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Welcome to Carol's Playing Tips


Playing Tips 101-115 | Playing Tips 51-100 | Playing Tips 1 -50

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Many of you have asked about the availability of my books, tapes, videos, and other teaching aides. Click the 'Catalog' button at right to go to pages that describe these self-help tutorials. You will also find complete pricing and ordering information there.

Enjoy - Carol Kaye


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Since these tips are gleaned from the message board I will retain that format. The difference is, you will not be able to reply directly to what you read here.


We will be keeping the message board current as of a week or so, so the messages posted here are provided as a permanent record of Carol's Playing Tips for those who might have missed the original posts. Enjoy...

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tip 115

"Backing Up Soloists"

Everyone knows how to perform (speaking of pianists, bassists and guitar players here) in back of regular solo instrumentalists, that's a no-brainer altho' I think that guitar players would do well to get their comping together more for jazz types of songs - to sound like a big-band horn section as well as playing clipped up-beat (an's of 2 and 4) 2-3-string chords, and don't swing it too much, jazz is not "country swing" but a little smoother in sound, not so much of the country types of rhythm...this is for smooth jazz & fusion too as well as straight-ahead serious jazz, don't swing it so much.

But as soon as a drummer starts soloing, or a percussion instrument, people seem to wonder what to do. Here's my take:

When a drummer is soloing (and this happens mostly after the
bass player has taken their solo), you want to lay out completely and
let them have it - everybody lays out. And this works whether the
drummer is taking his 8 bars (after the bass solo, soloists go in order
of soloing and take 8 bars, alternating with the drummer's solo 8 bars)
or going for broke for the whole tune, a drums-only solo.....

Drummers love to play alone and this usually gives the rest
of the band a good counting lesson too....those 8-bar phrases come in
handy then. But usually the drummer, sensing that no-one probably knows
where he is in his solo (if they lose count), will make a definite
ending and may even count out-loud 1-2-3-4 and the band comes back in -
this works.

If a drummer needs help, the pianist/guitar player and you
the bassist, may do a little stop time at the start of each part of the
8-bar phrase in a tune, just a little break thing to help indicate to
the drummer where in the tune they are, but this is delicate, do with
care and not usually recommended unless the drummer is very new to this
or likes it.

As a bass player in a fusion solo (most boogaloo type stuff mixed with
bebop phrases), I'll turn and give the drummer 4 bars and we'll duet
like that, back and forth, this is fun and does well with audiences too,
then you let the drummer take it all.

Some experienced drummers even go into other tempos during
their solos, and may even stop during their solos, dramatically doing
some press rolls or cymbal work - be attentive and listen to what
they're doing as they may want you to come back in soon after they've
stopped and done their technique work, made their point and setting up
for the rest of the band to come back in.

Now when you the bassist want a solo, it's up to you to
discuss this with the rest of the band before you ever start playing.
Some bassists love to have a chordal instrument along with them...the
chordal instrument (piano or guitar) should play sparingly, just enough
space between chords so the bass player can say what they want in a solo
without interference (or attention taken away from their solo). Some
bassists want you to lay out entirely, both the keyboard and the
drummer.

When I'm playing guitar with a great bass player I'll usually
lay out and let them have it alone....it sounds good and you've given
them space. But not many bass players like it without something
happening (and tell the drummer exactly what you want too, maybe
just a spare brush on a cymbal here and there for backup, not much from
the drummer).

If I sense the bass player is in trouble (forgets where they are in the
tune, playing some wrong chords or ?), I'll sparingly comp just 2-3
voice chords on guitar, and leave them alone say...in the bridge, or 1/2
the tune. That way it sounds arranged, giving the bass player space to
play without leaving them totally alone.

How to stop other musicians from playing from you as you play
a bass solo? Just say "I've got it", try that and if it doesn't work,
say "lay out", they'll get it and there's usually no problem. And the
best way to end a bass solo is to walk on the end, the last 4 bars and
the band knows you're ending and that sounds really cool (no matter how
your solo went, if you end well, all's well) and the audience likes
that too, they know where to applaud a bass solo. Make sure you have
some good bebop jazz phrases to play for a solo, don't make it "snooze
time"...it doesn't have to be fast, but tasty...listen to Ron Carter,
Ray Brown and Bob Cranshaw, (and Nathan East and Steve Bailey for the
fusion things) for some ideas.

When I solo on the bass, I usually like nothing with me, no
drummer, nothing. Musicians used to automatically know what to do as
they seemed to be more in-tune with each other, concentrating and really
listening to each other all the time, more than they do in today's
"visual" world in general. Listening to each other is the real key to
what others are doing and what they want from you, a good habit
to develop.

