Back in 2011 i attended a workshop with master jazz guitarist Frank Vignola.
A couple of days after the workshop he was going to play a show not to far from where I live. At the workshop he invited the participants to come to the concert and offered the possibility to jam with him, Vinny Raniolo and Eric Bogart.
In the intermission I approached Frank and told him that I’d like to take him up on the offer to jam. We decided on Fly me to the moon and a blues…
Set two starten and I was called up on stage after the second song…
I brought my ubass plugged into the PA and of we went. We had not played a single note prior to this and there was somewhere around 150-200 in the audience probably wondering who that guy was taking the stage.
Fly me to the moon flew bye and Frank started to play the head for C-jam blues and after a somewhat shaky start (on my part) we found a nice groove.
I still love the part where I manage to steer us into half-time mode and the audience starts to clap along. Frank plays a smoking solo, I play a solo and we go into trade mode and finally manage to sync the ending pretty nicely!
This was a great experience and has also been great for my “ubass exposure” on YouTube with around 135.000 views to this day.
Last Saturday Frank played at a nearby jazz club and I went there with a friend. It was a fantastic concert. Frank played with top notch Swedish jazz musicians, Eric Söderlind, guitar, Hans Backenroth, upright bass and Joakim Ekberg, drums.
No jam for me this time but I managed to talk to Mr Vignola for a bit, telling him how fun it was when we jammed and that the video of that firat jam back in 2011 has been great for me. It’s nice to be able to give thanks for these things in person.
The sax and trumpet players from the support band was invited to jam. It’s so nice that Frank still pays-it-forward at his concerts!
A while back I had the pleasure of spending some time with a great musician and super nice human being, Lars Jansson. He is considered one of the best jazz pianists in Sweden and has released a lot of albums through the years, toured all over the world with different jazz projects often in his own name.
Please check out his website for more info!
We had a quick jam at a friends house and naturally I brought my spruce fretless and small Aguilar/Promethean rig 🙂 I sure hope we’ll play together again soon! Thanks for a great time Lars!
Finally part two is done! I decided to make my bass lines based on the backing tracks made by Jamey Aebersold. Please check these out they are really good and makes a perfect practice partner…almost as good as playing live with living breathing musicians in the same room…
If you haven’t already please check out part 1 before you continue! In the first part I try to give some background theory in the art of making/playing walking bass lines.
Time for part 2!
The tune starts of with a short intro followed by a vocal melody ‘chorus’ (the whole song form through once). The bass part is played exactly as on the Aebersold practice mp3/cd or vinyl!
During my vocal scat solo I play a improvised walking bass line. (Although not at the same time as you can see…Playing walking bass and singing a scat solo at the same time I’ll save for later 🙂
I will also write/compose a bass line based on a couple of different walking bass concepts that I will show you and analyze in part 3 of this walking bass style study. You can follow along in the ‘on-screen-sheet-music’ and/or in the PDF you can get if you’re interested. Just email me at email@example.com and I’ll send you a link!
The same song form is played two times as follows:
1. As i described above (Three choruses in original tempo)
2.. As 1. but without the bass part.
In part 3 I will also analyze the bass parts in this part using a special version of the sheet music with written comments.
I will also do a slowed downed version that you can download and practice to if you want!
We will take a look at more jazz tunes in the future! I already have some suggestions but feel free to email me more at firstname.lastname@example.org
Stay tuned! Now take out that Ubass (or any bass) and get started (or continue) to play some walking bass!
Ok time for some jazz again! Thanks to Susan C. for your suggestion!
In this lesson I will feature the jazz standard ”The way you look tonight” written by Jerome Kern. This song has been covered a thousand times by as many artists.
But I have a favorite version!
In 1995 one of the most famous jazz singers in Sweden, Svante Thuresson, released the CD ‘Jag är Hip, Baby!’. (Eng: I’m hip baby)
This album features the wonderful lyrics of another famous Swede Mr. Beppe Wolgers! Here’s a link to a web page about him [in Swedish]
He wrote all the Swedish lyrics including the ones for ‘The way you look tonight’. It became ‘Sången’. The lyrics is a celebration to Music and tells the story of the performer and the listener and that you need both to have the complete experience of Music! So true!!
