Jazz bass lines books

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Nivaca, Jul 5, 2005.

  1. Nivaca


    Jan 8, 2005
    Can anybody recommend me some good books on creating jazz bass lines (walking bass)?
    I've tried the following but have found them quite disappointing:

    * “I'm Walking” - Jäcki Reznicek
    * “The Ray Brown Bass Book”
    * “Creating Jazz Bass Lines” - Jim Stinnett
    * “Jazz Bass Compendium” - Sigi Busch
    * “The Bass Line Galore” - Vocal Jones

  2. How have they been disappointing? Knowing how these haven't helped might enable folks to connect you with something that might be what you are looking for.
  3. Nivaca


    Jan 8, 2005
    Well, these books contain plenty of examples, but no theory on how to construct walking bass lines. For example, if you are moving from Dm to G7 in two measures you can take this or that approach.
  4. Andrew Jones

    Andrew Jones Banned

    Feb 28, 2001
    Northampton Mass
    Get Friedland's Books if thats the Aprroach that works for you

  5. larry

    larry Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2004
    Do you have a teacher? If you don't, that could be the issue. You'll probably figure out what you're trying to learn eventually, but a good teacher can help get you there soooo much faster.
  6. Pcocobass


    Jun 16, 2005
    New York
    I like Mike Richmond's walking bass line book. He doesn't say "use this pattern over this chord, etc.," but the book starts with a relatively simple blues bass line that becomes progressively more difficult. So, if you pay the crap out of the lines and memorize them, you'll automatically learn a lot of great material and solid lines that you can super-impose in your own walking.

    Also, each subsequent bass line adds a new rhythmic device, like anticipations, triplets, etc., so it's great for learning some variety.

    The lines are also great if you play them slowly with the metronome as an exercise for time feel and sound/intonation.

    I would also recommend that you transcribe some bass lines. In my opinion, this is the best way to learn. If your working on Autumn Leaves, for instance, transcribe Ray Brown or Paul Chambers playing a few choruses.

    Hope this helps...
  7. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    Listen to 500-1000 records of Ray Brown, Paul Chambers, Red Mitchell and all you can find of other greats as well recorded between 1940 and 1970. Do not bother with the modern Flashy guys to learn walking. Flying comes much much later just like 'Flute' playing does. If you cant learn from Rays' book, then you have another problem all together.

    If you really wanna learn, you have to study. Feel and note placement is NOT in any book. Then you have to Jam with guys, sit in, gig, and practice your butt off till things start to sink in.
  8. Nivaca


    Jan 8, 2005
    I don't like Ray's book for many reasons. It has some serious typesetting mistakes. For example, on page 103 the 3rd blues line (in Bb) is written as for treble clef (but is in bass clef). Another reason is that it's a very basic book, in the sense that it begins with fundamentals, but keeps out very important information (like fingerings where they are needed). Finally, it's a compendium of hundreds of repetitive exercises with no backing up theory.

    Hope I'm not offending anybody out there. :bag:
  9. larry

    larry Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2004
    No book can be all things to all people. I used to search for "the book" that would suddenly make a difference. Each of us could probably name the book that was most helpful to us, but I'll bet it played a very small role in your overall path to where you are now.

    Books are great when you are already doing what Ken said. If you are not at a level where you can jam with other players, you should probably be finding a teacher.
  10. Pcocobass


    Jun 16, 2005
    New York
    You're not gonna get better advice that that...
  11. msw


    Aug 21, 2003
    I found that book (R.B. Bass Method) and still do, to be an incredible source for well-constructed (blues) basslines and patterns useful both in lines and soloing. If they are internalized, which requires a LOT of work and patience(and in many cases a good teacher), they serve as a great model in helping to solve any bassline construction problems you may encounter in the realm of diatonic sraight-ahead bass playing.
    What Ken has reccomended can't be stated any better....he is right, records are a key source of information and I think self-discoverd information tends to stick longer and deeper.
    There is no denying it; the type of thing you are after (all of us are after) isn't easy and there isn't just one book or exercise that will provide a faster way to learn it. I know that every Israel Crosby, Ray Brown and P.C. line I've written out took me a long time, gave me a wealth of insightand I'm still using those lines to this day. I hope any of this might help.
  12. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Yeaaah, but....

    It's like someone who wants to write: novels, poems, what-have-you. That person has to read a lot: to acquire vocabulary, to soak up real grammar, to get a feel for composition, to see what's strong and what's weak.

    But then that person has to write.

    You're going to have to try and do something with all that stuff you're listening to. Play along, analyze, see if you can see that book-learning stuff in what the pro player is doing on the record.

    It's an interactive thing. Listen, do, think, learn -- it's all happening at once but if you're doing it right you're moving in a direction you like.

    As useful and excellent as many of them are, don't expect to find any magic formulas in books. There are lots of different ways to understand music: every musician has a slightly different set of mental models they use to grok what they do.

