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Going to a jazz workshop...


alexclaber

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(I guess that's a place where they build jazz...)

 

Following BenLoy's post on II-V-I's I realised that I know my 7th chords on the bass and should be able to play through progressions chordally even though I can't walk them yet (though I'll find out if I can walk under pressure as I'm going to my first jazz workshop tonight). Had a great time playing through "I Got Rhythm" and singing along and feeling like (a bit of) a jazz cat. So cool!

 

This workshop I'm going to should be interesting - there'll be one other bassist there (coming from the opposite direction, a classical upright player vs my rock/funk/reggae/pop-ish horizontal-ish background) but I guess when she's doing the walking I can play the changes chordally (I don't think there'll be any hip reharmonising going on as everyone, apart from the tutors, is totally green).

 

I'll keep you posted as to how it all goes - hopefully my week on holiday (admittedly sans bass) spent reading through and fingering Building Walking Basslines and studying my theory book should help me out. Wish me luck!

 

Alex

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Well I did it! Walked in and found the URB player was already there so throughout the evening we took turns playing 16 bars each. The tutor was also a (upright) bassist which was really helpful. We played Nica's Dream (a Horace Silver tune) and I ended up playing the A section (which is latin not swing) which was much easier for me whilst the upright player did the B section. We then spent a while vamping on the Bbmmaj7 Abmmaj7 first 4 bars and I got a little carried away and started going a bit jaco-esque fusion (doh!)with the freedom of such simple changes whilst the soloists practiced soloing.

 

We all got to solo over the choruses and although I got somewhat lost I made it through. Whilst the other bassist was covering the bassline I comped the chords high up which kept me amused - it's nice to be able to switch between at the hats but very hard on the brain for a jazz beginner.

 

We spent the second half of the evening working on jazz blues in different keys, with everyone contributing melodies and solos and without any charts. I felt far less scared throughout this, with no weird chords and frequent changes to deal with.

 

Overall I feel I did better than I'd have expected, I generally outlined the changes clearly enough but I played too busy, particularly too much rhythmic complexity and got a bit loud at times (hey, I'm a funkster!)

 

Next time I'm going to stick a bit of foam under my strings and try and pay more within the changes and stick to just 1/4 notes. Hopefully I'll soon have the fretless back in action and I'll raise the action on that and try and force myself to play less busy and get a more authentic non-fusion sound.

 

During the break (when I was having a go on the other bassist's upright and then playing the drums - yes I'm an addict) one of the guitarists asked me if I'd be able to play bass for a gig he's doing a week on Saturday. I said yes and then asked what kind of music it was. Once he said it was 'just jazz' I back pedalled furiously pointing out that I can't really play jazz and that tonight was my first attempt. Anyway, he's sent me the setlist and I'm going to get all the charts and see if there's a hope of me roughly managing it! Here's their setlist:

 

Satin doll C

It could happen to you Bb

Embraceable you G

I want to be happy C

Stars fell on Alabama C

Our love is here to stay Bb

The shadow of your smile G

My funny valentine

Take the 'A' train C

A foggy day in London town Bb

Water from a distant well G

Learning the blues Bb

Summertime C

Gentle rain C

I can't give you anything but love Bb

Misty Bb

Lullaby of birdland C

Blue moon F

But not for me G

Crazy Bb

Corcovado C

Fly me to the moon Eb

Our love is here to stay Bb

Georgia F

Black coffee C

Blue Monk Bb

 

I'm pretty sure it's not a hardcore jazz gig, more like background (I hope!) music in a church. I think I'll do the gig and just focus really hard on keeping everything together and laying down the changes. Tonight I'm off to something that's much more my thang - a evening of music, poetry, performance art etc with me playing bass in the house band which will be filling all the gaps with wholly improvised music - no stressing about playing the changes because they're up to me!

 

Anyway, that's all - I think I'm going to enjoy becoming a jazz bassist, and I'm certainly going to get a lot better very quickly if people keep asking me to do gigs!

 

Alex

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  • 2 weeks later...

Played my first 'jazz' gig on Saturday night. Quite a strange event in a church hall, just oldies tunes (as listed above) so no-one was expecting hardcore 'jazzing out' but just nice tunes to dance to. What made it rather 'interesting'(apart from the fact that I'm very much a beginner bassist when it comes to walking through changes) was that the keyboard player (also a sub) didn't turn up. The lineup was thus; vocals, harmonica (all different sizes!), trumpet, bass and drums - notice the lack of chordal instruments! This meant that it was down to me to outline the changes or at least keep the groove going and not clash with the lead instruments.

 

I had the changes for about half the songs and tried to stay within them and keep things together (much easier on the tunes I knew, Summertime and Black Coffee working particularly well) whilst on the rest of the tunes I just walked freely whilst staying in the right tonality(-ish) and trying to complement the melodies. I guess one of the strengths of these old jazz numbers is that the melodies are so strong and simple that they can carry the song on their own.

 

All in all, it was good fun and I certainly learnt a lot from the experience - I don't think I'm ready to fool an audience of jazzophiles or deal with difficult changes yet but I was pleased with my ability to hold the band together and keep a good swinging groove happening.

 

Alex

 

P.S. This wasn't intended to be a solo thread - feel free to add your own comments, tips, tricks etc or just tell me to shut up because nobody cares...

