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Jazz basics

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Dirtyslappopper, Nov 10, 2002.

  1. I'm a fairly decent rock/slap bass player, but i recently joined a band who strictly jazz. I jumped at the opportunity cuz these guys are good and it's going well. i'm having a little trouble writing good lines though. If any one could give me some pointers on jazz lines it would be much appreciated.
  2. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Get yourself a fake book (or an authorized Real Book) and learn the chord changes of every song in it. Repeat.
  3. TJC


    Jun 28, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Grittygrasshopper -

    You could always run a simple search on this here site. Or you could look here.
  4. James S

    James S

    Apr 17, 2002
    New Hampshire

    Can I assume that when you say "jazz lines", you mean walking bass lines?

    If you are wanting to learn to "walk" there are many approaches. Do you have a teacher who plays jazz? Do you have recordings with walking bass?

    Here is a book that illustrates a fundamental approach to Creating Jazz Bass Lines:

  5. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    I agree with James S about getting a book that concentrates on creating jazz basslines. There are several excellent ones. I also agree with the idea to get a "real" or "fake" book of jazz standards. Actually you need both the real/fake books AND a book of jazz bass technique.

    Two excellent books on walking bass lines are:

    "Walking Bass Lines" with CD by Ed Friedland

    "Expanding Walking Bass Lines" with CD by Ed Friedland

    Those are Hal Leonard publications. Start with the first book, of course.

    Another is:

    "The Improvisor's Bass Method" by Chuck Sher. This goes deeply into theory and demonstrates bass lines other than walking. It has many transcribed bass lines and sols by bass greats such as Mingus, Pastorious, La Faro, Chambers and others.

    Another is:

    "Improvising Jazz Bass" by Richard Laird. This has many drills and alengthy discograpgy.

    A more basic one that still has lots of tools to help you is:

    "Mel Bay's Bass Improvising for Upright and Electric" by Earl Gately.

    Another bible of jazz improvisation is:

    "The Jazz Theory Book" by Mark Levine.

    This book is not written primarily for bassists. It might be better to start with a jazz book for basists. But at some point, moving on to the Levine book should prove very helpful to you.

    The fake books will give the structure and chord progressions of commonly played jazz standards, but unless you know some basic jazz theory, you may not know how to construct a bass line for these songs. Use what you learn in the other books to apply to the songs in the fake books.

    Good luck with your jazz band. You have a terrific opportunity now.
  6. TJC


    Jun 28, 2002
    Los Angeles
  7. Thats kinda the problem I dont know much bout jazz so i dont know wut i want to learn. But thx fer the book
  8. Lovebown


    Jan 6, 2001
    Getting a teacher who understands jazz probably wont hurt... Listen to recordings and and try to emulate what the bass player is doing... at first you can try to get the feel for the walking bass, then worry about actual notes...

    Walking bass isn't really something you master over night. It takes lots of practice .. it will take a sh*tload of hard work to learn well...

    Good luck,
  9. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    You may already know some of the important basics. All you need to do is learn how to put them into a jazz context. You say you are a fairly decent slapper. That means you must know chords and some scales.

    What you may or may not know is the 12 bar blues structure. You may not know modes. Also, you may not have the jazz "feel" which may be different than the funk or whatever you have been playing.

    My guess is that you are not certain as to where to begin because you may feel you have to know everything all at once. That's why it is good to have a book if you can't find or afford a teacher. Start where the book starts. (Dah! That sounds really like a dumb thing to say, doesn't it!:) The reason I say it, is that each jazz book is organized somewhat differently, but they do all have a progressive, orderly plan of study.

    Most start with intervals, move to scales, move to chords, then rhythm, then modes or chord substitutions or a variation of that order. Along the way, they show you how to construct various basslines applying what they have explained. It is good to know walking basslines, but not all jazz songs have a walking line.

    The one thing I can tell you is that you won't learn it all in one week or even a few months. But if you work steadily at it, you should make steady progress over time. Get your band mates to help you. Thye might even be willing to suggest some basslines you can play at first until you learn how to devise your own.

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