    And really (this is not an order or a knee-jerk response, just something I've learned to be true) a good teacher is waaaay more interactive than any book and can adapt ideas, concepts and methods to your brain and your stage of development.
  13. Pcocobass


    Jun 16, 2005
    New York
    Also good advice, Damon.
  14. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    Well, the one that you didn't list that seems to be obligatory is Rufas Ried's. The truth is that I didn't find "that book" either and went through a few. I agree with you about Ray Brown's book. I think Ray Brown is maybe the best of all times at walking lines, but I don't think that his book was all that helpful or well edited. I still work exercises out of his book and Rufas Ried's and there's nothing wrong with them, but they didn't teach me how to walk lines.

    So the two pieces of advice that you're getting are good and typical:

    1) Get a good teacher
    2) Transcribe everything

    But I respect that there may be reasons why each poses obstacles. With the former, good teachers can be hard to find and bad teachers aren't the answer. With the later, it's freaking hard. Hard to hear bass distinctly on some of my favorite jazz recordsm, hard not to be distracted by the trumpet or whatever you ear is supposed to be drawn to and just hard to do. While I do believe that transcribing is essential, I think that it's a bad barrier to entry for people who can play somewhat, but are really trying to learn. "Transcribe everything and then you'll know how to do it" is a non-starter for a lot of people. Again, it's not bad advice, but it may not be the right or the only first step.

    So, you should should still do 1 and 2 above, but there is some theory that can help too. I was a learn by theory and practice guy and then applied the other things after the fact (now). Not to say that that's right, just that it's how I and some % of others learn.

    What specifically are you struggling with? Feel free to PM me if you'd rather. I don't know if I know anything that you don't, but would be glad to make a few suggestions that helped me.

  15. FredH

    FredH Supporting Member

    The Jazz Bass Book: Technique and Tradition - John Goldsby
    Has a nice collection of walking riffs/patterns. They seem to be all in the same keys so you can focus on the relitive tone progressions then you can move the riffs to whatever key you want.
    I agree that the Ray Brown book is largly a excersise book but there is some great stuff there. I have really learned a lot about 10th patterns which was imediatly applicable to performance. And you got to love the pictures.
  16. I have to say... first and foremost... that I feel as if jazz cannot be learned out of a book... kind of like a forign language... at my school when i took forign language, I was told "to really grasp the concept of the language, you must submerse yourself into it, and force yourself to learn" (for example, going to france, and not knowing whats going on, so you have to try to speak in french)

    so you should be able to guess what you should do.... LISTEN! find some recordings by ray brown, and bunker down.. listen to the songs constantly, not necicarly allways listening to the bass, but to the group as a whole... learn the basses role in the group... learn how he helps the other players... thats what its all about...

    now to answer your question about dm to g7... lets see... theres just about.... a million... try out lining the chords with apessios... get the feel for the sound... thats what your trying to outline... you could be basic, and just play, DDAADDAA|GGDDGGDD... really easy.. but to ouline the chord... (which if you haddent guessed, is one of the bassplayers roles) it would be good to add some more chord tones... so lets see here... DFACCAFD|GBDFFDBG thats what is called a chordular approach

    heres a scalar one


    heres one with what you would call chromaticism... this is where you add a note, not neccisarily in the scale, to help it sound like your moving to another chord change...

    we'll start scalar

    D E F G A B A Ab | G

    see how much smoother that feels? what you want to be able to do as a bassist, is to lead chords into others, make lines that dont jump around... and an easy way to learn, would be to just listen and transcribe basslines that ray brown played, or other jazz bassists...
    if your begining to walk lines, i would definitely suggest blues, but it sounds like youre a bit past that....

    good luck, and if you have any more questions, just ask, and you can have my oppinion..
  17. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    If you play the 1st 3 quarter notes as chord tones and the fourth quarter note as a leading tone (1/2 step or whole step) to the next chord you'll generally have a good sounding, functional bass line. From there just listen to the greats and refine your approach.

    If notes and fingerings are tripping you up then finding a good teacher that can put you through some basic classical training or show you an organized approach to scales will remedy that.
  18. SteveC


    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    Get Ed's books. I use them with great success. My freshman was the alternate at All State this year.
  19. Ed Friedland's 'Building walking bass lines' books come with CDs of the exercises in the book, but not all of them are notated, you have to transcribe them before you play them. The bass is nice and clear so it's pretty easy to get going with transcribing.

    Books are great to dip into for variety but I learn 10 times as much in an hour with my teacher then a week plodding through exercises in books.
  20. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    To the OP...

    Maybe what your looking for is not in a book. If you've digested the books listed, attempted to apply what you've read and can't still figure out various ways to go from a Dm7 to a G7..., no offense, but I think you have a problem. The Jim Stinnett book is a good one for the basics, but no book is the be all and the end all.

    What Ken Smith says is on the money, listen to a lot of stuff by the masters, then get out there and play with other people, record what you've plaved and critically listen to it, wash, rinse, repeat.