Killer Walking Bass: Melodic Lines for the Advanced Jazz Bassist is designed for the aspiring musician who desires an extension of their walking bass technique. This is an excellent addition to the material already out there on the market, as it provides a unique individualized learning method to the reader.
Authors Teymur Phell and Jim Kalbach approach their content as a complimentary approach to existing techniques. They state this method of transfusing melody with walking bass lines will make your walking style killer. Integration of melodic material ultimately helps the jazz musician bring their playing to the next level by going beyond the chord to chord.
Here is an awesome clip of Phell performing:
Here is an excerpt from the book, describing what makes a walking bass line melodic:
So, what makes a walking bass line memorable? We believe there are four key characteristics:
- INTERESTING – A melodic line is compelling and pleasing to listen to.
- MEMORABLE – You can sing the line and remember it.
- UNIFIED – The line forms a complete musical statement, often with call-and-answer phrasing and symmetry.
- BALANCED – “Killer” doesn’t just mean playing out or moving quickly up and down the neck. A melodic bass line makes musical sense, balancing high and low, in and out, tension and release.
Together, these aspects let you create a counterpoint to what others in the band are playing.
This is an excellent addition to your library, as it covers elements of melodic bass along with primary principles used to create bass lines.
Alongside the material covered, the authors provide space to write your own lines at the end of each tune, allowing readers a chance to reflect on their own walking style and improve it using the principles covered. This is an excellent idea, and helps to connect the learning to the individual strengths of each reader.
Phell and Kalbach stress their book does not stand as a “how to,” rather, the focus is on playing the lines. That being said, this is an excellent tool for those who learn best by doing. There is helpful brief analysis sprinkled throughout the book to assist readers in understanding melodic bass in context.
What a wonderful resource these two excellent minds and musicians have created. Please check out all that these two are up to, and be sure to pick up a copy of this book to improve your bass lines!
If you haven’t checked Kalbach’s TedTalk, please check this one out on jazz improvisation: