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Lesson: Bebop Jazz Patterns Pt. 1










I’ve always loved music books. At the age of 13, a family friend gave me a Mel Bay bass method book that kick-started my bass playing career and love of printed music.

One book in my library is Bebop Jazz Solos by David Baker. (You can purchase your copy for only $5.95 at but I’m not finding it in bass clef anymore.) I had the good fortune of being in one of Mr. Baker’s jazz improv classes at a Jamey Aebersold camp about 30 years ago – an experience I am still grateful for.

Bebop Jazz Solos is chock full of excellent patterns and motifs that will greatly expand your jazz improv vocabulary. I lifted a few from the first etude to share with you.

Lesson: Composing Music With Composite Keys










I love to create music. Still, music composition, hasn’t been a major focus for most of my life. It’s something I do intermittently. As I grow older, I find myself wanting to create more and more: to fill a need for self-expression, to influence others in a positive way and, to hopefully leave something of value behind when I’m gone. Oh yeah, and to generate new income streams!

When I do sit down to write music, I like to do something fresh. There’s an overwhelming amount of music in the world today. My ears grow weary of the generic, worn out combinations of I, IV, V, and VI minor chords. It seems that people used to be a little more creative with their chord sequences but, hey, that’s a rant for another blog post!

What I want to share with you today is a concept that I used on Summer Song. The bass line and the melody in the verse are in two different keys yet, it’s done in such a way that it works!

Summer Song















The Story Behind Summer Song

Releasing new music is always exciting and, Summer Song is my first original music release in three years!

My plan was a full CD release of cover songs - mostly full band mashups from our live show that were recorded at the Art Institute in Nashville in 2013 and 2014. For the time being, the resources aren't there to complete and release that project at the level of quality that I feel it deserves.

In addition, the tendency for music consumption these days tends to be streaming, followed by downloads, with CD sales trailing far behind. Personally, I'm a big fan of physical media and want to continue releasing CDs and even vinyl! For the time being though, digital single releases seem to be the way to go.

Classic Soul Lesson: The Bass Lines of Bobby Womack Part 2















Welcome to Part 2 of “Classic Soul Lesson: The Bass Lines of Bobby Womack”. Last time, we had an introduction to soul music icon Bobby Womack and examined the classic bass line that Mike Leech played on the hit Woman’s Gotta Have It. This month, we’ll take a look at the 1974 Womack classic Lookin’ for a Love.

Lookin’ for a Love was originally a hit for Bobby Womack’s sibling group The Valentinos in 1962. The song was resurrected in 1974 for Bobby’s solo album Lookin’ for a Love Again and became his first Billboard Top 10 hit.

The Muscle Shoals Swampers really make this track groove and, at the heart of this famous rhythm section is bassist David Hood.

Classic Soul Lesson: The Bass Lines of Bobby Womack Part 1

bobby-womack2014 saw the passing of one of the greatest soul/r&b artists of all time – Mr. Bobby Womack. Womack had a long and fruitful career as a studio guitarist at American Sound Studios in Memphis, as a writer with credits such as The Rolling Stones, Wilson Pickett and Janis Joplin, and as a recording artist. The 2013 BBC documentary, Bobby Womack – Across 110th Street, provides a fascinating look into the life of this music icon.

One of my personal favorite Bobby Womack songs is the early 70’s hit Woman’s Gotta Have It. WGHI contains signature bass parts and come from an era when bass lines were often the musical hook and most important instrumental element of the song.

We have the famously creative studio musicians to thank for breathing so much life into the music and making it feel so good! The player I want to draw our attention to here is Mike Leech: house bassist at American Sound.

Lesson: The Magic of Fourths










The Magic of 4ths

The deliberate use of intervals while improvising can have a dramatic effect on your solos. It’s important to practice scales using different intervallic patterns (i.e. 2nds, 3rds, 4ths, etc.). This gives us a greater command of the language of music and our instrument than only playing up and down scales in our practice routines.


Musician Hack: Overcoming Two of the Working Musician’s Greatest Obstacles Pt. 1












“Nice work if you can get it” The Gershwin Brothers wrote this song about romance but it also applies to the professional musician, right? After all, no one sells insurance or performs brain surgery as a hobby (we hope). So, to be able to do something that most people do for recreation, like sports or music, and get paid for it is a pretty sweet deal.

Lesson: Paul Chambers & So What

Paul ChambersMiles Davis’ 1959 album Kind of Blue is the best-selling jazz album of all time. It is the quintessential jazz album. If you’re going to own one jazz CD, Kind of Blue should be the one.

Much has been written about Kind of Blue, including Ashley Kahn’s Kind Of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece. There is a fascinating interview with Marcus Miller on YouTube discussing this landmark release. Marcus has a close connection with Miles Davis as a bassist, composer and producer in the 1980s. The Hal Leonard publication Miles Davis – Kind of Blue is a score containing all of the solos transcribed.

Of course, underneath the timeless solos of Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderly, Bill Evans and Wynton Kelly is the swinging, impeccable rhythm of Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb. Many years ago, I transcribed all of the bass lines from Kind of Blue. It has had such an impact on me, and I wanted to study Paul Chamber’s playing in more detail to have a greater understanding of his playing on this masterpiece.

The Compounding Effect of Success

The Compounding Effect of Success
Why do the Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Poorer?

Success“The rich get richer and the poor get poorer”. We’ve all heard this popular catchphrase at some time. It not only seems to apply to money but to success in general.

People who are successful in business are able to leverage their money to work for them and generate more. Musicians, artists and athletes leverage (a key word here) their fame and name brand for endorsements, larger fees and ever greater, expanding opportunity. Meanwhile, those in the later part of this adage have a tendency to continue in the other direction.

Lesson: Living For The City Bass Solo

Stevie Wonder's Living For The City is one of the many masterpieces from his most fertile, creative period in the 1970's. The song comes from his 1973 LP titled Innervisions and was a big hit at that time, charting at #8 on the Billboard Pop Singles Chart and #1 on the R&B Chart. As he did on much of the material from this era, Stevie played all the instruments.


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