Category Archives: Blog

Blog Posts by Jens

This Will Make Your Jazz Licks 10x Better

You already know how to find the scales and arpeggios that go with the chords, and you can play something on each of the chords, but your solos still sounds very much like you are just playing something on each chord, and when you listen to great players like Wes then you hear a whole melody in the solo, not just something on Dm7 and something else on A7.

In this video, I am going to show you how to improve the skills that make it possible for you to play a solo that is a complete piece of music and not a bunch of random lines next to each other.

I a m going to go over 5 examples that will show you what to focus on start hearing and playing connected melodies in your solos. You can use them as blue prints for writing your own lines and try to add this to your solos.

In a way the concepts I am going over here could be described as a “holy trinity” of Beethoven, Muddy Waters and Kurt Rosenwinkel – just a strange side-note.

The material I am using here is pretty basic and you probably know it already.

It is a II V I in C major so we have an arpeggio from the root and one from the 3rd of each chord:

And around that we have a C major scale:

If you want to explore more on diatonic arpeggios then check out this lesson:

Beethoven inspired II V I lick

One way to connect a melody is to follow up a phrase with a developed repetition of that phrase. This is called motivic development and is a very powerful way to make melodies just ask Ludwig Beethoven

This is a really solid example of basic motif: the melody on the Dm7 and G7 are almost identical and just transposed, but that does make it easy to hear how the G7 melody is a logical follow up on the Dm7.

Muddy Waters playing Changes

Call-Response is associated with blues, but is really a part of all melodic traditions. In the example it becomes almost a question answer where the Dm7’s ascending melody is a question and the G7 is the descending answer.

It feels a little like the Dm7 is opening up something and the G7 melody is closing it again. The Cmaj7 line becomes more of a tag to finish it off.

Creatively Voice-leading Motifs

When you work with motifs then you can be very strict and mechanical, but in the end you should also want to be able to use it more freely and maybe a little less obvious.

This example is starting with a descending Fmaj7 arpeggio on the Dm7 and that is “voice-lead” to a descending G7 arpeggio.

It is not only for II V I licks

To keep everything compact in this lesson I am just using short II V progressions, and you should practice making melodies or licks with this types of melodic connections, but as you start getting it into your system then it really pays off to take this to entire songs and work on creating musical sentences over entire sections of a song. I think especially Wes is a great clear example of this, but if you listen closely you will hear it with pretty much everybody!

Stubborn Rosenwinkel Habits

One of the things that I learned from a Kurt Rosenwinkel masterclass was how he already in technical exercises worked on continuing a melodic direction through the changes.

This II V I lick is a simple example of that where the melody is ascending throught the II V to resolve on the Cmaj7.

Another thing that is worth noticing is that instead of playing only scales, arpeggio patterns then the G7 line is using something that works like a D pedal point in the line.

Reverse Rosenwinkel with a motif

And of course you can make a lick that is descending through the entire cadence. In this example it is combined with a motif using first a Dm triad and then a B dim triad.

Adding Alterations (Like Benson)

The previous examples where all very simple and I tried to keep everything diatonic to make it clear that it is about melody (and maybe also about rhythm?)
Of course you can also do this with altered dominants and this example is developed from an altered phrase that I transcribed from a George Benson solo.

The melody has a motivic development between the Fmaj7 and the Fø arpeggio, but also a connection between the Fø and the Em7 arpeggio on the Cmaj7.

New Concepts for your Solos!

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If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment 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 are searching for.

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5 Things That Will Boost Your Jazz Guitar Playing

When I look back at when I learned how to play jazz guitar then there are some things that I did which in hindsight clearly helped me get further and took me up sometimes several levels.

Most of these habits I didn’t think about in a strategic way, but I think that if you are trying to learn Jazz then these 5 tips are important for you to consider and will help you learn more and learn faster, which in the end also often means having more fun doing so.

Check out how to Practice Jazz Guitar

This is a Good 10-minute Practice Routine

30 min Jazz Practice Routine How To Find The Perfect Balance

Content

0:00 Intro

0:34 #1 Be Consistent

2:32 #2 Focus on Playing Music 

2:50 Achievable goals and using what you practice

3:14 Difference between learning an Arpeggio and Using it in music

4:08 #3 Play with Others

4:23 Responsibility and using what you practice

5:34 It is also about motivation

6:29 #4 Learn by Ear

6:59 What You Learn

7:29 A song I learned from Vic Juris

7:59 How to learn a song by ear

8:27 Learn Jazz Solos by Ear – What You Learn

9:03 A great alternative to start with

9:35 #5 Be Creative and Decide How It Should Sound

9:54 How do YOU want to sound?

