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Mickey baker book 1

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    Hi lads
    Has any youz worked through the mickey baker book 1. Just wondering what your thoughts are on it. If you liked it ?


    Oh boy,

    That book is considered the bible ’round these parts.


    I have copies of one and two but I could never get into doing them or any books in general really. Admittedly I didn’t give it much of a chance but the 3 or 4 exercises I did just seemed tedious and well boring, to me anyway. I think it was to do with the fact that they were actual exercises, I have to see how something is applied to where I can use it for it to spark my interest. I guess I am too used to Tommy doing all the hard work working things out showing it to me and bam I know how to use it etc. Books have always been a struggle for me full stop. Its still on my bucket list though, one day I will get through some more of it. Craners right if its good enough for Tommy, Kid and Watson etc. Its dam good enough for me!


    Same for me as for Dan, I have a hard time with method (“How to play jazz”) books. I’d avise you to get a good teacher instead and work on material that moves YOU (and not your teacher). My teacher (who is a monster jazz/country/rock player) basicly told me to learn the pre-to bebop I have to
    – learn arps and make the connections between them fluid.
    – learn enclosures
    – transcribe solos and learn them by heart. Now my teacher is a proponent of learning whole solo (probably to get some phrasing exercise), but I also know players who just lift certain ideas. And I can relate to that: A couple of months back I transcribed a Lee Konitz Solo from Billies Bounce (of the “very cool” album), the only thing I remember today is that awesome line he used going to the four chord…
    But the transcription made me really appreciate Konitz, what a monster player, esp. his early work. His “sluggish” time feel and chromaticism… so good.


    Craner hit it on the head with the bible analogy. The way I see it, the Bible and the Mickey Baker books are full of good ideas especially when you do not get hung up on the literal and start looking at how the concepts apply to you.

    I have both Mickey Baker books, but have worked through more of the first one than the second one. Both books have some pretty ridiculous chords that are physically tough to play and useful as finger warmups/workouts. The first book has some good lessons on chord progressions and substitutions. I have been getting a lot of mileage out of some of the second book material lately. Once you get past the physical part, the thing is integrating the lessons with your own playing.

    If I can get some of this crap down fluidly enough, I will post a video with some ideas.


    The Baker book has been really helpful to me. Jason is right, it is about absorbing concepts. Years back this was the book that all my blues heroes talked about. When I toured with Candye Kane and had hours sitting in hotel rooms I used this book for practicing. I admit I just followed the exercises without much of an idea of how to apply it. Especially thinking when am I gonna use a major7th chord in blues. Luckilly, I kept at the book and I had little breakthroughs. I still look at the book and gain new insight. If anything it trains the ear to hear harmonic movement between one chord to the next, and build muscle memory on sock Rhy. chords. Book 2 has been a little more difficult but is just as important. It focuses on the extentions of chords I actually use the II-V lesson and symetrical harmony lesson all the time. This book is a little more conceptual but to me very valuable.


    Regarding absorbing concepts – I very much recommended the “Swing to Bop” Book by Stan Ayeroff. It has many Charlie Christian solos transcribed, comes with two cds for all the solos (slow and fast) played by Ayeroff. He also (really) briefly analyzes the phrases (and some concepts) of what CC was doing, which has been really helpfull for me. I very much recommed it. One thing though: no tab! train your sight reading and your CC chops in one go. lol.


    That’s good to know, I like the website solo flight. Funny you bring up Charlie Christian. I always loved his playing but stayed away from learning any thinking it was to “mainstream”. Well there is a reason that everyone loves Charlie. It’s just that good. I looked at some Tiny Grimes recently and saw some Charlie concepts in that.


    I agree I’ve got that book it’s good for getting your reading up to scratch. Even If you learn just a few of Charlie’s solos you can see he was constantly anticipating the chords when he took a solo.


