A year after procuring the Mickey Baker book

buster poser

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Felt like it had been a while. I have another thread that was somewhat active on the book (link) and updated in January but having hit one of the original goals I had in learning at least some jazz fundamentals (notably, playing Eldon lines competently), thought I'd revisit the topic.

I think like a lot of people have said, this book for me was more a springboard into new paths than a method unto itself or whatever. I finished a big chunk all at once, then moved on to other things; a remote jazz workshop, in person lessons with a notable session/jazz player, discovering other players/teachers more into swing/Western swing. I finished the last 10% of it maybe six months ago, but stopped at the second half with standard notation.

Along the way I learned a fair bit about Jazz the genre without really setting out to or having many preconceptions. I wouldn't say I've become a devotee, just less ignorant. I know more about what I always liked (proper swing, early bebop), and still don't care for most showtunes or any scat whatsoever.

Less still do I like "guitar jazz," which is impressive but not anything I aspire to play, and to be honest I don't really enjoy listening to much of it either. I have learned a lot of songs that were previously "background music" off by heart as chord melody arrangements, many others besides, and a lot of it I really like. A lot of it I do not.

Anyway, it's a long way of getting to my point (at last!): I see this question asked here a lot, basically various permutations of "how do I get better at this thing." I'm not trying to be prescriptive, but having hit a long-term goal on the instrument, I felt like holding forth a smidge and maybe it'll help someone.

In my experience over the last year, I've had reaffirmed that if you're learning any "western" style of popular music (esp blues or country), you could do worse than spending some time on the basics of jazz. It'll require some work on technique, which I'd been at for 6-9 previous months, and obviously some work on theory (same); you'll have to do some investigating and listening on your own.

I've read a lot of people who are surely better guitarists than me say learning jazz is unnecessary for a guitarist "just" looking to enjoy, and maybe it is for them. But I feel like no guitarist got worse knowing more, and you can draw a straight line from jazz to 95% of what people learning the guitar want to play. You can certainly memorize a bunch of licks and patterns and shapes and learn theory without learning any jazz at all, but for me it re-contextualized a lot of familiar sounds. This made the "mimicry" of my ear even better while substantially improving my ability to play just about anywhere on the neck, several chords at that spot, etc.

Anyway, just my two cents. Happy as ever to have my opinions echoed, refuted, or improved upon. Cheers.
 
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loopfinding

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“You can draw a straight line from jazz...” - yeah, for electric there’s no better vehicle for general applied theory than jazz. Regardless of whether you like jazz or not (I mean, there has to be at least one minor thing you like a little, right?), or whether you ever even get good at it (I’m certainly no expert) it really makes the instrument a “general music interface” in the way that a piano is. Other genres will teach you applied theory in a roundabout way through convention, but jazz really is the harmonic foundation of most American popular music.
 
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buster poser

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“You can draw a straight line from jazz...” - yeah, for electric there’s no better vehicle for general applied theory than jazz. Regardless of whether you like jazz or not (I mean, there has to be at least one minor thing you like a little, right?), or whether you ever even get good at it (I’m certainly no expert) it really makes the instrument a “general music interface” in the way that a piano is. Other genres will teach you applied theory in a roundabout way through convention, but jazz really is the harmonic foundation of most American popular music.
Amen. I've had a couple of instances where something I previously found difficult to learn or hear just fell right underneath my fingers after a few months of learning/playing jazz. Weirdest one is probably the intro to La Dispute's King Park*. I learned it a couple years ago, but don't play it regularly and got a wild hair recently. I remembered the opening chord was a Dbm, but then my hands just went straight to the rest of it, Amaj7, Bmi7 etc

*not jazz at all
 

buster poser

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would that not be a C#m7?? Same notes…but with that AMaj7 and Bm7 it looks like it is A? Keyes..and all that jazz.
See how much I gotta learn yet? :)

Good lookin out, it *is* C#m (no 7).

EDIT: Just got my home and my uke in front of me. Song's in F#m. Progression is C#m (no7), Amaj7, D, Bmi7, F#m.
 
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Leon Grizzard

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Felt like it had been a while. I have another thread that was somewhat active on the book (link) and updated in January but having hit one of the original goals I had in learning at least some jazz fundamentals (notably, playing Eldon lines competently), thought I'd revisit the topic.