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If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment 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 are searching for.

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7 Great Jazz Licks And Why You Need To Know Basic Arpeggios

You need to know your basics and you need to know them extremely well. I am sure you have heard that before. Once in awhile it is very useful to go back to the basics and really improve the jazz licks that you can write with very simple and basic scale and arpeggios choices.

When you do that then you are working on being better at using rhythm, make stronger melodies and have better phrasing, and you always want to improve that.

In the end, it is more important to improve those skills instead of knowing a lot of scales and arpeggios.

The things you need for this video are basic material that you probably already know and practice: the scale, the arpeggios and also the diatonic arpeggios of that scale.

And what this lesson is going to show you is 7 great licks that are just using these basic arpeggios and give you some ideas so you can start making better licks like this yourself.

Scale and Arpeggios

The basic C major scale I am using here:

This is combined with the diatonic arpeggios that I also cover in this lesson: The Most Important Scale Exercise In Jazz

And of course, you can also download Scale and Arpeggio diagrams in this section of my website: PDF Charts and Diagrams

Lick #1 Just Basic Arpeggios – But Great Rhythm

The first example is only using the basic arpeggios of each chord. The reason why this works so well is that the rhythm is more interesting and driving it forward.

Notice that moving to the G7 and the Cmaj7 the melody is changing to the next chord on the 4&. In that way it is anticipating the chord change, something that is an important part of Jazz.

It is also important to see how them melody really works towards the chord change and in that way adds direction to the line.

Lick #2 Forward Motion

The second lick is making use of forward motion, an aspect of especially bebop, that Jazz has in common with the music of Bach.

When you work on forward motion you should try to create melodies that move towards a target note in the next chord. You can explore this in more detail in this lesson: Target notes on a II V I or an extensive guide in this webstore lesson: Rhythm Changes – Target Note Strategies

In this example the target note is the 3rd on both the G7 and the Cmaj7

Lick #3 Quarter-note Rhythms

Rhythm is important, as you can tell from the first two examples, but Jazz is not only about 8th notes. It is as important to learn to play rhythms that use quarter-notes and in fact, they are great for more groove-oriented playing. You don’t want to only play long 8th note lines in your solos and you want to sit in the groove with the beat.

The example below demonstrates how you can incorporate some quarter-note rhythms in your lines, but again keeping it simple.

Lick #4 Rhythmical Tension

Rhythmical tension is not often a topic in Jazz guitar lessons, but any aspect of music can be considered as a tension/release tool.

In this example, you can hear how the melody is moving forward and using first the trill in the Dm7 bar and the off beats in G7 to create tension which is then released back on the beat on the Cmaj7.

This way of thinking about other aspects of music when improvising, so no only trying to create tension with harmony, scale or note choice, is very powerful and really underrated.

Lick #5 Changing Direction

The first examples were focused on rhythm and direction of the melody, and the goal was to drive the line forward.

If you only focus on that you will get very clear lines, but they also become a little predictable because you are playing from chord to chord and often emphasizing the heavy beats where the harmony changes.

In the example below, you can hear how the melody is changing direction and skipping around in the middle of the bar.

Especially the G7 arpeggio that is played with octave-displacement or pivotting.

If you want to see more examples of this then check out this lesson: Bebop Soloing – The Licks You Need To Check Out

Or this WebStore lesson: Bebop Embellishments on Take The A-train

Lick #6 Chromatic Enclosure

Another way to create tension without using fancy scales or structures is to use Chromatic melodies in the lines. The concept is to use a short melodic phrase with notes that don’t belong to the scale.

That melody sounds outside and is made so that it resolves to a target note back inside the sound of the chord or the key.

In the example below I am using chromatic passing notes on the chords as enclosures and passing notes (on the Dm7), and also to drive the change of chord from G7 to Cmaj7.

Lick #7 Everything All The Time

And of course, you can also put all of these things together (well most of them anyway). In this example, there are different rhythms, enclosures and melodic turns.

See if you can recognize the different blocks which will really help you understand how the line works and get more out of analyzing other solos by famous players like Charlie Parker or Wes Montgomery.

