Category Archives: Lesson

Wes Montgomery – How to make Simple sound Amazing

This Wes Montgomery Guitar Lesson is breaking down parts of the solo on Four on Six. This version is from the album: “The Incredible Jazz Guitar”. What makes Wes a great improviser and jazz guitarist is not that he played octaves or chord solos. There are other aspects of his playing that are the reason that we consider him the most important jazz guitarist in modern jazz.
This video goes over 5 aspects of his playing that you can easily work on in your own guitar solos. I think really defines what is great about his playing.

If you want to check out another Wes Montgomery Lesson then have a look at this lesson:
Wes Montgomery – This is What Makes Him Amazing

Content:

0:00 Intro Wes Montgomery – Four On Six

0:10 5 Simple Things in Wes’ Style

0:53 Four on Six and The Incredible Jazz Guitar of WM

1:22 #1 Just use the arpeggios (and make great melodies)

3:32 #2 Don’t be afraid to Use Repeated Notes (Groove and Melody)

5:24 What are the things you love about Wes Montgomery? Leave a comment

5:50 #3 Motifs and Call-Response melodies

8:05 #4 Dynamics within the Solo lines

9:28 #5 Do You Have The Blues?

11:26 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

Want to develop you Chord Solo Chops?

One of the most interesting and impressive aspects of Wes Montgomery’s playing is his chord solos. If you want to develop your own skills with chord solos you can do this here:

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2 Arpeggios and How to make 15 Great Licks with them

Scales and Arpeggios are not inspiring, and you can’t immediately go from Arpeggios to Jazz Guitar solos. But this challenge might be a good way to try.

You probably know how it is to feel like you are always playing the same things and nothing sounds fresh. I think we all have that, and mostly we then go look for something completely new to work on.

Last time I felt like this I decided to challenge myself to take something really simple: a II V I and then 2 arpeggios, one for the II chord and one for the V chord, and then see how many licks I could make. That also gave me a chance to use some patterns and melodic ideas that I picked up from people like Jesse Van Ruller, Pat Metheny, Rosenwinkel, Grant Green and a few tricks from Metal as well.

The Challenge: 2 arpeggios and a lot of Jazz Licks

Last time I felt like this I decided to challenge myself to take something really simple: a II V I and then 2 arpeggios, one for the II chord and one for the V chord, and then see how many licks I could make. That also gave me a chance to use some patterns and melodic ideas that I picked up from people like Jesse Van Ruller, Pat Metheny, Rosenwinkel, Grant Green and a few tricks from Metal as well.

The advantage is to use a very limited set of notes (4 per chord) and then really focus on what you can do with the melody. And since the notes are the same all the time it is not about that.
Let’s first look at the two arpeggios: It’s a II V I in G major: Am7 D7 Gmaj7.

Get some fresh ideas!

If you ever had trouble coming up with some new II V I licks with the arpeggios you already know then I am sure this video will help you. In this video I am taking two arpeggios, one for the II chord and one for a V chord and then make 15 II V I licks.

1 – The Basic Arpeggios

I am just playing the II V and then resolving on the G, so on the Am7 I am using the arpeggio from the 3rd, Cmaj7 and on the D7alt I am using the arpeggio from the 7th: Cm7b5.
The first basic example would probably be something like this:

Here the idea is voice-leading, and the arpeggio is treated as 4 separate voices.

2 – One Direction Rosenwinkel

Another way of playing the two arpeggios would be as a movement in one direction ala Kurt Rosenwinkel:

3 – Two Direction Arps

So here I first play one arpeggio and then continue with the closest note in the next one.
You can also try to change direction with the arpeggios:

4 – 1 5 3 7 Pattern

Playing Arpeggios in patterns can be a great way to get some new melodies, and while you should not get lost in all the possibilities it is a great thing to check out and also a good way to practice more flexibel with the melodies you can play.

5 – Grant Green’s Rose

Grant Green likes to use the Honeysuckle rose phrase which is really just an inversion of a Maj7 arpeggio, that works really well like this.

You could also look at the Honeysuckle Rose phrase as an example of what Barry Harris is calling a pivot chord, so the low root is moved up an octave (so pivoted)

6 – A Honeysuckle Variation

A variation on the honeysuckle rose idea and now with a bit more skipping around with the Cm7b5 arpeggio.