As I was playing with one bass player who was a little "under
the weather", not a bad bass player but wasn't with it that night -- I
was helping him a little bit comping slightly on guitar...he looked at
me and said "lay out", which was fine - no problem.......but I knew
(from experience) what was going to happen and he got lost totally - the
rest of us sort of looked at each other and I just took charge and
brought us all in together to put a cap on his solo and he was grateful
for that....the audience had no idea what happened but applauded. You
do what you have to do, but do respect your band-mate's wishes, and
don't initiate any kind of "blame", that happens sometimes...you just
have to make it "right" and the outcome is fine.

So if you're soloing on bass (and even on other instruments)
and you get lost, just start walking as if it's the end of the tune and
the band will get it and come back in, no problem....but also, if you
get lost, look at someone, let them play a chord (they usually will), or
just do your walking, everyone will hear and join in then. If you get
lost in the tune when others are playing, keep playing chromatic notes
until you find the chord (you'll be looking furiously at the pianists'
left hand by now!) and you'll be OK, everyone does that.

Also, do not drink (much), don't do drugs, etc...and those things
probably wouldn't happen then - you need your whole faculties to play
well, get the signals spot-on etc. You've got to keep your mind about
you if you step out on a limb soloing etc., you might not have anyone to
save you who knows what to do, these tips will help you.

For a percussion solo, you can join in but watch his/her
reaction, if they give you a sign to lay out....lay out then.....
drummers and percussionists love absolutely nothing with them
but when the solo starts getting too long, then play a riff and the rest
of the band will join in and help bring it to a close. Percussion solos
sometimes get too long too unless it looks like the audience is really
into it.

One bass player told me that one of the soloists in their
band ran on and on and on many times with the solo, it was quite boring
to the musicians and the audience. I told them what to do: Play a stop
time riff pattern, like it's the "last time" on their
solo...you can start to do this on the bridge or the last 8 bars of the
tune, and it helps bring their soloing to a close and sounds like part
of the arrangement....don't count on just the drummer to play a fill to
end the solo, but with all of you playing a creative riff, it sounds
better, and signals to the soloist "your time is up"....and it all works
out. Sometimes soloists have no idea their effect on the audience, and
sometimes lose count on their solo times too, you have to remind them,
and that's a graceful way of doing it.

Now if you're a guitar player playing with the pianist, this
is a tough one. First of all, comp very lightly (usually 2-3 strings
clipped short on the an of 2 and 4 beats) until you psyche out the way
the piano player comps, the pianist being the most-important of the two
of you - unless the pianist has no idea what to do in comping, then you
have to take charge (if you really know how to comp, rememer...create
like a horn section).

Just stay out of the pianists' way when they solo and comp. And
sometimes it helps for you to lay out completely, even 1-2 times through
for their solo on piano.

Sometimes I will play even a bongo effect (like Barney Kessel
used to do) for about 1 chorus, and then lay back out...but you better
have your sense of time together to be able to do that and if you get a
dirty look from the drummer, just stop, you might be off the beat. The
bongo effect works if you really have your time-sense together (practice
with the elec. metronome beating on 2 and 4) and adds some color to the
sound of the tune.

If you're a guitar player soloing, I'm sure the pianist will
back you up just fine - they may play a little too full maybe -- have a
talk with them afterwards....let them know how to comp in back of you.
You may have to tell the drummer to play a little more quietly
(especially if it's jazz), they might be used to the fuller sound of the
piano.

Musicians, especially if they play well, are always glad to
accomodate anyone with their requests, no problem. You're all there to
make the group sound good no matter what it takes, the band is not for a
"showcase" for any egoist soloist or singer - altho' if you
have a star-soloist, no problem, let them shine -- but as a unit
working together, that's when you have the most success, the most gigs,
and have the best nights playing on gigs too.

Sure we all make mistakes here and there, but usually the
public doesn't know it. The art is how you cover the mistakes (don't
think about it and practice your facial moves in front of a mirror
sometime), and keep going with something no matter what. When you're
able to do this, it'll be fine, and you'd be surprised what good stuff
comes off as a recourse of making the music happen. It's all team-work
for the betterment of the sounds of the group as a whole.

