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There are nothing like serious jazz players to kick your ass six ways to Sunday

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by JimmyM, Nov 7, 2019.

  1. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    The story so far:

    Two weeks ago, I got asked to try out for a pretty popular local modern-ish blues band that also does some jazz standards. Then once I learned and jammed the initial 14 tunes, they asked me to join and were as complimentary as they could be about my playing, then assigned me 45 more tunes! I told them I had to give a couple weeks notice to the band I've been playing with since summer so it wouldn't have been much of a rush to get them all down and at least somewhat memorized as they don't want charts on stage as soon as I can ditch them.

    But someone in the band I'm leaving (not the lead singer/guitarist, who's actually been a real sweetheart about it) tipped off the bassist I was replacing before they could tell him, and he bailed on them. So since it wasn't the main gal's fault, I couldn't bail on a couple of commitments, but the new band did want me on a gig last Friday that I had open. I had to use cheat sheets and a handful of Real Book charts on the floor, but I think I did pretty darn good considering, and so did they.

    But earlier tonight we had a 3 hour rehearsal and went over everything, most of which they were doing with their own little specific flair, and many fairly high demand bass playing songs with a lot of walking basslines that aren't just 1-3-5-6. Now I'm a pop/rock/R&B type populist who like to rock pretty hard most of all, but while I totally can't hang with Stanley Clarke/Jaco-level jazz bass, I can hang with most common standards and won't embarrass you. Fortunately, that's the extent of this gig. The BL/singer/harp/guitarist is really good and totally has the ear, though he's only recently started getting more into jazz playing, so they tell me. He hangs pretty darn well, too. But his background is very much blues all his life.

    The drummer and lead guitarist, however, are first and foremost world-class league jazz guys and have the chops and resumes to back it up. And let me tell you, they all hear every single note I'm playing and won't hesitate to tell me when I've got one note wrong in a fast moving phrase that needs to be note-for-note. And then they want me to do solos in a lot of the jazz songs, and while I can turn in something pretty good if I've thought about it for a while and got to experiment, improv is not my strong suit when it comes to soloing. So they busted me a lot!

    And now that we went through a total of 40 tunes very quickly, they expect a lot more out of me, and I'll tell you, it's been a very long time since a band expected this much out of me in this short a time. Even bands I never rehearsed with and came into their gigs cold had a whole lot of tunes I already knew. With this band I probably knew 5 or 6. And with so much blues, there are a whole lot of subtle differences in the chord forms and they expect me to remember them all come Friday and Saturday afternoons for my next gigs!

    Needless to say I'll still have some cheat sheets out. But they already said they love my playing and feel for everything we do, so I have that going for me, and they don't want a real super notey bassist anyway...just one who's solid, can play some above-average difficult stuff, but knows not to go all fusion in the blues tunes. That's me!

    So if you think you've got it going on, learned how to read and understand some jazz-based theory, and really want a trial by fire as to where you stack up in the real world of strong bass players, I highly recommend seeking out players well versed in jazz styles who can be patient with players who might need a little seasoning but show promise and allowing them to kick your ass six ways to Sunday. Even if you hate jazz, nothing will improve your playing in any genre like a jazz background, bar none. I know a guitarist who plays black metal so well he was good enough to play with Death for a year or two, then he can turn around and play R&B classics and bebop/fusion with the best jazz players in the business, and plays gigs around here with Dave LaRue's solo band, which is extremely high demanding with a lot of versatility required. I only wish I'd have embraced it a lot more when I was 15 instead of 45. Probably would have breezed through this stuff and still sounded just as good playing Sabbath and AC/DC :D
    Matthew_84, ak56, Julian G and 122 others like this.
  2. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Song Surgeon slow downer. https://tinyurl.com/y5dcuqjg
    Still, you CAN see light at the end of the tunnel. :thumbsup: Good onya Bro!
  3. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Too bad I'm at the end of the tunnel :D
    Matthew_84, kobass, lomo and 4 others like this.
  4. RhynoRock


    Dec 19, 2012
    Fredonia, NY
    I've been in a similar boat man. I've had a bass in my hand since Christmas of 1998, and I never got into jazz until kinda recently, after playin rock & metal pretty much the entire time. It hit me how stunted my growth as a musician really was when I realized I would be flat out lost in a jazz band. I've been trying to find some songs that "separate the men from the boys" if you get my meaning, and I've recently learned Sir Duke, mostly. My band doesn't perform anything like that, so it's for personal growth. I'm 37 now so I'm not exactly a kid anymore, learning really technical music is a lot more difficult after the age of 25 I'd say. I DESPERATELY need to devote time to learning how to read sheet music & studying theory. Makes me wish even more that I'd gone to music school after I graduated. I've even had aspirations of part time session work if I could ever find any, but I really have no idea if I have what it takes (which probably means that I don't)

    Good job makin the band happy though dude! Kick some @$$!
    srayb, dramatwist and JimmyM like this.
  5. callofcthulhu


    Oct 16, 2012

    But Death doesn't play black metal, they play death metal (surprise).
    Nunovsky and JimmyM like this.
  6. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member


    cool beans! sounds like you have this under control. good luck with the band and all that jazz! :thumbsup:
  7. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol

    The way you tell it sounds like a penis contest, with unnecessary pressure put on you just because they can.
    In any other kind of job this is considered abusive practices, unless they provide huge bucks to go with the trouble.
  8. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    I've been in similar situations where my skills were nowhere near what was really needed. I can't play at 200+ BPM all night long when required, I do not have a good enough ear to respond to players stretching the harmony and after 40 years of never having to play solos you can guess how good my solos are.

