Okay, school just started for me, and the jazz band is getting started again in a week or two. I've been playing sax in it, but not really liking that, and wanting to switch to bassist (the last one graduated). However, there are a few new folks coming in this year who are also interested, and they've been playing bass longer than me. I've been playing instruments for over a decade, though, and guitar for 8 years, which is not something any of these people have anything close to. Also, I have much better musical understanding and knowledge of theory. Don't get me wrong, I'm a good bassist, and more than adequate for the jazz band, but these guys know flashier stuff to play at a tryout than I do. So basically I want any advice you can give me and recommendations for stuff to play.

If they're the kind of people who can only read tabs but can do some crazy licks, just mention that.. I mean, it's for a school. They want you to know the theory.
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The instructor though, he's not the brightest, if I said that, he'd just perceive it as me badmouthing the other guys. So I'll have to get through solely on my own merit. This isn't a strict jazz thing either, they play just about anything. So I more looking for good ways to impress the guy.
Don't be rude like, "Pick me, these idiots can't read a single note from a staff!"

Just explain what music background you have and play a simple jazz song and you'll look good for the position. :P
"I don't understand how one can kill a man in the name of peace, that's ridiculous."
From my experience in school jazz band the primary ability you need is to read music. Big band music will have a written out bass part so it mirrors the hits of the whole band. So as long as you show a good reading ability you should be fine. For an audition piece look at a standard like So What which has a bass riff and walking section for you to improv over. Even though you won't do it much in a band situation it'll put you in a good light. You'll be better off playing a simpler piece which fits the genre than eg a complex rock song or something.

Theory knowledge is generally unimportant unless you have improvised walking lines.
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Okay, perhaps I should have mentioned that this only loosely fits the term "jazz". Last year our most commonly played songs were Soul Bossa Nova (the Austin Powers theme, which is really 12 bar blues), and Greased Lightning (which is just the pure rock n roll 12 bar blues, in fact, the guitarist does a big shreddy solo in the middle of it). It's called the jazz band, but it's really a rock band with brass and woodwinds added in.
As mentioned above, sight-reading will be essential.

If the tryout is within a band environment, work closely with the drummer. Establishing good dialogue between drums and bass will be key. If it's a one-on-one audition, take interest in who else will be playing in the rhythm section and ask to meet them. This will demonstrate that you are a team player and that you understand your role within the band.

For your audition, select pieces that you feel comfortable playing. Playing a simple bassline confidently and correctly is much better than playing something impressive in a sloppy manner. Practice your audition piece until you can play it in your sleep. I'm guessing they will want to know that you can, at the least, keep a solid walking bassline/chord progression.

If you get a chance, try to show variety/versatility in your playing. (techniques, tempos, stylistic elements) And be sure to keep time with your foot.

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Last edited by Armored Artist at Sep 7, 2007,
I'm keeping all this in mind, although this is a much more laid-back thing than you all think. Be nice if you could tell me some basslines from songs that are good for demonstrating a certain technique.