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tip 114

Q. How do I get my jazz chordal progression theory together? By the practical ways of starting with the Cycle for instance (as well as more on jazz foundation theory). There's only one cycle, the chordal progression: C to F to Bb to Eb to Ab Db Gb(F#) to B to E A D G to C. Notice how it goes with the key signatures too -- F is 1 flat, Bb 2 flats and so forth....B is 5 sharps, E is 4 sharps and so on down. A back-cycle is going backward on the cycle -- Em//// B7(the back-cycle chord)//// to Em///.

It's highly important to learn the Cycle of Chordal Progression as most tunes have chords that usually go in cycles for awhile....For instance if you're playing chords and the chords are going G//// E7//// Am///// D7//// G////

The E7 back to G is ALL Cyclic.....perfect cycle. Inversions are simply different chordal notes on the bottom, not used that much on bass but it's important to know that's what they are called: G chord R 3 5 R G B D G (root inversion it's sometimes called) 1st inversion is: 3 5 R 3 B D G B 2nd inversion 5 R 3 5 D G B D and so on with all the chords (you play them and don't need to "name" them....the more you put in your hands/ear connection and the less you put in your "technical naming", the better)....the word "inversion" is used a lot on guitar, piano, sax, etc. but not that much on bass actually.

Progressions are just that, chord changes usually something to do with the cycle (see above). It's best to not get too technical ("this has got to fit into that") and more important to hone in on the real soloing - I teach a different way in the sense I get you going immediately knowing all this stuff and using it in walking on chord charts (even if you haven't had years of theory, you can learn this rather practical and find it easy to get started right) and I don't fool around with so many technical terms that don't mean that much in actual playing.

Many kinds of funky-rock-blues-soul etc. patterns are all in my books and of course the Jazz Improv For Bass and Pro's Jazz Phrases (as well as Elec. Bass Lines No. 6) have fine jazz patterns also. The word "shapes" is sort of a new term - not used that much in actual teaching I think....meaning the chordal note shapes....more for guitar. Not that necessary for bass...and is taking the place of the former "box" term imo -- chordal notes used to be called that.

>>>Do you recommend a good exercise for learning the fingerboard? Also, could you tell me a little about playing on the "2 and 4" beats in jazz.<<<

Just more of my books....you will certainly know your neck once you go through my books -- try getting all of the books, the prices are low and there's plenty of stock. No, while "Jazz Bass Tape & Guide" is excellent, gives you the great theory you need to get going, to really get to know your neck and get more of what you need, I'd go for more books. Hard to learn it all from one item.

Music takes awhile to learn - a few 1,000 hours of practice to really be dept at all styles of playing....especially if you're trying to learn your neck but it doesn't take "years"....just merely months -- I'd go for the "How To Play The Elec. Bass" (don't be fooled by the title, plenty of nitty in there to play), and "Electric Bass Lines Nos. 1-2-3-4-5-6" you'll have enough to work on for awhile and enjoy the music too...there's no dumb stuff in there, and yet some parts of all the books are very easy...enough versatility in them all to help you get going and good meat for your studies.

No, you don't accent 2 and 4, altho' some people mistakenly think you do in order to get the "groove" going....the drummer does the 2 and 4 and the bass player has to have his great time sense really correct and play slightly on top of the beat (not rushing, but on the upside of the beat, rather than dead in the middle for playing jazz -- we used to call it the "Ray Brown Edge"...Ray is right, that's where you play and he does NOT accent 2 and 4 at all).

I think your questions are very pertinent and with your permission would love to post this whole message on the Board. Yes, I'd highly recommend the Jazz Improv For Bass along with Pro's Jazz Phrases its companion book -- nothing like it....no-one knows this complete knowledge gained from playing the actual jazz with the finest in LA in the 50s....I wrote it for bass players after teaching it for years with great success (and at the Henry Mancini Institute-UCLA where I'm resident educator also). There's a different way that bass players play bass and it's geared toward that customary way altho' the theory and patterns are for everyone.

If this theory talk seems a little over your head right now, I'd also recommend the Bass Video Course which really gives you a good basic workout for arpeggios, chordal notes, getting your theory together and the exercises contained therein....it does spend a lot of time on commercial music theory too which is important to grasp for any kinds of work and styles other than jazz....but certainly it's critical for jazz to have a good foundation so you know what the heck everyone is talking about. It's not hard to learn when it's presented right by a qualified teacher who has had experience in all this.