Of course, I also analyze it in the video.

Get started with the Music and build a foundation

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You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment 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 are searching for.

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Freedom on The Fretboard – Great Exercises

Of course, you want to play the guitar and be completely free to find whatever lick or melody wherever you are playing on the neck. That is the goal of knowing the fretboard.

And you need to have a solid overview so that you can use it while you improvising.
In this video, I am going to show you a strategy and some of the best exercises to develop that.

Content

0:00 Intro

0:26 Jazz as a Language and You can use that

1:02 onlyapesappreciateheavymetal

1:45 Charlie Parker Lick 

2:27 Side-note using a Finnish Sentence 

3:24 Exercises you probably already know

3:38 Basic Scale overview

4:22 Adding Harmony

4:46 Really Understanding How To Play Arpeggios

6:08 Moving Around Real Music

8:44 Important point about All Positions and All Options

9:22 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

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Get the PDF!

The PDF for this lesson is available through Patreon in the Patreon FB group. By joining the Patreon Community you are in the company of 200 others supporting and helping shape the content on my YouTube channel.

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If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment 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 are searching for.

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This is Why Melodic Minor Is Awesome

Melodic minor is an awesome sound! It is a really beautiful rich minor sound. But sometimes we immediately get lost in Altered scale, Lydian dominant, Locrian Natural 2, etc and that is a pity because the tonic minor sound is certainly worth exploring.

In this video I am going to show you how to start using it, some of the things you can use to make lines and also how you can use it to get into some other great melodic minor sounds on other chords.

Hearing the sound in the chords

To have a place to use this, maybe take Autumn Leaves in G minor. (Sheet music)

In bars 7-8 there are two bars of tonic Gm.

A tonic minor chord is either a Gm6 or a GmMaj7 chord.

In a cadence that sounds like this:

Or like this:

In Autumn Leaves there is also a riff used on the Gm which is in fact a Gm6 arpeggio.

The Scale (The way we use it in Jazz🙂 )

A G minor melodic scale is G natural minor scale like G A Bb C D Eb F G where we change it so it has a maj6th and a maj7th:

G A Bb C D E F# G

If you play the scale it could be something like this:

You can also find Scale diagrams here: Scale, arpeggio and chord diagrams

In classical music, you use the melodic minor ascending and the natural minor descending.

That’s not how we do it in Jazz in part because that would mean that the one playing chords has to change the chord depending on the soloist playing descending or ascending melodies.

You can hear me play these two examples in the video if you want an idea about the difference:

Exploring the Harmony and the Sounds

If you want to improvise over a tonic minor chord then it is good to have the scale and also some arpeggios. Let’s start with the diatonic triads

So here we have the diatonic harmony of the scale in Triads: Gm Am Bbaug C D Edim F#dim Gm

The same with the 7th chords would be

The diatonic 7th chords are: GmMaj7, Am7, Bbmaj7(#5), C7, D7, Eø, F#ø

Now we have a lot of material to improvise over a GmMaj7, you just need to figure out what to use.

What arpeggios to use?

GmMaj7 is good, that is the diatonic arpeggio for G.

The Arpeggio from the 3rd: is always good: Bbmaj7(#5)
and Eø which is the same set of notes as Gm6

For the triads, you can use the same: Gm, Bbaug and Edim and the upper part of Bbmaj7(#5) which is a D major triad.

Making Lines with Melodic Minor

Now that we have a complete set of scale, arpeggios, and triads then making a few lines seems like a good idea.

The first example is combining Bbmaj7(#5), Eø and a D major triad. Really emphasizing the final maj6th.

The second example introduces some more chromaticism and uses E dim and Bb augmented triads.

Another great melodic resource in Melodic minor is Triad pairs. I have a few videos on this already:

Triad pairs in the altered scale

Triad Pairs – How To Use Them On a Minor Blues

In the example below I am using a Edim and D major triad pair over the Gm6 chord:

The great thing about Melodic Minor

A great aspect of Melodic minor is that the lines that fit one of the chords also mostly works over other sounds. In this way you can use a Gm6 line as an F#7 altered:

Or a Lydian dominant sound like this C7 backdoor dominant in D major:

A great progression for Melodic Minor: Minor Blues

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Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment 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 are searching for.

