Want to learn to play jazz, any suggestions?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by ireidt, Mar 25, 2005.

  1. ireidt


    Mar 6, 2005
    Okay, My Birthday is coming up, so along with some dungeons and dragons books I am getting ( Yes,I am a geek, it over it :p ) My parents are getting me a Book on sight reading ( I can sight read a little, need more practice ) and a Jazz book.

    I was wondering though, what is the best book that you have yoused to learn jazz for the bass guitar?

  2. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    jeez, where to start?
    First of all, jazz is like a language so you need to start getting that language in your ear. It's great that you have a book, but you need to start listening to this music. If you go to the DOUBLE BASS side and search around the RECORDINGS thread, there are any number of threads about what and who to listen to.

    Second of all, there is no book, video, computer program or website in the world that can offer what a real live human being can. Try to find a good teacher.
  3. Wilbyman


    Sep 10, 2003
    Parkersburg, WV
    Just kidding...Ed's right, it's tough to learn jazz out of a method book.

    Might have your folks buy you Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue" and a month's worth of lessons instead.

    Don't be ashamed about D&D, we've all been there (well, "we" being the nerdy bassists). Hopefully you'll grow out of it when you get into jazz


  4. ireidt


    Mar 6, 2005
    people at my school basically tell me I am a great bass player ( I think I'm okay) but they all get weirded out when I sit down and pull out my DnD books, i wonder why :p

    Anyway, yea, I should get a teacher, But the only teacher around where I live, great guy, okay bass player, but I took a month or 2 of lessons, all he wanted me to learn were cover songs. he never taught me theory or anything, so what I did was bought some bass books, and practiced a lot. Also my AP music theory class I am taking helps.

    But Like I said, there really isn't a good teacher in this town. People in my school instead of going to the Bass teacher here, they are askign me to teach them, I was like " I'm honored, btu I don't know enough to teach! "

    I was looking at a book called The Jazz Theory Book. You think this would be a good place to start?
  5. Jleonardbc


    Nov 12, 2004
    Get "The Improvisor's Bass Method" and some Jamey Aebersold play-along recordings (some of the simple ones that they list to start out with, like Maiden Voyage). The Jazz Theory Book is good too, and like others have said, expose yourself to jazz music. Listen to it, transcribe it, play it.
  6. pentexlovesme


    Mar 28, 2004
    I've just gotten into seriously studying Jazz, and while lesssons and books will help a lot, there's no better education then listening to the music. You have to sorround yourself in it, breath it, learn it, love it. Until you do that, your playing will only be Jazzy, and not Jazz. Also, if you can find other young musicians your age willing to play with you, you should jam together.

    And those Abersold books are a whole lot of fun and a pretty handy resource. :bassist:
  7. dar512


    Mar 25, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    I'm still learning myself, but here's my $.02.

    There are three parts to becoming a jazz bassist. You have to know enough theory to decide which notes to play over the chord changes. You have to know where those notes are on the strings/fretboard. And, you have to have mastered the physical skills to produce those notes in a pleasing manner. To be a really good jazz bassist, be able to do all the above in real time. (Ok there's more to it than that, but that's a good start)

    Learning theory -

    A lot of jazz bass playing is not done from reading individual notes. You decide what notes to play over the chords in a piece. Learn the form of the various chords - you can do a lot of this online, there's only a handful of basic chords. The rest are variations. Learn about intervals. Learn the modes and how they relate to the various chord forms.

    I recommend the book "Building Walking Bass Lines" by Ed Friedland. It's available from amazon and other places. First sit and read all the text. It should only take you an evening. If you've done all the above you should now have a road map of where you need to go. While I haven't read The Jazz Theory Book, it is well regarded by many.

    Learn the fretboard -
    Part of this just comes from playing. Try to play changes at different places on the fretboard. Part of also come, however, from not making it harder than it is. This realization helped me - the twelfth fret (if you're on a BG - something analagous if you are not) marks an octave. That means that there is only one place on each string where you can find a given note. Start learning by finding 'C', for instance, on each string.

    Learning the physical skills -
    This is the part you really can't learn on your own. You really need an instructor to get the proper form to get that mellow tone. In addition, playing the bass can be demanding on the body. Having an instructor can help you learn how not to abuse your hands and arms while playing.

    If you really live way out in the boondocks, you can try working from a video/dvd instruction course, but this is a poor second. If you live in any reasonable sized town, you are just balking - get thee to a Bass instructor, go. (All right, William S. is probably spinning in his grave, but you get the idea)
  8. ireidt


    Mar 6, 2005
    Lately ( besides the new bands coming out, only CD I want to buy is the new Audioslave ) I have been listening to Jaco pastorius ( I have been listening to him sence I started playign bass ) and Marcus Miller, But I got a few Jazz Collections that my dad bought that I am going to make a copy of to listen to. I love jazz and funk music.

    My dad said he will by me the Jazz theory book, so theres a plus :D
  9. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    This is more of a General Instruction type thread. Moved.
  10. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    You aren't learning to play the bass, you're trying to learn to play music. Find a good jazz pianist or saxophonist or trombone player, whatever, who can give you a good fundamental background in the music.

    Or you can do what you want. And 20 years from now you can see what that gets ya.
  11. Kelly Coyle

    Kelly Coyle Supporting Member

    Nov 16, 2004
    Mankato, MN
    Patterns for Jazz by Coker et al.