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tip 113


photo by Debby Hastings

Carol's double-felt muting system for pick players

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tip 112


Minor Blues


The Message -- BLUES, MINOR CHORD CHANGES (basic)

Gm7//// //// //// //// Cm7//// //// Gm7//// //// Eb9//// D9//// Gm7//// D7-9//// (or turnaround could be: Gm7// F// Eb// D7//)


Remember within this basic minor blues you can always back-cycle -- 1st bar could be:


Gm7//// D7-9//// Gm7//// and change the last Gm7 to dominant to resolve to either Cm7 or C7 (in some cases the iv chord can be IV7, the pure 7th chord instead of minor: G7//// C7//// Am7-5//D7// Gm7//// //// variation of Eb7 to D7: D7//// Eb7//D7// Gm7//// Am7-5//D7/Ab9/

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tip 111


Three Basic Blues Chord Changes


The 3 forms of Blues:


G7//// //// //// //// C7//// //// G7//// //// D7//// C7//// G7//// D7////


which in Solfeggio (transposition) is:
I7//// //// //// //// IV7//// //// I7//// //// V7/// IV7//// I7//// V7////


Jazz Blues:
G7//// C7//// G7//// Dm7// G7// C7//// C#o//// G7//// E7//// Am7//// D7//// G7// E7// A7// D7// Solfeggio: I7//// IV7//// I7//// v7// I7// IV7//// #ivo//// I7// VI7//// ii7//// V7//// I7// VI7// II7// V7//


And the 3rd Version:


Gmaj7//// F#m7//B7// Em7//Ebm7// Dm7//G7// Cmaj7//// Cm7//F7// Bbmaj7//// Bbm7//Eb7// Abmaj7//// Am7//D7// Bm7//Bbm7// Am7//Ab7//


Solfeggio:
Imaj7//// vii7//III7// vi7//bvi7// v7//I7// IVmaj7//// iv7//bVII7// bIIImaj7//// iii7//bVI7// bIImaj7//// ii7//V7// iii7//biii7// iim7//bII7//

As you can tell, it's a lot "harder" to think in numbers but once you do it a few times, you get used to it and then can transpose to ANY KEY, a very useful tool in music.

Notice that the minor chord situation it taken care of by switching from Roman numberals to the dotted i's in Solfeggio, a very standard procedure in all legit music schools (no, not quite the same in Nashville which goes with the arabic system and has to write out "m" for minor.....

Be aware also that many chord charts will subsitute the dash "-" for the small "m" for minor: A-7 is Am7 and the chart will then follow suit all the way through with dashes indicating minor chords.

There's also many many variations on the last 2 forms above, for instance, in the 2nd one, you can have this common variation in chords and in fact leave out totally that #ivo chord in the 6th bar (C#o7 is the same as C#o, same notes you can use: R b3 b5 bb7):

G7//// C7//C#o7// Dm7//// G7//Db9// C7//// Gm7//C7// G7//C7// Bm7-5//E7// A7//// Am7//Ab13// G7//E7-9// Am7//D7/Ab13/

Solfeggio:

I7//// IV7//#ivo7// v7//// I7//bV9// IV7//// i7//IV7// I7//IV7// ii7-5//VI7// II7//// ii7//bII13// I7//VI7-9// ii7//V7/ bII 13/

Notice that the chord ii7-5 (Am7-5) the dash is also denoting the b5, some people will write b5 and some people will write -5 on chord charts, same thing as as some will write Am7 while others will write A-7 (all consistently within the entire chart). Only the 5th and the 9th are sometimes written as -5 or -9 to indicate b5 and b9 (the "b's" here are FLATS).

The dominant chords: 7th, 9ths, 11ths, and 13ths are all treated the same way on elec. bass, all dominants -- you don't normally play the 11ths, 13ths, those are for the chordal players (and for soloing too) but sometimes you will play the 9ths.

Likewise the last blues version, commonly popularized by Bird, Bud Powell, Horace Silver, and Sonny Stitt etc., others in the late 40s and early 50s with this kind of blues, can be altered here and there too -- notice how I changed the last 2 bars (the turnaround) to what I commonly refer to as the "Jazz turnaround", used mainly by the better jazz groups back then and is more common now among pop groups.

The ordinary turnaround is I vi7 (or VI7) ii7 (or II7) V7 known as the 1 6 2 5, also can be iii VI7 ii7 V7 known as the 3 6 2 5, the 3 taking the place of the I chord (the Em7 chord is a G6 chord), the Jazz turnaround is exactly the flat-5 pivoting chords of the orig. I vi7 ii7 V7: G Em7 Am7 D7 = G Bb13 Ebmaj7 Ab13 (Bb is -5 of E, Eb is -5 of A, Ab is -5 of D):

Gmaj7//G6// F#m7-5//B7-9// Em7//A7// Dm7//G7/Db13/ Cmaj7//C6// Cm7/ F13// Bbmaj7//Bb6// Bm7//E7-9// Am7//E7-9// Am7//Db13// Gmaj7/ Bb13// Ebmaj7//Ab13//

So you see you can many different variations based on the basic original chord themes of the 3 different kinds of Blues above.