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The Worst Mistake When You Study Jazz

It is probably mostly a problem you are teaching yourself but organizing your Jazz Practice and getting the right things in there is something that is often going wrong. At the same time, this is so incredibly easy to avoid and all you need to do is take a step back and look at what you are trying to learn without getting lost in the details.

I say it all the time: Learn Jazz, Make Music but for you to make music you need to focus on learning some pieces to make music with and that is very often not on the list when people start practicing and studying Jazz.

Other Important Practice Lessons

This is a Good 10-minute Practice Routine

Avoid Long Practice Plans – This is what you should focus on

Guitar Practice – How To Be Your Own Teacher

Content

0:00 Intro

0:26 Forgetting What You Want to Learn? 

0:42 It may seem ok, but it isn’t

1:15 Skills for Jazz

1:40 Exercises are not Music

2:19 What you will miss and what you should be doing

2:38 Playing Real Music

3:07 Jazz Harmony is more than II V I and Turnarounds!

3:37 How many II V’s in a Jazz Standard?

4:30 How To Really Learn Jazz

5:10 What is playing Jazz, what is the goal.

5:53 Is this missing in online education?

6:12 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page

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If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment 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 are searching for.

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Instagram,Twitter Google+ or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment 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 are searching for.

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Instagram, Twitter Google+ or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts, and releases.

Great Chord Sequences And How To Use Them In A Solo

There is a great way that you can create new lines over a chord progression which is a simple way of changing the chords and outline other chord sequences. This way you get more movement in the lines and another logic to the melody. And checking out a few of those options on basic progressions like a II V I or a static chord can add a lot of variation to your solos.

In this lesson, I am going to show you a few examples of this. Some are staying within the key and others add a few outside sounds, and later I will also show you how this works if you open up the rhythm a bit.

The Basic Chord Progression and Concept

To show you how this works, first we need to set up a key and a II V I to work with.

We have a basic II V I in G major: Am7 D7 Gmaj7 and often if I play these chords then I can also get away with these chords: Am7 Bm7 Cmaj7 D7 (see example 2 below)

Using this progression in a solo

If I do that in a solo in a really basic way then that sounds like this:

You can hear that the comping is just playing the II V I, but it still works and a freer solo line that still sounds like this: could be something like this:

As you can see I am still using the super-imposed chords (short rundown of the arps)

A Modal or Static Variation

You can hear that I am using the direction of the “alternative chord progression” to give the line a specific direction that works great, almost as a counter-point to the comping underneath.

And of course, the same concept used on a static Am7 chord works as well:

More Diatonic Reharmonizations

The previous example was moving up the scale, and there is a very easy way to use the same principle and move down through diatonic chords like this:

The Ab7 is there because it fits in the descending motion, but a D7 would work as well, of course.

Strong Triad lines

A good way to clearly use the descending movement on top of the standard harmony is to use basic triads like this:

Adding Chromatic Passing Chords

There are two obvious ways you can add a chromatic passing chord in this context, namely using a side-slip up or down.

The two examples below shows how that might sound:

And if you translate these into solo lines:

Example 10 using a Bbm7:

And example 11 using Abm7:

More Creative Rhythms and Polyrhythms

Until now the chord progressions have been used as if the chords are placed on the heavy beats of the bar. This is of course what you usually find with chord changes, but when you solo you can be a lot more open and have more fluid barlines.

These 3 examples have a more open approach to the rhythm and also make use of polyrhythms.

A loose Bbm side-slip

Example 12 is a more loose way to quickly insert a Bbm7 line (actually just a Db major triad) and here it almost sounds like an added Eb7 in the context.

The triad is introduced by moving up the preceding C major triad a half step.

Dotted Quarter note arpeggios

The example below uses the Am7 Bm7 Cmaj7 D7alt chord progression, but the melody uses a 3 8th note long melody for each of the chords.

Another great 3 8th-note grouping

Again triads are a fantastic resource to create melodies. This example is using the basic triads of the chords and spelling out the Cmaj7 Bm7 Am7 Ab7 chord progression. The last two beats are covered with a quartal arpeggio that is essentially an Ab7(13).

Level up your Jazz Lines with Bop Embellishments

Another great way to add more variation to your jazz vocabulary is to use more interesting phrasing:

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Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment 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 are searching for.

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Instagram, Twitter Google+ or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts, and releases.

Jazz Scales – What Do You Need To Know And Why

If you want to play jazz you probably figured out that you need to play the scale that fits the chord or the song when you improvise. We don’t need jazz scales but we do need scales.

