New video! My version of a true classic – Summertime by George Gershwin

A short background to my version
The classic song is, as you probably know, from the opera Porgy and Bess, by George Gershwin. It was first performed in Boston in 1935 before it moved to Broadway, New York.

I was lucky to be a part of a short summary staging of the opera when I attended a music school in Sweden back in 1992. I had the role of Sportin’ Life and sang the song “There’s a boat that’s leavin’ soon for New York” and ”It ain’t necessarily so”. Sportin’ life was the drug dealer, and possessive lover of Bess the main character. Porgy the other main character wanted to rescue Bess from him…

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Twenty-six years later… I guess it’s about time to do another song from the classic opera
”Summertime”, by far, the most classic and recognizable song from Porgy and Bess. It has been performed by countless of musicians across the globe since 1935 and onwards.

My version is quite short. I present the melody twice, first instrumental with the melody played on my Kala California acoustic-electric fretless Ubass. Then sung and harmonized the second time around. All vocals by yours truly. 🙂

I decided to incorporate my fretting hand tapping plus plucking hand percussive technique that I have used from time to time since 2014.
It all started when playing in the country duo M&M’s Honky Tonk with the great friend and lovely guitar player, Marcus Måttgård. I wanted to add some percussive parts to mimic a drummer and experimented using the body of the Ubass as a percussive acoustic drum.

Recently I started to use a acoustic pickup by Ehrlund microphones to enhance these percussive sounds. Before playing with this technique only really worked in the studio, where I could use a separate mic to pick up the percussive sounds, or in a small intimate live setting where the audience is near the performance.
The pickup is blended with the built in piezo and this makes it possible to play bigger venues and the percussive parts can be heard alongside the tapped bass part. More about this in a later blog post!

Besides the core parts of bass line/percussion played and recorded live on a small dock by the lake Storsjön in Jämtland, Sweden I added vocals and, for the first time in any of my videos, ukulele parts!

I hope you will enjoy my version of the Gershwin classic!

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New video! Eva Stenström Limited ”Allt under himmelens fäste”

Eva Stenström | Magnus Sjöquist | Daniel Björnmo

This song is a traditional folk tune from Gotland, Sweden. Eva and I started playing it as a duo on our trip to Brazil back in 2015. We wanted to bring some examples of traditional Swedish folk music on our trip. To make it work in a ubass and vocals setting I played the bass part through a delay pedal. I thought the extra rhythmic motion we got using this technique really helped us capture and deliver the haunting melody in a great way. I use a combination of arpeggios, chords and regular bass lines in my bass part.

In the trio version Daniel Björnmo adds an extra layer of color with his world class guitar playing. The added grit with close cluster like harmony through distortion pedals makes the song even more ethereal and haunting, I think. The ubass have some added modulation and octave up effects blended together with the delay.

This is a live in studio recording but we also added some percussion parts. I played some suspended cymbal swells.

You can also hear what we call ”the submersed gong”. This is a gong gong that we recorded as it is put under water after it is played. This bends the sound in a very nice way. I first heard this on records and live with one of my musician heroes, Indian percussionist, Trilok Gurtu.

We really hope you will enjoy our version of this Swedish’s folk song!

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For the best listening experience please listen to this song with good headphones or speakers that can reproduce a wide frequency spectrum!

 

 

 

A tribute to one of my musical heroes: Steve Swallow

Steve Swallow
This is a little tribute to one of my musical heroes: Mr Steve Swallow. I have listened to his Music for quite some time and have always admired his unique approach to playing bass. In my version I play fingerstyle although Mr Swallow uses a pick. One of his most famous compositions are Falling Grace. You can find out more about him here!
There are videos on youtube with bass players playing solos performed by Swallow but not many (if any) playing one of his chord-bass parts. This one is transcribed from a John Scofield Trio version of the evergreen ”Someone to watch over me” (George and Ira Gershwin) from the musical ”Oh, Kay!”.

I heard this performance last year and decided to transcribe the part when he comps behind John Scofield during the the melody. I wanted to explore the voicings he used with his 5-sting bass tuned EADGC.

In the video I’m using my Kala California Custom Flame Maple solid body ubass. One of the first made using the ”exotic tops” back in 2012-2013. Please check out the new updated ones!

I decided to add the melody singing the Frank Sinatra version of the lyrics. I got some nice help with a great brushes and cymbals part too.

Magnus Sjöquist, kala solid body ubass (EADGC-tuning) and vocals
Mats Nyström, brushes and cymbals

I’m working on more ebooks in my Learn to play the ubass series and one of these will focus on playing chords on a ubass/bass.