7 – Drop2 Not From Mark Turner

I guess this is a Jens Larsen thing that I thought I heard Mark Turner do in a solo, but actually, he was playing something else.

8 – Metheny’s Melodic Voice-leading

Pat Metheny uses this type of melody which is a more elaborate way of using voice-leading:

of course when he does that he usually plays a faster subdivision like 16ths and repeats the patterns several times. You can check out some examples of this in this video on Metheny: Pat Metheny Is Not About The Notes, Are You?

9 – Drop2 Inversions

You can also work with inversions of the Drop two voicings and then not use a drop2 arpeggio for one of the chords.

10 – Reverse Rosenwinkel

The Kurt Rosenwinkel melody that moves in one direction can of course also be done descending. We could call it a “Reverse Rosenwinkel”

11 – Metal Arpeggios

Metal players have very practical ways to play arpeggios and sometimes focus more on easy fingerings than strong melodies, but it does make sense to use some of the easy fingering ideas in jazz as well.

12 – Metal Arpeggios #2

Another very common repeating pattern is this one that you could turn into a lick like this: EX11

13 – Jesse Van Ruller Pattern

A Jesse Van Ruller lick that I transcribed a long time ago used an arpeggio like this Maj7 arpeggio. That’s a very nice pattern and not used too often. It is almost like a shell voicing for the first three notes of the Cmaj7 arpeggio.

14 – Mixed up Drop2 Voicing

Drop2 voicings can be played in patterns as well even if it is a bit difficult. This pattern is pretty challenging for your right hand if you pick it, but if you take your bluegrass chops (or ambitions?) and give it a try you might like it. The lick sounds quite modern and angular

15 – Angular Voice-leading

Taking an Arpeggio played in a pattern can also be a great way to create melodies. Here I am playing the Cmaj7 as 5 7 3 1 and then doing the same with the Cø arpeggio.

Check out my Book: Modern Concepts for Jazz Guitar

If you want more inspiration then check out my book, 5 topics and 50 licks plus of course explanations and exercises. It also includes a transcribed blues solo applying all the material in the book.

It comes with a free download of all Audio examples.

Check it out here: http://geni.us/Jens

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Allan Holdsworth – This Is How He Uses Arpeggios In A Solo

This Allan Holdsworth lesson takes a look at his solo on The Things You See and especially some of the arpeggio based ideas he uses.

To me, Allan Holdsworths playing is not really based on the use of arpeggios. His lines are more scale based and uses interval structures that don’t always make sense as complete arpeggios. At the same time he does have some ways that he uses arpeggios in his playing that is hugely interesting and for me has been very useful to check out. Among other things his use of Quartal Arpeggio and the way he plays them in this video is very interesting.

Other Lessons on Allan Holdsworth

If you want to check out some of the other lesson I have done on Allan Holdsworth you can do so here:

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Triads on a G7 – The Most Important Solo Tool

When you start to play jazz it is easy to get completely lost in extensions, alterations and chord substitutions. And while that is also a part of jazz then it is often much more useful to work on more simple things like what Triads you can use on a dominant chord.

To demonstrate some of triads you can use in a Jazz Blues solo and also talk about different ways to use them I have written a one chorus solo on a Blues in G which will illustrate a lot of options in terms of triad options for a lot of the chords in there.

The G Jazz Blues Solo

As you can see in the video the first thing to check out is the solo. If you can then go through the solo now and mark down the different triads you see. Not all phrases are pased on triads, but most of them are.

The Basic triads on a G7(9,13)

The first bar is a phrase made with a root position G major triad, sliding up to the 3rd and then playing first the root and then the 5th that I repeat.

You want to check out how to use the G triad on a G7, especially for a G jazz blues, but make sure to also work on how to play different melodies with it by learning the triad notes in different order or checking out inversions.

If you want to hear somebody use triads well then listen to Charlie Parker or John Coltrane (not the smallest names in Jazz..)

An overview of the triads on a G7 can be made by looking at the G7 with all extensions, similar to stacking the scale in 3rds from G:

G B D F A C E – G7(9,11,13)

G B D – G major

B D F – Bdim

D F A – Dm

F A C – F major

E G B – Em

Am and C major have too much of a “C” sound to really work well on G7. If you want to check out some more ideas for triads then this article might be helpful: Triads – How To Make Jazz Licks and what to Practice

The line on the C7 is not based on a triad.

