Jazz Rhythm – The Most Important Aspect of Jazz

Learning jazz is often mostly about playing 8th note lines, but if you listen to amazing musicians like Charlie Parker then you can hear that he doesn’t only play dense 8th note lines. He also plays very interesting rhythms. So we need to learn to hear rhythms like that.

In this video, I am going to go over an exercise that you can apply to the songs that you play and help develop your ability to play much more interesting solos with more inspired rhythmical ideas.

Developing Rhythmical ideas

The exercise I am using in this lesson is reducing the amount of notes that you use and in that open up to give more attention to the rhythm.

To have a progression to work on I am using the A-part of Take the A-train which is fairly simple. You can, of course, choose any song you like, but make sure that you choose one with not too many chords. Try to also pick one that you know very well.

The chords of the A-train A-part is shown here below:

The Three Notes

Let’s first find three notes for the chords. I am treating the II V as one chord.

If you can see figure out where I got the three notes from then leave a comment on this post :)

Rhythm #1

The first rhythm is shown here below. The note on the 4th beat helps it drive it forward. The 2& also helps a lot with adding some “jazz feel” to the rhythm.

First play the rhythm with just one note to get it into your system.

Applying Rhythm #1 to The Chord Progression

A way to improvise through the progression with the 3 notes could look or sound like this. When you work with the rhythm try to keep improvising until it becomes really easy to improvise. That way you have really internalized the rhythm and it is more likely to show up in your playing.

Rhythm #2

This rhythm is actually just a basic syncopation, but at the same time also a very important rhythm to be familiar with in Jazz.

Using Rhythm #2 in a Jazz Solo

As you can see I am starting to mix up the rhythms so that I am not only using one rhythm. In many ways I am using the rhythms to help create a sense of Call-Response in the solo.

Rhythm #3

More complicated rhythms work as well. This one is a lot less clear and can also help you develop your ability to feel off beats more precisely.

Rhythm #3 – Mixing it all up

This 8 bar examples uses Rhythm #3 but I am also mixing it up quite a bit with the previous rhythms. I think this also illustrates how much variation is available like this using more interesting rhythms and a smaller set of notes.

Bebop Phrasing Lesson

Get a free E-book

If you want to download a Free E-book of 15 II Valt I licks then subscribe to my newsletter:

Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

Leave a Reply