improv teacher in LA?

Discussion in 'Music Theory [DB]' started by Tom Lane, Apr 18, 2012.

  1. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member

    I've spent most of the last 4 years learning to read charts out of the Real Book without issue, but I've neglected soloing. It's not that I'm terrible, but I'm not good either. I can usually avoid dissonant notes but my solos tend to sound, kind of simple. Can anyone recommend a good bass teacher in the LA area for bass improv? Much thanks in advance.
  2. LouisF

    LouisF Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    Michael Saucier, teachers at the Musicians Institute. PM me for his email

  3. Have you considered doing a summer session at MI? I used to work there (not as a teacher), and just being around those cats was very cool.
  4. I listen more to melody instruments (mostly woodwinds and brass) what they play and how they improvise, reduce the "doodle" a bit (i mean playing less notes, reduced to the kernel of the line) if needed and play a bit higher up to thump position.
    I think Michael Moore's book "Melodic playing in the thump position" gives some nice examples of soloing up there.

    One thing is not playing around the root and fifth mainly but around third, seventh, nineth etc., the other thing is to play rhythmically interesting speeding up, slowing down (i.e. using triplets, 3 on 4 or 2 on 3) not necessarily on heavy beats but also or rather in between. (Depends on the style of your song.)
    I like to take a beat almost nobody would start a solo and some strange note and try to develop from there. This doesn't work every time, but if it works the solos are really interesting. But better try this at home first. (A bit like some Thelonious Monk stuff, but not necessarily bebopish.)
  5. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member

    Thanks to all for replying and particularly DoubleMIDI. I very much appreciate your suggestions and think I'm already there. I typically start my solos on the 3rd, 7th, or 9th and try to make a simple melody line from there. That's why I don't absolutely suck, but it's still not Miles or Parker, or, fill-in-your-jazz-great-brilliant. Still, I really appreciate the time you took to recommend a starting place. I'll PM the MI guys and check them out.

    I've started using guide tones more and I've been playing through a lot of bebop tunes on my guitar to try to get the sounds in my head, and I've been playing through some quote-unquote great solos, and, I've even resorted to writing out a quick solo in Band-in-a-Box. I think all of these things are helping and the band tells me I'm doing *okay* on soloing. But, it ain't nothing like the beboppers I usually play with, which is still kind of frustrating. Still, I'm making progress and I have hope! So thanks to all of you for your suggestions!
  6. The bass is different from the higher melodic instruments. You cannot play as fast as the winds can, the dynamic range (if you want to be heard) is smaller, etc.
    Make the best out of it being different, so play different. Then your improvisation will have a different quality and you don't have to compete with the wind players.

    I listened to a lot of music and could sing (or hum) a solo that sounds similar to (but different enough to) a solo from one of the well known or not so well known greats (but I'm not interested in copying them only use what comes in my mind). For some reason that doesn't work with music by Cecil Taylor or Anthony Braxton... (for me of course!)
    I try to put on the bass what I have in my head, often enough not being able to play it due to my lousy technique, so I try to simplify it a bit. But for me what is in my head is OK to play. So maybe it is not a problem of technique or notes but of imagination?

    You can learn a lot of playing bebop by playing the themes and look where lines start and end (in many cases not in the begin of the bar crossing harmony changes). The themes are close to improvisations (many of them were born out of improvisation on older standards), so practive them. Use wind players solo transcriptions and play them, maybe a bit simplified. Then try to play similar stuff improvised.
    You might want to look in some solo transcriptions of bebop bass players like Oskar Pettiford and others too or make your own transcriptions on recordings of bass solos.

    Have a look at the program "Impro-Visor" and the forum on Yahoo. They have a lot of transcription there and you can do your own and check them playing them with the program (a bit like band in a box, but simpler and free). If you are lucky they even have bass solo transcriptions (I haven't looked into the transcriptions yet.) Put your own bass solo transcriptions in the library to give something back to the community.

    I think you won't learn a lot with Michael Moore's book. From what I read you already got that. I could learn a bit more on fingering in the thump position with it.
  7. I can personally recommend Tim Emmons and Jennifer Leitham; John Clayton and Derek Oles have excellent reputations. I expect that whoever your favorite LA bassist is, they'll teach if the scheduling works.
  8. Also, since you're in Torrance, you could try my friend Derek Bomback (Derek Bomback). He's an excellent jazz guitarist, does a lot of teaching, etc.