I think like a lot of people have said, this book for me was more a springboard into new paths than a method unto itself or whatever. I finished a big chunk all at once, then moved on to other things; a remote jazz workshop, in person lessons with a notable session/jazz player, discovering other players/teachers more into swing/Western swing. I finished the last 10% of it maybe six months ago, but stopped at the second half with standard notation.

Along the way I learned a fair bit about Jazz the genre without really setting out to or having many preconceptions. I wouldn't say I've become a devotee, just less ignorant. I know more about what I always liked (proper swing, early bebop), and still don't care for most showtunes or any scat whatsoever.

Less still do I like "guitar jazz," which is impressive but not anything I aspire to play, and to be honest I don't really enjoy listening to much of it either. I have learned a lot of songs that were previously "background music" off by heart as chord melody arrangements, many others besides, and a lot of it I really like. A lot of it I do not.

Anyway, it's a long way of getting to my point (at last!): I see this question asked here a lot, basically various permutations of "how do I get better at this thing." I'm not trying to be prescriptive, but having hit a long-term goal on the instrument, I felt like holding forth a smidge and maybe it'll help someone.

In my experience over the last year, I've had reaffirmed that if you're learning any "western" style of popular music (esp blues or country), you could do worse than spending some time on the basics of jazz. It'll require some work on technique, which I'd been at for 6-9 previous months, and obviously some work on theory (same); you'll have to do some investigating and listening on your own.

I've read a lot of people who are surely better guitarists than me say learning jazz is unnecessary for a guitarist "just" looking to enjoy, and maybe it is for them. But I feel like no guitarist got worse knowing more, and you can draw a straight line from jazz to 95% of what people learning the guitar want to play. You can certainly memorize a bunch of licks and patterns and shapes and learn theory without learning any jazz at all, but for me it re-contextualized a lot of familiar sounds. This made the "mimicry" of my ear even better while substantially improving my ability to play just about anywhere on the neck, several chords at that spot, etc.

Anyway, just my two cents. Happy as ever to have my opinions echoed, refuted, or improved upon. Cheers.
That is extremely well put. When I first started studying the Mickey Baker book in about 1971 or 72, it seemed like the trouble with jazz studies was that a lot of it is not directly applicable to day-to-day bread and butter country guitar playing, but the more you study the more you realize it is. Not all of it but a lot of stuff that I thought was not: major seventh stuff, all that emphasis on minor chord stuff, altered dominant scale, especially augmented which sounded so cartoonish to me; all of that is usable. I wanted to learn to be an all-around guitar player, or a legit player, and play country and uptown blues. Studying jazz is the straight line to it.
 

buster poser

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That is extremely well put. When I first started studying the Mickey Baker book in about 1971 or 72, it seemed like the trouble with jazz studies was that a lot of it is not directly applicable to day-to-day bread and butter country guitar playing, but the more you study the more you realize it is. Not all of it but a lot of stuff that I thought was not: major seventh stuff, all that emphasis on minor chord stuff, altered dominant scale, especially augmented which sounded so cartoonish to me; all of that is usable. I wanted to learn to be an all-around guitar player, or a legit player, and play country and uptown blues. Studying jazz is the straight line to it.
Thank you Leon (and for your help in getting here; the Eldon charts are especially helpful)!

I mentioned in my book thread a year ago that I'd tried and failed to grasp what players like you and Whit were doing, blasting through those chords every downbeat. Without the foundation, it's just hand movements. But from basically zero jazz knowledge to playing "Right or Wrong" et al competently didn't take that long and probably could've taken less time, although I now understand it, and that makes learning the next thing a lot easier, and not just "learn this tab."

It's been worth the detour and I'll surely stay at "just" jazz. Chord melody arrangements are fun, and on a purely ego level... people will want to talk with you at the guitar shop when you play them (or Eldon). ;)
 

Cam

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Thanks for the Baker books reminder. Now I have to find them in my stuff. Haven't looked in them for several years. I could use the finger work out. I'm off to drop a third and a fifth a half step. Might just raise a fifth a half step too. What diminishes you can also augment you.
 
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Harry Styron

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Felt like it had been a while. I have another thread that was somewhat active on the book (link) and updated in January but having hit one of the original goals I had in learning at least some jazz fundamentals (notably, playing Eldon lines competently), thought I'd revisit the topic.

I think like a lot of people have said, this book for me was more a springboard into new paths than a method unto itself or whatever. I finished a big chunk all at once, then moved on to other things; a remote jazz workshop, in person lessons with a notable session/jazz player, discovering other players/teachers more into swing/Western swing. I finished the last 10% of it maybe six months ago, but stopped at the second half with standard notation.