In Bar 3 the opening phrase is developed using a similar but extended version of the melody. Now the triad used is the one from the 3rd of the chord: B dim.

This is developed further moving up to a Dm triad in bar 4. From there the melody is with a Db triad. The triad of the tritone substitute: Db7.

The IVth degree and the #IV dim chord.

On the C7 the melody is constructed of the triad on the 5th: Gm and on the C#dim the triad is on C#dim. Of course all 4 dim triads could work: C#,E,G and Bb.

Returning to the G7 the melody is constructed from a descending F major. With the F major triad you need to be a little careful with the C so that it still sounds like a G7. In this case I am moving the melody to a B.

On the Bø E7 is played using the triad from the 3rd of Bø: Dm and the one on the b9: Fdim

The Final Cadence and two Triad Combinations

The Final II V: Am7 D7 is using combinations of triads. The Em and C triads on the Am7. In this case this is not a triad pair since a triad pair is made up of triads that have no common notes. If you want to explore triad pairs then this lesson might be useful: Traid Pairs Part 1

On the D7al the triads are Ab and Ebm. The Ebm is neatly resolving to the triad on the 13th of G7: Em.

The melody on the D7alt and G7 is repeated and developed on the D7 into a D augmented triad.

Give you Jazz Blues playing a Boost

If you want to get some new ideas for you blues soloing and check out how I phrase on a medium Bb Blues then check out this lesson based on a transcribed 4 chorus solo. Discussing arpeggios, blues phrasing and pentatonic scales.

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Mike Moreno – How To Think Ahead in a Solo

This Mike Moreno Guitar Solo has some really fantastic lines and demonstrates some great melodic ideas, especially in the last example. But when I was preparing the video and looking at the examples I realized that there is also something else going on. It is not only about the interesting arpeggio choices or beautiful long phrases. Mike Moreno is also clearly always thinking ahead when he is playing and doing some very interesting cross the barline things in this solo.

There are a few different videos of Mike playing this song on YT in different settings, and it is probably a favourite of his. Which I can’t blame him for it is a great song with some really interesting changes and that is also why it is wonderful to see such a great solo on the progression!

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Chord Melody – The 2 Positions You Need to Know

We don’t think too much in positions when it comes to Chords and Chord Melody Guitar. That is something that is connected more to scales, but it does make sense to have this perspective especially if you want to work on ways to improvise in a solo guitar setting where you want to use full chords with a root.

In The first video I did on this topic I was working on one position and exploring some options there. In this video I am going to look at the other one and show you how to improvise there on a II V I giving you a way to look at the chords so that you can take a voicing and add a melody on top of that.

The 1st Position from the Previous Lesson.

This lesson is continues from a previous video I made on the topic. You can check out here: Chord Melody Solo Process

The position I discuss in that lesson is the one use in that lesson is around this set of notes:

The best way to think of this “position” (since it isn’t really a position) is as a set of root notes.

The “other” Chord Melody Position

By starting with the root of the II chord on the 6th string you get this position. Showed here with Shell-voicings.

Examples and “Chord melody Solo Scales”

The way I am going to explain this is by looking at some examples and use those to make some scale positions of notes with one main chord voicing.

The first example could be something like this:

Finding scales for each chord

The notes that can be used for each of the chord are found in the C major scale. I am leaving out notes that don’t fit the chord or it’s function.

You can find another example with the same note-pool is shown here below:

Adding an altered dominant

A similar set of chords and notes but using an altered dominant would look like this:

An example of how this is used is shown here below.

Notice that sometimes the chord voicing changes to allow for the rest of the line to be more playable. This is how I am playing the line on the Dm7 chord.

Another example of how the altered dominant can be used is shown here below. The melody here is a motif stated on the II chord and then developed on the Valt chord.

Joe Pass Chord solo book

A book, that I have used and learned a lot from is this book of transcribed chord solos. I mention it in the video.

Joe Pass – Chord solos
 http://amzn.to/2kk2zei (affiliate link)

Chord Melody Survival Kit

If you want to develop your skills with chord melody then you can check out this lesson where I break down my basic process for making a chord melody and demonstrate how to turn this into an arrangement.

