Tag Archives: basic jazz guitar

The Type Of Jazz Licks That Make You Play Better Solos

You probably know this feeling with Jazz Licks: You have transcribed a great lick that you want to use because it sounds amazing on the album where you learned it. But every time you use it in a solo then it is this big block that just never really sits right in your solo and sort of breaks up everything.

This video gives you a better way to approach solos and licks you have transcribed

 

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Content:

00:00 Intro

00:33 Keep it Short and use Phrases as Building Blocks

01:05 Joe Pass is a Good Guitarist, Be Like Joe

02:08 Forward Motion and Joe Pass

02:40 A Message from Things-I-Forgot-To-Film-Jens

03:19 Different types of Phrases to Recognize and Learn

05:25  Building Your Own Jazz Vocabulary – 2 Examples

07:15 Analyzing Longer Phrases – What You Lose When You Zoom In

08:19 Kurt Rosenwinkel Breaks the Rules (again)

09:27 But Parker also Breaks the Rules

10:34 Arpeggios as Building Blocks

10:40 Like the video? Check out my Patreon page

 

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5 Basic Jazz Chord Exercises That You Want To Know

There is something special about how we play chords in Jazz. A part of that is the jazz chords themselves but another part that is just as important is how you play those chords. This video is going over 5 basic jazz guitar exercises that you can play and get started developing your Jazz chord skills. Some of them you probably know and some of them you can add to your playing.

I am using parts of songs to demonstrate this, so going through these exercises will also help you get started learning Jazz Standards which is another important part of learning Jazz.

#1 Shell-voicings – 6 chords in 30 seconds

First, we need some chords to play. To keep it simple I am going to quickly cover some voicings and then give you an example of how you can practice them on a song. To keep it simple I am going to start with easy 3-note voicings called shell voicings. A shell voicing is a simple chord that covers the basic sound of the chord and is very playable. They consist of a root, 3rd, and 7th (or 6th) Later I will start adding some notes to these to add a little color, but it is great to start playing music with these already. If you put these to use on a song like “Afternoon in Paris”, then you get something this: You can use this exercise to get the chords into your fingers, but you won’t really get them into your playing before you start playing other songs with them, so don’t forget to try that.

#2 Great basic rhythm – Charleston

Rhythm is more important than notes in Jazz, so the rest of these exercises are going to be more on rhythm and how to rhythms that sound like Jazz. The most basic and most important rhythm to know is probably the Charleston rhythm. You can practice that with Shell-voicings through 8-bars of Satin Doll like this: In this exercise, I play two chords per bar to make it a little more difficult, but it also helps you learn to anticipate a chord which is also important for Jazz phrasing.

#3 Two layers and a little more groove

Before we start adding notes to the voicings then you want to try to get the most out of them and actually, you can split up the shell-voicing in the bass note and the chord, and then you can play some rhythms with two layers. This is especially useful for giving it a little more groove and to keep things moving when you have more than one bar of one chord like this in Take The A Train:

#4 Bossa Nova

Another great groove to play is a Bossanova groove. In this example, I am using the first 8 bars of Girl From Ipanema. To change things up and make it a little more challenging I also add a note to each voicing for a little more color. The chords I use are: And then if we add this basic Bossanova pattern then you can play Girl From Ipanema like this: Like the other exercises in this video, this is just a basic example and you can do a lot more with both extensions and rhythms. You can check out links in the video description if you want to dig deeper into this.

#5 Simple Walking Bass

Another way to become more flexible and really lay down a swing groove is to play chords and walking bass. This works really well with Shell-voicings and could be something like this:

Playing Jazz Chords – What’s next?

If you want to explore more things with Jazz Chords and how to play them then check out this collection of lessons:

Comping – Putting It All Together

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This Is A Great And Easy Recipe For Jazz Licks

You probably already know that a big part of what makes a solo sound like jazz is the are chromatic passage like this:

And another part of it is how there is a close connection to the chord that you solo over using arpeggios to spell out the harmony.

In this lesson, you are going to see how putting these two concepts together is a solid recipe for making some great sounding licks.

Even if you are not that familiar with Jazz then I think this way of making lines could be a good way to try and make your own licks that have more of a Jazz sound.

Let’s start with a basic 1-octave Cmaj7 arpeggio like this. You probably already know this one.

You want to add some chromaticism to this arpeggio and there are a few ways you can do that. Let’s start with this chromatic enclosure.

Here’s an enclosure that I learned from Pat Martino:

What is a Chromatic Enclosure?

In this context, a chromatic enclosure is really just a short melody with some chromatic notes that resolves to a target note, and when we are using it here the target note is one of the notes in the Cmaj7 arpeggio. You can read more about them here: Chromatic passing notes – Instant Bebop guitar lesson! And if you put together the arpeggio and the enclosure then we get:

This already sounds pretty good, but we can add something at the end like this:

Chromatic below – diatonic above

And now I added an extra chromatic approach which is using a scale tone above and a chromatic note below. In the lick it is on the 5th, G and then you have A and F# to resolve to G.

