Killer Walking Bass is designed for advanced jazz bassists and aspiring bassists who want to extend their walking technique.
This book is unique. We focus on melody as a key driver in walking. Avoid playing the same thing over and over, and add to your walking vocabulary now.
This is not a how-to book. Instead, we want you to focus on playing the lines. Think: “learning by playing.”
We’ve compiled some of the elements of melodic bass along with the primary principles used to guide the creation of these lines. We hope this gives you insight into how to create killer walking lines of your own.
Additionally, we offer a brief analysis of some lines to help you understand melodic walking bass in context. Our approach complements existing techniques.
See our recommendations for resources on walking bass in the last section of this book from greats such as Ron Carter, Ray Brown, John Patitucci, and more.
To get the most out of this book, start by playing through the lines. Then read our comments and analysis before playing the lines again. Write your own melodic lines after you feel comfortable with the our examples and principles.
…Because your search for the perfect walking line never ends.
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TEYMUR PHELL // Teymur is a virtuoso bass player best known for playing with Mike Stern, who says he is an “unbelievable bassist and incredible musician. He’s mastered the art of walking with an amazing feel. Teymur really walks his ass off!”
JIM KALBACH // Jim studied music theory and composition at Rutgers University. He is the author of two full-length books on web design and strategy.
- Facebook: @killerwalkingbass
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- Press Release: Killer Walking Bass
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ABOUT THE LINES
Many books on jazz bass focus on walking over the head of a tune. Ray Brown, for instance, advises students to sing the melody while walking. While we agree this is a good skill to have, a large part of the time bassists are walking behind soloists.
That’s why these lines are conceived to be played behind the soloist.
We selected tunes that represent a range of forms, keys, and types of changes. Our hope is that you internalize the lines and apply them to other tunes.
Strive to memorize them, but realize that you may need to shift and react to the soloist while on the bandstand. Use parts of these lines as needed. Play each line at different tempos to understand how their character and feel can vary.
The tunes included in this book are so-called “contrafacts,” or borrowed chord progressions. For each, we indicate our title and then an example of a song it resembles with a similar harmonic progression. Alternate harmonies implied by the bass lines are included above the standard chords in a few spots, as well.
At the end of each tune we provide space for you to write your own melodic line. This is a chance to reflect on your own walking style and improve it using the principles outlined at the end of the book. First play the lines, then read our commentary, and then go back to write your own.
Finally, we included a few embellishments in these lines, such as passing tones, dead notes, and pull-offs. At faster tempos you may play fewer, at slower tempos more. We encourage you add your own embellishment as you explore the lines to make them really groove.
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