. Yuichi and I were perfectly in sync on the groove change. Even from 3:39 to 3:48, we nicely synchronized in "suspending" the groove and restarting. It was great that we pleasingly locked the groove while backing Lee's solo. A good swing feel like this will never make you bored! (Um, that's called "praising your own painting" in Japanese proverb...)

There were so many nice interplays like the motif of quarter notes from 3:56 to 4:01, or the motif using syncopation from 4:14 to 4:22. From 5:42 starts Yuichi's drums solo. It could sound like a free solo but it actually flows over the tune's chord changes in constant tempo. As I start to play the last section of the song from 6:42, Lee joins in to build up to get back to the theme (or "head out").

So we play the head out from 6:49. If you listen closely, you will notice the brief call-and-responses between Lee and me. After 7:24 is the ending (or "outro"). In general, whether or not you play the outro is decided on the fly depending on the momentum of the sound. This time we had pretty nice solos that made us feel like playing a little bit more, so we played some lingering outro with some floating feel. As Lee cues from 8:11 by playing the last phrase of the head, we end the tune.

My favorite moment of this recording is definitely Lee's keyboard solo with the swing groove generated by Yuichi and me. Just as they say, it don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing!