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Must know Jazz Tunes

Discussion in 'Recordings [DB]' started by jimbass55, Aug 25, 2004.

  1. I hope this hasn't been done to death.

    I am primarily a Country/Blues player, but I have been asked to play a few Jazz gigs since I play Upright. I always refer them to someone else because I have never done my homework for Jazz Bass. Forgive me for being a Hillbilly, but Jazz isn't something that was in my household and I never had formal training that made it mandatory.

    I am trying to broaden my horizons and I want to know what are about 20 standard tunes that a player would always need to know. You know the type, the 20 that always appear on different bands set lists, or they always get requested. (ie. The Thrill is Gone for Blues; Cotton Eyed Joe in Country)

    Hope my ignorance doesn't offend anyone. Just need a starting point.

  2. I'll get the ball rolling:

    Blues in F and B-flat
    I Got Rhythm in F and B-flat

    All the Things You Are
    Stella by Starlight
    All of Me
    Have You Met Miss Jones
    Blue Bossa
    There Will Never Be Another You


    I think the canon is somewhat regional. I remember for a while in Milwaukee you couldn't hang unless you knew at least half the Cedar Walton book.

    I suggest going to some jam sessions in your area (if there are any) and see what they're playing.
  3. Ben Rose

    Ben Rose

    Jan 12, 2004

    It also seems that even within the same region, the tunes called vary based on who or what instrument is leading the jam session.

    Just to add a few -

    Autumn Leaves
    Green Dolphin St

    Black Orpheus
    That Young Lady From Somewhere In South America

  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well - I think it would have to be a list of several hundred - up to thousands!! ;)

    This has been asked before and there were some pretty big lists !!
  5. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Some modal tunes that are popular here in the Boston area:

    All Blues
    Afro Blue


    Many jazz gigs especially if subs are involved will include a fair number of tunes being played out of books (some leaders may bring their own books to gigs, others will just call tunes out of standard fake books). If you can build walking lines off chord charts this will get you through your gigs.

    Find out what the popular fake books are with bands in your area (Real Book 5th edition is THE one to have in Boston). Jot down what tunes got called at each gig and soon you'll have your list of "must know" tunes.
  6. I knew it was a very general thing to ask, but I have some down time due to a new baby and just wanted to really focus on learning some new grooves that may pop up. I may never do a true jazz gig, but so many Jazz trained players are laying the grooves in other styles of music it is just nice to study what they study to know where they come from. A jazz player can stick out like a sore thumb on a Country gig, but I want to play simple because I choose to not because of any limitations. Thanks.
  7. Good advice as always.
  8. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    I dunno about thousands, Bruce. I person I know -- jeez, it certainly wouldn't be ME because this is illegal -- has a CD with something like 13 different fake books imaged on to it. Another person -- good heavens, not me -- went through this disc with some cool software and pulled apart the PDFs into individual page images and put the images into a database for easier access. There were over 3000 charts in the db. That person discovered there were about 1200 unique tunes between all the books. 6 different charts of Body And Soul...

    The Levine Jazz Theory Book has a "don't move to The Apple unless you know these tunes cold" list and it comprises about 220 tunes -- a lot of those tunes are questionable IMO but I ain't no Apple guy. Dick Hyman's long had a fake book out that's called something like 100 Jazz Tunes You Gotta Know If You Wanna Be A Jazz Guy. I don't have a URL for you, but I found the table of contents to that Hyman book on the web once when I was looking for the answer to the same question....
  9. olivier


    Dec 17, 1999
    Paris, France
    Lady Be Good
    Pennies from Heaven

    when I was in NOLA every single band played those two songs.
  10. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well I did actually say : "several hundred" - and then mentioned thousands with a winking smiley..... ;)

    I have talked to Jazz pros who know over a thousand tunes - so basically anything in any Real Book you care to name and then a large repertoire of their own tunes and from bands they have played in...:eek:
  11. I plan to ask so local Jazz Musicians what they have encountered. I know little about Jazz but I have at least heard of most of the tunes mentioned. Thanks.
  12. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    The list below I started out of my head, and then robbed the tune list from a friend mine's web site and pared out the ones that I'm not solid on. I know tons more tunes (believe it or not!), but this is pretty good list:

