I'm not alowed to stop!

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by Rob Knight, Jul 3, 2005.

  1. Help! I'm just starting out in the most important job in the world.

    I want to be a jazz bass player.

    I 'know' a few standards, the melodies. But how do I start to fulfill my duties as a Jazz bassist?

    There's music in my head, but how do I translate that into bass?

    My teacher suggested practice three chord tones then chromatic lead in note to the next bar (ie R 3 5). It works but sometimes feels contrived. It's the first step on a long journey I know, but it seems from here that the other steps are big ones.

    How do I shorten the distance between what I hear and what I play?

  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Sing what you're hearing in your head, then try to play that. I have a saying in my theory classes: "If you can't sing it, don't tell me you're really hearing it, 'cause I ain't buying it". In other words, if you really do have concrete, detailed basslines in your head, you'll be able to sing them. If you can't sing them, then you don't really have them. If you DO have them, then sing them and then figure out how to play them - that's what improvisation IS when you boil it all down. Remember not to be in a hurry. It's a long and beautiful road, and it'll still be there in the morning.

    What it sounds like your teacher is trying to do is to give you some basic tools to get you up and running until your ear can take over. Go with what he is telling you with the understanding that the long term goal is to put the training wheels away. In the meantime, you'll be learning to balance and steer on your own, and that's a good thing. Good luck. :)
  3. rossM


    Jun 27, 2005
    sydney australia
    Your teacher is giving you Good Oil as far as I'm concerned - It really is the place to start - You'd be surprised how much R-3-5 Chromatic ( and variants ) is actually used & sounds great - eg Try a listen to Cannonball Adderly's bass player Sam Jones intro to "Never will I Marry" (on the Classic Cannonball Adderly & Nancy Wilson CBS date ca 1960). Straight up the chord -Tonic 3rd 5th - but with a off beat rhythm . Or try the Paul Chambers intro to Wynton Kelly's version of "Softly as in a Morning sunrise" ( I think it is on a Riverside albumn called Kelly Blue ca1959- Straight up the minor chord to the Octave & down again -but with a skip in the rhythm- Or the bass line used in the intro to MIles & Cannonball's "Autumn Leaves" -Tonic 3rd, 5th, 6th 5th of the dominant . There is nothing contrived about anything these guys did . Rember the definition of swing -" 2 notes in succession played by Paul Chambers" .

    There are a million things to do in a jazz bassline - but the band needs to hear the right roots thirds and sevenths, and the right time. A great book for getting down good jazz basslines is Rufus Reid's Evolving Bassist . I reackon if I could get everthing from that book in my head & under my fingers (and with good intonation) I would be a useful bassplayer !
  4. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    My input would be to really understand what the traditional role of your instrument. My first pro gigs were with a Czech polka band, and some time spent playing a similar music (from a bass perspective -- Dixieland, bluegrass, etc.) where you aren't allowed a lot of linear diversion will show you what your number one job is -- and that's laying down the groove and the fundamental of the harmony. This is what the job of 'Jazz Bassist' is about, in essence. I point this out particularly because you made no mention of this in your original question.

    The next tid bit that I would offer is to follow your teacher's advice (as mentioned by the others) and get your 'functional' bass lines happening and get them swinging. The creative part comes as you near mastery, inch by inch. And don't let my last sentence dissuade you -- because you never really feel like a master -- for more than a night, anyhow. The masters are always the ones that amaze you.
  5. rossM


    Jun 27, 2005
    sydney australia
    Just an addendum/clarification - I think the bassplayer onthe Miles/Cannonball recording of Autumn Leaves was Percy Heath . From memory they play it in Gm - the tune starts on Cm - the bass & piano double a riff which is straight up the Cm chord (with the 6th thrown in as an quaver with the 5th). It does not sound contrived - but it is basically a variation on t 3 5 .
  6. I've just read my original post and it sounds like a whinge from an impatient four year old :bawl:

    That'll teach me to post after half a bottle of red.

    I trust that my teacher knows how to set me going on the right road. I think my problem is that the rest of the journey is shrouded in a fog of much less tangible ideas.

    Chris, can't argue with your definition of improvising. I'll add playing what I sing to my practice routine.

    RossM, I've got Rufus' book and DVD, there's loads of good stuff in there and I dip in when I get through my Simandl exercises and the stuff my teacher gives me. I think I should have used another word instead of contrived. I'll get the records you suggest, hearing it in context will help.

    Ray, I don't know what it is about Jazz but I seem to forget the basics. I do need to keep the role in mind, it's really the same job I do on BG in other genres. I don't lose sleep over playing roots, thirds, and fifths in a rock tune.

    On reflection what I wanted to know from you guys is that I can get where I want to go by taking similarly small steps (and a whole lot of practice), and that there won't be a huge conceptual gulf somewhere along the way that only a gifted few can cross.

    Thanks again. I'll refrain from any more late night posting.

  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    You were right first time!! ;) My CD of Somethin' Else, definitely says Sam Jones on bass!
  8. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    There's an awful lot going on in jazz, and it's easy to get side tracked like dat.

    Time in, enjoyment out.

  9. Jeremy Allen

    Jeremy Allen Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2002
    Bloomington, IN
    The Cm6 chord has a great old-fashioned sound in this instance. Play that lick when you do this tune onstage--chances are the pianist or guitarist will chuckle and play it right back at you.

    Your question reminds me of an exercise my old teacher gave me for learning to do what you want to do: practice playing chord tones on beats one and three (in 4/4 time) and non-chord tones on beats two and four. In a major chord, consider the chord tones to be 1, 3, 5, and 6, with the non-chord tones 2, 4, 7, and all of the possible chromatic passing tones. Turn on your metronome and play two-bar phrases with this in mind (i.e., start on the tonic note but don't play it again until two bars have passed, on the downbeat of the third bar). It's also great to play four-bar phrases and, of course, three and five and everything else. You may notice that playing the so-called major "bebop" scale straight up and down yields this result (1-2-3-4-5-#5-6-7-1).
    You can actually be very creative in this exercise, unlike in many others. Make sure to allow yourself to play a wide variety of intervals at the same time--don't just limit yourself to scalar passages (although that's, of course, a good place to start). And don't forget to break the rule of the exercise often by jumping from 1 straight to 3 (above or below) and then playing your way back on track to the weak beat/ strong beat, chord-tone/non-chord-tone track.
  10. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    San Francisco, CA
    I'm thinking that learning to play jazz is kinda like being born again as a hawk or bird or something. The entire journey is really foggy. In the beginning it seems like you need alot of help and don't ever seem to get anywhere. The more you play the faster you grow but it still kinda seems to not really go anywhere. The next thing you know, you're trying to fledge. In the fleeting moments where one of my solo's seem to come to together, it feels like I'm flying or floating for a brief instant before a "mistake" makes me come down. The more I try, the more hang-time I can get. But by no means am I flying yet, unlike the other guys in this thread who are doing loops and soaring and stuff. Beyond that, I have no idea where this endeavour is going to go. And being in a hurry to jump over the edge of the nest prematurely doesn't help either (i.e. being in a hurry to play "good"). But progress seems to just move forward somehow, in a really foggy way.

    Just rambling....
  11. This is what I had hoped to be the case.

    And once again thank you all for taking the time to post replies to my outburst. I don't know that I would have been as gracious with the shoe on the other foot.

    This really is a very special corner of the web.
  12. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    We're all in this together...
  13. nicklloyd

    nicklloyd Supporting Member/Luthier

    Jan 27, 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    "We're all in this together... I'm pullin' for ya." -Red Green