    This is an aside (and I don't mean it as flame bait), but I suspect most of the greats learned jazz on the bandstand, not at Berklee. When did jazz start requiring a teacher? I'm no authority (although the only pro jazzer I know is entirely self-taught -- but we're really small-time here), but I am curious as to when and why that shift happened.*

    * Nothing against teachers, of course. The right one at the right time can do a world of good.
  12. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member

    The Real Book, of course, imperfect though it is. Since you'll want to jam with as many people as you possibly can, you all need to have the same charts to work off of, no?

    I put in a few years learning to make people tolerate my upright playing, then moved on to easier pickings. Many years later, I was asked to sit in with a jazz group at a show I was providing sound for. I managed, and I actually got the gig with that band eventually, simply because I could get through Real Book charts. A big part of the reason I could do this is that I've been listening to many of those tunes for 30 plus years.

    I'm with Ed though, learn the language by conversing with all sorts of players. Keyboard players tend to know a lot about harmony, and many know a lot about basslines as well. If you can cop the feel of a good horn solo on yours, you'll get over. Just playing without guitar being the focus of a band is quite instructive, in my experience.

    Best of luck!
  13. ireidt


    Mar 6, 2005
    Thanks. I have been in bands that the guitarist wasn't the main focus ( there was no guitar player, two bassists! ) it was okay I guess. I had to improv the solo every show becuase I never took the time to memorize it :rolleyes:

    The band I am in now is actualy looking for a horn section, but so far we found a sax player that is always busy and a trumpet player who doesn't have a trumpet. I am thinking of getting a midi foot controller and program it to play various horn insturments.

    and Ed, in the town I live in, jazz basically doesn't exist :bawl: so its hard to find a good jazz pianist. And like I said, the teacher aorund here is crappy ( no offense, he just isnt a good teacher ) So All I can really do is get books and DvDs and teach myself until I can get a car and drive to another city ( 45 minutes-hour away ) to get lessons
  14. Where in Florida are you?

    After years of ooh-pahing bluegrass and Gospel, I statrted lessons again. My teacher asked what I wanted to play, and I said, "Jazz"
    So he told me to unstrap the bass and got out the staff paper. Now I'm up to my eyebrows in chord construction, intervals, triads etc. :cool:

    And that's just the beginning :eek:

    I'm lovin' it.
  15. ireidt


    Mar 6, 2005

    I live around the Tampa bay area, but far enough away so its 45 minutes away to everywhere.

    Chord Consturction, intervals and triads, sounds like my AP music theory class. :p
  16. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Oh god, yes. Get this book, ASAP. There are sites you can go for just about every tune in the Real Books (check the Misc. forum, there's a thread on it now.) Search for "Mark Levine" in this forum and you'll find a (fairly) recent thread I posted and a LOT of endorsements for this book from other TB memebers as well.
  17. ireidt


    Mar 6, 2005
    My dad is getting me the book for my birthday, but i have to wait like a week or two afterwards, no money now.
  18. Dave LaRue and Beaver Felton are at Bass Central in Orlando. You might consider the trip a couple of times a month for a good teacher. I drive 45 minutes each way weekly and it's well worth it to me. :D

    Also check the USF music Dept and UT. There have to be some good folks there.
  19. ireidt


    Mar 6, 2005
    I am actualyl trying to get into teh USF Music program for college. I can't drive naywehre yet for I don't have a job to pay for insurance *sniff* so I didn't get my lsidence yet. bah, need a car to get a job, need a job tog et a car! :mad:
  20. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    There are a plethora of jazz musicians around Tampa/St.Pete, what are you talking about? If your dad's willing to spend all of this money on instruments and books etc., I can't imagine he's gonna balk at making arrangements to drive you 45 minutes (or an hour, even) every month at least, to get lessons that are going to be worth far more to you than any book, video, etc etc etc. If you want, have your dad e-mail me, I'll talk to him.

    Talk to this guy, he sounds great and, if he doesn't have room himself, can probably recommend others. There's a great tenor player named Mickey Wells that lives in the area too.

    Your supposition is wrong on a bunch of levels. From the beginnings of the music (one of the good parts of the Burnsalis saga), there has always been some type of "formal"training. From the band directors (with legit backgrounds) in the "waif's home" band that Louis Armstrong was a part of as a youth, to folks like Walter Dyett (and that guy in CA whose name I can never remember) in the black school systems of the segregated US of the 30s to folks like Ray Brown, who was trained as a classical violinist , but understood the reality that he would never get work with any US orchestra and took up playing bass so he could make a living. And even then would study would Reinshagen (sp?) in Chicago.
    On top of that, it's not that you learned "on the bandstand". You learned by shedding, by studying with local players/teachers (like Bird with Buster Smith), by playing jam sessions and working on specifically what was giving you trouble, by transcribing solos and melodies by players you liked , not just to get the notes but to the level of being able to play "like" them, whenever you wanted. THEN when you got a gig with a band, there was a whole "apprenticeship" with other players in the band, getting together with the more experienced musicians to talk about harmonic structure, approach and concept. It was never about just getting up on the stand and trying stuff til you got it "right".

    Lastly, I'm not sure why you hear the word "teacher" and think of "school". In many ways, school is hardly the place to go to work on stuff like this. A person that teaches in the master/apprentice tradition stays with you , approaching things you are having a difficult time understanding by adopting different presentations until one clicks. Schools teach a course for a set amount of time, you either get it or you don't . Most often, you get enough that you can pass on to the next level, without really having a firm foundation. So that, as you squeek through the next level and the next, you end up with only a veneer of whatever skill set was being taught.
    Schools have certainly tried to replace the missing environment of musicians hanging out, trading ideas, approaches, chord changes etc. at informal gatherings and after hours sessions. What they haven't done a good job of is emulating this "one on one" of a more experienced musician taking a less experienced one "under his wing".