Tag Archives: how to play jazz blues

Jazz Blues – You Need To Know Triads!

If you had any doubt, why Triads are amazing in your solos then you just check out this video and see how strong melodies you can create and how many options you have when you solo on a jazz blues. Trust me, you will never regret practicing diatonic triads and inversions.

A triad is easy to learn and great for melodies, just listen to Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik or Metallica’s One.

We can practice many things, but the great thing about triads is that they make very solid melodies so you can easily use them and sound great in a lot of places, as you will hear in this video.

The Solo – Triads only

Let’s first check out how a solo chorus only using triads sound and then I will show you what triads go where and how to find them for different chords.

When you only play super-imposed triads it often sounds quite modern, but of course, Charlie Parker and Wes used triads as well, so it is also a part of more traditional bop vocabulary

F7 and Bb7 – The Magic of Diatonic Triads

The first phrase on the F7 is an A diminished triad. When it comes to choosing triads then the easiest way to search is to look at the scale in thirds.

F7 is the dominant in Bb major, so if you have that scale in thirds:

Bb D F A C Eb G Bb

The F7 is arpeggio is then:  Bb D F A C Eb G A Bb

And the top part of that is A diminished A C Eb

In this way, we can filter out possible candidates by choosing triads that have common notes with F7.

Bb major doesn’t work, but Dm, is good, F and Adim are part of the arpeggio, and Cm is also a fine option, as you will see later. You can get away with Eb major as well because the Eb is a strong note on F7.

Dm, F, Adim, Cm, Eb

The same process on Bb7: Bb7 is the dominant in Eb major

Eb G Bb D F Ab C Eb

Gives us:

Gm, Bb, Ddim, Fm, Ab.

Here I am using Bb major on the Bb7.

The next bar uses a Cm triad on F7, which fits with what I already showed you.

Now that it is clear what is available on the regular dominants then let’s have a look at the Altered dominant and later the dominants from the diminished scale.

Next, we have an F7 altered which for many is a difficult chord to solo over, but Triads can actually work as a type of Shortcut.

Thoughts on Practicing Triads

The most important way to practice triads is to learn them in the scales you use, so working on diatonic triads is extremely useful, and if you want to take it to the next level then playing the inversions through scales is also a great exercise.

Altered Dominant Triads

F7 altered is the same as Gb melodic minor. Soloing over an altered dominant can be tricky, but as you can see here the triads help you make stronger melodies that still really connect to the chord.

The theory is a little bit less clear, but still not rocket science:

The Scale in 3rds: Gb A Db F Ab Cb Eb Gb (I am writing A because it is an F7 chord)

The Gbm triad is b9, 3, b13

A augmented triad: A Db F works as well

Db is not that strong without an A, it almost sounds like an Fm chord and a little close to the Bb7.

F dim is not that strong, we really miss the A and the Eb.

Abm has the Eb so that works.

Cb or B major works really well, that is the triad of the tritone sub B7

Ebdim is an F7b9 so that works as well

So we have: Gbm, Aaug, Abm, Cb, Edim

This is a bit context-sensitive so you can probably get other triads to work as well, but for now, I am going for the “easy” choices that sound fairly obvious.

The Altered Shortcut

The line in the solo is using Cb and Gbm triads to create a very logical melody. And in general, that is something you can use with the altered dominant: The triads resolve up and down in half steps:

F7alt: Bb7: Gbm Fm

Aaug Bb:

Abm Gm:

Cb B:

Ebdim Ddim:

And you could make similar lists for resolving to other chords like Bbmaj7 or Bbm6.

Diminished Chords and Some Great Triad Options

The Bdim in bar 6 has a lot of triad options.

The arpeggio itself has 4 diminished triads: B D F Ab

Which gives us B D F, D F Ab , F Ab B, Ab D F

The scale I would use here is C harmonic minor, and a great triad in that to use would be the G major triad, which is what I use here.

The G triad is used to lead back to the Adim on the F7.