    All of Me
    All of You
    Lady is a Tramp
    Foggy Day in London Town
    I Love Paris
    My Heart Belongs to Daddy
    Everything I Love
    Nobody Else But Me
    Best Thing for You
    Back Home Again in Indiana / Donna Lee
    New York / Bird Blues
    (robbery mode on)
    Alone Together
    Ain't she sweet?
    All the things you are
    Angel eyes
    Autumn leaves
    Ain't Misbehavin'
    Almost Like Being in Love
    As Time Goes By
    Autumn in New York
    After You've Gone
    Body and Soul
    Blue Skies
    Black Orpheus
    Cheek to Cheek
    Comes Love
    Cry Me a River
    Don't Blame Me
    Darn that dream
    Dancin' in the Dark
    Don't explain
    Easy Livin'
    Embraceable You
    Everything Happens to Me
    Exactly Like You
    Fine and Dandy
    Fascinatin' Rhythm
    Ghost of a Chance
    God Bless the Child
    Gone With the Wind
    Goodmorning Heartache
    Green Dolphin Street
    Honeysuckle Rose
    She's Funny That Way
    How High the Moon
    Have You Met Miss Jones
    How About You
    How Deep is the Ocean
    Here's That Rainy Day
    I Remember You
    I'll Remember April
    I Can't Give You Anything But Love
    I'm in the Mood For Love
    I Cover The Waterfront
    I Can't Get Started
    I Got Rhythm
    It's You or No One
    It Could Happen to You
    I Never Knew
    I Found a New Baby
    I'm Getting Sentimental Over You
    If I Had You
    It's All Right With Me
    I'll See You in my Dreams
    If I Were a Bell
    I Want to be Happy
    I Should Care
    I Didn't Know What Time It Was
    I Love You
    In Walked Bud
    Jeepers Creepers
    Just Friends
    Just You Just Me
    Just in Time
    Just One of Those Things
    Love me or Leave me
    Lullaby of Birdland
    Lover Come Back to Me
    Let's Do It
    Lady Be Good
    Like someone in love
    Love for Sale
    Lullabye of the Leaves
    Mean to Me
    Melancholy Baby
    Man I Love
    My Old Flame
    My One and Only Love
    Makin whoopee
    My Romance
    Moonlight in Vermont
    Night and Day
    Nearness of You
    A Night in tunisia
    Over the Rainbow
    Out of Nowhere
    Slow Boat to China
    On the Sunny Side of the Street
    Pennies from heaven
    Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone
    Play Fiddle Play
    Polkadots & moonbeams
    'Round Midnight
    Ruby My Dear
    The Song is You
    Sweet Georgia Brown
    Star Eyes
    Sweet Sue
    Stella by Starlight
    St. Thomas
    Strike up the Band
    Someday my Prince Will Come
    Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise
    Satin Doll
    September in the Rain
    Sweet and Lovely
    Stairway to the Stars
    There Will Never be Another You
    These Foolish things
    Tea for Two
    This Can't Be Love
    Them there eyes
    Too Close for Comfort
    Too Marvelous
    Take the A train
    What is this thing?
    Way You Look Tonight
    Well You Needn't
    We'll Be Together Again
    When You're Smilin'
    What's New?
    Willow Weep for Me
    You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To
    You Stepped out of a Dream
    You go to my head
    You've changed
    You Don't Know What Love Is
  13. Thanks for all the help. This will be more than plenty to get me going.

  14. Jimmie, don't be intimidated by the lists - I don't know what your reading skills are like, but all you need is a copy of the "Real" book (here are four to start with…) - most of the tunes already mentioned are in these - you'll find that most of the time these books are the ones the rest of the band is using.

    Good Luck!

    - Wil
  15. My reading skills stink. I understand most everything, I just don't use these skills playing Country/Blues much. I do chart out most tunes using the Nashville # system, but maybe this will get me going on becoming a better reader.
  16. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    You'll find more seasoned players impatient if you have to look up the most common of tunes, tune after tune. I think your wanting to learn the tunes is the right way to go. Carry the book with you to cover your blank spots. It's also good to have with you a list of tunes that you know so that the leader can refer to it.
  17. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    The only problem with "top 20" lists is that you can show up at a gig or a jam session and NONE of those tunes get called.