    For me on whether or not the Mickey Baker book is a good book or not, I think it really boils down to how you learn. We all have different ways we learn things. Some people learn by seeing it done, some people learn by being explained what the concept is, others learn by just experimenting and trial and error, etc. A lot of good information is in this book to be had and used, but the delivery method isn’t the best for some types of people. I think if you are not someone that can learn it by seeing a generic example and then you can figured it out on how it relates to music in general, then the Mickey Baker book will not help you much. Another downside to the Mickey Baker book, like most of these jazz concepts books, is you kind of already have to have a pretty good working knowledge of theory. If you do not then these books just look like what everyone has said, just a bunch of exercises. This book is not geared to the player that is coming in as a beginner in the world of working theory knowledge or jazz playing. Myself personally, I have book 1 and have really never used it much because it didn’t suit me as a learner. I have pulled some very valuable stuff from it though, but a lot of it is because of things learned from outside sources that made the concepts in the book eventually click. However I have a friend I gave a copy to and he just ran with it.


    If you need help developing a working theory knowledge of jazz type concepts the Blues You Can Use series of books has one called Jazzin’ the Blues that is very helpful. A buddy of mine has this book and I borrowed it one time. It is good in getting you to gradually learn the jazz structure by starting with the 12 bars structure and gradually morphing it into jazz. It does this by gradually introducing chord subs, or other concepts into the 112 bar blues. It is helpful because this is pretty much the way jazz came about. People pushing the blues format and making it more harmonically complex by adding in western music theory concepts. For an example of this, we all know the I-IV-V progression common to a lot of early pop tunes, chords played in that order, and we all know the I-vi-ii-V through Tommy. These are functionally the same progression. The vi chord is a Relative minor chord sub for the I, and the ii is a relative minor chord sub for the IV. Another example of how they eventually pushed this knowledge into jazz is the Rhythm Changes. They just made the the same progression all dominant chords because the nature of dominant chords allow them to be kind of used interchangeably (you can play a minor pentatonic or major pentatonic over a Dominant 7th chord and both sound right, but minor pentatonic over a major chord sounds funny). Then the bridge III-VI-II-V is still the same basic thing as a I-IV-V and the I-IV-II-V, but now they are subing the III chord in for the I. The 3rd of a key is a secondary dominant, and is another chord sub for it like the 6th is. Now with the nature of that progression you are playing two different I-IV progressions, so even though you can still play like you would over the I-IV-V in the original key, the ear just hears it more like you are changing keys. To explain that. So in Rhythm Changes in Bb the III chord is D and the VI is G, if you think key of D the G is the IV to D. The II in Rhythm Changes in Bb is C, and the V is F. IF you think of the C as the I the F is the IV to the C. So that is why your ear has the perception of changing keys, and why it sounds so hip soloing if you play the bridge as 2 different key changes. You can still play the bridge of Rhythm Changes in Bb using the same vices you would playing like you would if you were in a I-IV-V in Bb, just not to as great effect. Eventually these structures got pushed so much you have to play the changes for them and can not play like you are in just one key, and the book will also go into this because each rhythm structure lesson will have a corresponding soloing lessons. So these are two examples of how the 12 bar blues structure got pushed by these early pioneers into something different, and how this book uses this to teach the basics of Jazz in an easier type of concept. A lot like Tommy’s Swing Guitar for the Blues Guitarist module. I hope all of this made sense in trying to explain the method to the book, and made sense in the music theory in general. Sometimes I do not explain things very well. I am not a teacher like Tommy.


    I think you explained it really well. Me and Craner were working on “Out of Nowhere this week” We can take the chord progression and rip it apart to see what licks can work. I haven’t had so much fun in a long time. We really get a sense of what our heroes liked to play, what “go-to” licks they had. As we all know blues can be very reactive. We play ideas freely based on how we feel. For some of these blues guitarists that played the pop swing tunes of the time I believe they had to be more concientious of there choices. So when we here a “go to” idea we know it was planned.


    And now we have it. The Mickey Baker assistant (so to speak). For anyone who wants to dig into the book, but has held back for whatever reason, here is a link for a lessons explanation and breakdown. It’s very thorough so have at. Anyone up for a 52week group lesson study? 1 lesson per week, since it’s the beginning of the year?


    I’m in! thanks for finding this for us.


    I’ve learned a lot from Mickey’s book. He doesn’t explain everything but usually when I work with a lesson a bit I’ll think, “Oh, this sounds like a cool intro,” or “Hey, that change would fit in such-and-such a song”, and then I’m off to the races.

    A friend of mine has made several videos of the lessons from the books (-so far, it’s the chord stuff from the first half of the book) and they’re worth checking out.

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