Wellman Braud to Rufus Reid

The Jazz Bass Book

John GoldsbyI have been telling my students for several semesters now that listening is possibly the most important activity in which a musician can engage. As bass players, it is important that we understand our heritage and recognize the names, sounds, and styles of our musical fathers.

John Goldsby’s “The Jazz Bass Book|Technique and Tradition” goes a long way toward filling in the gaps that exist in most bassists’ vision of the past.

After a forward by legendary Ron Carter and an inspiring preface entitled Bass is Beautiful, Goldsby breaks the book into four sections:

    the History
    the Players

“the History” is an abridged discourse on the development of the bassist’s role in jazz, devoting one chapter to advancements in walking technique and devotes chapters to bebop and an account of five classic rhythm sections.

“the Players” is the meat of this book, ranging from early New Orleans bassists (Pops Foster, Bill Johnson, et al), Slam Stewart and Milt Hinton to Ron Carter, Dave Holland and Rufus Reid. Some bassists receive more spotlight than others and there are notable modern exclusions (Avishai Cohen, John Patitucci, John Clayton…), but I can imagine Goldsby toiled effortlessly to provide the best balance between coverage and space. What I find most valuable about this section is that every bassist listed is accompanied by discographical information, allowing budding bassists guidance while building their listening libraries!

The “Technique” section discusses practicing methods, intonation, chord/scale issues, the Trane matrix, as well as some etudes. Closely related is the “Concepts” chapter, which discusses versatility, creativity, swing, and integrity. Integrity is an issue I have been dealing with recently, trying to ensure that I put in the effort expected of me in order to honor the commitments I’ve made to myself, teachers, bandmates, etc.

I have found this book invaluable in determining where I fit in the musical spectrum and has been an amazing resource in guiding my CD purchases.

If you are a student or teacher looking for an in-depth view of the Double Bass’ development and role in Jazz, get this book now!