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sexta-feira, 22 de abril de 2011

♫ SPECIAL 5: Interview with Todd Johnson ♫

Hi folks!
Today is a one more important day on Blog Fala Baixo!
I got a very interesting interview with a great bass player called Todd Johnson!
First of all, I want to say that was a honor make a interview with a so important name of the bass universe!
Todd Johnson is a so nice person, so polite, friendly and intelligent! He has a nice heart, full of love about life and music too. You will percept this reading each phrase about his thoughts about music, family, friends and bass.
Todd is an example of man, because he gives value to important and simple things in life!
I felt a lot of emotion to know more about him! So, bellow you can read the entire interview.
Legends: RR (Roberto Reis) TJ (Todd Johnson)

RR: What is your complete name?

TJ: My complete name is Todd Dean Johnson

RR: When did you start in music?

TJ: My mom tells me that I started bugging her for guitar lessons when I was about 5 years old. They tried to start me on guitar lessons when I was 6, but my hands were too small, so they put me on a ukulele for about a year until I grew a little more. I think at about age 7 they got me a little “half” size guitar. I took guitar lessons until the 4th grade when the school band program kicked in and I took up the trumpet. I played that until my sophomore year of high school. That’s when I got braces put on my teeth, so I switched to the tuba and bass clef. No one told me that playing all my trumpet exercises on the tuba was difficult, so I just went ahead and did it. After playing the tuba for about 6 months I made all state, all northwest and qualified for “music in May”, which is like the “best of” Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

I didn’t pick up the bass until the summer between my junior and senior years of high school. I was 16.

RR: Why did you choose the bass?

TJ: I think like most people I was just drawn to it. Just the sound of the low end always attracted me. I remember seeing Ray Brown play on TV and thought that was the coolest thing I’d ever heard. I knew I had to play music like that.

RR: You are very known for your technique to join Chords, Melody and bass line in the same conduction. How are the first steps to get it in a good way?

TJ: Wow….this could be a long answer if I’m not careful. The obvious answer is you have to first understand Chords, Melody and bass lines INDIVIDUALLY before you can hope to combine them. So start with learning good walking bass lines…Then learn a lot of melodies…then get your ability to play and understand chords. This took me about 20 years of study.
THEN…..you have to spend the time picking the critical components from each one and then combine as much as you can. A DEEP knowledge of the fingerboard is required. I hope this makes sense??

RR: What are the methods that you recommend to bass players?

TJ: You shouldn’t be surprised by this answer: I recommend exactly what Jim Stinnett and I teach!!!
The Cycle of 4ths / Technique: Start with getting “the CYCLE” of 4ths exercises together. That’s playing the Major, Minor and Dominant scales through the cycle of 4ths with the roots all starting on the “A” string. Learn them ascending and descending etc. etc.
Jim has a tremendous system for doing this. He has some great videos and play alongs that are extremely affordable at his website. www.stinnettmusic.com

Walking Bass lines: Learn to play the “Blues in F” with just roots, then roots with the half step from above approach, the roots with the half step from below approach, then roots and 5ths, then the root/ 5th/ root/ above/ approach. Last but not least would be the root/ 5th/ root/ below/ approach.

There’s a lot more to learn, but this is a GREAT start. We get the students playing this with great confidence in just 2 days and they sound GREAT!

Jim has a great walking bass method book called “Creating Jazz Bass Lines” also available at www.stinnettmusic.com and I have 3 downloadable DVD’s called Walking Bass Line Module System Volumes 1, 2 & 3. You can get them and all my products at www.toddjohnsonmusic.com/store.php

Ear Training: We do a lot of Call and Response training at the workouts. Plus we recommend students eventually do a lot of transcribing….and by that we mean learning to PLAY something from a recording…NOT just writing it down. Too many students will eventually get a solo all written out, but they never learn to play it. If you can’t play it, then what good is it??? You can’t take a transcription to a gig or an audition and say “hey, look what I can write out”. If you can’t play it, they’ll laugh you off the stage!

Reading: Officially, 2011 is the “Year of the Reading Bassist”……Virtually all great players know how to read…there are a few exceptions, but most do read. Reading makes you INFINITELY more versatile and makes it easier to find work!!! Again, Jim has a PILE of great reading books at his website.

Melodic playing / Soloing: Once you’ve established an ability to play the cycle, walking bass lines, read music and apply your ear training then I would recommend learning to solo and play melodies and melodically. This is a VAST subject with many ways to approach it, but needless to say my favorite way to teach it is by teaching you how to use your ears. Learn melodies first (by ear), then learn to embellish them (by ear). After that we learn some of the jazz vocabulary and learn how to apply it. This method seems to work wonders with students who will do the work.

