Couple of quick jazz questions

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by jaybo, Dec 6, 2002.

  1. jaybo

    jaybo Guest

    Sep 5, 2001
    Richmond, KY
    Next semester I'll be playing in the vocal jazz ensemble at school because the guy that usually does all the jazz stuff is pretty swamped. I'm glad to be doing it but it's a little daunting at the same time because I've played pretty much only classical on upright up until now. I've played some jazz on BG and have read all the articles on TB about creating walking lines so I have a general idea of what to do and what to work on but I still have a few questions.

    On the chart when it just tells what chord is being played, BbMaj for example, and has the / / / / underneath it is it unacceptable to deviate from four quarter notes that bar? On the recording I have (the bass is VERY buried) it seems as though the bass plays whole and half notes in the slower songs. There are also times when it seems the bass isn't playing on the beat at all but just being kind of 'free'. Is this normal? All of the jazz records I have are pretty straight ahead so I'm not really accustomed to hearing what the bass 'normally' does in slower songs and ballads.

    Any help or web sites would be appreciated. I do have a teacher but he seems to be about as clueless as I do about jazz. I do plan on trying to meet with the sax teacher though.
  2. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    On a slow ballad, it is very rarely a good idea to play 4 notes in the bar - especially when working with a singer. As you say - most bassist would play two notes - maybe breaking it up with a few linking notes between chord changes. You could also go to one note per bar to give more space - it it's that kind of thing.

    I think the four dashes ar really just there to tell you it's 4/4 - as opposed to 3/4 or whatever.

    Of course - 4 notes to the bar is the most common type of bassline in Jazz - but even then, you are "allowed" to slip in extra notes if you feel it is appropriate! ;)
  3. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    The slashes indicate that there are 3 more beats of that chord, as Bruce indicates.

    What this means is that the arranger assumes that: A) the bass player knows what to do, or B) the bass player can't read so well, or C) He didn't feel like writing out a bunch of quarter notes when it isn't that important to the arrangement.

    'Use yours ears' is the best advice. Having not heard the arrangements I can't really tell you what to play from here. As your ears don't have the experience to call it, then go dig up some recordings similar to what you're playing and see what those bass players did.
  4. jaybo

    jaybo Guest

    Sep 5, 2001
    Richmond, KY
    I'd say you hit the nail on the head Ed. Thanks guys.