Learning jazz where to even start??

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by cire113, Jul 25, 2009.

  1. cire113


    Apr 25, 2008
    I want to learn jazz.. But it seems so overwhelming

    I got the building walking bass lines book ..

    Im gonna pick up a real book...

    and listen to a bunch of jazz records...

    Will i be able to learn jazz from just listening to it all day and trying to play along with it?

    Should i look at the chord charts or just try to do it all by ear?

    Jazz is very confusing and has alot of chord changes any suggestions?

    The bass just seems like all random chaos to me but i know theres structure
  2. Start to transcribe walking bass lines from jazz records. A nice easy one to start with is Miles' "Blue Haze," with Percy Heath on bass. It's a blues with a bit of a jazz turnaround at the beginning.

    Also, right out all the seventh chords in C Major. Arrange them so they move in fourths from CMaj7 to CMaj7. Now right out the 'numbers' of the chords (i.e. FMaj7 = IV, Amin7 = vi). Lowercase letters are used for minor chords, uppercase for major.

    After that, you will need to right out the 3rd & 7th of each of these chords (in the movement of fourths), labeling them. There will be a pattern created between these notes, that is quite astonishing. These are called Guide Tones, and are used in jazz improvisation often.

    Note: The movement between B and F will be an augmented fourth to remain completely diatonic.
  3. Richard Sabines

    Richard Sabines

    Sep 25, 2007

    Do you want to drink something?:D
  4. The best piece of (very simple) advice I got about Jazz bass is that the "bassist is the Time Keeper". Playing 1/4 notes with the right feel is gonna work better than trying to throw in all the crazy chord extensions etc...

    Yeah, you should learn all the scales and arpeggios you can to build a vocabulary... but with walking Jazz Bass it really boils down to playing with the right feel. Some guys can make simple lines sound great!
  5. ryco


    Apr 24, 2005
    Here is a good book to start helping you out. Cheap! ;)

    This has a lot of good info -- free! :cool:
  6. Rudreax


    Jun 14, 2008
    New York, NY
    Listen to as much jazz as you can. Immerse yourself with jazz and it's culture. Find some cats that play jazz, start jamming with them, and start learning from them (i.e. get a jazz teacher).
  7. mstott25

    mstott25 Supporting Member

    Aug 26, 2005
    Guntersville, AL
    When I first got interested in playing jazz a good pianist told me to go out and find Todd Coolman's book, the Bottom Line. It's the only book I'd ever need, said he. He was pretty much right on.

    Coolman's book was great but I have to tell you I checked out Ed Fuqua's Walking Bassics some time last year and I honestly feel like it's the best book out there. It's a whopping $22 and it comes with a CD (Coolman's book has no music). Ed will explain to you what the bass player is doing (it won't seem so random to you anymore) and he'll take you through all of the steps you need to understand to start coming up with your own lines. Plus you can transcribe his lines and see what he's doing over what chord progressions and understand why. I think for a beginner that's better than just picking up a random jazz CD and starting to transcribe.

    Once you work through Ed's book and start figuring things out, he'll recommend some recordings to listen to. I'd start by transcribing Ed's lines and then move on to the list he recommends.

    By the way, Ed Fuqua's book is published by Sher Music Co. which is where you want to go for books on jazz instruction.
  8. Lol, I'm just trying to help him. That's how I started learning jazz, and I still use the things I learned from then now.
  9. fish slapper

    fish slapper

    Nov 17, 2005
    Newberg, OR
    two things that got me up and running:

    1. take lessons. there are standards that can help you get started with your Jazz chops and a teacher will help you through these.

    2. find a jam with players just a little better than you. Too far advanced and they won't be patient. too easy and you won't learn anything.

    Good luck!
  10. cire113


    Apr 25, 2008
    all the real/standard books are pretty much the same right? ...

    I was going to pick up just a random real book..

