i bought david baker's how to play bebop books the other day. has anyone here worked through them before and got any tips as to how to approach them?

also - on the topic of these bebop scales - do you think it is really necessary to go to all the trouble of learning all these bebop scales, licks and patterns so that you get the whole forward bebop scale thing happening? it seems the alternative approach is just to jam on songs long enough so that you know your way around well enough that you naturally figure out all that stuff unconsciously without going to the trouble of working it out consciously. thats the way charlie parker originally came up with that stuff if i understand correctly. and jamming on songs is a hell of a lot more fun than learning licks in all 12 keys. so is it really necessary to learn all this bebop scale stuff by slowly going through all the patterns, or is just jamming on the songs good enough?
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here's the thing about david baker's books...
they are more like a bunch of material to use in a class.
they don't really teach you how, they just give you a lot of material to apply.
how david does his classes:  everyone brings their instruments and plays through the material.  you take bebop scales and patterns, and practice playing them starting on various tones, approching from above or below, going up x notes and then coming down the pattern, etc.  also starting of different beats or parts of beats.  then applying all these patterns to the applicable parts (over the proper chord sequences) within bebop tunes.
we used "half nelson" quite a bit, and of course blues.  
he also has you take parts of bebop heads and use those as improv patterns.
i used to get a headache in that class.
i think the book is very worthwhile. the fingering for bebop scales on a piano is ideal. most of them work with the very fast 1234 1234 1234 type fingering. they sound best descending by the way.

just go thru baker's exercises. and be sure to also practice them in the common keys that lay well:
c, f, g, bb and eb
cynbad, did you go to indiana?
unfortunately, no, but i've been in several of david baker's advanced theory classes at the abersold workshops.  
they are always "how to play bebop", although sometimes he gets into some more modern stuff by the end of the week.
fun fact:
david baker is also a composer of classical music.
fun?
maybe you are too young to remember "fun facts"
whatever...
the thing i liked about the david baker books i checked out was how he dealt with isolating and using lines from transcriptions....
probably the way to deal with your "dilemma" as described superjames is to remember that back in the day the bebop creators were immersed in the styles of the players(so-called "swing-to-bop")that immediately preceded them and built their s--t on their ideas..they knew their solos,also had a good "classical/traditional" instrumental foundation in many cases...i'd balance listening/transcription with working out of the book..also search here at ljp and online in general for more about things............
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