Along the way I learned a fair bit about Jazz the genre without really setting out to or having many preconceptions. I wouldn't say I've become a devotee, just less ignorant. I know more about what I always liked (proper swing, early bebop), and still don't care for most showtunes or any scat whatsoever.

Less still do I like "guitar jazz," which is impressive but not anything I aspire to play, and to be honest I don't really enjoy listening to much of it either. I have learned a lot of songs that were previously "background music" off by heart as chord melody arrangements, many others besides, and a lot of it I really like. A lot of it I do not.

Anyway, it's a long way of getting to my point (at last!): I see this question asked here a lot, basically various permutations of "how do I get better at this thing." I'm not trying to be prescriptive, but having hit a long-term goal on the instrument, I felt like holding forth a smidge and maybe it'll help someone.

In my experience over the last year, I've had reaffirmed that if you're learning any "western" style of popular music (esp blues or country), you could do worse than spending some time on the basics of jazz. It'll require some work on technique, which I'd been at for 6-9 previous months, and obviously some work on theory (same); you'll have to do some investigating and listening on your own.

I've read a lot of people who are surely better guitarists than me say learning jazz is unnecessary for a guitarist "just" looking to enjoy, and maybe it is for them. But I feel like no guitarist got worse knowing more, and you can draw a straight line from jazz to 95% of what people learning the guitar want to play. You can certainly memorize a bunch of licks and patterns and shapes and learn theory without learning any jazz at all, but for me it re-contextualized a lot of familiar sounds. This made the "mimicry" of my ear even better while substantially improving my ability to play just about anywhere on the neck, several chords at that spot, etc.

Anyway, just my two cents. Happy as ever to have my opinions echoed, refuted, or improved upon. Cheers.
You’ve articulated an experience with the Mickey Baker book that was similar to mine about 10 years ago, though you probably went further than I did.

I learned enough from Mickey Baker to start playing guitar in a big-band jazz group five years ago, and I’ve improved from terrible to mediocre. The muscle memory and ear training that I acquired while learning the chord progressions in the first six lessons in the MB book—which I usually simplify to Freddie Greene two- and three-string chord shapes—has become the basis for almost all my rhythm playing.

When I hear any recording of pre-bop jazz or swing, a Wrecking Crew pop single, or a countrypolitan song from Nashville produced by Chet Atkins or Harold Bradley, I can usually cop the rhythm guitar comping without thinking about it.
 

klasaine

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That is extremely well put. When I first started studying the Mickey Baker book in about 1971 or 72, it seemed like the trouble with jazz studies was that a lot of it is not directly applicable to day-to-day bread and butter country guitar playing, but the more you study the more you realize it is. Not all of it but a lot of stuff that I thought was not: major seventh stuff, all that emphasis on minor chord stuff, altered dominant scale, especially augmented which sounded so cartoonish to me; all of that is usable. I wanted to learn to be an all-around guitar player, or a legit player, and play country and uptown blues. Studying jazz is the straight line to it.
That book is 'deep'.
I still occasionally find something I missed in there that I can use.
I have a digital copy of Bk.II and have yet to look at it.
Maybe I should.
 

buster poser

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That book is 'deep'.
I still occasionally find something I missed in there that I can use.
I have a digital copy of Bk.II and have yet to look at it.
Maybe I should.
I started in on it a bit last night. Upper voicings out of of the gate, some pretty stretchy fingerings. I'll see where it goes, kinda hurting my brain out of the gate.
You’ve articulated an experience with the Mickey Baker book that was similar to mine about 10 years ago, though you probably went further than I did.

I learned enough from Mickey Baker to start playing guitar in a big-band jazz group five years ago, and I’ve improved from terrible to mediocre. The muscle memory and ear training that I acquired while learning the chord progressions in the first six lessons in the MB book—which I usually simplify to Freddie Greene two- and three-string chord shapes—has become the basis for almost all my rhythm playing.

When I hear any recording of pre-bop jazz or swing, a Wrecking Crew pop single, or a countrypolitan song from Nashville produced by Chet Atkins or Harold Bradley, I can usually cop the rhythm guitar comping without thinking about it.
That's awesome. Playing in a big band jazz or swing group is the "that" in my head when I think "I want to be good enough to do that."
 

Toast

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View attachment 974946

Felt like it had been a while. I have another thread that was somewhat active on the book (link) and updated in January but having hit one of the original goals I had in learning at least some jazz fundamentals (notably, playing Eldon lines competently), thought I'd revisit the topic.

