Bass player Danny Ziemann illustrates how to build an improvised solo line from a simple bass accompaniment


Danny Ziemann © Tomas Flint 

This excerpt is taken from Technique: Jazz soloing on the double bass in our July 2021 issue

Crawl, walk, run

Many great solos are just a natural extension of what we do when we play walking bass.

crawl walk run

Exercise 3: Use the same harmonic parameters to work your way from a two-note crawl to an improvised solo based around guide tones

Read: Masterclass: Jazz bowings on the violin

Read: How to create an improvised jazz solo on the violin

In exercise 3, use the same harmonic parameters to progress from a two-beat ‘crawl’ to a walking bass and finally a solo ‘run’:

  • ‘Crawl’: play the root, 3rd and 7th (guide tones)
  • ‘Walk’: play crotchet (q) guide tones, with some quavers (e) if you like
  • ‘Run’: now improvise a solo around the guide tones, using new harmonies and rhythms

Bassists are so used to playing rhythmically uniform accompaniments that we often suffer from what I call ‘bass-line paralysis’. We can use varied rhythms such as triplets (exercise 4) to avoid this.


Exercise 4: Here is a rhythmic idea to help you to create a more interesting solo line. Don’t fall into a boring four-crotchet walking bass pattern by mistake!