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Playing the flat 5

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by banks, Dec 19, 2012.

  1. banks


    Jul 18, 2006
    I was listening to the Ray Brown trio recording Georgia on my mind.I heard Ray play the flat 5. My question is the would the chord have to be a b5 chord so the notes don't clash, or is there theoretical reason for playing the b5? I am starting to get into his playing and would like to develop as a jazz bassist.
  2. I haven't heard that recording. If you listen to many pianists and guitarists you'll notice they play rootless voicings which could leave room for the bass player choosing the V or the bII without it necessarily being a flat 5 chord. Sometimes it's hard to tell what the original intention was or what came first. The bII is called the tritone sub. The bII is the bv of the V chord also. The 2 that come to mind are Bill Evans and Jim Hall.
  3. Shakin-Slim


    Jul 23, 2009
    Tokyo, Japan
    It doesn't have to be a b5 chord. That's all part of the art of tension.

    +1 on Bill Evans
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    It's all about the context, but the Flat 5 could be a very strong passing tone to give you that sense of movement to the next chord..?

    Chromatic passing tones are a big part of what makes walking bass lines sound "Jazzy" .. :)
  5. garbanzo


    Mar 27, 2011
    Maybe he was just looking to conjure up the devil. See: diabolus in musica
  6. He may have been using the bV on a dominant chord to create a substitution. The 3rd and 7th of the original chord become the 7th and 3rd, respectively, of the substitution.
  7. hgiles


    Nov 8, 2012
    b5 against the key or b5 against the chord? Which chord?
  8. Sorry, I meant bV against whatever dominant chord is being played. So if it's an F7, play a B, thereby creating/substituting a B7b5 for the F7.

    So if you had Cm7-F7-Bbmaj7, a possibility could be for you to play C-B-Bb. Depending on the tune, it'd be up to you make those three notes interesting. If there's a I-VI-ii-V7-I progression, you can take it one step further (in Bb): Bb-Db-C-B-Bb.

    Hope that's a little clearer.
  9. hgiles


    Nov 8, 2012
    It works because the half step relation has a strong 'impulse'. And it results in a non-diatonic chromatic sequence. Jazz bass players do this a lot. Fourths movement of the root and chromatic movement give the strongest sense of propulsion...thats the theory anyway. But like any substitution, you dont want to overdo it.
  10. PB+J


    Mar 9, 2000
    arlington va
    Besides the fact that you can use that movemnt to build tension in a chromatic movement, so many jazz standards have a minor seven flat five to dominant movement, eg Dm7b5 to G7. There are a bunch of songs built around that--alone together, angel eyes, softly as in a morning sunrise. From memory, isn't there a m7b5 to Dom movement on " dreams I seeeee?"
  11. banks


    Jul 18, 2006
    Thanks alot for everyone's input appreciate it. In the song I"m talking about the b5 sounds more like a passing note. I've learned alot in the few bars I have learned.
  12. Is this the 'Georgia' recording you are referring to? Which part?

  13. banks


    Jul 18, 2006
    Chuck: The version I am describing is from THe best od the concord years. I lost the booklet but I think the gitar players are Joe pass and Herb Ellis. THat's a goood version to.
  14. hgiles


    Nov 8, 2012
    F | Em7b5 Eb7 | Dm ....

    Very common when going to relative minor, as it creates a nice continuos chromatic line. Playing A7 instead of Eb7 would take some of the smoothness out of the progression.
  15. Could it be a passing tone? What is the first chord? Where does this "b5" land? Is it the root of the next chord? Could that root be a Bb chord?

    It's like asking how to make pasta and everybody chimes in with the temperature at which water boils.
  16. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well - you have found your own answer - a passing note doesn't have to relate to the chord being played at the time - it is all about the chord you are going to and creating a strong sense of movement and resolution.

    It doesn't have to work as part of the chord being played - it just has to work as part of the line, keeping it flowing.

    Others might disagree, but I think this is what makes a walking bass line sound "Jazzy". Other genres have walking bass lines but don't have chromatic passing tones. For example : Jamaican Ska, has walking bass lines, but you never hear a chromatic passing tone - they are always chord tones.
  17. I partially disagree Bruce but I think you are right in certain instances. Often with this approach, you're asking for a train wreck if every time you use this "passing tone" rationale. You have to be LISTENING and on the same page with everybody. You can't just use notes because they're going where you want them to go all the time without regard. You have to understand what's going on upstairs. By upstairs I mean the harmony, melody and the lyrics of the tune. It's a fine line. What does this mean? You have to really learn the tune and LISTEN.
  18. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I wasn't saying that you do this all the time, just that it's a valid possibility and I originally said it was all about context.

    But I think the OP has answered his own question and this is probably the best result. :)