Jazz Bass Instruction

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by baktothebassics, Aug 18, 2004.

  1. Contrary to what most 17 year olds are listening to I am really into jazz and funk. I have only been playing bass for about 6 weeks, but I am pretty set on making my schools jazz band for this year. I have played mostly funk so far and I am a little clueless on music to work on for the tryout. Can you guys give me some tips or recomend any excersizes for me to work on. My instructer is gone so I am pretty much on my own for a while.


    And if it matters I am going to be playing a 5 String Jazz bass
  2. Whafrodamus


    Oct 29, 2003
    Andover, MA
    Learn to read music? Contrary to what you think, A lot of 17 year olds listen to jazz. I know zillions.
  3. Zillions eh? I wish I could say that.

    Ed Friedland's book "Building Walking Bass Lines" is a great place to start if you can read bass clef. He starts very simple and gradually becomes more complex without getting too crazy. He uses changes from standard tunes as his examples. If you have only 6 weeks of playing bass under your belt, you'll want to play some scales too, to build some technique. (I'm assuming that your teacher got you started with the basics.) I'd also recommend getting some CDs with Paul Chambers, Ray Brown, or Rufus Reid on bass to hear examples of a great walking basslines. Listen to them continuously.

    For your audition, pick a standard tune like Satin Doll, blues changes, or "rhythm changes" and play a solid line, in time, that swings without dropping the changes and you will be fine. Your line doesn't have to be very complex to swing either. You might use some of the lines that Ed has written out in his book.

    Good luck!
  4. keltik


    Aug 17, 2004
    ditto on Mr. Friedlands book.....i have a copy but i can't read bass cleff :meh: ......fortunately i do have a copy of GuitarPro.....so i took all the notes and made tabs.....pay close attention to the notes and flats and naturals etc and you can come out with something accurate and easier to digest.....but since you're still in school and taking music classes i strongly urge you to learn and keep reading music.....i'm having to relearn now after not reading music in ten years :scowl: (shame on me!)......but i too liked jazz at a young age (and still do)......good luck kiddo
  5. JohnBarr


    Mar 19, 2004
    Central NY
  6. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    If you're going with a book, I firmly believe that Rufus Reid's "The Evolving Bassist" pretty much blows every other one out of the water, particularly Friedland's.


    1) Check out "The Evolving Bassist."
    2) Buy a Real Book, in bass clef, and learn the melodies to as many songs as you can.
    3) Buy a Real Book, in bass clef, and practice walking bass lines using ideas and concepts your teacher has given you in the past, ideas and concepts from Reid in "The Evolving Bassist," and ideas and concepts which to come to you naturally and sound pleasing.
    4) Check out the Jamey Aebersold collection of play-along CDs and books.
    5) Read as many threads in the DB section on walking bassline construction as humanly possible.
    6) Play jazz, all the time, every day.
    7) Transcribe.
    8) (And this should be #1). Play and practice scales and arpeggios.

    Now, understandably, this is a lot for someone who hasn't been playing long. A lot of these concepts will be difficult. I'd love to assist you in person, but I'm here in San Francisco, so that won't work. I encourage you to explore the list I've provided, and ask questions as they come up, as often as possible. We like jazz theory questions. We really do.

    Good luck to you sir.
  7. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    I agree here. I read Friedland's book, but Reid's book explains much more. I am in the process of working through it, and it is challenging, but it is much more holistic in it's approach to applying the bass to Jazz.

    You can spend years just working through this single book.
  8. Jazzbo,

    I agree with you that the Evolving Bassist book is far more comprehensive than the Friedland book, but based on the original question, I thought the Friedland book would be a little less intimidating for someone who has very little experience with the electric bass and would help baktothebassics in achieving his short term goals. It seemed like Friedland's approach was geared toward helping rock bass players who wanted to play some jazz to get started and wasn't meant to be anything other than that. For someone who is very serious about learning jazz, I would also recommend the Mark Levine books from Sher publishing (The Jazz Theory Book and The Jazz Piano Book - They are awesome!) as well as Rufus Reid's book.

    BTW, you gave some great advice in points 1-8. :)

    My $.02 worth based on 15 years of playing jazz piano and bass.
  9. I'm a 17 year old (well just nearly 18) who's really into jazz and funk. See?
  10. That's great! Stick with it!
  11. Matt Ides

    Matt Ides

    May 12, 2004
    Minneapolis, MN
    + 1

    can't o wrong with it on electric or upright.