Jazz Blues – How To Get The Phrasing Right

In this jazz blues guitar lesson, I am going to teach you how to convert jazz line to Jazz Blues. This can be done by adding blues phrasing so that your phrases find that In this jazz blues guitar lesson, I am going to teach you how to convert jazz lines to Jazz Blues, by adding blues phrasing and find that sweet spot where both genres exist.

Most of us learn have learned to play blues licks along the way. This usually means playing pentatonic blues phrases which is what is the biggest part of that genre. You probably also have learned to play jazz phrases. Melodies that are based on the chords and use arpeggios.

The problem arises when you play a 12 bar jazz blues. Then you want to play something that connects both worlds. You want to follow the changes and you want some of that blues sound.

Most of that is about phrasing.

The basic Jazz Lick – A little Bebop

Let’s take a phrase from a Bb blues. So a Jazz phrase could be something like an arpeggio some scale melody and of course some chromaticism.

When we play it like this it sounds like jazz or a bebop lick but not really like blues.

#1 – Grace notes, slides and Hammer-ons

In these examples, you can see how I add sliding grace notes to the line. The melody is essentially the same but I am adding a few extra notes.

The grace notes are mostly resolving to basic chord tones and are really there to add some extra variation and movement to the line. In blues, you will often do things like this with bends and vibrato as well, but these techniques are less common in Jazz.

#2 -Enclosures and Bluesy Approach Notes

In Jazz Blues leading notes and enclosures are probably coming from the piano. Ironically piano players probably took it over from especially slide guitar players. That is also how it went in Rock and Roll with Chuck Berry.

Adding the enclosures and leading notes to the melody mean changing it a bit, but the basic shape of the melody is still there.

In the first example, here below, I have added an enclosure before the D so that the D is moved to beat 2.

I have also added a leading note between the C and the Bb

In the example below the single leading note is placed before the first D.

Leading into the 3rd like this is very typical for blues and certainly something you want to be able to do.

Another variation of this is to add a trill instead of a leading note. Below,the trill is added on beat 1. It uses the 3rd(D) and the leading note for it (which is the minor 3rd)

Very often Jazz guitarists emulate bends with trills. This is what the example above illustrates.

#3 – Double-stops

Using double-stops is another technique that we borrowed from piano players. By now that has become an important part of the Jazz Blues sound.

It is also a great tool to get other sounds into your solos in an easy way. Just to change up the single-note lines.

The example below is first using a low D as a pedal point before moving to a melody that is in fact harmonized in 3rds.

This second example is more focused on harmonizing the melody in 3rds. The phrasing here also includes grace notes both in a single voice and in both voices at the same time.

Another very common blues device is to have a high pedal point 2nd voice. You don’t hear it too often but Wes Montgomery and Scofield use this.

More Bb Blues Phrasing in a complete solo

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