But just knowing what scale and maybe a single position of it is not really helping you come up with better things in your solos.

You need to learn and practice things within the scale that will help you have material to play that sounds good in a solo.

Sometimes it seems that most people forget that about practicing scales…

Other useful Lessons on Scale Practice

The Most Important Scale Exercise In Jazz

How to practice your scales and why – Positions

Jazz Scales! The 3 You Need to practice and How You apply them to Jazz Chords

Content:

0:00 Intro – Jazz and Scales

0:32 Playing the Scale

0:49 Positions and beyond

1:48  Make sure you know the notes

2:48 Diatonic 7th chords

3:34 A Step-wise method for learning the Arpeggios

4:08 Using Arpeggios in Solos

4:47 Example using arpeggios in a Lick

5:33 Triads (are also great in Jazz)

6:07 Example using triads in a Jazz Lick

6:50 Triad Patterns 315 and 513 

7:32 Which scales to learn?

7:55 Chromaticism and Turning licks into scale exercises

8:31 Exercise adding chromaticism to diatonic structures

8:43 Developing a Peter Bernstein Lick into an exercise

9:32 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

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Get the PDF!

The PDF with examples for this video is available through Patreon. You can check out my Patreon Page here: https://www.patreon.com/jenslarsen

Jazz Guitar Insiders Facebook Group

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If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment 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 are searching for.

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts, and releases.

Fretboard Challenge! 12 Licks in a Single Position

Learning the Fretboard and having an overview of the keys is quite difficult on the guitar. This fretboard guitar lesson goes over 12 licks to give you material for each key in a single position.

You can put this to use as exercises, or as inspiration for your own material exploring the different keys. Another way to explore the fretboard is to take one of the II V I licks and then move that around all the positions your use.

There are lots of options!

Exercises like this are really useful for exploring where everything is and also what is practical in each key in this position. I think it is very important to keep that in mind:

It is more important to have practical, playable and good sounding solutions in each position than knowing everything in all positions.

More information on Fretboard Knowledge

If you want to check out more videos where I discuss fretboard knowledge and knowing things in all keys then check out one of these articles:

Fretboard Visualization That makes musical sense for Jazz Guitar

Practice Major Scales like this and You will get more out of it!

#1 C major – Dm7 G7 Cmaj7

#2 F major – Gm7 C7 Fmaj7

#3 Bb major – Cm7 F7 Bbmaj7

#4 Eb major – Fm7 Bb7 Ebmaj7

#5 Ab major – Bbm7 Eb7 Abmaj7

#6 Db major – Ebm7 Ab7 Dbmaj7

#7 Gb major – Abm7 Db7 Gbmaj7

#8 B major – C#m7 F#7 Bmaj7

#9 E major – F#m7 B7 Emaj7

#10 A major – Bm7 E7 Amaj7

#11 D major – Em7 A7 Dmaj7

#12 G major – Am7 D7 Gmaj7

Really digging into a Single Position

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Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment 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 are searching for.

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Instagram, Twitter Google+ or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts, and releases.

The Most Important Ways To Study Jazz Licks

What do you learn from Jazz Licks, and why should you practice them? That is what this video is about!

How do you study licks? What can you learn and How do you not waste time on them? These are important things to figure out, especially if you are teaching yourself.

Whenever you are studying and practicing something from a book or a video like mine, then the examples of how the topic is applied is most often in the form of Jazz Licks, short musical phrases that demonstrate how a scale, rhythm or arpeggio sounds when used in a solo. You even have books that are only licks and no other information.

Other useful videos on working with licks

Bebop Soloing – The Licks You Need To Check Out

How To Study Jazz Licks The Right Way

Are You Wasting Valuable Time Practicing Jazz Licks Like This?

Content of the video

0:00 Intro

1:10 Don’t Waste Your Time

2:00 How To Play That Lick In My Solos

2:52 Example 1

3:44 Variation on Example 1

4:47 Example 2

5:53 Variation on Example 2

6:03 How To Apply A Specific, Arpeggio, Scale, Rhythm on a Chord Progression

8:18 How To Phrase Melodies in Jazz.

9:47 How Jazz Melodies Sound and How to Play Them

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Get the PDF!

The PDF with examples for this video is available through Patreon. You can check out my Patreon Page here: https://www.patreon.com/jenslarsen

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