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Improvising Solo's

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by David Abrams, Apr 3, 2003.

  1. 1) What do others recommend for beginners to work on learning to play jazz bass solo's?

    2) How do more advanced bassists here work on practicing to improve one's jazz solo playing?
  2. I am starting to work on this. Where I am starting is by writing down melodies in my head, transcribing some horn solos, and stuff like that. But I am literally at the beginning of this road, I've never been much of a soloist, but I want to learn.
  3. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    Familiarity with what your are playing i.e. hearing it is going to make a world of difference on how you sound playing over a tune. I would recommend learning a tune fully, i.e. commit the changes, melody and lyrics if they exist to memory, and then analyze the tune for tonal center changes so that you have a point to start from. Even if you know all of the scales you can play over the chords you still have to come up with something to say. Ideally your own statement. After doing that, I would play over the tune over and over again and record it and listen to it no matter how painful it is, and believe me it's painful. :D I would also listen to how others play over the tune, all of the players, listening for stylistic stuff as much as trying to figure out what they're playing. It's painstaking and hard work, I still find it difficult to listen to a good 80% of what I play on a solo, but on a rare occassion there's something I like, which makes me try to improve my average. :D
  4. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    Sing what you hear, then play what you sing.
  5. You said it, Chris(t).

    ThereĀ“s not much to add, except that everybody who plays anything should do it.

  6. James S

    James S

    Apr 17, 2002
    New Hampshire

    I teach improvisation to bassists of all levels. While their success depends mostly on their desire and ability to practice here are some pointers.

    I assume you do not mean "beginner" to bass playing but rather beginner to jazz? While anyone at any level can improvise, to improvise in a jazz style / language takes quite a bit of control over the instrument.

    Simply start by learning a standard song thouroughly. i.e. bass line, melody, harmonize to the melody, chords played as guide tones (3rd & 7th of each chord).

    Now for most "beginners" in jazz the challenge is to play these elements of the song in time and in tune. It is not enough to just understand. If you can't play the melody, harmony, bass line, chords, then you DON'T know them.

    A common mistake beginners make is in practicng improvising instead of practicing the elements you will use when improvising. Rhythm is often the weakest element in a students improvisation. "It don't mean a...swing."

    End of lesson one.

    A. Transcription.
    B. Hear changes. (play on piano)
    C. Prepared licks. (ex. ii-V-I patterns)
    D. Call & response with a friend.
    C. Listen to great players.
    D. Listen to great players.
    E. Listen to great players.
    F. Listen to great players.
    G. Immulate them

    End of a few years of practice.
  7. To Ed Fuqua, I am studying with Wei Sheng Lin, a talented jazz/classical bassist from Taiwan. And yes, I had met Marty Rivera. I loved the way he used to play (and occasionally even dance a little) with Junior Mance and others years ago. When he played the Ampeg baby bass, it was so little that he would really dance with it, when he felt the urge. I am basically a beginner and I am working on the basic elements of bass playing (i.e., Simandl, playing melodies, and trying to play simple walking lines). As a beginning for improvisation, I am just using simple folksongs and simple jazz tunes. I find the simple folksongs easier to try improving to, because the melodies are an ingrained thing from my childhood, such as "Just a Closer Walk With Thee" or even "Auld Lang Synne".

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