Updated: Jan 17
Three things I liked most about Paul Chambers from this gem on Red Garland's 1957 "Groovy" album:
1) Repeated ideas. I think often as artists we feel compelled to come up with something brand new every time we touch the bass strings. And while there's plenty of variety in this line, notice how not only does he repeat ideas within the song, e.g. measure 13, but he repeats these ideas between SONGS. He Call them "licks" if you like, or "vocabulary", but he has go-to ideas that create a sense of, "Oh, yeah, that's definitely Paul Chambers playing that line."
2) Solid rhythms. His lines are rock-solid in terms of playing in time. There's a lot of discussion on "playing in time" in the bass world. What I'm talking about specifically is attack and release. Attack refers to the exact time a note is plucked. Release refers to how long the note is held. So here, his attacks occur on beat, the space between attacks is consistent, and long note durations. When I started out, I played short notes when I walked a bass line, and they sounded clunky and goofy. The notes I was playing were fine, but the line didn't sound fitting for the genre because my durations were way too short. Jeff Berlin shows this in greater detail here:
3) The questionable ending(s) of Chambers' solo between band members. This point is more speculative, but to MY ears, it sounds like Chambers MAY have been ending at measure 215.
It's hard to say. It sounds like a possible ending. But Red Garland clearly didn't go into another solo or the song melody. Sooooo, Chambers kept going. Then, maybe a bit comically, Garland lays on a G pedal on measure 225 as if to say, "Hey, Paul, sorry about that, man, but I GOT YOU THIS TIME!"
But this time Paul DOESN'T end his solo, lol! Then on the NEXT chorus, Garland does NOT play a pedal, but Chambers DOES end his solo sort of abruptly.
We've all been there.
Again, I could be wrong on all accounts, but to my ears, there was some wonderful interplay going on about when to end the solo. And they reinforce the #1 rule of improv: KEEP GOING!