If you use Spotify here’s a link to the version I mentioned above!
Here’s a YouTube clip of an audience recorded video from 2010. (Not the best sound or picture but still…)
Ok. Let’s get on with the lesson!
I’m gonna do one a couple of versions. One in medium-up tempo and maybe even one in uptempo.
And I will also do a slowed down version of the medium-up tempo.
Before we start let’s talk a little bit about what walking bass is and how you could think when you make your own bass parts!
First of all: To make your walking bass parts work you have to have a basic understanding on how chords are built. The general idea of walking is to navigate through the chords using quarter notes. Just as you would walk from one place to another using your feet! You could play the same note (the root, probably) over and over again but that would be just like standing on one spot just moving your feet up and down…and that wouldn’t take you very far 🙂 You could just play random quarter notes but after awhile this approach is going to get to ‘out there’ for most regular playing situations. (Just like walking around with no goal…(That can sometimes can be a good thing though…:-)
I think a more chord based approach is what you should work on. This will help you get a firm knowledge and act as a starting point. Then go from there using notes from the different scales that correspond to the different keys and chords in the song you choose to play.
There’s quite a lot going on harmonically in ‘The way you look tonight’ and if music theory is new to you maybe this will be a bit hard. But I’ll try my best to make this as understandable as possible! I will make more lessons based on easier songs if you want! Just send an email to email@example.com and ask away!
Basic music theory
Let’s divide chords in three basic categories. Major, minor and dominant.
A chord is based on a so called triad. In C major it’s C E G. On a piano it’s three white keys with a white key in between. (This is not always true. It depends the chord and key!)
You can look at it like this: From C to E there’s 4 half steps (On a fretboard it looks like the picture below. I will explain this further in Part 2 of this lesson!). From E to G there is 3 half steps. Se picture below. In a C minor chord it’s the opposite way! From C to Eb (flat) there is 3 half steps and from Eb (flat) to G there is 4 half steps.
Ex. C Major: The notes that make up the triad/chord are called root (C), third (E) and fifth (G). (These names correspond to the C Major scale and refers to the scale degrees).
As you can see below, on the first 4 chords of the song, it’s also common to add a forth note to these chord. This is the seventh degree. In a major chord this will be the major 7 (ex. C7: C E G Bb (flat)) and in a minor chord this will be the minor 7 (ex. Cm7: C Eb (flat). A Dominant 7 chord has the minor 7. In C Major the Dominant 7 chord is G7, a fifth from C (G7: G B D F) More on chords and scales in this previous lesson.
Here are some basic chords in the Major, Minor and Dominant category Major
Cmaj7 (Sometimes you’ll see this as C ”triangle” 7, see the first chord of the song below!)
These are just a starting point. What dictates how the chord is built is often decided upon how the melody is written. You could look at it as the chords are made to fit a specific melody! Sometimes the melody comes first but there are of course times when you come up with a nice chord progression first and then make the melody. One way to make the chord fit the melody is to add ‘extension’ notes like the 9th, 11th and 13th degrees. These are not ‘new’ notes. They are the same as the ‘regular’ notes of the scale but one octave up!
Ex. C major: 1C 2D 3E 4F 5G 6A 7B 8C and then it start all over again 9D 10E 11F 12G 13A. Sometimes you make alterations to these ‘(ex)tensions’. You can raise or lower these extensions depending on the melody and the sound you strive for.
Some examples of these ‘extension’ chords Major
CØ9 (half diminished) or Cm9b5
So how does this help you when you want to play walking bass? Well if we look at the first 4 chords in our song we can see that there are both major and minor chords.
As a basis for our walking bass we’ll look at the core of the chords/triads which I mentioned above, the root, third and fifth of each chord. In the next lesson we will go through the chords and check out what notes that will fit the different chords and how to combine them to make a ‘musical’ and hopefully flowing bass line!
Stay tuned for Part 2, with the actual bass parts, coming soon!
Good luck and feel free to comment or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions and I’ll try to help you out!