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Can anyone play Donna Lee?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Tronictq, Nov 9, 2001.

  1. Tronictq


    Jan 23, 2001

    That song scares me..... if anyone can play it, they are # 1 in my books.

  2. Aaron


    Jun 2, 2001
    Bellingham, WA
    Sure i can play it, but not up to speed, and with the wrong notes and wrong rythym.
  3. melvin


    Apr 28, 2001
    Same here
  4. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    I can. and do
  5. I can also... Usually I just drop the CD in and press "play". What's so hard about that?!?!? :p
  6. Nope. When it came time to learn a Parker head I chose Scrapple. :cool:
  7. Gard


    Mar 31, 2000
    WInter Garden, FL
    When I was studying with Dave LaRue, he made me learn it....

    IN ALL 12 KEYS!!!!!!! :eek:

    ...I did it though. :cool:
  8. John Davis

    John Davis Guest

    Mar 27, 2001
    Houston, Texas
    Wow. *give congrates to Gard*
  9. I can play the melody to the original ;)


    Oh...you guys must mean the jazzed up Jaco version...well.....um...

    *Runs away*
  10. Gard


    Mar 31, 2000
    WInter Garden, FL
    The entire head, plus the changes in all keys. LaRue is a slavedriver! ;) :D

    To be honest though, I've not done it in years. I just dug my real book back out (after I moved back to FL it got stuck in a box buried in a storage shed, couldn't find it :( ), gonna start running through a few things again to get my schiznit together on the jazz stuff.
  11. beermonkey


    Sep 26, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    I had to learn all of Jaco's version for my lessons one quarter at school. I've since forgotten most of Jaco's actual solo, but I can still play the head at break-neck speed. :cool:

    Right now I'm working on Chromatic Fantasy. It makes Donna Lee look like 'Louie Louie'. I believe that this song will eventually lead to my undoing.
  12. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I think from reading this thread that some people are under a severe misconception about what Jaco is doing and about what "Donna Lee" is. This is a fairly standard 32 bar bebop head, which was played by Charlie Parker and Miles Davis in the 1950s. The idea is you play the head (or "tune") - improvise solos over a few choruses each and then play the head and out!

    So Jaco plays the head, does a few choruses and finsihes off. Now I have played Donna Lee many times in Jazz workshops, but nobody would copy exactly what Jaco played - the idea of Jazz is to improvise over the changes and come up with your own lines. So people might take some licks or study solos by Charlie Parker for example, but no Jazz players reproduce solos note for note in their own performances.

    As the bass player - normally it would be a case of playing a walking line for most of the time and then (if you're lucky) getting a solo over the chord changes - Jaco's innovation is to keep the whole thing going more or less on his own, but he wouldn't have played the same thing every time and I think it's bizarre really that people expend a lot of effort trying to play it through note for note - I can see that transcribing it would be a good exercise - but if you were playing at a Jazz gig there is no way you would just repeat what somebody else did - the idea is always to creat something that is "yours" and not just a carbon copy.

    But there is nothing that hard in this - it's virtually all 8th notes and basically any professional Jazz soloist should be able to do this sort of thing - so I go to my local Jazz club every week and any of the players can play a solo over similar or more complex sequences on their own - any Sax player , Trumpeter or whatever - and actually they would probably be more melodic than Jaco - although that's arguable. Jaco was just the first person to apply this to electric bass.
  14. Gard


    Mar 31, 2000
    WInter Garden, FL
  15. I thought the ability to play "Donna Lee" was a prerequisite when signing up for Talkbass membership. When did Paul change that? (Or is that just for 'Supporting Members'?)
  16. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    I remember when I was working on my Talkbass audition tape for Paul. He said that "Donna Lee" was a requirement, but when I told him that that song was too easy, Jaco's version or not, he asked me what might challenge me. I hadn't come across any piece of music yet, after just completing the Rachmaninoff Concertos on solo 2 string, I needed a challenge.

    I finally wound up going with SMELLS LIKE TEEN SPIRIT. Obviously, Paul was impressed.
  17. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Thanks Ed - I agree that a slow ballad exposes or highlights "limitations" in technique far more readily than something where all the space is filled with notes!
  18. Can anyone play Portrait of Tracy? Different style, and I couldn't play it in a million years, heck, I suck.

    But what about you guys who actually have talent?;)
  19. i can play almost all of the victor wooten/steve bailey version of it. both parts too just not at the same time...yet.
  20. melvin


    Apr 28, 2001
    Ok just to celebrate, I learnt the first three measures!