Danny Thompson Project – double double bass and a studio

Danny Thompson and Jen Hill

A quick update, because I really ought to be playing the bass (rather than messing about online). TOMORROW I hit the studio with Danny Thompson, the most incredible bass player, mentor and friend. This is a dream come true, and I keep thinking I might wake up at any moment!

I’ve been supported by Creative Scotland to undertake an ‘Advanced Mentoring’ project, working with Danny to pursue a real interest of mine: the role of the double bass in Scottish traditional music. Danny and I have spent 18 months meeting up, sharing music electronically, and I have been composing, arranging and singing daft bass lines down the phone at him. My playing has been affected massively, I feel more confident, more genuine in my choices, more able to ‘throw out the rule book’ and much much more creative as an individual.

The work grew from my collaboration with Damian Helliwell’s Metta (tunes below), wherein I was using the bass in a variety of ways, moving away from the heavy ‘ceilidh style’ of playing (strong 1+3 beats, to help the dancers), and towards a more contrapuntal approach, where the bass part works in tandem with the melody line, creating a second tier of melody, if you like. At the same time, in other tunes, I’d ‘groove’ rather than play a countermelody… it all depends on what serves the tune. Some people love this approach, and others (more dyed in the wool) are a bit challenged by it… so having Danny on board made everything seem possible, and enabled me to develop my style with confidence and joy.

In the next few days, I’ll be recording two airs, arranged for two basses. We’ll be joined by Angus Lyon on keys and possibly box (depending on what we decide and what he’s up for!), and I can’t wait to share the results. These tracks will be used on a future album, focused around Scottish trad, which will (I hope) make you dance your socks off.

I’d like to thank individuals at Creative Scotland, in particular Brian, David and Emma.

Here’s a wee vid for your enjoyment

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