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Alex, I care! ;):D

 

Congrats...sounds like you hung in there in a sink-or-swim scenario. I would think you probably came away from that jazz performance a wiser player. :thu:

 

What might you do differently in preparing for another jazz engagement because of your experience with the workshop and this recent gig?

 

Peace. :cool:

spreadluv

 

Fanboy? Why, yes! Nordstrand Pickups and Guitars.

Messiaen knew how to parlay the funk.

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Originally posted by Sweet Willie:

What might you do differently in preparing for another jazz engagement because of your experience with the workshop and this recent gig?

Given enough notice, I'd want to get all the chord charts, make sure they're in the right key (the guy organising this gig was the drummer so he didn't have a clue about charts and the other musicians just knew the melodies, not the changes) and get hold of recordings of all the tracks (or at least midi files of them). Then spend some time on my daily commute listening to the songs whilst following the changes and getting a feel for the movement and the form (AABA or whatever). Once I've got my new PC sorted it should be pretty easy for me to download the midi files, shift them to the correct key, burn an audio CD of them and print out a matching chord chart.

 

Unfortunately, I have a terrible habit of thinking "I'll get by somehow..." and doing less preparation than is ideal. Thankfully my ears are getting good enough that I can do that without too much embarassment, but I know I'd learn so much more and play so much better if I could get deeper inside the changes.

 

Alex

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Hi Alex,

 

Wow! I am totally impressed! First off, it sounds like you really made wonderful use out of the workshop, and the best part is, you actually impressed someone enough that you got a gig out of it!! :thu::thu::thu:

 

I do not know any jazz on my bass yet, and I shake in my boots when I think about doing a gig like the one you did, especially without any keyboard or guitar! You are brave and obviously a pretty darn good musician.

 

I have some questions:

1.) Were you nervous, and if so, did you relax at some point, or was the whole gig nervewracking?

2.) If you were to play the same exact set again, would it now be a breeze?

3.) Did you feel like you were playing jazz? (in other words, did you use special riffs or techniques, which are especially used in jazz?)

4.) What feedback did the bandmates give you?

5.) How long have you been playing bass?

 

Keep up the great work! I am always inspired by you wonderful folks around here. :)

 

... connie z

"Change comes from within." - Jeremy Cohen

 

The definition of LUCK: When Preparation meets Opportunity!

 

http://www.cybergumbo.com

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Originally posted by Connie Z:

I have some questions:

1.) Were you nervous, and if so, did you relax at some point, or was the whole gig nervewracking?

2.) If you were to play the same exact set again, would it now be a breeze?

3.) Did you feel like you were playing jazz? (in other words, did you use special riffs or techniques, which are especially used in jazz?)

4.) What feedback did the bandmates give you?

5.) How long have you been playing bass?

1. I was really worried when before the gig started - I had a whole pile of charts in front of me and the other players didn't seem to understand my plight of finding out if they were in the right key and if I'd transposed them correctly. In the end we just played a song and they told me it was in C major so I just walked around C (thinking about it, I guess I was just doing C Ionian modal jazz lines underneath the traditional melody, that must be why it worked because it didn't sound *too* dissonant).

 

2. If I played the gig again it'd be easier because I now know how the songs go - however I'd want to actually keep within the structure rather than making it up as I went along so it would almost be harder (caveat: knowing me though, I'd probably head off in own direction if it wasn't going right).

 

3. Yeah, I'd say I was playing jazz - I played fairly straight ahead walking bass throughout the whole gig and approached my bass more like an upright, single finger plucking up around the end of the fingerboard. Regardless of my note choices I was determined to keep the groove going and to make things swing (and keep the tempo-control deficient drummer in check!).

 

4. The bandmates were all really nice - the youngest of them was in his late 50s and the other three were well into their 60s and I think they understood that being only 25 and not into that older jazz (which my Grandpa knows sooo well) I didn't know more than 1/3 of the tunes. The singer was amazing considering she only had me backing her and half the time I was playing totally different changes to what the song should have had - she never got lost of went out of tune. They said they couldn't have done the gig without me and that I'd done a really good job (bear in mind that I did tell them this was my first jazz gig and I'd only been playing jazz for 2 weeks so their expectations can't have been all that high).

 

5. I've been playing bass for 6 years now. There's a really really really long post about my musical background here: http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=5;t=005739;p=3 (my god, I can ramble...)

 

P.S. Connie, if everyone was as kind and generous with their praise as you the world would be a much better place - I am not worthy!

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Hey Alex,

 

I might have been able to mess up a jazz gig like the one you described - with a song list in advance and a chance to prepare. But with no other chordal instruments? The melody is not always the best place to get your "root" from if you loose it.

 

If it was me (without more chordal help), I'd have panicked and spontaneously combusted.

 

Congrats on a great learning experience!!

Tom

www.stoneflyrocks.com

Acoustic Color

 

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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Originally posted by Tom Capasso:

If it was me (without more chordal help), I'd have panicked and spontaneously combusted.

Tom, Thanks for the good laugh! :thu::D:D

 

I hadn't thought about "spontaneous combustion" in a long time! It was one of my favorite mysteries when I was a kid. Is it fact... or fiction?????

 

... connie z

"Change comes from within." - Jeremy Cohen

 

The definition of LUCK: When Preparation meets Opportunity!

 

http://www.cybergumbo.com

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