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Walkin' in Rhythm

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by JazzDude, Jul 2, 2004.

  1. Hi, all.

    I'm relatively new to jazz bass playing, and I have a question for you more experienced jazzers.

    I've been going to a local jam session lately, and working on my building my repertoire.

    Something that comes up a lot is tunes with Rhythm changes. Looking in the old Real Books, songs like Anthropology, Oleo, and Flintstones are all Rhythm songs, but each one has slightly different changes. My question is, when someone calls one of these tunes, should I know it's specific variations, or should I just think 'Rhythm changes' and wing it, meaning listen for what seems to fit everything else going on? Is there a real possibility of too much 'clash' if I'm playing a different variation?

    Does my question make any sense?
  2. Matt Ides

    Matt Ides

    May 12, 2004
    Minneapolis, MN
    1. RU reading the charts???

    2. What do you specifically mean by Rhythm changes??
  3. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    1. Yes, but he prolly wants to get away from reading them and just play music.

    2. He specifically means that veritable host of composition based on the harmonic framework of George and Ira Gerswhin's I GOT RHYTHM. And who could ask fro anything more?

    JAZZDUDE - yes. By that I mean, each head is going to point at some different changes, so you want to play the changes under the melody that support the melody, right? But after you get into the solos, it's like every other tune. You and everybody else are basing your improvisations on the harmonic framework AND the directions implied by the other players. Big ears and keep'em open. So, rather than trying to memorise a million different versions of chord changes, learn the different melodies. If you have the melody in your ear, you are going to pick notes that will accompany that melody, right? No memory, just hearing.
  4. Matt Ides

    Matt Ides

    May 12, 2004
    Minneapolis, MN
    Thanks for the clarification Ed and great advice.
  5. Ed - that sounds like advice I can really use. Yes, I am learning the melodies, and I try to listen more than think about the specific changes.

    Since posting the question, I've realized it applies to more changes than Rhythm. I looked at different versions of Satin Doll, and every one is different. Same for Blue Monk and various other blues progressions. Live and Learn. Or listen and play.

  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I'm not sure they're "different" exactly - so, OK Jazz is about improvising and good players will insert variations, substitutions etc. But there is usually a basic structure you can recognise - or in a sense you wouldn't be playing that tune, but creating something new - which in a way is what Jazz is all about....;)

    So - there is a kind of general agreement about what the changes are to something like Blue Monk - but of course you have to watch out for people throwing in substitutions......;)
  7. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Following up to Bruce's post, over time the "rhythm changes" have evolved.

    For example in Gershwin's original changes, bar 3 starts with a I chord, now it's common to play a iii chord instead. Of course, the two chords are closely related.

    in Bb:
    Bbmaj7 is Bb D F A
    Dmin7 is D F A C

    So one can think of the "variation" as just a common substitution. What note YOU play as bassist has a lot to do with it. Play a Bb underneath a Dmin triad in bar 3 and it's going to sound like a Bbmaj7 anyway.

    Mark Levine's popular book on jazz theory discusses this pretty well.
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Just to clarify - I wasn't talking about Rhythm Changes - but rather, the follow-up post - about "Satin Doll","Blue Monk" and other progressions. But I suppose these tunes are so common, that people do their own re-harmonisations, add in substitutions, turnarounds etc.
  9. Just some observations - I'm still sorting this all out in my head:

    I have lead sheets for Satin Doll from these books: RB1, NRB1, WB Just Jazz, Aebersold #54, and Hal Leonard vol 10.

    Every version is different - the chords change in different places, there are ii-V's in some, left out of others, some use altered chords, some just use m7 and dom7.

    I'm familiar with some substitution rules, and it's possible these differences all fall into that category. One thing I notice is that measures 1, 5, 9, etc. start out the same in each version, so if I target the root on the downbeat there, I would be right at least 8 times each chorus.
  10. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    One of my ex-teachers (a Berklee prof) called excessive use of ii-V subs "Berklee-itis": every time there's a I it gets replaced by a ii-V just because it can.

    Altered chords on a chart really only make sense if the altered notes are in the ORIGINAL melody (otherwise, why alter the chord?). That same teacher also suggested that the bassist should look at extended or altered chords as simpler 7 chords and leave the extensions and alterations to the soloist to use or not as he/she sees fit.