New Jazzer

Discussion in 'Music Theory [DB]' started by Master_Shake, Mar 28, 2005.

  1. Master_Shake


    Mar 28, 2005
    Durham, UK
    Does anyone out there have any advice for a bassist who has been playing classical double bass for seven years but has only in the last three or four months started playing jazz?

    I played in a a swing band at school but I never had to improvise round chords so my experience in this are is rather limited. I think my technique is pretty much sorted but my ability to apply musical theory to my playing is poor. Are there any exercises in scales etc that you would prescribe?

    Thanks for your help,
  2. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Durham NC? You should try to hook up with Ron Brendle in Charlotte, he's a great player. He should be able to suggest a good pianist to start working with.

    If, as you say, your technique is all "sorted out", why are you looking for scale work? What you need to work on is having a specific harmony or progression of harmony suggest a melodic line that links AND propels the harmony. Listen to a lot of this music, listen to the different players and try to get some understanding of WHY they are making the note choices they are making.

    Chris Fitzgerald has a nice overview of putting together walking bass lines(in the ARTICLES section here), but bear in mind that this is just an overview. Making intellectual decisions about what note to play over what chord is not making music. Your note choice being an internal response to your conception of the music linked with what is HAPPENING RIGHT NOW in your aural environment is making music.
  3. tzadik


    Jan 6, 2005
    Welcome to the spontaneity and coolness of jazz.

    Definitely listen to as much as you can. Anything like the Bill Evans Trio, Miles Davis (Kind of Blue), The Fringe, Coltrane, Wayne Shorter...hmm, better to do a search for the "What Should I Listen To?" posts on here. My list seems too haphazard, but my point anyay is to listen to everything - not just bass players, but each individual instrument and the way it intereacts with the group.

    Think about things like:

    Why do people play when they do?

    Why do they lay out when they do? (Or why, in the instance of the bass, do they NOT lay out very often?)

    Where do the changes want to go?

    How can my bass line best foreshadow (or not) what is upcoming?

    Does every note that I play have a reason and enough energy for it to be convincing?

    The whole thing is as complex as it is simple, if that makes any sense.

    Scales are cool, but I would make sure you are ALL over your arpeggios first. I honestly don't practice scales that much. I want my solos to sound like melodic phrases, not like scales. I want my walking lines to subtley sound as melodic as a solo too, but with (generally) a much more steady quarter note pulse, and with the arpeggio being the quintessential springboard-figure.

    A great drummer friend of mine, Tom Delrossi, has a great quote. NOt sure if he made it up or heard it somewhere, but it is cool either way:

    The drummer is the bus driver, but the bass player is the tour guide.

    Be an awesome tour guide and you're good to go.
  4. Master_Shake


    Mar 28, 2005
    Durham, UK
    Thanks for your help guys!

    Durham in the UK actually, and I am already playing in a trio with piano and drums. The pianist also plays violin in the university orchestra (where I play bass) and he headhunted me. We do gigs on our own and with a couple of female singers and we may be working an amazing saxophonist in the next couple of months. I really want to improve my jazz playing because because I feel rather inadaquate playing with these fantastic people.

    My technique is "sorted out" in that if you put a piece of notated music in front of me, I can get my head round it in quite a short space of time. My 'music theory technique' (?) is a little less developed. This could be something to do with having abandoned exams a number of years ago.

    Thanks again.
  5. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    I'd advise picking up "The Jazz Theory Book," by Mark Levine. Read the book inside and out, absorb everything it says. Also a good place to go is Rufus Reid's "The Evolving Bassist: Millenium Edition." This is geared a little bit more to those who are rather beginning on the instrument, but at the same time, it is geared to those beginning in jazz as well. His DVD is also great for this.

    I can't remember where I read this -- either here, or on the AllAboutJazz forums ( htt:// ) but someone said that to learn to play jazz, you basically have to relearn your instrument. After being a pretty good rock/funk/blues bassist, going into my third year of lessons, etc., I've found that to be quite right! You need to get a VERY solid foundation in the basics (walking, here). This is where I am now, laying as solid a foundation as I can for myself. Good luck dude, but remember, you need to learn to walk before you can run!
  6. Another good book is The Jazz Bass Book by John Goldsby. Lots of articles about the influential bass players of the past and present, together with score transcriptions of their finest moments and explanations about why what they played was so good. There's also a technique section with stuff to work on away from scales and more towards arpeggios as tzadik suggests. Plus a CD to play along with. It's going to keep me busy for a long time!
  7. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    By "working with" I mean working on concept and approach, not gigging. How much of a background does the piano player have? If he's pretty well grounded, then start getting together with him to work on improvisational approach.
  8. Master_Shake


    Mar 28, 2005
    Durham, UK
    Yeah! (I wonder how you guessed?!)
  9. dodgy_ian


    Apr 9, 2001
    Newcastle, UK
    i've got a few uselful books you could borrow if you wished which are pretty helpful re.walking bass.

    i'll swap em if you've got simandel one?!

  10. Master_Shake


    Mar 28, 2005
    Durham, UK
    I've got the Bottesini one. I think Billy has one of the Simandel ones.