    On side note thakns for that website bassplace.com.. Holy god im gonna order like 10 books and be busy all year :) ...
  11. mrniceguy715


    May 2, 2006
    What my bass teacher had me to do first was to talk my real book and just play out all the chords from the songs without hearing the whole song. did that for a while just to get used to reading the charts and getting comfortable with playing the scales and arpegios without constantly changing position. Then do it faster with the same accuracy then learn the tunes. Working well so far
  12. I played blues, rock and funk for about 15 years before I began to "study" music and jazz in particular. During that time I got very good just faking everything and using my ear.Find the one and go with it. I than took Music theory and Jazz improvisation classes in a community college. Priceless. The theory allowed me to learn the language of what I already knew through years of ear training..and the practice methods to explore further. The jazz improv class was outstanding. We had around 20 instrumentalist and a few vocalist, and constantly jammed jazz standards and took turns improvising under the instruction of an brilliant Sax player, Clifford W. Waits, professional gigging musician and teacher out of Portland. It was pretty advanced and I'm glad I had the theory to work from...but I consider it to be an absolutely invaluable experience. I recommend finding good instruction and playing partners immediately. If I had done this 20 years ago, there is no telling what I may have accomplished by now.
  13. powerbass


    Nov 2, 2006
    western MA
    You need to have someone help you w/music theory in order to play jazz. A good jazz bass teacher will teach you how to scan a tune and read the key/chord changes and construct bass lines that flow based on an understanding of how the changes, rhythm and melody flow. It may seem daunting at first to learn music theory but if you are patient and disciplined it is very rewarding - it will open your eyes, ears and mind. The most basic jazz chord progression is the ii v 1. Learning to walk(scales and arpeggios) through these changes in every key is a great place to start and will take a good bit of practice. Enjoy
  14. TheFrogPrince


    Jun 4, 2009
    I'm certainly not an expert -I'm still really green at this- but definitley get yourself good instructional material. Either Ed's (Fuqua or Friedland) books will do nicely as will Todd Johnson's fantastic DVDs. I can personally attest to Todd's DVDs and Friedland's books being excellent.

    Learn your theory, especially chord-related stuff like arpeggios, the harmonic minor/chordal scale and the circle of fifths/fourths from all keys. This site http://www.jazclass.aust.com/lessons/jt/jt01.htm is great for explaining theory from the ground-up.

    Also, learn the jazz blues and Autumn Leaves (you'll want to learn other tunes but those are a great start as they cover a lot of ground). Once you learn about five or ten common tunes, work on transposing them to the other keys bit-by-bit. They will teach you most of the usual chord changes. As many pros have said here and elsewhere, if you internalize it, you can play almost any tune as you'll learn the common forms (AABA, A-B, 12-bar blues et al), turnarounds and changes.
  15. Passinwind

    Passinwind I know nothing. Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    If you're at all serious you're going to be busy for the rest of your life...:cool:

    IMHO, don't just listen to recordings. Go to every live show you can afford, then a bunch more you can't really afford.
  16. TheFrogPrince


    Jun 4, 2009
    I'm seconding the suggestion to go to live events. Go support your local jazz groups, go see big bands and world-reknown artists. You can pick out a lot with a good ear, more style than notes usually, but you could pick up some great licks.

    Not every real book is the same. Some have the wrong chord changes, wrong chords like having a major where there should be a minor etc. Apparently the Sher real book is about as accurate as there is next to having the charts from the composers.
  17. mtto

    mtto Supporting Member

    May 25, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    A lot of great suggestions here. I'd like to add learning songs by ear by listening to records over and over and singing along, pretty much the same way little kids learn songs and the way you've probably learned whatever pop/rock songs you know all the lyrics to. I can sing along to a lot of Dave Gilmore (Pink Floyd) solos from The Wall not because I set out to learn how, but from repeated listening when I was a depressed teenager in high school.

    Listening to singers is a great way to learn songs. Learn the lyrics, learn the melody. When you try to play the song you still may need a real book at first, but memorizing the form and the chord changes is a whole lot easier when you know the song in a natural way, instead of having to count bars or whatever. Listening to recordings is the way all the great jazz musicians have learned this music for the past almost 100 years.

    That being said, jazz music has gotten more complicated, while our pop music has gotten simpler. So the theory books really help.

    And of course nothing can replace real live interaction with real live musicians: as an audience member and as a band member.
  18. It really depends on what kind(s) of jazz you are talking about. I believe that the term "jazz" is broader and more vague than the term "rock"...
  19. AndrewMagrini

    AndrewMagrini Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 23, 2007
    Before I say anything to try and help you out, I'll direct you to the quote in my signature.

    One of the easiest ways to learn jazz is to understand the various forms of the ii-V7-I progression. I spent two semesters with my instructor (and good friend) just simply writing out songs in the real book in roman numerals. While songs can look like they get complex, writing them down in roman numerals helps defeat the stigma that jazz is too difficult to understand (a large percentage are simply the above progression in different contexts!).

    The most integral part, though, is having someone there to help you out with understanding it. So a good teacher is a very strong component.