Video: Spending time in the Charlie Parker Omni Book for bass.

A couple of years ago when I started really studying the bass, I bought a bass clef version of the Omni Book of Charlie Parker’s tunes. I wasn’t really good enough to play them very easily, but I didn’t let that get to me… I started playing a couple as reading exercises and then jumped straight to “Donna Lee” because I could play it up to tempo on the electric bass. I ground it out for a long time and eventually got it, but didn’t keep it up long enough to have it stay in my craw and I lost it.

It was always tough during that time to be learning so many new techniques, ear training, and solo bass rep to be bouncing between jazz studies, so my goal to play Charlie Parker heads got put on the back burner. But as of last year I made the decision to start applying it to soloing over bebop as well. Pretty much like learning a language. For me it was easier to see what he was playing over the chords for the melody and somewhat translate that to what and how he was thinking (the book also has his solos for the tunes). I have by no means have mastered it, but it has helped a lot and has probably been the hardest challenge that I have had with bowing so far. I also spend a lot of time finding logical (to me) fingerings that sound decent while trying to use as little of the open strings as I can–not for any other reason than fluidity and sound. It sure is rewarding and fun to get a head down with the tempo of the recording.  Here are a couple that I really enjoy playing. I’ll be adding a few more as I find the time (and get my chops up!). The thing that I have found most difficult is keeping these up after learning them…How fast they slip away…

“Blues For Alice” is probably one of my favorite tunes to play and hear–love me them “Bird Blues” changes!. It was really tough to get it to swing right (it’s still not perfect). “Scrapple From the Apple” isn’t too long and is just so fun to play. I am fortunate, most of the guys I play with let me jam the heads with them and it feels good to be a part of the melody every once and a while. : )

As a side note: Even though it looks like I am reading music I am really just staring at my self in the GoPro screen like a dope. I recommend memorizing these. I had no choice, by the time I could play these I’d done ’em a million times.