Tag Archives: how to play jazz phrases

You Need To Practice Developing Phrases in Your Solos

If you listen to great jazz musicians, and it doesn’t matter if it is Joe Pass, Barney Kessel, Pat Metheny or Kurt Rosenwinkel. They play jazz phrases and connect them, making their solo one long piece of music not a bunch of licks.

So you should probably ask yourself if your solos are just you playing something on this chord and then something else on the next chord.

That is what makes it a solo and what makes it really great, and you really don’t want to sound like your solo is you throwing licks on a chord progression.

Let’s fix that!

The Song and the raw materials

The Song I am using is Strayhorn’s Satin Doll. Mainly because it has a lot of II V progressions which makes it easy to move things around on and you can use the same arpeggio shapes often while soloing.

I have made other very useful lessons on Satin Doll with chords and soloing that you should consider checking out:

Drop 2 Magic On Satin Doll – This Is How To Use Jazz Chords

Satin Doll – Easy Jazz Chords (and a little beyond)

Standard with Pentatonics – Satin Doll

Barney Kessel – How To Make A Bebop Solo Catchy

Arpeggios! (Just ask Mr Metheny)

The Material I am using in this lesson is almost exclusively arpeggios.

To practice the arpeggios in an easy way you can check out this exercise:

Developing phrases #1 – Reduction

The example below uses reduction in groups of two bars, so the main statement is the first bar of Dm7 G7, Em7 A7 and on Am7 D7. For each of those statements the following phrase is a reduced development, so a variation on the original phrase with fewer notes.

Developing phrases #2 – Change Direction

Another way to develop phrases is to by reversing the direction of a part of the phrase.

This is seen below between the first bar of Dm7 G7 and the inverted ending of the first bar of Em7 A7.

Another similar relationship is found between the Dm7 G7 bars (one is descending the other ascending) this is the other way around between the two bars of Em7 A7.

Developing phrases #3 – Displace the Rhythm

Example 3 is based around one motif that is then developed through out the example. The basic idea is using the 5th and 7th of the m7 chord to encircle the 3rd of the dominant.

I play the basic motif in the first bar and from there on is mover around and developed in the following bars.

Developing phrases #4 – Inverting a melody

The example below is using a zig-zag shape in the melodies. All the melodies are changing direction in each phrase. The first one is up-down, the mirror of this is very clear 2 bars later. I use the same type of development in the Am7 D7, Abm7 Db7 bars.

Motif exercises

You can develop your ability to work with motivic development by taking a simple motif through the changes. In many ways, Satin Doll is a great song to practice this on.

You can move a motif through the song like this:

Experiment with constructing arpeggio melodies

I have often found it extremely useful to work on just making variations of basic arpeggio melodies.

The exercise here below is a transcription of some melodies only using Dm7 and G7 arpeggio notes.

Getting more out of Arpeggios on a Jazz Standard

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