Also, on the turn-around bar, you don't always have to play those turn-around chords when you're soloing, you can make it always G//// D7//// (and remember you can always change that D7 to a D+ -- augmented chord also, simple alteration always).

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tip 110

Some Quick Good Jazz Soloing Ideas

Now a good chordal jazz soloing lesson of sorts. Take the standard, "There Is No Greater Love". Notice how the chords after the first Bbmaj7 are dominants....Eb7, Ab7, G7, C7 then F7. Here's how you chordally work those:

The Eb7 is the IV chord of Bb (cyclic) and Eb7 being a 7th chord, it's basically like Bbm (Bbm/Eb7 tho't of as the "same" chord), so for Bbmaj7, play a pattern, for Eb7, repeat that same pattern UP 3 frets (major to minor), it's Dbmaj7 but you don't need to even think of that (for Eb7, one of the listed chordal subs in my book for dominants) and then for Ab7, play its Ebm, and for G7, play its Dm (m9ths work fine too, or just stacked minor chords).

Then you have time with the C7 and the F7, work your Gm stacked triads for C7, and for F7, do something different to wrap up that 8 bars, start with the Cm7 stacked triads (if you want), ending with the Gbdim (start with F of course), or starting with F, do your diminish w/parallel 4ths moving down

I assume you've practiced your pattern/chordal note things in my books (Jazz Improve For Bass & Pro's Jazz Phrases), all you need is the very first note and your fingers know the rest - no thinking required.

Or....change the F7 to F+, the augmented chord always works for the dominant (7th) chords, especially when resolved to the Tonic chord of Bb. You'll see some great possibilities you can come up with the right and easy ways of getting your jazz improv together - it gets to be so much fun as my students and fans will tell you....have fun.

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tip 109

Pivotal b5 Uses

You can use the pivotal b5 patterns only when you're ready to cycle to the next chord from a dominant:

G7 to C E7 to Am D7 to G7

It doesn't matter what kind of chord you're resolving to major (tonic), minor or 7th (dominant), you can use the pivotal b5 pattern at the end of the 7th chord (G7, E7 or D7 above) to resolve to the next cycle chord:

G7 you can use, say, the Dm stacked triad pattern (for G7) then use the b5 pattern of G7 on the tail end: Db13 for instance or even the Abm9 pattern (Db7 is the b5 of G7 so you can use both Db7 and Abm9 or even Abm7...Joe Pass just uses the plain ol' Abm, and it sounds great going to C of some sort).

E7 use Bb9 or Fm9 to resolve to Am

D7 use Ab7, Ab9, Ab13 or Ebm Ebm7 Ebm9 etc. to resolve to G of some sort (Gmaj7 G6 Gmaj9 G6/9, or G6/9b5 etc. on the end or doesn't matter what kind of G it is, it's a CYCLE chord, that's the crux of this whole thing.

So....study your cycle chords in patterns so you can jump to them without even thinking. That's what good jazz soloing is all about, chords and chord changes.

Rock players in transition from rock to jazz CAN learn this orrect system just fine. Just dig in and get your chordal progression phrases and arpeggios together....you'll soon learn to do it the chordal way, it's the only way to play fine jazz soloing.

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tip 108

How Jazz Theory Evolved

Tim, thanks for that message about my new "Jazz Improv For Bass" book. It's the theory that is a continuation from the fine 50s jazz ways of "thinking" (actually playing, you don't "think" as you're playing jazz improv at all - you're thinking about "what time does the gig end", "what do I have to get on the way home" etc.), because you've taken all the necessary practicing steps to learn your chordal progressions, substitute licks, patterns, all that stuff.

Somehow, in the rock era transition, this way of doing chordal progressions and chordal theory (cycling, back-cycling, substitutions, extended triads, moving chords around) got lost in the rock times of playing music.

Having taught this for years and years and finding out that my fellow musicians who also did a lot of teaching (not every pro loves to teach nor can teach well) do teach this way too, you notice that the rock players who then teach mostly don't think in chords at all, but think it's "scales over this and that"....no-one did it that way at all in jazz when jazz was at its peak.

The rockers who later got into teaching, writing books, trying to explain jazz improv didn't know this way of doing jazz, and couldn't play this at all but got off into fusion and pseudo jazz with scales (talk about boring music and non-workable....jazz was formed from chords of those standards, not in the 50s from rock and roll at all, was non-existent).