I think like a lot of people have said, this book for me was more a springboard into new paths than a method unto itself or whatever. I finished a big chunk all at once, then moved on to other things; a remote jazz workshop, in person lessons with a notable session/jazz player, discovering other players/teachers more into swing/Western swing. I finished the last 10% of it maybe six months ago, but stopped at the second half with standard notation.

Along the way I learned a fair bit about Jazz the genre without really setting out to or having many preconceptions. I wouldn't say I've become a devotee, just less ignorant. I know more about what I always liked (proper swing, early bebop), and still don't care for most showtunes or any scat whatsoever.

Less still do I like "guitar jazz," which is impressive but not anything I aspire to play, and to be honest I don't really enjoy listening to much of it either. I have learned a lot of songs that were previously "background music" off by heart as chord melody arrangements, many others besides, and a lot of it I really like. A lot of it I do not.

Anyway, it's a long way of getting to my point (at last!): I see this question asked here a lot, basically various permutations of "how do I get better at this thing." I'm not trying to be prescriptive, but having hit a long-term goal on the instrument, I felt like holding forth a smidge and maybe it'll help someone.

In my experience over the last year, I've had reaffirmed that if you're learning any "western" style of popular music (esp blues or country), you could do worse than spending some time on the basics of jazz. It'll require some work on technique, which I'd been at for 6-9 previous months, and obviously some work on theory (same); you'll have to do some investigating and listening on your own.

I've read a lot of people who are surely better guitarists than me say learning jazz is unnecessary for a guitarist "just" looking to enjoy, and maybe it is for them. But I feel like no guitarist got worse knowing more, and you can draw a straight line from jazz to 95% of what people learning the guitar want to play. You can certainly memorize a bunch of licks and patterns and shapes and learn theory without learning any jazz at all, but for me it re-contextualized a lot of familiar sounds. This made the "mimicry" of my ear even better while substantially improving my ability to play just about anywhere on the neck, several chords at that spot, etc.

Anyway, just my two cents. Happy as ever to have my opinions echoed, refuted, or improved upon. Cheers.
Did you glean anything about jazz improvisation from the book? Or just become more familiar with the chord progressions frequently used in jazz standards? I think if I were to spend time learning jazz guitar, I'd want to feel like I gained some facility with improvising in a jazz context.
 

buster poser

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Did you glean anything about jazz improvisation from the book? Or just become more familiar with the chord progressions frequently used in jazz standards? I think if I were to spend time learning jazz guitar, I'd want to feel like I gained some facility with improvising in a jazz context.
Gotta crawl ‘fore you walk. Plenty of TrueFire courses that’ll teach you some licks if that’s what you’re after.

ps, I think you focused on the book and may've missed this bit.

I think like a lot of people have said, this book for me was more a springboard into new paths than a method unto itself or whatever. I finished a big chunk all at once, then moved on to other things; a remote jazz workshop, in person lessons with a notable session/jazz player, discovering other players/teachers more into swing/Western swing.
 
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Wally

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Did you glean anything about jazz improvisation from the book? Or just become more familiar with the chord progressions frequently used in jazz standards? I think if I were to spend time learning jazz guitar, I'd want to feel like I gained some facility with improvising in a jazz context.

Scales, chords, and improvising are all part of a package, it seems to me.
 

Toast

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Gotta crawl ‘fore you walk. Plenty of TrueFire courses that’ll teach you some licks if that’s what you’re after.

ps, I think you focused on the book and may've missed this bit.
Apologies if my post came off snarky. I'm actually interested in jazz guitar in terms of gaining insight into improvising so that was the impetus behind my questions. It sounds like a good book, but probably too advanced for me. I still need a year or more with guitar/music fundamentals.
 
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That Cal Webway

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I have had the book about 1 year and of course of known about it well over 30 years.

I have barely touched looking at it.
I guess because through the pandemic I worked on other things in such a wide variety of directions. Been challenging and fun.

But this thread definitely motivates me to start in this week!!
 

Doctorx33

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I still have my copy I bought in the mid seventies.

At the time I was just playing basic rock and roll chords and pentatonics.
It really opened up new paths and new ways of thinking for me.

I think it’s good because he gave basic jazz progressions that you could substitute in songs with regular chords.

If you think the Baker book is difficult, get a copy of Ted Greenes “chord chemistry”.
If you don’t go mad by the third chapter or so, you’re doing pretty good.
 




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