Considering Jazz Ensemble

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Minger, May 21, 2005.

  1. Minger


    Mar 15, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    I'm considering joining the jazz ensenble next year at my school...but am kinda wondering: what would I need to know?

    I mean, I have a decent amount of theory down, I can't read bass clef yet...(er, forgot since my piano years) anybody have any suggestions or whatnot? I'll probably ask the conductor person for suggestions, because I think one of the bassists on there is a senior this year...thanks.
  2. Learn Bass clef until it is second nature, learn to walk chord changes. And learn to solo.
  3. Tash


    Feb 13, 2005
    Bel Air Maryland
    Learn bass clef, learn how to build common Jazz chords like Dom7b9, Maj7, Dim7 etc. Learn to read charts and learn your modes (which help when soloing over complicated changes).

    Oh yeah, learn to LIKE Jazz if you don't already. Nothing sucks more than playing in a Jazz ensemble if you aren't down with the music.
  4. +1 for things said above

    Listen to lots of jazz/swing/big band stuff. Most certainly read learn how to read bass cleff. You will be glad you did. Jazz Ensemble will make you a better bass player.
  5. paintandsk8

    paintandsk8 Pushin' my soul through the wire...

    May 12, 2003
    West Lafayette, IN
    These other guys have pretty much nailed it.

    You really need to practise reading music as much as possible. Don't just think about notes either, there's also alot of complicated, syncopated rythms in jazz charts.

    Listen to Jazz. There are alot of styles that relatively "standard" basslines & chord progressions. It is also possible (depending on the skill level of the group) that you will be given charts that don't have a written line. These charts will just give you chord progressions - no notes, you will have to rely on your knowledge of chords and your knowledge of that particular style to create a bassline.

    Soloing - Soloing isn't something I would focus on at first. If you get this other stuff down, soloing will come on it's own. If your struggling with this other stuff, your director isn't going to throw a solo at you (at least not in a performance situation).

    Don't forget the basics - You will probably (again, depending on the skill of the group) going to run into a jazz chart at some point that will challenge your chops. Your technique needs to be top notch for jazz. You need to have good technique (proper thumb position, good use of all four fingers, etc.) becuase there will be ackward jumps, big stretches, and fast lines. Don't forget endurance too.

    Your also going to need to learn to focus on alot of things besides your bass while your playing. You will keep and eye on the conductor, keep an eye on your music, and most importantly - you will need to be able to listen and react to what the ensemble is doing.

    Good time - Your also need to have a good feel for tempo. Try practicing with a metronome. Nothing's worse than a bassist or drummer that is always trying to speed up or slow down.

    Time signatures - If your not familiar with time signatures besides 4/4, you should check them out.

    Is this a high school jazz ensemble? College? Other?
  6. Minger


    Mar 15, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    High school.

    I'm actually pretty cool with jazz, and heck its giving me a challenge; I want to get better at playing bass so I figure why not...probalby going to talk to the conductor person in a few days...should be interesting; I'm going to see what he has to say but you guys have covered pretty much all the aspects I've thought that I'd need to know.

    The thing that sucks is that I don't really have the keys down yet - pretty much the major key, no min7 or anythin fancy (imo) like that...

    Maybe this will give me an excuse to drop the viola in orchestra and give the Double Bass a shot? 0.o
  7. +2 for dropping viola. i am always confused in my orchestra class, when i talk to a violinist, who plays electric bass. Double bass is great. I love it. Do it do it do it do it.
  8. Mr.Phil


    Apr 9, 2005
    Upstate NY
    Give up the viola... Play upright, play it with the jazz group too...
  9. akuma12


    Aug 25, 2003
    Sarasota, FL
    Upright is awesome, but it's very demanding physically and very different from electric. It'll be another nice challenge.
  10. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Yep. I knew it was different, but I figured "Jeez, come on, it's not THAT bad."


    Wow. It will kick your butt three ways from Sunday, but the reward is...wonderful. Oh man. Pick up the DB as soon as you can, it's brilliant. I love it, so much. The endurance will build up real quick...after that, use your ear, and don't expect to be Ray Brown in a couple months.
  11. Tash


    Feb 13, 2005
    Bel Air Maryland
    I took lessons on the upright for 3 months. It was a lot of fun, I wish I had the money to rent a decent upright and continue studying it.
  12. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Don't start thinking from that point of view - as bass player you need to be outlining the chords as they pass by, not picking random notes from a key. Knowing what notes are available in every type of chord and how they sound, is far more important in constructing bass lines.
  13. Jiro


    Mar 15, 2004
  14. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass ****

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    Playing in ANY music ensemble will only add to your musical vocabulary and help you grow. Do whatever you can to get into the jazz band, regardless of what you think you know or what you think you will need to know. The things you will need to focus on right away, as stated above are: #1-listen to jazz #2-learn to read Bass Clef(peice of cake if you can already read Treble)#3-learn how to "spell" basic chords(Major7, minor7 and Dominant7 as this is the first step in learning to walk chord changes.

    If you have a chance to get your hands on an Upright Bass GO FOR IT!!BUT!!!!!!!I really want to express the importance of getting off on the right foot. You need to at the very least get some basic instruction on the instrument, it is not something that one should just pick-up and play, besides the bad habits that have to be UN-learned later on there is always a risk of injuring yourself, no I am not joking. There are also some do's and don'ts regarding the treatment of an upright bass that one should be aware of. Hopefully there is someone at your school that can get you guided in the right direction, if not maybe try contacting your local Community College or University, through your band teacher, and try to get some one on one time with someone that can help you. Often times fellow band directors work together to increase the quality of the talent pool coming out of High School into College. Many College band directors would be excited about a young high school student wanting to learn Upright Bass and may want to help you along in any way they could!!
    WOW, that was really long, Sorry, I guess I am done.
  15. Minger


    Mar 15, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    Maybe this is bringing up thread that should stay dead...but finally (I keep forgetting) i'm asking the band/jazz ensemble conductor about it tomorow - and I talked to my friend who plays sax and he pointed out to me that they'd need a bass player anyways because the current bassist is a senior.

    Just wondering...what do you guys suggest listining to?It may sound dumb, but I'm not sure where to start - figure maybe some Jaco (never heard his stuff anyways) and uh, not sure what else. -.- Thanks
  16. Of course listen to Jaco! :) I would also recommend listening to more big band jazz (and other styles of jazz) than Jaco simply because you won't be playing Donna Lee before Yardbird Suite at your concert ;).

    When I first started a few years ago in my school's jazz ensemble, I didn't really like listening to jazz. I didn't hate it, but it wasn't for me. After playing in the ensemble for 6 months, I couldn't get enough of the music. I suggest asking your instructor for some tips on what to listen to. He/she would be able to possibly give you recordings of the songs you're playing.

    Keep in mind that in the beginning of the year, from my expirence at least, your charts will have written bass lines for you to play. Later on, you'll get charts with only the chords written. This is nice if you can't read chords too well but you will develop this skill quickly.

    Your technique will improve by leaps and bounds, guaranteed.

    Good luck man :bassist: