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Hi Guys,

Decided to do a quick recording of this really nice tune I found last week, I know its a little bit sketchy - but I guess leaves more room for comment. Thoughts, comments, feedback would be greatly appreciated. Apologies for this not being a video.

For those who know compositions of sam rivers they are often "out" so this is a nice little "in" tune with a short form, nice harmony and modal interchange.




Marie-Noëlle Mon, 07/27/2009 - 05:02

This piece is beautiful, but your interpretation is too!

A great solo piece with technic and feeling at the same time... and nice motor speed! :o)

Kudos James!


james_whiting Mon, 07/27/2009 - 06:08

In reply to by Marie-Noëlle

Thanks for the comments Marie! I actually didn't have the motor going at all, I only used it by hand during the rubato stuff.


Marie-Noëlle Mon, 07/27/2009 - 06:20

In reply to by james_whiting

I'd love to see a vid of that! Haha!
After the normal electric powered way, the "woawoa mouth" trick, and the "pedal" one, a new trick I didn't know!

tonymiceli Mon, 07/27/2009 - 12:51

james i dug your version of beatrice. i love that tune and am amazed that sam wrote it!

you did a cool manual motor thing, didn't you, i liked that.

i'm always focused on how to incorporate 4 mallets in accompanying lines. and i'm always focused on the time. these 2 things for me are what i struggle and work with the hardest i think.

as i was listening to some of your 'fast' lines:>> i think there are ways to break up the fast lines and accompany them. i think when you play solo you set up all these worlds. now if one world is solo lines then you get there and do that thing. so i don't know if you were intentionally play the fast lines unaccompanied and i don't know if you struggle with those questions like i do. it just made me think of things.

i do know that in a fast passage if you even slip in one or 2 double stops that it doesn't sound like a single line passage anymore, it sounds like melody and accompaniment which is what we're after when we play solo. i'm always interested in how little you have to do to portray something.

i sounds like you have a handle on the time thing. there were a couple spots that it seemed like things got off. but man that's sooo hard to keep. most nights i'm here at some point playing solo and having my sequencer play a swing beat or using a metronome.

anyway i think you sound great and love your contribution to this site. you are a very serious vibe player and that shows whenever you play.

so i dug your performance, and since you asked for response i thought i would just go into free flow mode!

you cool with that?
sounds great!

Tony Miceli
s k y p e: tjazzvibe
i c h a t: tonymiceli

james_whiting Mon, 07/27/2009 - 18:39

In reply to by tonymiceli

Hi Tony,

Thanks for the comments, I think that idea will really help with the fast lines - because i kind of intentionally played them without accompaniment - but think that accompaniment could've strengthened the lines.

I agree that solo playing is difficult and that the those concepts - time and 4 mallets are something to consistently think about - time was generally good, but i agree there were some shifty spot - this was the only take I did and I knew it would be a bit 'hows it goin.'

It would be great if some more guys could comment - particularly Ed, I would like to hear what he thinks on my progress since I saw him when I went over to the states.


tonymiceli Mon, 07/27/2009 - 20:17

In reply to by james_whiting

you should email ed. i bet he'd check you out. all the heavy hitters get busy, you know. but sometimes a little nudge and they come back.

cool, first take. i hope you record yourself a lot. and you should try that tune with different feels. like that was a straight 8 feel, try swinging it. and finally be melodic but don't worry about lots of notes. give yourself space and play it slow so you can get the brain in there figuring out some technical things. know what i mean?

but man great job!

Tony Miceli
s k y p e: tjazzvibe
i c h a t: tonymiceli

DrBobM55 Mon, 07/27/2009 - 20:04

Very nice. Your sound or "Touch" reminds me of David Friedman. I heard the manual vibrato too and that was a nice effect. I wish there was a crank on the side of the instrument so it would be easy to do a manual override. As it stands now you have to manipulate the belt and hope that the fans are sticking straight up by the time you need to use your right hand again. Good job.

Bob Wesner

james_whiting Wed, 07/29/2009 - 07:42

In reply to by DrBobM55

Thanks for the comment Bob! I always love watching videos of Friedman, I also really love his pedaling and dampening book - great harmonic concepts and definately fantastic technique - some of the best out there in my opinion! Its funny you say that because on that recording I was playing with his signature Malletech DF12 mallets - which I really love for solo or duo playing!

Thanks so much for that support!


BarryK Mon, 07/27/2009 - 20:42

Hi James,

I really liked this. The intro reminded me of some things that John Piper does. I like the manual tremolo. Since I don't use the motor that much, I think I will remove my belt and use that effect.

This was a very pretty performance. Thanks for posting it.


james_whiting Wed, 07/29/2009 - 07:33

In reply to by BarryK

Hi Barry,

Thanks for such a positive comment. Its very up-lifting being compared to some of the big guys that sound great, so thank you!! The belt is still on my vibe - i did the manual tremolo just by "rocking" the flats/sharps spindle back and forth so both sets of resonators get the same effect, which I'm sure you guys can hear!

