OSWEGO — When SUNY Oswego bassist and bass instructor Danny Ziemann could not find the right text to help teach jazz bass lines, he decided to write one — “The Low Down: A Guide to Creating Supportive Jazz Bass Lines” — and include audio files supporting the lessons.
The 25-year-old has played bass for nearly 15 years, started giving lessons at 16 and, after graduating from the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music, began teaching at SUNY Oswego at 22.
But as a musician whose groups include the Oswego Jazz Project, his appreciation and inspiration spans the decades that the instrument has kept time for jazz masters.
In trying to find ways to best teach jazz bassline instructions, Ziemann tried, without success, to find a resource to supplement his lessons. “I had been writing out formulas and exercises on scrap sheets of paper and must have done it at least 50 times,” he said.
“After doing some digging for books, I didn’t find anything I was too happy with — many of the materials available were written by performers with less of a background in education,” Ziemann said. “I wanted to write it from the standpoint of an educator and really focus on filling in the gaps that other books had. After some pushing from my students, I finally sat down to write it in August 2014 and had it finished by April 2015.”
As a bonus, Ziemann includes 50 audio files to accompany lessons to provide “an aural demonstration of what I’m talking about,” he said.
The text and audio supplements will help Ziemann and other teachers and students, and his work has received acclaim.
The book represents “a resource that encourages analysis as it helps the creative juices to flow,” Grammy award-winning jazz bassist and educator John Clayton said in a review. “I am especially glad that Danny has included recorded examples so that the student can hear things like groove, tone, concept and other items that books alone cannot address.”
And while Ziemann’s playing talents are recognized — recently winning second prize in the jazz division of the International Society of Bassists double bass performance competition in Colorado — he sees “The Low Down” as an opportunity to help bassists and anybody looking for insight into jazz bass, where “the level of experience doesn’t matter,” he explained.
“It’s supposed to guide a bassist through the process of figuring out how to do something,” he said. “A lot of books tell you what to do with minimal explanation of why it sounds good. Instead, I attempt to deconstruct how these fundamental ideas work and give one the tools to do it on their own.”
For more information, to order the book or to check out the audio files, visit http://www.dannyziemann.com/the-low-down.html.