The lesson includes 3 arrangements and video lessons describing how they are made.

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Kenny Burrell – How to Make the Blues Sound Outside

You probable know Kenny Burrell from his most famous album Midnight Blue and his playing is almost always full of blues phrases. In this The Kenny Burrell Lesson I am going to discuss a solo off a Jimmy Smith album called standards. In many ways it is quite simple and easy to play but has a very sophisticated layer with how he uses the blues something that we can probably all learn from.

Kenny Burrell and Blues Phrasing

In this video I am going to show you how he uses blues on a standard and also how he does some really surprising things with the notes and really creates and emphasizes some great outside tensions with the blues phrases. Treating almost like an altereation that he can move to and also incorporating the melody to create both tension and release. It might seem really simple but it is actually very clever how he does this.

Some of the examples in this video are a bit long, but Kenny Burrell uses a lot of space and the phrases are often also quite long stretching several bars. One of the things that I talk about again and again as a trademark of a great improvisor.

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Jazz Guitar Licks With No Scales – This Is Why Its Great

The ingredients of most common approach to jazz guitar: Scales and Arpeggios. never thought I would hear myself say this, but you can make some really great lines by ignoring scales completely. This way of thinking is quite different from the idea of assigning scales to the chords the way we usually do. At the same time it is a traditional way of making lines and a very useful approach to changing things up.

The problem with too much scale movement

The way of making lines that I am going to cover here is at the very least helping you get rid of lines that sound as predictable and boring as this:

Of course in the long run you probably want to learn you scales just the same. It is better to have more options after all. I will talk about why later.

The George Benson Connection

I came across this way of making lines while analyzing a George Benson solo and I realized that if create lines with this concept you can make some really strong lines that don’t move in a predictable way but still make sense.

In this video I am going to show you how it works and how you can start experimenting with it in your own playing.

The basic concept: Triads and Leading notes

This is a really simple concept. Instead of making lines with scales and arpeggios (my entire system for guitar just fell apart) then we can also just think in simple triad arpeggios and leading notes. So Lines are constructed by having triad tones as targets and adding small melodies of leading notes that point towards those triad tones.

The Chord and The Progression

For this lesson I am going to focus on how to use this on a II V I in Bb major, and especially the Cm7 in that progression!

Cm Triad and leading notes – Two Exercises

So the way the melodies are made are from using the simple triads for example: Cm. The basic material I am using is an enclosure and a leading note on a Cm triad like this:

Putting the idea to use in a II V I lick

And an example of a line using this could be something like this:

Above the triad targes are first Eb, then a low G and finally a C. The beginning of the F7 line is also using a chromatic enclosure to move to the 3rd.

The big advantage to Chord and Leading notes approach

What is liberating is that when we play like this then it often works to just jump from one place to the next and you don’t have to think so much about the direction of the scale run or arpeggio run, and because it is using a very basic arpeggio then the leading note melodies make a lot of sense.

Here’s another example on a II V I. Again using chromatic approach phrases to move to both Cm7 and F7 chord tones.

Of course there are also some things that this doesn’t do, and I would not only use this way of playing as a total approach to everything, but it is a nice way to come up with some lines that sound different and still work with the chords. Using this method to create lines with more more extensions gets a little difficult because the extensions also want to sound like leading notes and the leading notes for the extensions are often chord tones.

This example is using one of the lines that Benson uses a lot on the dominant. It is in fact a Parker lick that Benson learned.

How to work on this approach

So the best way to work on this is to mix it with another approach. This is also what George Benson does in his solo. I will link to my video analyzing this in the description of this video.

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Joe Pass – How to Make Bebop Melodic

Joe Pass is in many ways the definition of solid hard bop and a great place to go if You want to learn to play some melodic lines over chord changes. In this Joe Pass Lesson I am going to break down 4 lines from his solo on There is No Greater Love off the Joy Spring album.

They are really great examples of how to improvise over chord changes and sound like jazz. And You can also learn how there is more to it than just hitting the right notes or playing the right arpeggio. The examples in this video are great for learning some melodic hard bop lines and understanding some of the things you can do to make your bebop solos more melodic. And of course they also demonstrate some of his style and techniques.