    The jazzers I have played with were not even "world class", just local guys who had been playing jazz for years and had the vocabulary down. A few of the guys in these bands were players I had worked with in blues and swing bands and in that context there were no issues. I finally came to the conclusion that unless I can devote myself to practicing jazz for at least 8 hours every day for a full year (or more) I can't even begin to hang :(

    Good luck Jimmy!
    Matthew_84, kobass, BazzaBass and 5 others like this.
  9. Nice, sounds like the perfect challenge!

    Ive been working my walking bass myself. Not because I necessarily want to play more jazz, but because it makes me a better player.

    our drummer missed a rehearsal recently, and the guitar player and I just read jazz charts. (We’ve talked before about improving and “maturing” my walking) He was yelling stuff at me all night; “no arpeggios! b2! Change direction! Substitution!” By the end I was sweating, but a great workout! :roflmao:
    AlexanderB, JimmyM and DrMole like this.
  10. bassinflorida

    bassinflorida turn that dang thing down

    Jan 27, 2014
    Tampa, FL
    Not if you are just 45. :laugh:
  11. wagdog


    Mar 20, 2000
    Der Waffle Haus
    Nothing like being thrown into the deep end of the pool. As in all cases, panic is not your friend. Don’t overthink, listen and feel.
    bassfran, eJake and JimmyM like this.
  12. DrMole

    DrMole Supporting Member

    Abuse? Hardly.
    Music business has always- and will be, to some degree, a "cutting contest."

    Sounds like Jimmy is adapting quite well, improving his skills and range, all willingly.

    There is no abuse here.
    AGCurry, Nunovsky, BazzaBass and 11 others like this.
  13. She-Ra


    Aug 19, 2019
    I just wanted to reach out and say, that the whole "learning things after a certain age" is basically a myth so don't let any of that junk stop you. I've spent most of my life studying how to learn and the one constant is this - dedicated, honest time put in = results. It's true that at different times in our lives we learn in different ways (so you have to identify what's effective for you), but our capacity to learn, if you keep your brain constantly challenged, constantly forming new neuron connections, constantly reinforcing existing ones - regardless of what skill you're talking about - you can always keep learning, improving, and growing. Learning is a matter of habit; it's a matter of being honest with yourself as to what you can do today, and being focused about it.

    So if you're able to devote some time for specific stuff (learning to read sheet music, studying theory, or whatever), leave your hang ups/frustrations/excuses/whatever at the door, be humble and admit you're poopie at what you're about to do (because we're all poopie at all skills before we learn to do them) and just focus on learning without any of that cruft that likes to get in the way. If you feel like you're failing, look at why it's happening, learn from it, and then address it. Maybe you need to slow down, maybe your expectation is too high when it comes what you're trying to do that day. Whatever.

    You got this, man.
  14. rufus.K


    Oct 18, 2015
    Im the middle guy in a trio, with a rock drummer and a jazz pianist.
    My strong suit is inprov., and i go out of scale often (not always on purpose). Luckily i can play it into my lines if i quack, and recover quickly.
    So, while the pianist is learning how to get free, im learning how to play straight.
    The trick (in most of of life) is to always be in over your head by a few percent.
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2019
    Nunovsky, DrMole, JimmyM and 3 others like this.
  15. SunByrne


    Aug 29, 2019
    Pearland, TX
    Best part of the whole post—how awesome is that?

    Congrats and keep it up!
  16. Well done, @JimmyM . Keep pushing!
    dramatwist and JimmyM like this.
  17. fermata


    Nov 10, 2015
    Mountain West
    Sounds like a great opportunity, Jimmy. Playing with better players is so rewarding (and challenging!).

    This makes me think back to 20-odd years ago, when my big focus was classical flute. The only time I felt like I was (close to) up to snuff was when I spent a summer practicing four to five hours a day and gigging with a trio on the weekends. (And I mean really practicing, not playing: long tones, then scales, then arpeggios, then etudes, then drilling portions of pieces with a metronome, and then, like a piece of candy at the end, actually playing a piece of music for fun.) At the time, I was a teacher, so as soon as school started up again in the fall, I could muster maybe an hour of decent practice (but with a rather tired brain from a day of teaching). I pretty quickly felt my chops slipping.

    Classical music is just an incredibly demanding form of music. And my limited dabbling in jazz (and the limited results one gets from limited dabbling) reveals it to be another difficult/demanding type of music that requires serious commitment.

    So it was around that time in my life that I decided to move into other types of music that more naturally lend themselves to hobby playing. That's been my approach since then, and it's been pretty rewarding on the whole: music-making is first and foremost fun, I get to play with an interesting variety of musicians, and I still make some money gigging.

    But part of me also sometimes misses the rigor from that time of my life two decades ago. Sounds like you're in one of those rigorous phases right now!
    Nunovsky, el murdoque, JimmyM and 2 others like this.
  18. jamro217

    jamro217 Supporting Member

    Jimmy, you will be forgiven if we don't hear from you for the next couple of weeks. Concentrate on the task at hand. Best to you.
  19. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    Hang on bro, gonna be a wild ride for a while. It'll come, you just need to immerse into their stuff for a while. As long as they can be patient while you get your jazz legs established, you'll be fine and eventually have a ball with this stuff.

    I'd love to find this kind of situation, but even though I'm perhaps a little more versed in the jazz than you are/were, I'd still be sweating getting it right for while. I kind of went through this in a casual, non-gigging, no pressure situation, but the pressure of the jazz pros in a working band might be brutal for me.

    Good luck and have some fun!
    JimmyM and 31HZ like this.
  20. My favorite style to play is rock, but my favorite style to practice is jazz. The theory demands stretch your musical intelligence in a good way.
    JimmyM and Stumbo like this.

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