Jazz Bass Facing


Authors : Oscar Pettiford and Erik Moseholm
Year : 1962
Format : Book

Level : Beginners
  • Melodic approach in even the simplest position exercises 
  • For its time a complete method including posture and theory 
  • Focus on beginners 
  • Limited to blues forms and some harmonic cadences  
  • Hard to find


For me personally this book was actually one of the great finds during my master research. Jazz Bass Facing is the earliest method for Jazz double bass that I could find. Written by one of the early pioneers of Jazz, Oscar Pettiford, together with Danish bass player Erik Moseholm. Actually, Moseholm finished the book after Pettiford’s untimely death in 1960. The book is fairly unknown and overshadowed by Ray Brown’s method that was published one year later. But this book is, in my opinion, a much better set up method than Ray Brown’s version. Where the biggest part of Ray Brown’s method is filled with scales and arpeggio’s and some written out Jazz bass lines, this book has a much more methodical approach and even more surprising; musically interesting etudes for the starting bass player. Pettiford is known to be a melodic player and you can clearly see this in his etudes. Even the simple half position exercises have nice melodic twists and are obviously made with love and attention to detail. 


The method is mainly suitable for a beginner’s level. The methodic approach of building bass lines are simple but effective and the student is encouraged to create his own bass lines. Concerning walking bass lines, the method is limited to a blues and some harmonic cadences. There are no instructions for rhythm changes or Jazz standards. Being written in the late 50s and early 60’s the book gives a nice insight in the way blues was played in the early Jazz tradition. The use of a major (or maj6) chord is much more common on the first and 4th degree than often presumed. The general opinion is that a Jazz blues starts at a dominant seventh chord of the root (Blues in F starts with F7). In Pettiford’s bass lines and solos1 you can clearly see that he considers the root chord to contain either a major six or a major seven, except in the fourth bar where the dominant root chord prepares the fourth degree.


jazz double bass

in the

21st century

By Tony Overwater