A great Joe Pass Lesson book

There is a reason that I keep recommending his Joe Pass Guitar Style book to all my students.
If you want to check out the book you can do so here: http://amzn.to/2l2WzuU (This is an affiliate link so you support the channel by using it to purchase the book)

Check out some of my previous lessons on Joe Pass

Another lesson disccusing the great lines of Joe Pass in a rhythm changes solo. This solo is a duo with Danish Bass Player NHØP playing Oleo. Joe Pass Rhythm Changes lines: Here

Joe Pass is also known for his incredible Chord solos and solo guitar work. This lesson discusses how he interprets a theme and adds fills: Joe Pass Chord Solo Technique: Here

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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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How to Play Fast & Difficult Jazz Guitar Phrases

You probably feel that you get confronted with your technical limitations very often. I think we all do, which of course is also only a testament to the fact that we always try to take things to the limit of our abilities and expand that limit.

Playing fast phrases on guitar is difficult, and with bebop phrases this is even more difficult because the music contains very complicated lines and melodies in Jazz.

There are actually many ways to play fast phrases. I think this is sometimes a bit overlooked, and if you are aware of the options it can really solve a lot of problems in your playing. In this lesson I am going to discuss how you can use different kinds of technique to execute the first phrase of Donna Lee. What techniques work for you is something that only you can figure out, but you should be aware of them, so you can choose instead of banging your head against the wall in 

The Dreaded Donna Lee Theme with Alternate Picking

Donna Lee is one of the more busy bebop themes. It was originally credited to Charlie Parker, but I personally find it unlikely that he wrote it. Miles Davis is a more logical choice.

The main technique that I rely on is alternate picking and usually that is where I start when it comes to playing bebop themes like this.

Example 1 shows the first phrase of the theme:

The first place to start looking for a better way to play the theme is the embellishments, so the trills and the 16th note phrases in bars1 and 3.

Solving problems with legato technique

These are easier to execute and sound much more natural if you play them with legato.

Legato technique is probably the most common way to make it easier to play fast phrases. When I say legato in this context I am talking about hammer ons, pull offs and slides. So basically any technique that does not relying on striking the next note.

If we turn the two faster difficult phrases into something that we can loop it might look like this:

Legato Strategy for difficult lines

The way of finding a way to play phrases like this that I go over here is probably something you should end up getting to automatically. I rarely sit down and go over phrases with so much thought. It is as much about trying to hear the phrase on the instrument and then let your fingers translate what you hear into sound.

That said it can always be useful to check out some phrases and really think about ways to play them.

The idea here is to try to insert a pull off when transitioning from one string to the next. This will buy your right hand some time.

In example 3 I am doing this with by pulling off from the E to the Eb. This also helps phrasing since it gives the E an accent.

Legato Exercises

To practice mixing legato and picking you can do the exercises here below. The idea is to pick two notes in a 3 note per string scale.

Below is an ascending and descending set of scale exercises.

Slide – the forgotten legato technique

The next technique to add to the example is Slides. Using slides is something that is actually very common bu that is not taught very often.

A great place to use this is in bar 3 where it helps us get some time to move from the A string to the D string in the Dø arpeggio.

Economy Picking

Another way to make it easier for your right hand is to use economy picking. The Economy picking idea is that when possible you can move from one string to the next in one go by not alternate picking but sticking to one direction. 

In example 7 I have shown how to do this with the Donna Lee Theme.

Exercise for Economy Picking!

Below is an exercise demonstrating how to play an Ab major scale using Economy Picking. The idea is pretty simple, but take care with getting the timing right when you play it. Economy picking can very easily rush.

Moving the melody around

Sometimes you can solve a lot of problems by changing position while playing a phrase. This is really due to the fact that sometimes a part of a line like an arpeggio or a scale run can be difficult to do.

In the example belowthe F7 arpeggio in bar 2 is moved around so that the first note A is moved to the G string. In this case it actually makes the shift back a little tricky, but it does work.

Shifting to another place completely

One way to solve problems is of course also to play the theme in a different place on the neck. It is always a great exercise and in doing so you can also discover what is difficult or what might work better for the theme.

Below is the phrase written out starting on another string.

Find the solutions that work for you!

The key element here is for you to find ways of playing the phrases that work for you. A part of that process is of course to check out the techniques and realize what it available as I go over here, but you need to check out what works for you and also what works for others.

Check out how I play double time phrases in this solo

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