Getting started in jazz

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by markschick, Apr 12, 2015.

  1. markschick

    markschick Member

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    Hey guys... I know its a general and broad question, but I'd like to get started in playing jazz. Where do I start? Book? Standards?
     
  2. JonR

    JonR Member

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    Big question!

    1. Start by identifying the kind of jazz, or the players, you like to listen to.
    2. Then follow their influences back (all the way if you can). It's important (and helpful) to understand the historical threads, to hear the development.
    3. Learn as many tunes as you can. Get hold of a Real Book, or something similar, and work through it, playing the melodies as well as the chord sequences. (Tip: learn to read notation if you can't already.)
    4. Listen to classic recordings of those tunes too (how different players treat them).
    5. If you can't read notation, you're stuck with learning by ear - which is actually a much better learning experience, if you can stand it. (And if you can't stand it, you're maybe not cut out to be a jazz player... ;))
    6. Assuming you're a guitarist - ;) - go back to the beginning: Eddie Lang, Django Reinhardt, Charlie Christian. But don't only listen to guitarists. CC took his inspiration from horn players like Lester Young. Make sure you listen to other significant horn players like Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane (maybe not too much Coltrane....it can do your head in...).
    7. You'll probably need to transcribe some favourite solos, but make sure you're playing melodies too. (Don't try soloing on any tune until you've played the melody.) Don't beat yourself up trying to learn everything, just go for whatever licks stand out for you. Make sure you understand how they fit the chords.
    8. Technique-wise, make sure you know your major scales in all keys (especially the flat keys), and above all, all your chord arpeggios for 7th chords. The standard jazz chords are:
    maj7
    dom7
    min7
    dim7
    m7b5
    m(maj7) (rarest)
    Altered dominants are also useful (with b5 or #5, and b9 or #9).

    Despite what some say, you don't need to be a virtuoso to play jazz. You can play well within your limitations if you understand the tune and the changes, and think in melodic and rhythmic phrases. The more jazz you listen to, and the more standards you play, the easier that is. It's about absorbing the language, which is a matter of accent and style, as well as vocabulary.

    Also check out some Hal Galper masterclasses on youtube, for inspiration and attitude.
    https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=hal+galper+masterclass
    This guy's good too:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7V_vgjX9XA
     
  3. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

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    With your ears. Unfortunately folks don't have access to the information on album jackets but that is how I learned which bread crumbs to follow. Subscribe to Downbeat. Go to the library. Get yourself a Leonard Feather book.
     
  4. Baminated

    Baminated Member

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    You start by listening to the "generally" agreed upon iconic players versions of "generally" agreed upon cstandards that get called on sessions or wind up in most people's sets.

    Books, charts, theory, etc is meaningless without ACTIVELY listening to the iconic players over the standards.

    As far as learning the tunes.

    Pick a common standard , slow it down in audacity and learn it by ear-no charts.

    Too many people try to side step the most important thing - THE MUSIC!!

    Tunes
    http://www.jazzstandards.com/compositions/index.htm

    Artists
    http://www.reddit.com/r/Jazz/comments/12ectx/a_spotify_playlist_based_on_mark_levines/
     
  5. friend33

    friend33 Silver Supporting Member

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    All great advice so far.

    One aspect of jazz playing that often proves difficult for people is playing rapidly moving chord progressions with tricky cords and extensions. You need to know your inversions, how to play them in different string sets, etc. so that you can move around quickly wherever you are on the fingerboard, and also for creative comping behind singers and other soloists.

    My favorite book for this is Chords and Progressions for Jazz and Popular Guitar by Arnie Berle. Excellent book and resource.
     
  6. jb70

    jb70 Member

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    the best place to start is by listening. find 5-10 recordings that you love and immerse yourself in them
     
  7. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

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    Find somebody you trust that knows music. Used to be there were guys that worked at record stores with good advice.....trust me...Wes Montgomery.
     
  8. Flyin' Brian

    Flyin' Brian Member

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    ^^^^^^^^^^

    What he said.

    Wes Montgomery
    Kenny Burrell
    Charlie Christian.

    Listen to them and absorb it all.

    Come back in 20 years for more.
     
  9. Baminated

    Baminated Member

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    Grant Green is another. Not really a chops/licks guy. More of a melodic groover who Played a lot of the nice standards
     
  10. Megatron

    Megatron Member

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    Love that book. Just got his Blues fingerpicking book he cowrote a couple weeks ago Just for fun and because I liked Chords and Progressions for Jazz and Popular Guitar so much back in the day.
     
