How to Build a Walking Bass Line

Zusatzmaterial — Bergisches Jazz Workshop — Bass Master Class

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John Goldsby Trio — Billy Test — Hans Dekker

Sligo Jazz — “Didn’t Wake Up This Morning” … Get the Blues … Play the Blues … (workshop notes and links)

Here are the notes for my presentation on The Blues:

“Didn’t Wake Up This Morning” … Get the Blues … Play the Blues

Lecture at Sligo Jazz Workshop, July 25, 2019

Notes & Links

1. Intro — “Woke Up This Morning” was recorded on the album Down Home Bluesby blues musician Lightnin’ Hopkins recorded in 1964 and released on the Bluesville label.

2. Bessie Smith 1894 – 1937 “Reckless Blues” (with Louis Armstrong)

3. Robert Johnson 1911 – 1938 “Me and the Devil Blues”

4. Helen Humes with Count Basie & Lester Young (on clarinet) “Blues with Helen”

5. Characteristics of the Blues

  • The Blues tell a story, often in three 4-bar phrases (12 bar form).
  • Certain notes in a key are emphasized to create the Blues sound: b3, b5, b7
  • The harmony of a Blues progression begins on a I7 chord, moves to the IV chord in bar 5, and back to the I7 chord in bar 7. There is often a “turnaround” at the end of the 12-bar form.

6. Styles of Blues

  • New Orleans, Delta Blues, Chicago Blues, Kansas City Blues, Texas Blues, Country Blues, Blues-Rock, Gospel, Jazz
  • The Blues sound can be realized in several ways: blue notes, Blues scale, vocal melisma, outlining Blues chord changes
  • Not all music that sounds “bluesy” is the Blues.

7. Plain ‘ol Blues Harmony — “Hound Dog” Big Mama Thorton, 1952. During the vocal choruses, they play a 13-bar blues (extra bar at the end of the form).

8. Basic Jazz Blues harmony adds more chords.

9. Jimmy Rushing 1901 – 1972 “I Left My Baby” (minor Blues)

10. Billie Holiday 1915 – 1959 “Fine and Mellow”

11. Gospel — Sister Rosetta Tharpe “My Little Sparrow”

Sister Rosetta Tharpe uses “Vestapol” tuning to the key of Db major. The guitar is tuned: Db, Ab, Db, F, Ab, Db. This is not a Blues form, but uses elements of the blues sound.

12. Chicago Blues — Muddy Waters “I Got My Mojo Workin’”

13. Charlie Parker “Now’s The Time”

14. Ornette Coleman 1930 – 2015  — free jazz with a Blues melody —“Blues Connotation”

15. John Coltrane 1926 – 1967 — modal Blues — “Mr. Knight”

16. McCoy Tyner “Blues on the Corner” — Blues with modern harmonies

17. Kenny Dorham / Joe Henderson “Mamacita” — Jazz Boogaloo

Trio — Billy Test, Hans Dekker, John Goldsby

Triads over “All the Things You Are”

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Inside the Changes of ‘Confirmation’ — a Bebop Etude

Check out John’s latest article from the pages of BassMagazine.

Solo Bass — “Sweet and Lovely”

Here’s a solo bass version of the great standard “Sweet and Lovely,” recorded during the production of “Jazz Bass Vol 2. — Stretching Out,” an online bass course from

“Squatty Roo” — John Clayton w/ WDR Big Band

John Clayton leads the WDR Big Band in this video . . . check out the two-bass interlude at 6:00!

Knower w/ Bob Mintzer & WDR Big Band – John Goldsby on electric bass

“Killer Joe” — walking bass lesson!

Check out this free lesson from my new online bass course, “Building Up,” available exclusively at Discover Double Bass.

‘Jazz Bass Vol.1: Building Up’ is an online course with 45 lessons and 4 hours of video, playalong tracks and PDF notation. $99 for unlimited access. 

The course covers John Goldsby’s most effective materials, learnt from studying with and transcribing the music of our jazz bass heroes. As a teacher, John has selected the lessons which made the biggest impact on his students. It’s all of the good stuff which has transformed their playing, and it can do the same for you too!

The course is perfect for intermediate to advanced jazz bassists who want to solidify their technique and learn new approaches. 

Many of the lessons feature piano and drums accompaniment. There are also backing tracks of the exercises, both with and without the bass.

The course includes detailed transcriptions of John’s exercises, etudes and solos.

Closed captions in English are provided for each video.

This course is available to stream online, exclusively at Discover Double Bass.