Blues and Jazz are two genres that share the same roots and have a lot of things in common. You can make some really great lines by mixing things from Blues and Jazz.In this lesson I am going to look at 5 licks that do that and talk a bit about how they are constructed and how you can make lines like that.
The Key, the Chord and the Blues scale
The core of this lesson is of course the 5 licks that contain some of the characteristic melodies, phrasing and techniques found in Blues mixed with arpeggios, extensions and chromatic passing notes that you find in Jazz. The result are lines that will fit in both a Jazz and a Blues context, and you can probably put them to use in a lot of jazz standards as well.
All the examples are in the key of Bb, so they are thought from the Bb7 chord. Bb is a very common key for a Jazz Blues, there are numerous famous jazz blues themes in Bb, think Tenor Madness or Blue Monk.
The backdrop of the Bb7 is the Bb mixolydian or Eb major scale:
Since we are using the basic Bb7 chord then the arpeggio of that is also useful:
But since we are playing blues the Bb minor pentatonic is also a useful place to look for melodies.
In this lesson I am assuming that you know what a BB7 is and how to play over it and is somewhat familiar with arpeggios, chord tones and a minor pentatonic scale.
The 5 Jazz Blues licks
We are going to look at some licks that make use of Blues phrasing and scale and some jazz lines. In general blues lines can be both in the chord (so mixolydian) or strictly blues from the minor pentatonic scale. Blues with also contain leading notes, but the melodies tend to be based more on the basic chord notes (the triad maybe the 7th) than extensions which gives them a more rooted sound.
In the first example I am walking up the arpeggio from the 5th to the root and from there we get a typical blues cliche that is using an Eb/Bb like suspension with double stops. From there the line continues with a jazz line that starts on the 5th(F) and skips up to the 9th(C) from where it descends adding a chromatic passing note and finally comes to ret on the 5th.
Leading notes are a part of the Blues language aswell as jazz, even though it is used a bit differently. The 2nd example starts out with leading notes to the 3rd(D) and uses that before it resolves to the root. From there it continues with a melody taken from the Bb blues scale, which is the minor pentatonic scale with an added b5(E). The minor pentatonic line is finally resolved to a 3rd and from there we get a small line ending the melody on the b7(Ab)
The third example is a line derived from the good old Chuck Berry Boogie Woogie pattern, but not used as a melody an octave higher. It then continues down the arpeggio in bar 2 and ends with an encircling of the 3rd and a 6th skip up to the root.
The melodies that skips a 6th up or down are very common to the blues. Usually the melody will skip between chord notes. If a melody skips like this in Jazz it is much more likely to be resolved in stepwise motion in the other direction. This is somewhat a type of melody that is much more common or even specific to Blues.
Patterns of 3 notes are common in both styles, but the repeating 3 note pattern idea is much more common in Blues (think Chuck Berry again). In the 4th line I start out with a 3 note motief that is played twice befor the line continues down the minor pentatonic scale to the root. From there it goes on with a leading note line connectinfg the 9th to the 3rd and the the first 3 note motief that now resolves to the 5th of Bb.
In the last example I am starting of with a line that is basically a jazz line that is played with blues phrasing. First half of bar 1 is a D dim triad and from there the line continues with a part of an F minor pentatonic scale. The 2nd haf of the line is again using double stops and using the cliche chromatic movement of a minor 3rd interval from the 3rd and 5th to the b7 and 5th.
I hope you can use my examples to get started making your own Jazz Blues lines and explore that way of playing in your own improvisations!
The best way to work on the material I went over here is to take the examples and trying to make them into my own lines. One way is to start with a part of one of the examples and make a different ending. Another approach would be to take a part of a line and compose 10 new lines that use that part.
If you want to study the examples away from the video or article you can download a pdf here:
You can also check out my Bb blues solo lesson with a 4 chorus transcription + lesson:
If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better then please feel free to leave on the video or send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you want to hear.