Below are our recommendations for books on walking jazz bass and on bass playing in general. These books helped us develop our styles and techniques. All of them are available online at Amazon.com or http://www.bassbooks.com
Walking Bass Methods
Walking Bass Methods Ron Carter. Building Jazz Bass Lines (Hal Leonard, 1998) Jazz bass legend Ron Carter shows readers how to build quality walking lines from scratch. The examples included are not just exercises, but real lines from one of the best walkers of all time.
Ed Friedland. Building Walking Bass Lines (Hal Leonard, 1993); and Ed Friedland. Expanding Walking Bass Lines (Hal Leonard, 1996) This pair of books starts from the very beginning and moves to advanced concepts of tone leading and line building. The approach is very detailed and particularly good for those new to creating walking lines. Friedland’s approach is a good precursor to this book.
Ed Fuqua. The Walking Bassics: The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing (Sher Music, 2007) This volume is based on transcriptions of Ed Fuqua’s walking lines as played live. They are broken down and analyzed for patterns, and then reassembled for you to learn how to construct you own lines. It comes with a CD.
Steven Mooney. Constructing Walking Jazz Bass Lines Book III (Waterfall Publishing, 2011) Mooney presents a comprehensive “chord-scale relationship method” to walking. The focus is on developing a stronger awareness of chord structures and jazz harmony through scales and modes. Mooney also covers voice leading, which helps create melodic lines.
Danny Ziemann. The Low Down: A Guide to Creating Supportive Jazz Bass Lines, book 1 and The Low Down: A Supplemental Resource of Jazz Bass Lines, book 2 (Institute for Creative Music, 2015) These volumes give a clear, progressive method for learning how to construct walking bass lines. Ziemann is thorough in his approach and provides many examples of great lines, along with recordings of them for download online. The Low Down is an excellent resource for bassists looking to improve their walking . Soloing
David Baker. How to Play Bebop, vols. 1-3 (Alfred Music, 2005) David Baker is a recognized leader in jazz education, and his books are indispensable. This series on bebop unpacks the melodic language of bebop, which will help you create melodic walking lines. See other books by Baker, e.g., The Blues (Charles Colin, 1980).
Jerry Bergonzi. Melodic Structures: Volume 1 of Inside Improvisation Series (Advance Music, 2015) Our notion of melodic “shape” largely comes from Bergonzi. This volume lays out a complete approach to understanding the structural aspects of melody. Also see volumes 2-7 in this series.
Chuck Sher. The Improviser’s Bass Method (Sher Music, 1979) Many bassists consider this the “bible” of jazz bass. From scales to intervals to analyzing songs to creating walking lines, it’s all here. The book includes a wealth of transcribed bass lines as well.
Walking Bass Transcriptions
Ron Carter. Jamie Aebersold Play-Along v6 ‘All Bird’ – Bass Line Transcriptions
Ron Carter is a premier walking bass player, whose style is naturally melodic. These transcribed lines should be a first stop for any bass player – from beginners to advanced players. Carter demonstrates all of the principles of melodic walking bass outlined in this book: his lines are interesting, memorable, unified, and with balanced lines.
Steve Gorenberg, Chris Kringel, Steve Peplin, Matt Scharfglass [transcribers]. Bass Standards (Hal Leonard, 2001) This collection includes note-for-note transcriptions of the bass lines to entire jazz standards from a range of bass giants spanning over 60 years of jazz. Play along to Charlie Hayden’s line on “Moose the Mooche” or Paul Chambers’ classic performance of “So What.” This is an essential volume of walking bass transcriptions.
Rob Gourlay [transcriber]. Walking in the Footsteps of Paul Chambers (2003); Walking in the Footsteps of Sam Jones (2004); Walking in the Footsteps of Doug Watkins (2005) Gourlay presents an excellent series of transcriptions from early bass legends. The transcriptions are usually 2-3 pages long for each song – rarely the whole tune. Get a sense of the bassist’s style and approach to walking over standards.
Liam Noble & Chris Baron. Bill Evans Trio – 1959-1961: Artist Transcription Series. This volume includes amazingly detailed transcriptions of the entire Bill Evans trio (piano, bass, and drums) for eight tunes. While it may be difficult to replicate Scott LaFaro’s bass style directly, you can gain inspiration for his melodic approach nonetheless.
General Bass Technique Ray Brown. Ray Brown’s Bass Method (Hal Leonard,1999) Learn good playing technique from one of the masters. Brown includes step-by-step explanations of the fundamentals of playing the double bass, including proper finger technique. The exercises in this book are challenging, and mastering them will definitely improve your playing skills.
John Goldsby. The Jazz Bass Book: Technique and Tradition (Backbeat Books, 2002) This unique book combines both methods and historical information. The first part discusses the tradition of bass playing with examples and exercises. The second part catalogs dozens of famous bass players with short biographical descriptions and examples of their styles.
John Patitucci. 60 Melodic Etudes (Carl Fischer, 2005) Patitucci offers a unique collection of etudes over five different harmonic sounds in all 12 keys. They are constructed, in part, to help you improve your knowledge of the fingerboard. But more importantly, these lines will help you practice interpreting and phrasing melodies.
François Rabbath. A New Technique for the Double Bass, vols. 1-3 (Leduc, 1977) Along with Simandl, Rabbath contains one of the predominant pedagogical methods of double bass. But unlike Simandl, who focuses on finger positions based on half-steps, Rabbat divides the fingerboard into 6 segments. The intent is to go beyond the role of “bassist as an accompanist” and instead put the bassist in the limelight with a strong focus on melody. As a result, the exercises are interesting and fun to play.
Rufus Reid. The Evolving Bassist (Alfred Music, 1983) This is a classic in the jazz bass literature. Reid outlines a clear method for playing the upright bass, starting with scales and then moving to complex patterns of improvisations. It includes transcriptions of bass lines.
Franz Simandl. New Method for the Double Bass, books 1-2 (Carl Fischer, 1984) “Simandl,” as it’s commonly called, is the classic double bass teaching method. He offers the standard approach to fingerboard positions based on half steps. Though many of the exercises aren’t as interesting or melodic as Rabbat, they give students the discipline needed to learn the positions on the fingerboard.