Playing Jazz?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by bass_tool, Nov 13, 2001.

  1. Hey guys, a sax player friend of mine asked if I wanted to play in the school jazz band, well I'd love to, but i know hardly anything about jazz.

    If anyone could give me a link to any online lessons about jazz theory, etc, and maybe some groups to listen to so I can get a better understanding of jazz.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. There has to be some jazz musicians here. :(:confused:
  3. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY


    This subject is a bit too complicated to deal with over the net, but you could start by studying scale and chord theory. There's an excellent introduction to scale/chord theory by Adam "TOFU TABEVIL" Rodriguez under "Practice Room" on the home page. You could start with that.

    As far as who to listen to, that list is also incredibly long, but a few of the great names are mentioned in this thread:

    But if you're really serious about getting somewhere with this idea, you should GET THEE TO A TEACHER as soon as possible. There is simply too much ground to cover to do it any other way.
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I agree with Chris. Several years ago I thought I had an idea what Jazz was all about, It was only when I started taking Jazz classes with a good teacher at the local University that I realised I knew nothing before!!! ;)
  5. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    I would have to agree with Bruce, who agrees with Chris. The world of jazz music is just far too vast to be able to provide you with some sort of definitive answer as to what to do. I thank Chris F. for the plug of the link for scale/chord theory, and this information will certainly be helpful to your journey, but a teacher is the one that can really show you how to apply this information.

    I strongly suggest to absorb yourself into this world of jazz, as much as you can. Use the link that Chris posted to get some CDs to add to your list. At the very least, tune to your local jazz station, (important! avoid the smooth jazz station, as it will not help you with the type of music you're looking for right now! I'm talking straight-ahead jazz!).

    Please, take the plunge and try it. I think you'll find the water is very nice at this end of the pool.
  6. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Wait a second. So you mean all those guys that were getting to play in the jazz band at school weren't playing in a session type setting? Okay, naive or not, I seriously didn't know that. See, I didn't play in high school, and here I am thinking that all these guys got something on me cuz they were playing all day in high school and swinging with other guys. Now I come to find out that they were reading charts, which I'll tell you, is certainly a good skill, but is vastly different from your standard improvised walking bass line in a session.

    That's news to me.
  7. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    But now that I really think about it, it makes sense. I mean, most of those guys I knew, once you got them outside of their class, they didn't know a sus from an alt. Or, at least, they couldn't play over them. Hell, not that I could, but it's all becoming clearer...and clearer....and clearer...

    At least I don't feel so bad about not playing in high school now. :)
  8. melvin


    Apr 28, 2001
    Yeah all the music you get in HS is written out how they want you to play, been doing that for 3 years now (jazz band here starts in 7th grade) Infact, I get in trouble for improvising, dead serious. I get these words almost every other day:

    "Evan, do what the music says, its written like that for a reason" then I say something like "back in the day, bass players made up their own line, not a copy of what someone else did" then shes like "Do not argue with me, Im the teacher and I know what is best for the band" right there is where the rest of the rythem section kicks in saying stuff to defend me (everyone hates her)

    I dont know how your teacher is but if s/he is like my teacher you just need to know how to read music and know to not make your own line and youre set.

    If the teacher is cool and doesnt give you music showing you exactly what to play do what the others said, scale and chord theory and a teacher.

    But I doubt itll be like that, so learn to read music if you cant.
  9. lump


    Jan 17, 2000
    St. Neots, UK

    Ed's right - it's more than likely you'll be reading notation, not improvising over chord charts. Right now I play with the local high jazz band (being on a military base overseas, they let old farts fill out the instrumentation), and everything so far has been notation. If you don't know how to read, it's going to be rough, since usually the jazz band is where the more proficient musicians end up (unless you play tuba :mad: ). If you can read, but want to improve, it's a GREAT way to get your chops up. I consider myself a pretty decent reader, but I got handed some stuff yesterday that I'm actually going to have to work out, with all kinds of syncopations, accidentals and weird intervalic leaps. I got spanked sight reading it; I gotta work out best the positions (it's been a while since I played anything in Gb :oops: ). And it depends on the level of the band too; mine is definitely in the bush league, but I've heard high school level bands that SMOKED. How good is the one at your school?

    It may be intimidating at first, and you will probably suck for while, but there is NO better way to learn than playing in an ensemble, IMO. If the teacher will let you play (after all, it's his/her call, not the sax player's), go for it.

    As for improvising, chances are the teacher doesn't have the written bass line memorized. If what you're playing FITS, he/she won't notice that you're improvising... ;)

  10. Limp Tool, I like that :)
    Anyway I'll take a look at the scale/chord theory you mentioned, also thanks for the link to the list of artists.

    I have a teacher, and in my lesson on Friday I shall tell him my situation and he should get me going.

    Also for the others, I can read music......Just not well. I'll be practicing reading like mad for a while, this will motivate me.

    Thanks for everyones advice.

    See you auntie.
  11. Oh and also, it is for a high school ensemble.
  12. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Well when I was at school, there were definitely no Jazz bands and as a far as music went, you sang in the choir or nothing! Jazz education in the UK only started really in the recent past - there has been a good series on Radio 3 about this which finishes on Saturday.

    I was just answering the second part of the original question :

    "If anyone could give me a link to any online lessons about jazz theory, etc, and maybe some groups to listen to so I can get a better understanding of jazz. "

    But it is interesting that it is all written stuff with no improvisation - to me this isn't Jazz at all then, but rather what we would call in Europe - "Big Band" music - sort of a branch of "Easy Listening" - popular in Germany in particular.

    My only interest in Jazz is really the improvisational nature of it and the Jazz classes I take are all about improvisation - although we do of course have written heads - often we will just improvise on a chord sequence with no head and we have done "free" improvisation as well with no chord sequence.
  13. rob_d


    Jun 14, 2001
    Might I suggest picking up "Building Walking Bass Lines" by Ed Friedland. A good primer to starting out with jazz bass. Plenty of play along examples. Take some serious time with this book and it will help you out. You do have to be able to read music to use it but I believe there's a small intro to that at the beginning..and you really have to get the notes right as in this beginning book you'll only be playing half notes and quarter notes.