Learn A Jazz Blues Chord Melody – How to play Solo Guitar

Playing Chord Melody solos when you are playing solo jazz guitar is something can seem very difficult. In this video I am going to go over an example of a Jazz Blues Chord Melody and how you might approach this, I think the easiest way to demonstrate this is to give you an example of how I do this and talk about what is going on and how to play it.

This lesson is made around a one chorus example of an improvised Chord Melody Solo. It is on a Jazz Blues in C with fairly standard Jazz version of that chord progression. All the voicings are a pretty simple mix of Drop2, Drop3 and Shell-voicings.

The beginning of the solo and the basic concepts in the solo

The basic idea for a lot of the phrases in this solo is a call-response build up where the chord is stated on the first beat or at least in the beginning of the bar. The melody is played mostly in-between the chords.

This is clear in the first phrase with a C7 shell voicing that then is followed with a single-note melody that leads on to the next chord where again the chord is stated on the 1 with a shell-voicing.

The melody on the F7 chord is first a Drop2 voicing chord melody, with an extra repeated low note to keep the groove going, and then moving to a single-note line. On 4& I play a bass note to pull back to C7.

Back on C7, I play the chord as a shell-voicing again but now spread out a little. I play this as a bar chord and just arpeggiate the different parts (Bass, chord, and melody) The last part is a single note run to move to Gm7.

The Melody Rules All

When you play in a solo guitar setting then it is easy to get lost in chords, bass and all the things that are a part of playing solo. But the most important thing to have happening is the melody. If you have strong melodies and melodic ideas in your solos it will work a lot better than having great chords and bass but not melody.

This is why I leave out the chord in the beginning of the Gm7 bar and first end the melodic statement with the A. After this I continue with adding chords and a short melody with an C7alt.

Using some inversions and melodies with Walking bass

The F7 in bar 5 is really the same as in bar 2 with one or two variations.

The transition to F#dim is again first the melody and then adding the dim chord plus an inversion of that note.

The melody in bar 3 is also a variation on what I played in bar 3, but adding a way to get to the Eø A7 in bar 8.

Bar 8 has first a part that is really just a bassline with an added chord voicing. The last part of the bar then adds a melody on that A7 which also means that the walking bass is reduced to repeated root notes on the A7.

Harmonized Bebop lines & going between bass and melody

The line in bar 9 is relying on having one chord voicing for the first half and just adding a melody notes on top. This appraoch is what I cover in this article: 2 Positions for Chord Melody

The 2nd half is moving to another position and playing the chord once before playing the melody with what is available in the neighbourhood.

The G7alt in bar 10 is first arpeggiating the voicing adding both bass and groove. The melody starts on 2 and then continues on beat 3.

You should notice that the melodies in general are pretty simple compared to what you might play in a single note line.

The Turnaround is an example of really going fast back and forth between melody and bass line. I am not thinking about the chords, they are just added along the way as automatic harmonizations of the melody.

You can see how the bass part are on the heavy parts of the bar, beats 1 and 3 and then the melody is in between.

The final bar is a simple ending moving up to the C7 chord chromatically from Bb7.

The entire Jazz Blues Chorus

If you want to play the entire solo you can download the PDF below or just read it here.

Develop you Chord Melody Skills!

If you want to build your abilities to create your own chord melodies then check out this WebStore lesson. Here I go through my method for this including exercises, and 3 arrangements

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