If you want to study Jazz Blues and learn how to play solos that really mix Bebop lines and Blues licks then one of the best sources has to be Charlie Parker!
In this video I am going to go over 5 Charlie Parker licks from him and this is fantastic material for playing changes and getting that mix of bebop lines with blues phrasing.
The Licks are also great examples of how to create melodic ideas that last several bars and connect several phrases which are also why Parker clearly was a genius innovator in Jazz.
The Most Famous Charlie Parker Lick – Opening of the Solo
This first example is an opening phrase that Parker uses in both Now’s The Time and Billie’s Bounce. The first part is really just an F major 2nd inversion triad with some chromatic approach. This is followed with a more bebop encircling and trill. From here he runs down an F major pentatonic scale and repeats the root in a dotted quarter note rhythm.
The lick really starts with a blues phrase and then morphs into a bebop line to go back to a repeated simple rhythm.
Parker really bringing the Blues
Where the first example is somewhere in between the blues and bebop, this is more directly Blues phrasing and melody.
The core idea is a motif that is repeated and developed through the first 4 bars. The basic motif is a major pentatonic line.
The first repetition is changing the A to an Ab. This way of marking the transition from F7 to Bb7 is quite common for Parker. The idea is to play an F major phrase on F7 and then repeat or develop that phrase but play it in F minor on the Bb7.
Keeping the b7 untill we need to move on
Another typical Parker choice is to delay the b7, the Eb over F7 in this
Charlie Parker’s Riffs
Bebop is as a style famous for long lines and surprising twists and turns. But Parker certainly developed from the swing era checking out people like Lester Young and Coleman Hawkings. And Charlie Parker does play riffs as well as bebop lines.
This example is a clear example of a riff. A simple motif that is repeated and developed in a basic way through the changes.
The main motif is a basic F major melody build around an F major triad. The development is also following the F major -> F minor that I alread mentioned, and the riff stays pretty in tact and true to the original phrase.
Start in Blues and end in Bebop
This shorter example demonstrates how Parker starts with a basic Blues leading note lick and connects this to a Bebop trill and F7 arpeggio to get the best of both worlds.
Blues Phrasing and Bebop Phrasing
One of the traits of Blues phrasing is sliding or bending to notes. In Jazz, we mostly do this with sliding. In this example, you see a beginning which is starting with sliding to the 5th. The first part of the phrase is more blues based. Using basic chord tones from the triad, being rhythmically free. The part of the phrase on the F7 is using a trill followed by a scale run that is a very typical Bebop phrase.
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