  11. Clifford-D

    Clifford-D Member

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    I may be going against the grain here but I truly believe
    the art of teaching jazz has developed to a very high state
    in this age were in. Better than any time in history I'd say.

    Learning jazz back in the '70's was listening, transcribing
    off records, heck, there wasn't even agreed upon tab back then.
    What's facinating is that most all those old school players were
    self taught, and I mean self taught. Other early jazzbo's were also
    self taught hence regional styles and sounds. Surely important
    to study this history, Spend time with it.

    But there could be a chance here that you want to apply jazz to
    modern rock or other non bebop styles. Listen to John Scofield
    and listen to stuff from his beginning to his current stints playing
    with John Meyer, Warren Haynes and lots of jam band hippie stuff.
    He sounds great doing it and all are having fun.

    So my point is, find the styles of music you would be playing with
    your new found chops and then JUMP into learning jazz from that perspective.
    You may find there are things you don't see ever using/playing. Over the years
    the jazz things will find a place in your music.

    I strongly reccomend learning the jazz language fundamentals
    so well that it's second nature. Three huge areas to study are harmony,
    melody, and rhythm, keep these three areas equally in focus.

    Books, I reccomend just two starting jazz books that are to be used
    as a reference source, or encyclopedia of sorts.
    Mark Levine's book Jazz Theory, just a great resource. The other book
    is very few on words but gives the goodies in a potent way. It's called
    Jazzology and again a great resource book for the other jazz studies
    you will get into.

    Finally keep posting question here at TGP so people like me can respond
    and have meaning in our lives. Seriously, its really lots of fun for people like me.
     
  12. Dajbro

    Dajbro Member

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    As usual, Jack is someone to pay attention to....
     
  13. Clifford-D

    Clifford-D Member

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    All The Things You Are or as we call it around here, ATTYA, this
    arguably the most popular tune people practice. But it's not the
    easiest.

    The dorian scale was the first scale looked at in depth in college.
    Maiden Voyage is a great tune to practice dorian over. Many Bossa
    Nova tunes have the common vamp iim7-V7 or Dm7-G7, over and
    over. Make a loop of it or check out youtube for backing tracks.

    minor tunes are an easy way to get into jazz.
     
  14. Clifford-D

    Clifford-D Member

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    An excellent jazz phrasing trick, especially swing jazz and jazz blues,,
    Start your solo line on the "and" of 1.

    There is something about starting lines on the and of 1. Classic jazz sound.
     
  15. Flyin' Brian

    Flyin' Brian Member

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    :agree

    And especially if you're playing blues, don't always start or end your solo on the root.


    Boring.
     
  16. fezz parka

    fezz parka Member

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    Learn standards from the real book.
    Do a lot of listening. It's your reference point as to applying what you learn.
    This is a great record to start your path:
    [​IMG]

     
  17. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

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    Didn't Miles play on the tonic note of the key a lot, on a blues? The problem with all these discussions is that they are always about 'what note?' and don't take into account rhythmic phrasing.
     
  18. chopsley

    chopsley Silver Supporting Member

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    I agree with everyone who's suggested that you do a lot of listening, but I'll play devil's advocate a bit and suggest that you forget about jazz guitarists. With very few exceptions, none of the real innovators in jazz (at least through the 1960's) were guitarists. If you really want to understand the music, you have to listen to Miles, Coltrane, Monk, Mingus, Bird, Dizzy, Sonny Rollins, Bill Evans, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, etc.

    Also, as Cliff and guitarjazz have suggested, don't shortchange the rhythmic aspect of jazz. It helps to have a familiarity with traditional West African rhythms, as that's the source of a lot of the rhythmic aspects of jazz.

    Of course, it all depends on what your goals are...
     
  19. Flyin' Brian

    Flyin' Brian Member

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    Very true. I figured you already had that covered. Hence the word "always".
    But you're right. More emphasis needs to be out on phrasing.

    And as has also been said, get away from guitarists and listen to horn players.

    :beer
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2015
  20. dmkz

    dmkz Member

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    This reminds me of a conversation I had with some buddies who are computer programmers. They were talking about hacking and I asked what I should do first if I wanted to learn how to hack and they all started laughing. They said if I had to ask I would never know. Not very helpful.

    Learn to play the chords for "I Got Rhythm", "Autumn Leaves", and "There Will Never Be Another You", and maybe a minor tune like "Blue Bossa"

    Learn these and learn to hear what a 2-5-1 sounds like.
     

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