So there's a critical lack of the really pretty easy way of learning jazz through chordal movements out there....and you have books with the word "jazz" in them with horrible scales....one can play those all day, know and discuss them on the internet, and NEVER play music at all, never function in tunes with chord changes, etc., can't interpret chord charts, can't solo, except for show-off chops that mean literally NOTHING in music, not saying anything of important in music.

So you have ignorant books teaching terrible things and people giving up because they think it's "them", that they have no talent to learn anything -- those books don't work.

This book gives one a sense of real chords, the notes that make up the real way of playing, hence the great foundation for Jazz Improv, how it developed from chordal substitutes, etc. It's the right way and actually, once you get to thinking chordally, it's simple...and FUN!

Some of my students (some pros) who for a minute tho't "oh, this is hard" -- the ones who "knew all the scales and their names", and had to simply listen to jazz (you can't play it if you don't listen to it and know what it sounds like), and practice a little bit (no playing country will not help you learn jazz that much), get used to the feeling of being "the soloist", something that bass players need help in at first -- hence the approach is different than say a guitar book, and get their chordal-note chops together...... it was amazing to see the quick ways they started soloing.....I still get a kick out of everyone, to see the lightbulb come on. It's such a joy.

And it's something they have for the rest of their lives too. However, for the finer approaches of playing soloing, you do have to play pretty often to keep up the finer soloing. If you're going to futz around with it, fine you can afford to work say only 3-4 times a month, and practice a little for those gigs and still play pretty well.

But even Ray Brown said to a friend of mine when he asked him why he works so much "I need to keep my chops up, it's easier to work a lot than to just work here and there". He's right about that. But how many are a "Ray Brown" and get a chance to work that often and keep up with the finer ways of soloing?

Yet, with this book, you have the exact phrases in soloing that Ray and other top jazz musicians play. I don't believe in teaching corny phrases and then say "OK, now you play the good phrases"! That's un-productive and kind of an insult to boot. It's vital to learn the right stuff, and then it's easy maintenance too.

I've always taught all the great phrases you're going to play great with...no sense in practicing stupid stuff to play great.

You can learn better with the actual things you're going to play, and really enjoy getting your music together, play good to start with, not someone's imagined way of doing things (when they themselves can't play it, and/or teach it right).

So anyway, that's my philosophy, get someone playing immediately, give them the good stuff to do it with and they've got something fine the rest of their lives.

The theory is correct and even more than you'll find in schools and even universities who don't teach this way at all.....they literally don't know how to put it together to teach the overview of jazz.....most of us had a great chordal background in the 50s to do it with and the rest got it by "ear" but that's a tough way of doing it.

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tip 107

Latin Music for Ideas in Funk Rhythms


Latin music was very popular in the 40s and 50s. If you played any gigs, you would have to play at least 25% Latin songs, with their different rhythms and styles and playing them on guitar was especially fun, both from the rhythmic aspect and the soloing jazz on top of it all.

For bass players, it's a bonanza of ideas. All you have to do is listen to the different rhythm instruments in any Latin band, be sure to write down the rhythms, or tap it out until you can get to you bass and try out the rhythmic patterns with your own blues notes and voila! You have some funk patterns you won't believe, it's easy as pie once you practice these different accented parts until they feel that they are a part of you.

There are lots of upbeat rhythms in Latin music and the laying on the 4th beat and holding that over the bar too (Motown-styles) on the usual Latin bass parts and even on the big-band or combo arrangement ideas....this is also easy to use but may be a lot different than the rock that one normally plays, so practice this with the elec. metronome to get the feel of it all with simple notes at first, then you're more ready to try elaborate patterns (lots of notes) with the rhythms. Remember where "1" is at all times.

Holding the note over the bar (either from beat 4 and/or 4-an) is tricky at first as most bass players feel comfortable hitting the "1" only. This can be overcome tho', with practice and playing 2-3 notes in a pattern (keeping it simple) and playing with the elec. metronome on the backbeats only (2 and 4). You'll soon get it.

Most bass players are not adept at playing upbeat patterns, don't feel the upbeats, do not create the necessary groove upbeat patterns for great bass lines.

Just try 1 note at first to get the rhythm part of it down first, then add 1-2 notes for the next round of practice before doing tougher lines with more upbeat notes, you'll feel natural with this in due time, especially if you put the metronome on 1/2 speed so it beats on the 2nd and 4th beats (instead of 1-2-3-4, that's not the way to do it, it'll turn you into a robot within a short time, keep the metronome on 2 and 4 like a drummer's back-beat, that's the best).

