The Blues

Discussion in 'Jazz / Commercial' started by xjb0906, Jul 24, 2011.

  1. xjb0906

    xjb0906 Piano User

    May 2, 2009
    Charlotte NC
    Questions for folks that have actively gigged in clubs as part of group that plays the blues.

    How did you learn the basics?

    How did you go about getting in to a group?

    What demands are put on you as a trumpet player?

    Are just asked to play licks or do you get any solos?

    I have started committing blues scales to memory. Seems it will help get the sounds in my head and lay a foundation to build on.
  2. Victoria R

    Victoria R New Friend

    Jun 3, 2011
    I thought you did a great job! [​IMG]
  3. turtlejimmy

    turtlejimmy Utimate User

    Jun 6, 2010
    Get a copy of "The Alternate Blues". This CD has 3 jazz trumpeters, Dizzy, Clark Terry, and Freddie Hubbard, all taking blues solos, one after another. Blues trumpet at its best.

    xjb0906 likes this.
  4. Franklin D

    Franklin D Forte User

    May 23, 2009
    The Netherlands
    I don't believe you can really learn the blues. I am a great fan of Bix, he was a musical genius but he never learned to play the blues.
    Indeed you can learn a lot of bluescliches. I did once when I thougt I could be a guitar player.
  5. xjb0906

    xjb0906 Piano User

    May 2, 2009
    Charlotte NC
    Bix checked out pretty early too. Who knows what would have happened if he had made a few more trips around the sun. I think a person can learn the blues once they get the sound in their head and learn the foundation that the blues is built on. No one is born knowing how to play anything. Of course some are better suited than others to play the blues. Maybe my first song will be They Told Me I couldn't Learn To Play The Blues... Blues. :cool:
  6. catello

    catello Pianissimo User

    Dec 14, 2009
    Winter Park, FL
    I played in the horn section of an electric blues band for a while. Standards as well as original tunes. The guitar player liked open tuning in E minor, especially when using the slide. That put us in F# minor. The trick, I found, was not to think about the key. Just play the notes. Basically, I learned to be ready for very strange keys, and just got a sense of the sound of the blues.

    Listening to recordings is the key to learning this genre of music (and it is, like most genres, quite large with many different styles). Play along as much as possible. And don't just listen to trumpets here - listen to guitar phrasings, sax phrasings, and especially the harp (harmonica) solos. The harmonica can almost always be replaced by horn and the solo styles can be quite similar. Pick up the things you think work and fit your individual style and abilities.
    xjb0906 likes this.
  7. Franklin D

    Franklin D Forte User

    May 23, 2009
    The Netherlands
    Strange, same post on TH, other Op-name.
  8. veery715

    veery715 Utimate User

    Mar 6, 2007
    Ithaca NY
    Not so strange. Why not farm both sides of the creek?

    I won't answer in both places, tho' I could.

    To say one cannot learn the blues is nonsense. Possibly one benefits from a few rough times in life, but it is a genre with valid musical criteria that shape it and I believe it can be learned.

    Get a copy of Jerry Coker's Improvising Jazz and read it through. It is a basic guide to improv for young (or new) improvisers, and he begins, quite logically, with the blues. (12 BAR BLUES)

    After reading the book, go back and do the exercises. If you can find a group of friends to work with great, otherwise use one of the Aebersold blues volumes. Quick's non-tongue-in-cheek reply on TH is a good one.

    Best way to get a handle on this is do do a bunch of listening*, and then jump in. Early attempts at playing don't need much except changing the melody around to see what sounds good. Save the million-note-per-minute-solo for later.

    * Any old genuine guitar/vocal blues like Mississipi John Hirt, Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, Howlin' Wolf, will play the standard 12 bar blues and give you ideas. Stick with the 12 bar stuff. It is THE STANDARD. Many blues standard songs go to 16 bars (Summertime) but leave them alone until you get the hang of the 12 Bar.

    There is a ton of recorded material. Just google/youtube blues bands and listen until you get the idea. It is NOT complicated. Don't make it harder than it has to be.

    A start:
    BB King
    Albert King
    Paul Butterfield
    John Mayall
    Alberta Hunter
    John Lee Hooker
    (really this is a joke - you need to do the google thing)

    If you have a friend that is into guitar, jam blues with him/her. Guitar players are used to doing this for hours (once you have calluses you don't really get tired on the guitar - unlike playing the trumpet). In fact, learning the guitar is a viable option as you can practice it when your chops are gone and the blues were born on the guitar (and harmonica).

    Take your horn out with you to listen to blues players/jams, and don't be afraid to join in. Yes, they tend to like keys which don't sit as well on trumpet, but you'll manage. Practice blues scales in F# and B. Play familiar blues songs in those keys when alone.

    Listen to horn lines in bands that have them. There are standard licks that get played over and over and over and over again. Listen to what they play between the words. Play along with the recordings and you will find that in no time you will be able to plop those things down in almost any tune.

    You have the guts to play the SSB in public, so there's nothing to fear, just go for it. Don't forget to listen to Trombone Shorty.
    xjb0906 likes this.
  9. xjb0906

    xjb0906 Piano User

    May 2, 2009
    Charlotte NC
    I posted in both forums. Some that frequent TH may not frequent Trumpetmaster. I figure the more people I can ask the more feedback I will get.
  10. duanemassey

    duanemassey Piano User

    Jul 14, 2009
    Truly original blues was not tied to the 12-bar progression we all use. I played a couple of gigs with Lightnin' Hopkins, and he definitely did not follow ANY standard progression. What was standard was the I and IV chords, but the V was not always used. Fortunately for most of us the "blues" has been standardized for most purposes to some form of a 12-bar format. Just about every genre (dixieland, big band, bop, swing, country, rock, etc) have all incorporated a standard 12-bar progression in some shape or fashion.
    Definitely get used to playing in guitar keys, but don't be concerned about playing really fast or high, and keep it simple. Learn to play by ear, as most blues bands do not have charts. Quite often the leader of the horn section will play a lick, and everyone else will pick it up and either play unison or harmony. Listen!
    Don't expect a lot of solos, figure you will do mostly background figures and "punches".

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