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Jazzdeck.com? Anyone tried it?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by mpderksen, Apr 8, 2014.

  1. mpderksen


    Oct 10, 2011
    In the new issue of BassPlayer, they mention www.jazzdeck.com. Looks like it could be a fun way to move into Jazz. But has anyone used them? I'm not clear on how they would be actually used. Is it because they give you the notes of a given chord that are "acceptable" for that bar? How is this different from knowing my scales and patterns?
  2. lyla1953


    Jul 18, 2012
    Looks like the middle recommended notes are simply the 5th of each cord tone (1,3,5,7) noted at the top of the card.

    Its a short cut to help with something pretty easy to do on my own. Sometimes I'll practice using just the 3rds of each cord tone to hear how it sounds - which seems to be a similar concept to these cards.

    Personally taking time out to write out these notes - be it 5th or 3rd whatever, helps me stay sharp with me reading - These would make me lazier than I already am.

    I like the idea but the area I could use help with is determining which mode options can be played with each cord. I haven't found a simple answer to than question, yet.
  3. mpderksen


    Oct 10, 2011
    My guess (which is ONLY a guess) is that in Jazz there are more transitions and changes than, say, 12-bar Blues. While it's pretty easy to know options in a few bars of A Maj, I think Jazz tunes can shift a lot more?
    The way I was thinking they would be helpful for me, personally, is that while I've been learning the patterns for the Major, Minor and Blues scales, and I can shift the box to whatever the root is, I am still learning the note names above the 5th fret. I can also site read music on a keyboard, but REALLY struggle with the same thing on a bass. On keyboard, my fingers just go where they need to without a translation step. On bass, I have to look at each note, mentally recognize it, find that note on the fretboard, then play it. Took years to be able to do it smoothly on piano, so I'm not surprised that I can't just DO it on the bass.
    I'm thinking these cards, plus practicing reading some written Jazz lines would be a complementary way to approach improve. At $20, it sounds worth a try.
    Off topic, if anyone knows a good book that has written out Jazz lines, please let me know. I want something that has NO tabs under it. I have a Rock Bass Bible, and it also has the tab, but my eye keeps "cheating" and looking there.

  4. Brian Fox

    Brian Fox

    Aug 23, 2004
    Editor, BASS PLAYER


    John Goldsby's The Jazz Bass Book: Technique and Tradition is a pretty awesome reference.

  5. BrianSwitzer


    Apr 9, 2014
    Hi everybody. My name is Brian Switzer. I created JazzDeck. After teaching middle and high school jazz band in public schools in CA for thirteen years and maintaining an active private studio for over 20 years I created something that I thought was missing from music education. There are dozens - if not hundreds - of fascinating and well written books on jazz theory and ways to approach playing jazz. In my experience, I found that students were spending a tremendous amount of energy trying to wrap their heads around the theory behind the chord changes when what they really wanted to do was PLAY. JazzDeck is my answer to this problem. Players who do not already have a strong grasp on theory can find great enjoyment in experiential learning with JazzDeck, absorbing the theory as they practice. Band directors are incorporating JazzDeck into their classrooms as it allows them to teach theory and soloing exercises to large groups of students without having to spend a great deal of time talking and transposing arpeggios for all the instruments - C, Bb, Eb. "Class, find the red card (for minor) that matches the first chord of the song and turn it over. Let's begin arpeggiating…" etc. I've also found, too, that many fairly advanced students will improvise great solos, but incorporate a fair amount of "wandering" into their solos. This learning tool helps players hear what a solo can sound like when each note is in key, and all of the resolutions are adhered to. I get that JazzDeck is not for everybody. Music is art, after all. JazzDeck can be a valuable and fun way to explore musical concepts. Since coming up with the JazzDeck I have used it in my daily practice and have noticed positive changes in my playing and understanding. PM if you have further questions. Best, Brian Switzer
    jd-ns and Orangeclawhammr like this.
  6. mpderksen


    Oct 10, 2011
    Wow! Nice to "meet" you. While I grew up in the Soquel High Jazz choir (which is in Santa Cruz) so I do have some experience with the art form vocally, I mostly played Classical Piano for most of my life. So I'm strong on reading music on the piano, (though it doesn't translate to a fretboard yet...) and understand a fair amount of theory. A few years ago, I grabbed a bass and found a lot of holes in my music training.
    First, by playing music that was written exclusively (you don't get to make creative changes to a Beethoven Sonata!), I was never taught to be particularly creative with note decisions. I was so locked into doing exactly was was on the paper, I find myself stuck with a fake book.
    Second, being very analytical about EVERYTHING as part of my personality, I overthink what is "correct" rather than what "I" think I like.
    Last, my ear isn't trained at all to be able to replicate something I hear on a track, and have to find a tab to play a riff I like. In fact a lot of time, I can't even hear what is being played to even begin to try and figure it out.
    These are all related, of course, to getting off the paper, while still not wandering off, as you put it.
    Right now, I'm to the point of being able to play a 1-3-5-8 of a given chord for a measure in either Major or Minor. But that's it.
    When there's a song with an important riff that is key to a song, like "Under the Boardwalk", "My City Was Gone" or "Brown-Eyed Girl" I look up the tab rather than figure it out on my own. I currently use Ultimate Tabs and Songster.
    My interest in JazzDeck is to use it as a tool to make my playing more than just roots when I am hit with a chord sheet. Especially since there is a weekly Jazz jam night that I'd love to be confident enough to sit in on. I want to be able to walk around, not just thump out the root. If I play a 12-bar blues tune, I have only one pattern that I follow, so it always sounds the same, and not terribly fun after a while.
    My assumption is that I'd get an mp3 of a song, get the chord changes for it and lay out the cards that correspond to the ones on the paper, and then just play along. The cards give me the notes that will "fit" in that bar and I can simply experiment as long as I stick to the ones listed?
    It seems that this would also improve my knowledge of the names of the notes at each fret. It won't teach me to read bass clef lines from the paper, but that is a separate skill, right?
    Sorry for the long-winded post, but I'm trying to give enough background to tap into the experience here so I can improve.
  7. experimental bassist

    experimental bassist

    Mar 15, 2009
    Looks good, thanks for sharing.

    And thanks for checking in Brian, that means a lot.
  8. 1dreday


    Nov 22, 2009
    I have them i love em
  9. SBassman


    Jun 8, 2003
    Northeast, US
    Hungerford's Walking Jazz book has no tab, and it stresses thinking in intervals. I think it's great.
  10. SBassman


    Jun 8, 2003
    Northeast, US
    Bill Harrison of the excellent PlayJazzNow site talking about Jazzdeck:

  11. There is a series of books by Steven Mooney that I think are really good: Blues in 12 keys, Rhythm Changes in 12 Keys, Standards, and Building a 12 key Facility. All of them originally were standard notation only, although I think there are tab versions now too. They aren't easy, but the lines are really good, and I feel like my playing improved after working through them. [/derail]
  12. Amplified


    Jan 19, 2014
    What a great idea. Just ordered two sets.