You only want the metronome on 1-2-3-4 when you're practicing difficult 16th-note patterns to get the intricacy of the rhythms for a very short time, otherwise, it's 2 and 4.

I got a kick out of hearing about one seminarist who recently gave a workshop in one of the biggest Universities -- he was talking about how Latin music influenced rock and roll recordings of the 60s in rhythms (he's right it did, yet gets no credit nor recognition for it) and quoted my name and then proceeded to show how I developed my 16th patterns from Latin patterns.....I was thrilled to hear about it, as I've always said my bass playing was Latin in the Boogaloo, Funk, etc. yet my pro-students are surprised when I say that.

He described all the various styles I recorded and proceeded to tell the class where my lines came from -- we need more of these people who speak the truth. But also I have to add....I did play 100s of record dates first on guitar before I ever touched the bass. And a lot of my rhythms also come from the same rhythmic feel of various styles of music I played as a rhythm (and sometimes a soloist or just a fill player too) guitarist on those dates, let alone all the live professional guitar work I did for 8 years before I ever set foot in a studio. No, it was just latin, a great deal of the funky stuff.

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tip 106

Remember when you're reading chord charts, the Real Book doesn't usually have the inside chordal changes that you should be aware about.

That is, on the 8th bar of "Green Dolphin Street" there's just the same chord of "C". Since the next bar begins with Dm, you should play A7 for either that whole bar before, or at least the 2 beats before the Dm chord to set up the Dm chord (cyclic).

In "All The Things You Are", when it lands in the key of G (mid-way through), there's 2 bars of G there. Then you play the Am chord starting the ii V7 I pattern). On the 2 bars of G, here is what you would normally play (and it's NOT written either) to resolve to the bar of Am (this is about the 15th and 16th bar of the tune):

G// C7// Bm// E7(b9)// resolving to the Am and the last 1/2 of the tune.

Similar to Satin Doll on the 7th and 8th bar coming back into the Dm of the 2nd 8 of the tune (key of C): C// F7// Em7b5// A7// you see how the A7 then resolves to the start of the 2nd 8th bars (Dm7).

When you're walking jazz style too, remember to skip over chordal notes of that chord you're playing for better walking lines too...you can still create hills and valleys, but you don't always have to creat a "straight line up" nor a "straight line down", learn to skip around the chordal notes, some notes up high of the chord, then another note low, then high etc.

You need to know your chordal note arpeggios so your fingers can automatically and easily find these notes.

A lot of this is noted in my "Standards I" charts and tape item (see catalog page). These inside chord changes are not on the orig. "Real Book" charts at all, and in fact, some of the Real Book chord changes not only leave a lot to be desired, but are in some places downright wrong. But that's all you have when it comes to chord changes for standards.

However, once you go through my Standards I item, you start seeing the right ways to interpret the Real Book, the inside ways of thinking about chords and chordal progressions, and you learn to simplify it all very well.

Even for walking purposes, you use the solo idea of always thinking of the ii7 and the V7 as the "same chord" when there is a V7 chord i.e., you can always insert a ii7 for the first part of V7. Soloists sometimes play just the ii7 chord for the V7 (and vice-versa when the chords ii7 V7 come in that order, you can use the V7 and its subs for both chords, you don't have to change with each chord that way).

And you can walk this way too.....you can move "chords around" with your walking the same as chordal players do but this takes practice and listening to people like Ray Brown, how they interpret chordal charts of the standards for awhile and experimenting for awhile. You soon get the hang of it.

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tip 105

Many new swing big bands have CDs out with elec. bass, it's beginning get more common and most sound pretty good I have to say, well-balanced with their sound pretty close to acoustic. But.....I do have some suggestions to many who used to be rockers and want to play swing now:

(1) Keep your notes nice and long (as well as your sound fairly good with lows and some mid-range).

(2) When you walk, it's OK to put an occasional "hump" (double-note) in there, ala Ray Brown (and listen ONLY to Ray Brown, he's the best and the ultimate in walking taste, well, LeRoy Vinnegar was too but I still like Ray the best). But, having played a lot of rock and all, you may be tempted to be playing those in too many places (almost making the tune sound like a rock-shuffle) -- be cautious with that.

(3) Make sure, you blend well with the drummer and horns for that "band-sounding-like-one-man" feel and unity feel. This means not playing too loudly, you don't want to "take over" the band, but yet, not too soft too. And if you are playing a 5-string bass, stay OFF that low B string - it will control the band too much.