Minor II V I trick

The Aø D7alt is the minor II V to the Gm7, the II chord.

A great really simple way to make lines on this progression with triads is to use the same triad, first in major and then in minor.

That is what I am doing here: On the Aø you see the major triad from the b5: Eb major, and on the D7alt that becomes an Ebm triad, which fits because D7 altered is Eb melodic minor.

Let’s have a look at being symmetric without sounding symmetric with the diminished scale.

Dominant With Diminished Scale

On the C7, I am using one of the best ways to play melodic lines over a dominant using the diminished scale: Making melodies with the 4 major triads.

For the C7 that gives us C, Eb, Gb and A major.

In this case, I am using A and Gb major to really bring across the C7(13b9) and C7(b5).

When you improvise with these triads then it is easy to not sound symmetric: Don’t play symmetrical melodies, which is how I approach this line playing different melodies and inversions with the triads.

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Sonny Rollins – Things You Need To Know About Jazz Blues

Sonny Rollins needs no introduction in Jazz. He is one of the most influential Tenor players that we have with an amazing and long career. In this Sonny Rollins lesson, I am taking a look at some of the great phrases from the Jazz Blues Tenor Madness. We can learn a lot from his very musical and natural approach to both blues and reharmonization in this solo.

When I was studying at the conservatory we referred to Tenor Madness as the dictionary, because it has so many important lines and chord changes that you want to know for your own Jazz Blues vocabulary.

Check out my analysis of John Coltrane’s solo on Take The Coltrane. The beginning of Modal playing: This Is Not Bebop, But It Is A Great Coltrane Solo


0:00 Intro – Sonny Rollins

0:25 Tenor Madness with John Coltrane

0:56 Example #1

1:14 Changing the Chords – Intuitive and Decision driven

2:10 Is it Chi-Chi changes?

2:44 Altered but not altered scale

3:19 A Motif across the Chords

4:24 Eaxmple #1 Slow

4:45 Reharmonizing Bars 5-9

5:07 Example #2

5:30 A Musical Reharmonization with two voices

6:50 Example #2 Slow

6:59 Example #3

7:09 Parallel Minor Chords (Like Parker and Coltrane)

8:04 Is that a Wrong note, Mr Rollins?

8:55 Example #3 slow

9:10 Blues phrases that are not Dominant chords

10:09 Example #4

10:14 Bb Triad + Chromaticism

11:44 Example #4 Slow

11:56 Examples #5 and #6

12:10 Using Bbmaj7 on the Blues

12:36 Examples #5 and #6 – Slow

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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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Jazz Blues Analysis – The Variations you need to know

The 12 bar Blues is probably the most common song structure or chord progression in music! In this video I am going to analyze some of the common variations of the Jazz Blues and cover what you need to know to make have a strong chord progression adn chord substitution vocabulary for playing over a jazz blues.

I am going to talk about how the jazz blues can contain IVm progressions, #IV dim chords and also some other parallel II V options.

Hope you like it!

0:00 Intro – Jazz Blues – the most common progression in Western Music

0:34 Example: The Basic Jazz Blues form

0:57 The Main Structure and parts of the form

1:35 Analysis of the harmony

2:20 A bit of history of the Blues Harmony since Charlie Parker

3:50 The options for altered dominants and Tritone II V’s in various places

4:07 Examples of possible cadence to IV

5:25 It’s all about the subdominant!

5:40 #IV dim chord

5:50 Example: Blues with a #IV dim chord in bar 6

6:18 Scale choices for the #IV in the blues

7:07 Blues themes with #IV in the progression

7:20 #IV bonus: The Blue note!

9:02 The IVm chord

9:34 Scale options for IVm or bVII 10:24 IV in Blues themes

11:21 Cadence to II chord

11:56 the chromatic II V chain

12:22 example with the Chromatic II V’s

12:45 How to deal with the parallel motion in a solo

14:21 Tritone sub for the II chord

15:00 Do you know any great Blues Progression harmonizations?

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