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February 7, 2008 3:16 PM   Subscribe

Know any good songs arranged for double bass and female voice? Regina Spektor's Rejazz is wooonderful, but I'm looking for more "jazz standards"-y type songs.

I know Honeysuckle Rose has been done this way. What else can I look at?

My girlfriend is a well-schooled singer. I am a total hack bassist. We'd like to (maybe) perform on street corners in the summer.
posted by Plug Dub In to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Try "Back on Base" from the Maltby and Shire musical revue Closer Than Ever. Sultry and definitely shows off the singer.
posted by bradlands at 3:42 PM on February 7, 2008

Most jazz standards suitable for small groups (as in, not the big band ones) could be perfomed by a bassist. You may have to slow some of them down, and it would have a different feel without the horns, but would still make for a wonderful song. Off the top of my head, wonderful things to hear a bass/vocal duet of would be Night and Day (listen to Ella Fitzgerald's version if you can), Someone to Watch Over Me, Solitude, Autumn in New York, Nice Work if You Can Get It, Blue Skies, Blues in the Night, As Time Goes By, Come Rain or Come Shine, Moon River, When I Fall in Love... all of them would need a little changing to suit you, but I think they'd be wonderful. I don't suppose you'll be doing this in Australia? I'd love to come listen!

You could try a few non-jazz songs too if you're interested... Nina Simone does a wonderfully bare, stripped back cover of House of the Rising Sun and makes the song so much richer. A slow, moody bass and vocal version of that would be lovely.
posted by twirlypen at 4:07 PM on February 7, 2008

Its electric bass rather than acoustic, but Jennifer Moore's Single Bass songs might give you some inspiration.
posted by Jabberwocky at 4:12 PM on February 7, 2008

Songs for Staying Home by Torch (led by Seela) is a terrific recording. Although they are a small ensemble including drums and guitar as well, the bass and female vocals are prominent enough that it wouldn't be difficult to extract some workable arrangements from their versions.

You can listen to it here and buy it here.
posted by umbĂș at 4:13 PM on February 7, 2008

King & Moore's album "Potato Radio" has a great arrangement of St Thomas.
posted by hades at 4:50 PM on February 7, 2008

You should definitely check out Esperanza Spalding, who plays upright AND sings beautifully. There was a post regarding her work on the blue a couple months back.
posted by gnutron at 5:29 PM on February 7, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks to all! I have some listening to do...
posted by Plug Dub In at 8:11 PM on February 7, 2008

IF you can play bass well enough to read from a lead sheet (or write an interesting bassline) AND your girlfriend has a good enough ear to hear the chords implied from only a bassline, then buy yourself a fakebook (try "The Real Book") and go nuts -- just about any standard will do.

I can't think of many arrangements for just bass and voice, but I imagine a lot of Bossa Nova would be very cool this way. Check out some recordings of Astrud Gilberto singing with Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto -- and songs by Antonio Carlos Jobim. Bossa basslines are usually interesting and have a cool groove to them, so you could get away without a fuller rhythm section.

I bet "Girl from Ipanema" and "Desafinado" would work well in particular.

Other songs that just popped into my head as being well suited for bass+voice:
"Gee Baby, Ain't I Good to You"
"Harlem Nocturne"
"Speak Softly, Love" (one of the Godfather themes),
"History Repeating" (Propellerheads + Shirley Bassey),
"Summertime" (Gershwin),
"Hit the Road Jack,"
"In a Sentimental Mood,"
"Surrey with the Fringe on Top" (check out Blossom Dearie's version)
"Puttin' on the Ritz"

As I have been trying to think of songs, I find that a lot of the things that come to mind come from Bob Fosse musicals -- for example Pajama Game ("Steam Heat" and "Hernando's Hideaway"), Damn Yankees ("Whatever Lola Wants"), Chicago ("All That Jazz" and several other songs), "Hey Big Spender," "Mr. Bojangles," etc. His choreography style lends itself to that sharp, laid back, finger-snapping sort of groove which would go well with just a bass and voice.

She could also write lyrics to Miles Davis' trumpet solo on the "Kind of Blue" version of "So What"

Also look into some tangos...
posted by Alabaster at 8:54 PM on February 7, 2008

I can't believe no one has posted this: Love Me Or Leave Me by Metafilter's own miss lynnster. You can download the song for free from there.
posted by micayetoca at 12:26 AM on February 8, 2008

I'm not sure I'd call it a standard but 'Twisted' by Annie Ross and Wardell Grey is doable with just voice and bass. Joni Mitchell's version, on her 'Court and Spark' album, is probably the most available, but Bette Midler also covered it.
posted by No Mutant Enemy at 1:32 AM on February 8, 2008

Temptation by Holly Cole Trio is an album of Tom Waits covers that are reinterpreted into minimalist jazz/lounge with vocals, sparse piano, and bass. I think the bass lines in some of the songs are simple enough that you can hold them down, and the vocals should be interesting enough for a trained singer. And Tom Waits + street performance = tips. Little Boy Blue on youtube.
posted by Benjamin Nushmutt at 8:09 PM on February 9, 2008

Oh, and Like Someone in Love is a jazz standard, and a lot of people will recognize it because of Bjork.
posted by Benjamin Nushmutt at 8:17 PM on February 9, 2008

I've always been partial to the Bonnie Raitt & Was (Not Was) version of 'Baby Mine', from Bambi. Uh, 'Baby Mine' is from Bambi, this version is on a record called 'Stay Awake'. Hell of a song, and I could see it working really well with just bass and vocals.
posted by dirtdirt at 8:37 AM on February 29, 2008

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