You can do this on the entire arpeggio like this:

And you can even add one more to the lick like this:

Let’s try making another lick, but now start with a descending arpeggio

the lick could be something like this:

Here I am using an enclosure that works really well on the 7th and also on the 3rd like this:

And you can go back up and add another part like this:

Better Rhythm

You can also change the rhythm of the arpeggio a little by making it a triplet and then adding some chromaticism, something like this:

Here we have an enclosure of the C, then the arpeggio played with an 8th note triplet and then a double approach going from B via Bb to A:

Benson’s chromatic run

Another great variation that you can hear George Benson do a lot is using this type of arpeggio and then connect the top-notes with a chromatic run.

Something like this:

And putting this into a lick could sound like this:

Of course he actually stole this from Charlie Parker who also does this all the time, but you probably knew that already…

Descending Benson

And you can also apply the triplet to a descending arpeggio and add an ending to it:

Add More Chromaticism to Your Playing

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7 Great Jazz Licks And Why You Need To Know Basic Arpeggios

You need to know your basics and you need to know them extremely well. I am sure you have heard that before. Once in awhile it is very useful to go back to the basics and really improve the jazz licks that you can write with very simple and basic scale and arpeggios choices.

When you do that then you are working on being better at using rhythm, make stronger melodies and have better phrasing, and you always want to improve that.

In the end, it is more important to improve those skills instead of knowing a lot of scales and arpeggios.

The things you need for this video are basic material that you probably already know and practice: the scale, the arpeggios and also the diatonic arpeggios of that scale.

And what this lesson is going to show you is 7 great licks that are just using these basic arpeggios and give you some ideas so you can start making better licks like this yourself.

Scale and Arpeggios

The basic C major scale I am using here:

This is combined with the diatonic arpeggios that I also cover in this lesson: The Most Important Scale Exercise In Jazz

And of course, you can also download Scale and Arpeggio diagrams in this section of my website: PDF Charts and Diagrams

Lick #1 Just Basic Arpeggios – But Great Rhythm

The first example is only using the basic arpeggios of each chord. The reason why this works so well is that the rhythm is more interesting and driving it forward.

Notice that moving to the G7 and the Cmaj7 the melody is changing to the next chord on the 4&. In that way it is anticipating the chord change, something that is an important part of Jazz.

It is also important to see how them melody really works towards the chord change and in that way adds direction to the line.

Lick #2 Forward Motion

The second lick is making use of forward motion, an aspect of especially bebop, that Jazz has in common with the music of Bach.

When you work on forward motion you should try to create melodies that move towards a target note in the next chord. You can explore this in more detail in this lesson: Target notes on a II V I or an extensive guide in this webstore lesson: Rhythm Changes – Target Note Strategies

In this example the target note is the 3rd on both the G7 and the Cmaj7

Lick #3 Quarter-note Rhythms

Rhythm is important, as you can tell from the first two examples, but Jazz is not only about 8th notes. It is as important to learn to play rhythms that use quarter-notes and in fact, they are great for more groove-oriented playing. You don’t want to only play long 8th note lines in your solos and you want to sit in the groove with the beat.

The example below demonstrates how you can incorporate some quarter-note rhythms in your lines, but again keeping it simple.

Lick #4 Rhythmical Tension

Rhythmical tension is not often a topic in Jazz guitar lessons, but any aspect of music can be considered as a tension/release tool.

In this example, you can hear how the melody is moving forward and using first the trill in the Dm7 bar and the off beats in G7 to create tension which is then released back on the beat on the Cmaj7.

This way of thinking about other aspects of music when improvising, so no only trying to create tension with harmony, scale or note choice, is very powerful and really underrated.

Lick #5 Changing Direction

The first examples were focused on rhythm and direction of the melody, and the goal was to drive the line forward.

If you only focus on that you will get very clear lines, but they also become a little predictable because you are playing from chord to chord and often emphasizing the heavy beats where the harmony changes.

In the example below, you can hear how the melody is changing direction and skipping around in the middle of the bar.

Especially the G7 arpeggio that is played with octave-displacement or pivotting.

If you want to see more examples of this then check out this lesson: Bebop Soloing – The Licks You Need To Check Out

Or this WebStore lesson: Bebop Embellishments on Take The A-train

Lick #6 Chromatic Enclosure

Another way to create tension without using fancy scales or structures is to use Chromatic melodies in the lines. The concept is to use a short melodic phrase with notes that don’t belong to the scale.

That melody sounds outside and is made so that it resolves to a target note back inside the sound of the chord or the key.

In the example below I am using chromatic passing notes on the chords as enclosures and passing notes (on the Dm7), and also to drive the change of chord from G7 to Cmaj7.

Lick #7 Everything All The Time

And of course, you can also put all of these things together (well most of them anyway). In this example, there are different rhythms, enclosures and melodic turns.

See if you can recognize the different blocks which will really help you understand how the line works and get more out of analyzing other solos by famous players like Charlie Parker or Wes Montgomery.

Of course, I also analyze it in the video.

Get started with the Music and build a foundation

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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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