(4) Have your time-sense so well put-together, that everyone can rely on your sense of time (and don't ride on the drummer's beat, you two must "pull-together" neither one riding on each other's beat....sometimes, that's impossible as the drummer might not have an excellent time-sense, then you have to set it well, so he can grasp your feel, and vice-versa). You do this by practicing your walking with the metronome beating on beats 2 and 4 (get that by counting 1-1-2-3-4 while the metronome is beating 1/2 the speed you're playing at).

Other things are involved with reading big-band charts to like: when you have to look down at your neck (if you play with the pivoting left-hand technique I teach, this won't happen very often), mentally "circle" where you are on the music, quickly look at your neck, then come back to the "circled part" and voila, you're back in.

When you're playing the same pattern over and over, really learn how to feel sections in 8-bar phrases. Also, mark your part when certain sections come in, piano solos, drum part fills, horn unisons, etc. and you can quickly find your place too.

Elec. bass is making a big splash with swing bands, and that's nice to see and hear.

On one name recording, the bass player sounded very good -- however, the only objection I heard is that occasionally, he puts in way too many of those humping things, making it almost sound a little rockish in a few spots, and his sound could have used a lot less mid-range (Jaco-sounds) with better bottom and of course he needed a piece of muting underneath his strings to stop all the apparant under- and over-tones.... it could have been so much better.

The bass player's time-sense could have been better (he and the guitarist rushed here and there on this otherwise fine dixieland recording, but the fine drummer kept them in check), just my critical opinions. But these are common things to think about.

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tip 104

Hi CAROL and all..........DON, I have my copy right here, it's called "The Nashville Numbering System" by Neal Matthews Jr. of the Jordanaires. Amazon.com still has it. I bought it several years ago when I had to whip up some number charts pronto for a country gig.......John McC

John McCoy <jpmccoy@pacifier.com> Portland, OR

Submitted at: 6:51 on Tuesday, July 13, 1999

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tip 103

About playing the pick with the technique I use. It's just a natural flat wrist technique that lets ANYONE play HARD on the bass, getting big hard sounds (jimp?) without working at it. ANYONE can easily play that way ALL DAY AND NIGHT (which I had to do in the 60s studios for years) and NEVER get tired....the only thing we all got tired of was boredom and *sitting*, that was tough. When you have the easy correct picking technique (and yes the hard pick does help with good sounds and ease of picking too), then it's really nothing to do that, NO EFFORT AT ALL. When I watch how others play so awful with their arched wrists, or pinkie laying on the board (ugh!), it just amazes me that they have no idea how to use the pick on bass at all, it's all so simple. Lay your hand down on the strings (no never as a "mute" but as a guide for the thumb muscle) and keep the pinkie up in the air slightly to cock your right wrist so you naturally use the natural tough strength in the wrist to pick the bass. This technique is shown at great length on BOTH video courses: Bass Video Course and "Music Reading Pracitce" split-screen 2-video set. Boogaloo and deep bass sounds are easy and you hardly have to hit the string to get a "man's" sound as one confused pro put it.....no you don't have to be built like a "man" to get a "man's" sound.

Carol

Submitted at: 15:06 on Monday, July 12, 1999

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tip 102

Jerry, yes your sounds are great with a hard pick and the versatility is something, from deep bass (they'll accuse you tho' of playing w/fingers, it's so deep-sounding) to the highest pick-sound (but w/the bottom left in!). I made some mistakes on many hit recordings, but hardly any in the TV film/movie studios where accuracy is most-needed. As to the recordings, can you see the dancers on the dancefloor saying "darling, did you just hear that bad note on the bassline?" Just practice the lines in my books, you'll get there just fine.

Carol

Submitted at: 22:31 on Saturday, July 10, 1999

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tip 101

Yes, *you* can play fine bass too, many guitarists do it. It's a different thing tho' than classical guitar, you got to *hit it* and classical guitar is a lot more sensitive. But yes, you can do it. I'd for sure get the Standards I package on the books page on my site, and if you don't have it, the "Jazz Bass tape & guide" (and maybe the Bass Video Course too to get the idea of the commercial stuff which you will use in church...they're very hip with their excellent bands with all styles of music in church. Good luck, and thanks again for your nice comments about our bunch of musicians...that's the stuff to study alright. Best, CK

Carol

Submitted at: 20:28 on Wednesday, July 7, 1999

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Playing Tips 101-114 | Playing Tips 51-100 | Playing Tips 1 -50

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