Its difficult over here in Australia and also being young to see the kind of monsters on the instrument as they are all in the states!

Thanks for your support!


ed saindon Wed, 07/29/2009 - 10:47

Hi James,

That's a nice composition for a solo vibe tune. I hear a lot of improvement since I saw you in Boston.

A few things to consider with the improvisation. Try to avoid consistently playing on beat 1. You could also experiment with phrasing more over the bar line and get away from playing a phrase for each chord. I'm not hearing say a longer phrase that covers the span of two or three bars.

I think you can leave more space and carry the changes and time more with some simple left hand accompaniment. In this regard, you can comp with a few hits here and there either with the left hand only or bring down the right hand to help out with a 3 or 4 note voicing. For the comping, play some hits on the beat and some off for variety. Don't try to carry the changes and time feel with only the lines.

Phrase lengths: you also want to vary the phrase lengths more. Maybe play a short phrase, leave some space (comp a little) and then play a longer phrase. Like I said, maybe play two phrases in the span of 3 measures. Try to avoid playing in 2 or 4 bar phrases. The goal is to play clear and simple melodic phrases through the changes with a nice time feel and clear sounding of the changes. Easy to say, but not necessarily easy to do.

The other thing is you want variety in terms of long notes and short notes which will help the lines sound more melodic. Also, vary the rhythms as much as possible. Maybe some 8th note syncopated rhythms mixed in with more dense triplet or 16th note syncopated phrases. Try to make sure not to play too many repetitive rhythmic phrases. Mix it up with playing some rhythms that are on the beat and off the beat.

Also, in terms of dynamics, the lines could have a lot more shape. Try to use more crescendos and diminuendos. It will make the lines sound more substantial and definitely more dramatic.

Also, try to incorporate more nuance with some deadstrokes, a dampened phrase here and there, ghost notes, accented notes, etc. Again, we're trying to make the instrument sing. The more nuance and subtlety you can bring to the lines, the more musical and interesting the lines will be. The selection of notes is certainly important, but I think how we play those notes is also just as important. Listen to some sax players and notice how much nuance and variety they have in their playing.

I think the left hand accompaniment could also be much softer. You'd be surprised how soft you can play the accompaniment. There should be two really noticeable dynamic levels between the accompaniment and melodic line. If this is not right, then we lose the focus of the line and lose the ability to use dynamics in the melodic line like I mentioned. Also, try using some deadstroked left hand accompaniment. I find this can help bring out more clarity between the parts. Also, it's very important to pedal the melody and not the accompaniment. I did hear some excess ringing in the improvisation which didn't help with the clarity of articulation. Regarding articulation, you want more variety with the whole spectrum of articulation from extreme staccato to a very legato and connected articulation. Check out the beautiful sound, phrasing and articulation of Keith Jarrett or Brad Mehldau.

An effective technique for playing fast, busy lines is to outline open 4 or 5 note voicings. This will allow you to play some nice lines and keep it full without being too concerned with the left hand accompaniment. You can embellish the notes in the voicing with grace notes or passing notes. Just make sure to dampen those notes. This will give you some nice varied articulation and the ability to sound the changes while getting some good angularity via the wide intervals of the voicing.

Another technique would be to play some simple melodic phrases with the right hand or both hands and then fill in the other 8th notes with the left hand accompaniment. So, basically you're playing constant 8th notes between the two parts. But, don't forget about the dynamic levels of the two parts. If the left hand comes up to help the right hand with the melodic line it should be louder than when it's functioning as the left hand accompaniment.

Also, if you are covering the chord aound with the left hand accompaniment, you can focus on and bring out more of the tensions of the chord. This will make the lines stronger and harmonically richer as well as give you some good voicings between the left hand chords and melody notes. The simple concept of tension resolution whereby you play a tension and resolve to the nearest chord tone is a good technique which sounds the changes and creates nice melodic lines. Again, check out Jarrett for this. He does this a lot. The lines are fairly in and sound very melodic due to the tension resolution concept.

I think playing simple motives and moving the motives through the changes would also be good to work on. Check out Mehldau for this type of thing.

I hope that gives you some ideas to consider and work on. Keep up the good work.

p.s please say hello to Dave Kemp for me.



Ed Saindon
Check out my cds:

james_whiting Wed, 07/29/2009 - 20:05

In reply to by ed saindon

Hi Ed,

Thanks so much - that was a very thorough analysation and I can hear all the things you're talking about - so I know what I need to work on now. Yourself and Tony have made some fantastic comments to me that I think will definately help. Some of the things you've said I remember hearing you do on your key play album which I am a big fan of.

I will now go away and work on all those things and put up another track (hopefully video next time) with a new track and see if I'm still heading in the right direction.

I will see Dave on friday and will say hello.

Thanks again,