How to start of with jazz?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by CrazyArcher, Mar 13, 2006.

  1. CrazyArcher


    Aug 5, 2004
    I'm sure that there was such a topic before, but I haven't managed to find anything, so 1st of all I apologize... :meh:

    So here's the business: I'm more of a hardcore music typo, but I've never disliked funk, blues or jazz, and want to extend my abilities in the latter. I've got some basic technical skills, I have some rudimentary theory knowledge (chords, most common scales), I can improvise blues for hours, but when it comes to jazz - I'm a total noob. I've learnt some pieces with walking bass, and made up basslines for famous jazz tunes from the guitar chords, but that's all my experience with jazz for now (as a player).
    Now the question is, how can I start off into the more complicated stuff? Is there any kind of a training plan in this case? Please :help:
  2. Tony G

    Tony G

    Jan 20, 2006
    Being a hardcore music guy, you probably haven't listened to much jazz.... I would say that you first step is to go out there and soak up as much jazz as you can. You will learn the feel of the jazz by listening to it, and over time you will be able to play it.
  3. CrazyArcher


    Aug 5, 2004
    Well it's not that I'm new to jazz, I'm new to playing it... Belive me, I know with my guts what the feel of jazz is ;)
  4. Even if your not new listening can help emensly. If I were you I'd go to the Double Bass section of these forums and ask them for listening as well as tips (lots of jazzers over there). And give us some more info. How are you trying to learn? School jazz band or small ensemble outside of school? Because if you play in a combo its easier to pick up. Lastly, don't be worried because once you get the basics it's pretty much all feeling. Good luck ;)

  5. WillBuckingham


    Mar 30, 2005
    I would say that you don't really understand how much effort you're going to have to put into this to be able to play jazz at a mediocre level. "Not disliking jazz" is probably not going to be very motivating. If you really dig the music, then go out and buy some albums (there's been loads of threads about which jazz albums to start out with) and dig into it. Then find an instructor.
  6. CrazyArcher


    Aug 5, 2004
    Don't get me wrong, it's not that one day I decided "Wow! It's soooo in! I want it too!". It's plainly not that. I consider jazz to be a pinnacle of music, and it's my greatest challenge as a musician. Of course, I'll never be a pro, but trying my best wont hurt, heh?
    I know a guitar player who can join me, but I don't know if he'll be available. What I can hope for is at best a 3-piece, but first of all it's just my personal initiative. What is worse is that I don't have cash for instruction (I'm a university student), so that's why I'm asking for advise.
  7. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    There's no such thing as "the pinnacle of music". There are great musicians/artists who can bring moments of sheer poetic beauty into being in almost ANY kind of music. You need to stop thinking in hierarchical terms. You are not going to be a "better" or "worse" musician by playing or not playing one kind of music. You should work to develop a solid foundation in musical fundametals no matter WHAT kind of music you play.

    That being said, I love playing jazz more than any other kind of music in the world. I FEEL that jazz is the music that gets me to the place I want to be, where I can express myself, where I can participate in a conversation with other players. And the skill sets that I have developed and am still working at developing (I feel) would serve me well no matter what I played.
    But the only reason to play jazz is because THAT'S the music that brings meaning to you. because you have to do it. Otherwise, you don't really get it. It's NOT about playing notes over chords or playing the "right" notes, or any o fthat crap. It's about communicating how you are hearing music to other people who are doing the same and you all influence each others' conception with your own conception. And doing so with a pretty specific rhythmic approach and with the idea that the harmony of a song is merely a framework that can be influenced by how everybody is hearing their individual AND group way through it.

    You don't hit it to that point, you're just faking it and why bother?
  8. CrazyArcher


    Aug 5, 2004
    *sigh* I feel misunderstood...
    So do you try to say in a nicer way "You are immature, you don't understand it, leave it alone and dont wast your time?"
  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    That's not what's being said at all - rather that the only reason to play Jazz is because you really love it and that's how you want to express yourself.

    There's no point in trying to fake a love you don't have - so why not just say you're going to improve your playing generally and will stick with what you like and play it to your best ability?
  10. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    First of all, I generally say what i mean. If I wanted to say that you were immature, don't understand and don't waste your time, I would just say that.

    The only thing that I would say you don't really seem to get is that there isn't some ranking system - music A is better than music B which is better than music C. You can become a better musician, get deeper into music no matter WHAT kind fo music you play. If jazz is the kind of music you HAVE to play, great. Me, too. But if the only reason you're doing it is because you have the idea that the material is somehow going to make you "better" well, best of luck. My experience is that an approach like that actually stands in the way of making any real music.

    You, of course, may do what you like.
  11. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member

    You could do worse than to start by following all the links in the stickied threads at the top of this forum. :cool:
  12. Yes, jazz can be a very personal conversation but we all have to start somewhere. Just like I had to learn to speak halting sentences in english, hebrew or any other language.

