Watch the Two-Beat & 4/4 online guitar lesson by John Goldsby from Upright Bass Handbook
Let's check out a different type of groove: playing "in two" or "playing with a two-beat feel." When the bandleader says to play "in two," or with a "two beat,” this means two beats to a bar rather than the typical four-to-the-bar in a walking bassline. This groove often happens on the melody chorus of a song, or sometimes for a certain type of swing-era, foxtrot dance beat.
This line moves from two-beats-to-a-bar into a four-four feeling. Playing in "2" and going from "2" to "4/4" is an important skill for jazz bass players. When I play in two, I sometimes make a space for the backbeat on beats two and four. This helps the line swing. You want to play the notes on beats 1 and 3 long, but cut off on beats 2 and 4.
This is a typical, swing-era style bassline, in the style of the great Count Basie bassist, Walter Page. To hear an authentic vibe for this kind of groove, check out some of the other great swing-era bassists like John Kirby, Milt Hinton, Slam Stewart, Wellman Braud and Bob Haggart. Now, let's swing!