Chords: Once you’ve got a grasp of playing melodies and soloing, then learning to play chords would be next on my list. Start with learning the 3rds and 7ths of all the chords in a blues etc. Then learn to play the 3rds and 7ths of the major and minor ii-v-i’s. This is a great start. After that, go order my “Fishing for Grips” chord melody method and get to work!! Ha!! Jim Stinnett and I have to the work for you. All you have to do is sit down and press “play” and do what the DVD tells you to do and you’re on your way!!

One last thing for now: FOCUS ON PLAYING EVERYTHING YOU PLAY WITH GREAT TIME AND TIME FEEL. If what you play doesn’t feel GREAT, then audiences and other musicians will not be interested!!!

RR: You are a 6-strings-bass player. When and why did you interest for this kind of bass?

TJ: I bought my first 6 string bass in 1989. I’d been playing 5 string for about 5 years and loved having the low B, but always thought that a high C would really be great for melodic playing. PLUS, I’ve always thought that the 6 string was made for playing chords. At the 13th fret, you can grab a lot of harmony if you know what you’re doing. The trick is to know what you’re doing!! Ha!!

RR: When did you meet Jim Stinnett? Talk for us a little of this special friendship.

TJ: I met Jim at the “International Society of Bassists” (ISB) convention in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and we just hit it off. It seems like we’ve know each other all our lives. It’s funny how many things we have in common and how we view things.

Jim was kind enough to invite me to New Hampshire to do a “TJ” workout and teach my “grips”. After that, they basically welcomed me into their bass family and community and I’ve been there ever since. To say I’m grateful and honored to be a part of Jim’s “baixo familia” is an understatement. Plus, Jim is a dear friend and mentor to me. I’ve learned a TON of musical and life lessons from Jim. I owe him a lot.

RR: Nowadays, what is your main goal?

TJ: This will sound corny, but my main goal is to serve others with the gifts God has given me. My goal is to improve and a husband, friend and musician…in that order.

On a musical level, I’m working hard on my Cycle chops to increase my tempo thresholds so I’ll have a chance to “maybe” keep up with Grant!!

I’m also always working on my chord melody and learning tunes….and since this is the “Year of the Reading Bassist” I’m making reading a higher priority.

On a business level I’m working hard on getting out more products that will help my fellow bass players.

RR:  If you had a chance for another try, would you change a thing or things?

TJ: Sure, but I can’t go back and change anything so I’m happy to move on. Apparently this path is what God has chosen for me.
Although if I could do things over I’d probably play the Hammond B-3!!! Ha!!

RR:  Where can we buy your books and products?

TJ: You can buy all my products, especially my new $1.99 “Playin’ through the Real Book” series of videos at www.toddjohnsonmusic.com/store.php I have my 3 walking bass DVD’s, my “Technique Builders” DVD, my “Fishin’ For Grips” chord melody method, plus most of my CD’s and of course my new $1.99 “Playin’ through the Real Book” series.

I would encourage all your readers to check my “Playin’ through the Real Book” series out. It’s a GREAT way to learn to play jazz. I have videos that teach you SONGS…how to play the bass lines, comp chords and solo over SONGS!! Each video is downloadable and comes with the Video, play along mp3 and a TRANSCRIPTION of exactly what I play. We even go back and slow down the video for you so you can see and hear exactly what I’m doing. The downloadable format is awesome. There no waiting…no postage…and no import taxes!!

RR: How many hours do you study bass?

TJ: It varies for me. It depends upon my schedule. But, I’ve gone through seasons in my life where I consistently practice 6 to 8 hours a day. Right now, I’m lucky to get in 2 to 3 hours a day….probably more like 1 ½ to 2 hours right now. My schedule is quite full with teaching, performing, recording, writing, filming, plus being a husband and watching out for my 85 year old parents.

The good news is that I can accomplish a lot in those 1 to 2 hours after 30 years of practice!!

RR: What are the main characteristics that a good bass player should have?

TJ: Time and groove are #1. ALWAYS!! If it doesn’t feel good and in the right register of the bass, then NO ONE WILL CARE!!

RR: In your opinion, what is the secret to be a good player?

TJ: Practice, Perseverance and Patience are key. A great groove, reading ability, repertoire and professionalism are the rest!!

RR: Describe the Brazilians bass players.

TJ: I love the Brazilian bass players. They have so much talent!!! They play with a unique “joy” and “fire” that I’ve never seen anywhere else. 

RR: To finish, what is your message to the people?

TJ: Music is a gift from God. Treat it with the care, effort and respect it deserves. Work hard. Love others as you would yourself. Be positive! LIFE IS GOOD!!

I hope to see you all one day soon!! 

Roberto Reis and Todd Johnson in November, 2009

2 comentários:

  1. Olá adorei o blog. Muito bom mesmo. Nossos parabéns. Você é nosso convidado para visitar e ser membro de nosso Alto-falante.. Abraços

    Renato Douglas

  2. Obrigado Renato, seja sempre bem vindo! Obrigado pela visita! Fica com Deus :q