Recording info

The ubass was recorded through my RMI Basswitch IQ/DI and then re-amped using a Radial X-amp. Se pic below. I used a combination of mics to capture the sound of the Phil Jones Double Four combo amp. Read more about the amp in my review.

 

 

What’s in the first ebook-ePub ”Learn to play the ubass – Basic Techniques”? First up: Lesson 1

In a series of four short blog posts I will write about the different lessons in my first Lesson Pack: ”Learn to play the Ubass – basic techniques” (One lesson at the time every Sunday for four weeks!)

First up…

Screen shot from Lesson 1 ”How to hold the ubass”



Lesson 1 – How to hold the Ubass

The first lesson gives you suggestions about different ways to hold the Ubass.

Since the body and over all length is so much shorter than a regular electric or acoustic bass guitar you really need to find a way to accommodate this.

In the lesson I go through different ways I hold the ubass. I have found out a couple of alternatives that can be nice to switch between or at least use as a starting point when you develop your own ”holding style”. I will let you know what has worked best for me and why.

Even though you have been playing regular bass for a long time I think this lesson will help you to get a good ”grip” on your ubass playing regarding how you can hold it to get the most out of your ubass music making!

Direct links

iTunes/iBooks Store 

Payhip (ePub)

Find out more here!

Stay tuned: Next Sunday [September 3rd] it’s time for ”Lesson 2 – basic plucking/picking hand technique”

 

Minutes after I got my hands on a ubass for the first time back in July 2010

 

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My parents bought my first ubass at a music store in Honolulu, Hawaii while visiting the islands back in 2010. I had not been able to try one beforehand. It only took me a few moments to get acquainted with the short scale length and rubbery strings. After that I got more and more in love with the feel and sound of the ubass. Hope you have or will get the same feeling for these amazing instruments! Read more about my first encounter here!

New Single Out Today!

First release by Nilsson – Sjöquist Duo!
In this first release, by the Swedish based Nilsson – Sjöquist Duo, we want to show our love for the music of Brazil and this time we feature a Sivuca song!

We play an arrangement by Tommy Nilsson of the song ”Cada Um Torce Como Pode” made famous by Sivuca.

Both Tommy Nilsson and Magnus Sjöqust have been playing in different groups and projects for many years.

The duo format is nice because it gives us a lot of space to express ourselves through our instruments, the accordion and the bass.


Side note: In the recording I used my trusty fretless Kala spruce acoustic/electric ubass. However in the accompanying video you’ll see my new fretless Kala California acoustic-electric ubass!

Quick links to some of the places you can find the song:

cdbaby

Spotify

Amazon

GooglePlay

Tommy is also featured in the latest single release ”Jag vet att vi ses snart igen (Manha de Carnaval)” Link to info about that release!

Ubass sighting: Fretted acoustic/electric ubass spotted with Bokanté!

A

Hi,

The pictures above are from my trip to the NAMM show in Anaheim, CA back in January. I will do a featured blog post about the show but haven’t had the time to do that yet but it will come! So why are these pictures in this post about a ubass sighting? Well, Mr Michael League was one of several featured bass players at this years Bass Bash. He played with one of his bands FORQ. They played a great set and it was great to once again hear Michael play. I was at a show in Stockholm back in 2015 when he was there with his most famous band Snarky Puppy. I have featured Snarky Puppy before in a Ubass Sightings blog post.

This post will feature yet another of Michaels bands, Bokanté! This band has a really nice lineup with three guitar players, three percussion players, a pedal steel player and a lead vocalist…and a (u)bass player of course!

Here’s som info about the group from musicworksinternational.com

The word bokanté means “exchange” in Creole, the language of vocalist Malika Tirolien’s youth growing up on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. Now living in Montreal, she stands among 8 musicians from 4 continents, each one accomplished in their own right and well versed in music far beyond that of their point of origin. Two-time Grammy award-winning guitarists Michael League, Chris McQueen, and Bob Lanzetti (all from Snarky Puppy), percussion legend Jamey Haddad (Paul Simon, Sting), pedal and lap steel virtuoso Roosevelt Collier (Lee Boys, Karl Denson), and unplaceable percussionists André Ferrari (Väsen) and Keita Ogawa (Banda Magda, Yo-Yo Ma) come together to create a diverse ensemble rich in groove, melody, and soul.

