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John Patitucci & Jeff Berlin: The Electric Bass in Acoustic Jazz

A Chops column on making the bass guitar work in straight-ahead settings

Bass guitar player John Patitucci (photo by Gus Cantavero)
John Patitucci (photo by Gus Cantavero)

When it comes to straight-ahead jazz, the upright bass largely remains the low-hertz instrument of choice. Historically, many bass guitarists possessing expertise in walking and swinging got there by way of migrating from the double bass. Take Steve Swallow and the late Bob Cranshaw, for instance: Both played and recorded on the upright before transitioning to bass guitar and mostly never looking back.

Still, bias against bass guitar in straight-ahead jazz is real. And working bassists who either don’t play upright or can’t bring the hulking instrument to a bar or wedding gig will ultimately need to emulate the double bass when someone calls for “All the Things You Are.”

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