    So you either do it new school and sit there with a buddy or group of buddies or Aebersold records or Band in a Box and just go through the Real Book playing the stuff enough til you kind of remember where to put your fingers or you do it old school and just show up and try to hear it and play what you hear and endure the yelling and the rays and long lectures between sets and play along with records til you start hearing what's going on and learning melodies to tunes by hearing the melody note clear in your head and picking it out on your instrument.

    Or some combination of old school and new school.

    I have to imagine that with bluegrass music, since there's a huge number of tunes, the situation is similar. You don't "learn" every single tune, you develop your ear to the point that you can hear where a tune (you either don't know or have heard before but never really played) is going, what the changes are.

    Because, yet once again, just because the Real Book says that the change in bar 7 is a D-7b5 DOES NOT mean that is what everybody is going to be playing every chorus in that same spot.
  18. jcbassomatic

    jcbassomatic Supporting Member

    May 7, 2003
    Raleigh, NC, USA
    <warning: this may be off topic a bit>

    Great advice!

    To add to Ed's post, I can't say how to do it, but I can say how I'm doing it. Your mileage may vary...

    I started by learning some basic jazz harmony and improvisation stuff from a great jazz guitarist in my area. One day at a lesson he said something like (paraphrased) - 'you know, you can't learn jazz by practicing at home - it's a social process'.

    BTW, before anyone piles on to the 'can't learn jazz by practicing at home' bit - he didn't mean you don't practice at home. He means you practice at home AND you get out and play with other musical bipods.

    So I got out and showed up at local jazz jams. I brought the first real book with me and prayed no one would call a tune that wasn't in there. For a while, my prayers were answered the way I prefered and they stuck to tunes in the real book. I was feeling good about myself (usually a pretty good warning signal of impending doom). I also got pretty good at reading jazz charts.

    Soon enough, tunes were called that not only weren't in the book, but I'd never heard before. Then part of my practice routine became:

    1. go to jam
    2. whip it out
    3. step on it
    4. go home and figure out how not to repeat 2 and 3 for a particular tune

    It's an ugly process, but after a while you catch on out of necessity. Nobody that's worth anything will give you a hard time about it since (if they are any good) they've gone through the same process. They just wanna hear something better the next time. If you don't catch on after a while, find another teacher or find something else to do.

    The result - after a while, you know a bunch of tunes and you get gigs from going to the jams and showing improvement (ie. becoming accepted in the social structure).
  19. A good way to really absorb the tunes is to learn the lyrics.
    As i've mentioned before, this is one of those areas where it helps to be old. Since i'm 62, I know a hell of alot of tunes. It helps to have lived them. Also, the good news is that they DO all take on certain patterns. Well maybe not ALL!
    Get rid of charts as soon as possible....it doesn't look professional and I know people who are ADDiCTED to charts!
  20. From the bluegrass perspective--knowing the lyrics is a help to me. While I may not know every word to every tune, knowing bits and pieces greatly eases the struggle to pick out a melody. I also have a much easier time keeping up with jazz songs when I know the lyrics.

    Instrumentals are a different matter, but I agree with Ed about feeling the changes coming. Once you get a feel for the chord progression you can anticipate the change before it gets there. I am only beginning to take a few baby steps into the jazz ocean and even though it is far more complex that what I am accustomed to, I am beginning to recognize similar movements in different tunes.

    And chart addiction is a dangerous habit. I have been working on several jazz numbers using BinaB. At a recent jam I had an opportunity to play with a hot fiddle player named Brandon Apple (check out some of his sound clips) when someone mentioned I was dabbling with jazz. He launched into Lady Be Good--which I was very acquainted with from playing along with BinaB. What was easy while looking at the charts was somewhat more difficult playing with an adept person. I walked (or perhaps stumbled) my way through most of it, but I realized that I was dependent on that chart. I am currently putting myself on a weaning program for obvious reasons.