Jazz Blues – 3 Easy Techniques That Make You Sound Better

Most guitar players, and it is probably the same for other instruments as well, know the sound of the blues and can play blues solos. And then you start playing Jazz, and it is all about playing changes and using arpeggios and the right scales, but there is no common ground, and you don’t have a way to combine the two like you hear Charlie Parker, Oscar Peterson or George Benson do.

In this video, I am going to show you some of the techniques you can use to get that mix in there and play Jazz Blues, something that is great on a 12 bar blues, but that will work for you on pretty much all songs.

For this video, I am going to use a basic 12 bar Jazz Blues in F, which happens to also be the key of the transcribed examples which probably says something about how common that is.

The Jazz Blues is pretty similar a straight ahead blues except for the II V in the last line, the cadence to II in bar 8 and the dim chord in bar 6.

The things I cover in this video are applied to a blues and are things you anyway want to be able to do there, but you can easily put it to use on other songs as well. (maybe too much ?)

#1 Riff Melodies in Jazz Solos

B-roll slow bar of parker 1 (maybe 2) chords Bb7 Bdim

This first technique is a way of creating melodies so that you A) nail the changes and B) make a really solid melody over the first few bars.

It is extremely common, and you will find it in most Charlie Parker Solos, and in a ton of other solos and themes.

In the example below you can see a basic phrase in the first F7 bar which is repeated but now the A is changed to Ab on the Bb7. The original statement is further developed in bar 3 and reappears as an altered lick in bar 4.

As I mentioned this is very common in both solos and themes a very clear example is Sonny Rollins’ Tenor Madness

You can see how this theme uses the exact same formula as what I played in example 1 with the main motif and then repeating it in the second bar, only changing the 3rd of the chord to fit the next chord. Then returning to the original motif.

Charlie Parker on Now’s The Time

In a solo, it can be useful to also develop the motif a bit like Parker does on Now’s the time.

In the next chorus, he uses this concept again but is also very creative with it

To be honest I think this is where I learned this, listening to Parker playing Blues.

In Other places in the form

A bonus feature from this way of making melodies is that it works in a lot of contexts, you can use it on the IV #IV dim in bar 5 and 6 of a Blues:

And you can even put it to use on a II V by just changing on note going from II to V

Let’s look at how you phrase the notes and not only the type of melodies you make.

#2 Slides and Phrasing

As you may have noticed bends are not that common in Jazz. Not sure why, but it is likely because the music was invented in a time where the guitar strings were very heavy and guitars had a lot less sustain. Instead, slides are often used, creating a similar sound as the grace notes you hear on the piano.

It is easy to get this type of sound into you lines when you solo. The best place to start is to slide into the important notes in the melody which would be the arpeggio notes.

An example of this could sound like this:

So you can see how I slide into 3rds and 5ths on the chord.

An example of  this a little closer to how you might use bending would be something like this:

Working on using this is pretty simple, just start making short phrases with an F7 arpeggio and experiment with adding slides to it.

Try some of these examples:

#3 Easy Double stops that sound great!

Another thing that is probably also borrowed from the piano is using intervals and double stops. Chuck Berry wasn’t the only one who had that idea, so there are lots of double-stops you can use for Jazz Blues phrases.

Sliding into the 3rd interval that is the upper part of an F major triad. The melody is using the same concept going from I to IV by modifying the motif. 3rds are very practical for double stops and therefore also very common, but there are some other good options as well. First I’ll go over another example and then I will show you how to find some double stops for a chord.

This example is using an A as a lower pedal point and then later returns to the 6th interval to emphasize the first note in that phrase. 6th intervals and tritone intervals like you find in this phrase are also fine options for the F7.

Finding Double Stops for a chord

Zoom in and explain and play – neck diagram! – refer to the different chord shapes

And using double stops as a way of emphasizing a note is really use a simple line using a 5th interval we just found could be something like this.

Level up your Jazz Blues

Jazz Blues Solo Intro Pack

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