    It is hard to break into a jazz scene because few accomplished players have patience for the stumblings of those with less experience who may screw up and kill the groove. They also don't want to be limited by the music that someone who is trying to sit in knows. The trouble is that these are the people who you need to be around to progress beyond that basic level.

    Find the jazz groups in your area, listen to what they are playing and learn the backbone of that music inside out. After you have that down - I mean make sure you know the changes, melody, feel etc without hesitation, then let people around know you would like to sit in. Find every jam session you can and listen plenty and hang around enough that people know your face as a regular - keep coming back, eventually look for an opportunity to play. Pay attention to the other players as much as possible when you do get a chance to play.

    You will screw up at least sometimes - don't quit (I did - BIG mistake, it does not get easier to come back later)

    Use a teacher who will hook you up with other students and people you know who are just coming up to form your own groups but know that you need interaction with more seasoned players just the way a child needs to hear and speak with adults when learning to understand and speak. If there is not a good jazz secen where you are, you may have to travel to find it.

    This is all the stuff that my original teacher told me almost from day one. Hope it is some help.

  13. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    SOOZE - I'm only responding to the sense that I'm getting from KRAZYKAT, which is (by way of analogy) that he only wants to learn how to speak French because he thinks it's going make him a better public speaker. I'm saying the only reason to learn how to speak French is because you want to say stuff in French.

    If indeed it his most fervent desire to learn to express himself in French, then the path you outline ain't bad.
  14. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    New York, NY

    If you ask really broad questions like "How do I start playing jazz?" you'll get a lot of differing opinions as well as a lot of people trying to start a pissing contest as to who's the baddest cat on the forum. Specific theory questions work on forums, but for the big questions, find a good teacher.

  15. ryco


    Apr 24, 2005
    Don't fret.

    Here is a little program that may help you in your quest to speak French :kidding:

    Vol #1; Jazz: How to Play and Improvise.

    I agree with Ed inasmuch* there is no music hierarchy. I wish Aebersold would have called his book "Music: How to....." There isn't a jazz A and a rock A and a classical A - there's just A.

    If you wish to learn and play different styles then listen to those styles. But no, it won't make you mo' "better". More versatile maybe.

    * translated from Old French 'en tant'
  16. tkozal

    tkozal Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2006
    New York City
    Dan Haerle's Book "the Jazz Language" is what I recommend if you want to, um speak french, I mean Jazz. Jamey Aebersold books sells it. It was used in the Duquesne U jazz course for years, I have bought numerous copies and given them away.

    If you have a background in more conventional "western" harmony, this book will help you quickly master the language.

    But it won't get you to actually play thru the changes of Giant Steps at 200 beats per minute (and not playing a figure, please!)

    Rick Lairds book, now out of print was also key to me when I was learning jazz.
  17. tkozal

    tkozal Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2006
    New York City
    I should say study also helps. I didn't study with a jazz bassist, but rather with the Saxophonist Eric Kloss. I learned much more about jazz from him than I would have in a more instrument based study. He actually started his sax students playing bass lines, because they are so essential.

    I learned a huge amount about soloing also.
  18. CWK


    Jun 9, 2005
    South Centeral Pa.
    I think that your question is at best misunderstood by many.I guess that you allready know what jazz sounds like and I'd be surprised if you haven't a pice or two in your mind.If you are asking about structure in general ,well that's an egg fight in the chicken coupe.Study some history.There have been some nice documentrys <sp on the subject (Ken Burns did a good one) also If you get a chance don't listen to Milt Hintons' protography
    and what he has to talk about.Sometimes it pays not to listen to notes but what causes them to happen when they do.
  19. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I would say a big thumbs up to this idea - so I have been going along to Jazz classes at the local University, with a teacher who is an Alto player and these classes have done more to get this stuff in my head than any books - it's mostly practical/playing though - not "sitting down in a classroom" study!

    The other thing as people have said is to get out to local jams and play with other people as much as possible - that's the only way to progress really - you can spend as many hours as there are in the day, sitting in your bedroom practicing and it won't mean anything until you get out and play with other people!! :)
  20. CrazyArcher


    Aug 5, 2004
    I think I've found a precise expression to my thoughts: when my mind is not occupied, I usually come across with a tune and then it tends to develop into something jazzy. I start improvising inside, and it all eventually goes to nowhere, since even if I have my bass in my reach, I can't often play correctly what I have in my head... It makes me mad :crying:
    Of course getting an instructor is the best choice, but I don't have the money for that, and what is worse - jazz scene is undeveloped beyond imagination. There ain't a single club playing jazz in the entire country, and just a handful of people is professionally envolved in it. Even ppl who are noobs like me and want to jam are hard to find. Making analogy with studying French - it's like studying French and having no one to talk to. It means that I'm gonna be a bedroom player at least for a while, so I need advise what can be done in such a case.