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Best way to practice Jazz?

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by NDBass, Jan 24, 2012.

  1. NDBass


    Jan 22, 2012
    Brooklyn, New York
    Hi I'm 15 years old, a high school sophmore. I start off by doing scales and arpeggios, then I do a lot of walking (with recordings). After that I'll (with not recording) play the head of a tune, walk a few choruses, solo a few choruses, and then play the head out. Is there anything else you guys recommend I could do?
  2. Practice with a click, until you have your tempos steady and solid. I have a software metronome with a mute control- I play with it, then turn off the sound, and play for about two minutes, then without stopping, turn it back on to see if I am still in time. This is hard to do, but being solid in time and groove is the primary role of the bass in music. A great trial by fire is to work without a drummer. Can you make the music swing all by your self?

    Learn how to swing at all tempos. Learn the types of swing - triplet, 16th, pushed and laid back. As the songs say: it don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing".

    Learn your "latin" grooves, starting with bossa novas.

    Don't play bop all the time - bop is a gas on bass, but it generally won't be what you get hired to do.. Fast is good, but not all the time.

    Learn the melodies of the tunes you play on the bass, and pay attention to how they relate the to chord structure, know your chord substitutions, so you can build your walks around that.

    Learn to read bass and treble clef.

    And listen to other bass players, study what they do and why they did it. Bass, you have to remember, is an instrument that works in the context of a rhythm section, so listen to how the bass works with the drums and piano and guitar. I take time to learn drum parts, too, since we have to play with drummers most of the time.

    Last, and this will get you far - learn how to read a vocalist - learn how he or she swings, feels the song, and how to work with her phrasing and feel. This will also work with solo instruments, too, but it is of great importance when working with a singer in jazz. I have played with a lot of singers over the years, and I focus on their voice in the song - I feel my role is to make them sound better, and to make them feel comfortable where they can relax and stretch out, knowing I'm right behind them.
  3. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Get a teacher.
  4. transcribe... walking lines and solos (bass and otherwise). The records are our texts.
  5. i recently ditched scales entirely (except for arco practice). this is what i've been doing lately:

    pick a tune and play it continuously for at least 30 mins. i dedicate at least one chorus to different things.

    two feel/broken feel
    walking (for a few choruses)
    1-3-5-7 arpeggios over each chord
    3-5-7-9 arpeggios over each chord
    finding half and whole step links between changes (ex. 7-3 resolutions) to make walking and soloing more fluid
    trade fours with the melody
    trade eights with the melody
    solo for however long
    walk some more
    play the melody out
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    This has been said to me as well - by several great teachers.

    If you can understand what the "greats" were playing and why - then incorporate that into your own playing - you will be addressing all the aspects mentioned here in one excercise!
  7. +1

    Transcription is a fantastic thing. It really helps you develop your ear, which is incredibly important. Transcribe a solo to see how the player built it up, where he took it, etc. Then, pick out any licks from it you like, even if it's only one, and learn it well in all 12 keys. You start to learn vocabulary this way. Plus, it's cool, it's like you get to jam along with famous mucisians! :)
  8. John Goldsby

    John Goldsby Supporting Member

    Mar 4, 2003
    Bassist @ WDR Big Band Cologne, Teaching at Conservatorium Maastricht, NL
  9. geoffbassist

    geoffbassist UK Double Bassist Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 17, 2006
    Founder - Discover Double Bass
    Fantastic link John and great advice. Thanks for sharing.
  10. John Goldsby

    John Goldsby Supporting Member

    Mar 4, 2003
    Bassist @ WDR Big Band Cologne, Teaching at Conservatorium Maastricht, NL
    My pleasure, Geoff. A lot of players have used that list, or used it to develop their own list of things to practice.

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