In the song ”O La” you can hear and see that the low end is handled with a fretted acoustic/electric ubass with some help from the baritone guitar Michael is playing. He usually plays bass in his bands but in Bokanté he plays both bass/ubass and baritone guitar on the studio album ”Strange Circles” that will be released in June 2017. [Pre-order available here] On the live shows he will play the baritone guitar exclusively. He recently said in an interview for Scotts Bass Lessons that he wanted to have the chance to play with some of his favorite bass players. On the upcoming tours the bass chair will be filled by different bass players. See and read more here.

Please have a listen…and a look. I hope they will come to Sweden someday soon so I get to hear them live!

PS. One of the percussionists (André Ferrari) is from Sweden. He’s also featured in the video I referred to in the beginning of this post!

PS2 Please check out Ariane Cap (she’s in the picture at the top of the post) and the great book she has written about music theory with a bass player focus!

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Some quotes about Bokanté:

“One of the more versatile groups on the planet right now”

-Rolling Stone

“A barnstorming, groove-centric instrumental act with a rabid fan base… if the name doesn’t ring a bell, it’s probably just a matter of time”

-The New York Times

“Big, rich and funky.”

NPR Music

“Stands out with a furious commitment to defying musical categories.”

-LA Times

“Sounds like one spotless collection of intricate musics performed by just one very skilled, albeit extended, band.”

Yahoo Music

“Thinking person’s feel-good music.”

-Downbeat

“A big, happy band of skilled musicians whose tunes are both complex and easy to dance to.”

-LA Weekly

Ubassists of the World – Abraham Laboriel

Abraham Laborial and me before the Open Hands concert in Sweden this past July
Abraham Laborial and me before the Open Hands concert in Sweden this past July

Hi,

One day in July I got the news that one of my bass heroes would come to Sweden for one gig. We are both Kala Ubass Endorsees (which is pretty amazing to start with) so I managed to hook up with him through the company. 

The meeting/concert was in the southern parts of Sweden and I traveled there with two of my Kala solid body ubasses. 

Who is Abraham Laboriel?

Some of you may know about him and some don’t so I’ll give you a brief background here.

Let’s start with some of the artists he has worked with as a session musician in Los Angeles:

Al JarreauGeorge BensonAlan SilvestriAlvaro Lopez and Res-Q BandAlvin SlaughterDon FelderAndraé CrouchAndy PrattAndy SummersBarbra StreisandBilly Cobham, Carlos Skinfill, Chris IsaakChristopher CrossCrystal LewisDave GrusinDjavanDolly PartonDon MoenDonald FagenElton JohnEngelbert HumperdinckFreddie HubbardHansonHerb AlpertHerbie HancockJohnny HallydayKeith GreenKelly WillardLalo SchifrinLarry CarltonLee RitenourLeo SayerLisa LoebMadonnaMichael JacksonNathan DavisPaul Jackson Jr.Paul SimonQuincy JonesRay CharlesRon KenolyRuss TaffStevie Wonder, and Umberto Tozzi.

Abraham Laboriel Sr. (born July 17, 1947) is a Mexican bassist who has played on over 4,000 recordings and soundtracks.[1] Guitar Player Magazine described him as ”the most widely used session bassist of our time”.[2][3] Laboriel is the father of drummer Abe Laboriel Jr. and of producer, songwriter, and film composer Mateo Laboriel.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham_Laboriel

Abraham trying out my Solid Body fretted 5-string tuned EADGC
Abraham trying out my Solid Body fretted 5-string tuned EADGC

 

Meeting Abraham was such a joy. He’s a wonderful, warm human being with such a big heart. Hearing/seeing him play live has knocked me every time. He is an ”all in” performer that really speaks to you from heart to heart. He has been in my musical life for quite some time. I told him about hearing/seeing him at concert in the mid 80’s and even in the town where I work now on a gig probably more then 10 years ago. 

We started talking and I showed him what I have done on my blog, video lessons and recordings. What was supposed to be an interview became a nice chat about music and life, almost as we had known each other since the mid 80’s…

I really hope we can meet again soon and continue of talk and I might even get around to ask him my prepared questions! 🙂

As I wrote earlier my two solid body’s were on the trip with me and I wanted to show Abraham these. You might have picked up that I have experimented with ”new” strings on these two 5-strings. (I will do a proper blog post about these tests soon!) Anyway, Abraham started playing on the fretted one, unamplified, and after a while I grabbed the fretless one and join in on the quiet jam. It sure was nice to get to play with one of my bass heroes!

Here’s a little snippet of that jam…

All the best to all ubassists out there,

Magnus

Some youtube videos featuring Abraham: