Tag Archives: jazz blues guitar

How to Use the Blues in a Jazz Solo

There is something special about the Jazz Blues Guitar sound and that type of phrasing! The blues is a very important part of Jazz, but it can be difficult to get those bluesy phrases to work on a jazz song, the way Joe Pass or George Benson do.

In this video, I am going to show you how to do that, a common mistake we make and also talk the different ways great guitarists like George Benson, Joe Pass, and Emily Remler use blues phrases in jazz solos.

Other videos on Joe Pass, George Benson, and Emily Remler

George Benson – This is The Best Jazz Blues Solo I know

Emily Remler – How To Reinvent a Standard

Joe Pass – How to Keep Solos Interesting

Content

0:00 Intro

0:17 Blues Phrases from George Benson, Joe Pass, and Emily Remler

0:34 Example #1

0:47 Benson’s Major Blues Sound

1:38 Play Blues From The Key of the Piece

1:58 The Blues As Leading Notes

2:48 Altered Dominant? Blues!

3:21 Example #1 Slow

3:38 Benson’s Blues Approach

4:04 Pat Martino On Benson 

4:20 Example #2

4:29 Joe Pass – Watch What Happens

5:24 Joe Pass’ Minor Blues

6:43 Example #2 Slow

6:55 Blues In Major and in Minor songs

7:19 Example #3

7:32 Using Blues in a Minor Key

8:11  Emily Remler – Softly As In A Morning Sunrise

8:53 From Blues to Triplet Groupings

9:20 Example #3 Slow

9:36 The Things You Want to Do To Use Blues in Jazz Solos

10:22 Like The Video? Check out my Patreon Page!

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5 Jazz Blues Licks – How to use Transcribed ideas

In this video, I go over 5 longer Jazz Blues Licks that incorporate different ideas that I took from transcriptions of great guitarists such as Grant Green, George Benson, Charlie Parker(not really a guitarist, but he wished he was), Wes Montgomery, and John Scofield.

These examples really highlights how I work with material that I have transcribed, and most of them are in fact in videos I have done on these artists.

How I use transcribed licks

For me using larger chunks of a solo from somebody else was never really working. I always preferred to work with small phrases or even the concept behind a phrase and then use that to make my own version of that idea.

In these examples, I am mostly using small bits and pieces of other guitarists licks. This is mainly because the relation to the original would maybe be too unclear.

Grant Green and his great triad lick

This first example uses an opening phrase that is quite common with Grant Green. He uses this 2nd inversion triad in both Miss Ann’s Tempo and I’ll Remember April.

For the rest the line is using some of the great ideas that we use in Blues influenced jazz with the sliding leading notes and especially approaching the 3rd from a half step below.

Another typical jazz line is the use of the G augmented triad to help pull towards the C7.

George Bensons Major Blues Genius

A comment on my recent video on George Benson went on and on about how his use of major pentatonic lines was dreadful. A very strange idea since most of the guys (like Parker and Coltrane) use this sound a lot. And besides that I can’t imagine not wanting to be able to play Blues phrases with the soul of Benson.

The quote in this phrase is in the middle of the line. It starts in bar 2 and continues into bar 3. In the original(in F) he playes the upbeat in quarter notes. Here I turned that into 8th ntoes.

The phrase in bar 4 is a Parker line similar to one of his lines in his original version of Billie’s Bounce.

Kenny Burrel and Wes Montgomery

The first phrase (another major pentatonic πŸ™‚ ) is from Kenny Burrell. The descending 6th at the end is really beautiful. On the C7 I am using a double stop trill that you can hear both Benson and Montgomery use. Wes plays a whole chorus in No Blues off Smoking at the Half note with this phrase. Here I am putting it on the IV chord rather than the I where both Benson and Wes use it.

Scofield’s Amazing Arpeggio Ideas and slides

This example is beginning with a lick that is not exactly taken from a Scofield solo but is more “in the vein of” The way he uses different types of legato techniques to create a really nice flow is beautiful, even if it is a little tricky to play.

The phrase in bars 3 and 4 is more of a direct quote from Scofield but the 2nd half is my take on developing the original as a motif. Here I take the opportunity to also turn it into a more altered sound.

Imitating Wes is always worthwhile

This example is a take on a Wes line from his (unbelievable) solo on Four on Six off the Smoking at the half note album. The original is on 4 bars of G minor, but here I have taken it to G major keeping the basic shape and changing the notes around.

What to take away from this lesson

I think these examples describe how I work with material that I have transcribed. Some of the examples I might really play in a solo and some that I might work with while practicing to develop them into more personal takes on the lines.

Developing your own material is important (and fun) so I’d suggest you do the same.

Supercharge your Blues playing!

If you want some more jazz blues examples then check out this WebStore lesson:

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F Jazz Blues – Study Guide

This study guide will give you a row of lessons to check out how to solo on an F Jazz Blues. The material will cover basic and advanced chords and voicings, arpeggios, scales and also some of the things to check out if you want to work on being able to play better melodies in your solos.

The 12 bar blues is an essential part of the Jazz Repertoire. The F Jazz Blues is probably the most common key. Famous pieces like Straight No Chaser, Billie’s Bounce and Au Privave are most know themes played in F. 

Your Feedback is very valuable

Remember that the guides are here to help you so if you have suggestions for this or other guides then let me know! I might have missed something or you have another idea for something that is important to check out! Feel free to send me an e-mail or message via social media.

I have also collected the videos in a Playlist on Youtube if you prefer that:

Playlist: F Jazz Blues YouTube Playlist

The Jazz Blues Survival Kit: Basic Scales and Chords + an Etude

The first three lessons deal with a basic chord vocabulary and how to use it when playing important chord progressions and jazz standards

Expanding your chord vocabulary

Where the basic clear voicings are presented in the previous section you can move on to a higher level by checking out these two lessons. 

The first is directly continuing with the material from the Survival kit and the second is introducing Drop2 voicings.

Arpeggios and Soloing

The best place to begin with soloing and expanding on it when approaching the blues from a bebop perspective is probably to check out the arpeggios. Being able to play the harmony is very important and a very solid foundation to build on.

The Blues in Jazz also has a specific language that is worth checking out. Adding this on top or next to your bop vocabulary is very useful. This video goes over 5 examples of lines mixing these two traditions.

Developing Phrasing for both chords and solos

Playing Chords does require more than just knowing what chord to play where. Some of the other parts of phrasing chords on a blues are dealt with in this lesson. The lesson is not using an F blues as an example, but the information in it will greatly help you get a good hard-bop blues vibe.

More Modern sounds

There are also more modern approaches that you can apply to an F Blues. Quartal Harmony and Pentatonic sounds are very common devices in Modern Jazz.

Chord Solos

Chord Solos is a must in mainstream jazz and this lesson goes over how to work on playing chord solos on an F blues by demonstrating a chorus and giving some exercises to develop your own chord vocabulary that is aimed at playing chord solos

Learn more about Jazz Blues

If you are looking for more extensive turtorials and examples you can check out some of the examples in my WebStore in the Blues category

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More Resources

If you want to have more resources available then you can also check out these lessons from my webstore with longer examples, exercises and analysis of material on an F Jazz Blues

Bird Blues – How to play and Understand the Chords

Bird Blues or Parker Blues is one of the most important Chord Progressions if you want to understand bebop. Charlie Parkers reharmonization of the 12 bar form is both an insight in how Bebop players love playing moving chords and also an insight on how reharmonization and chord progressions were going to change after bebop.

In this lesson am going to go over two sets of voicings to play the Parker Blues and also discuss how the progression works compared to a normal 12 bar jazz blues.

Getting to know Bird Blues chords and how they sound

A good place to start if you want to understand a chord progression is to play it. Having heard them and being able to play through the harmony in time makes it a lot easier to have an idea about what is going on.

In the example below I have written out the chords using the method and exercises that I cover in my lesson How to Play Jazz Chords

As an aid in playing the chords I have also included these diagrams:

Analyzing the progression

The Bird Blues or the Parker Blues progression is best understood against the 12 bar blues. This is not strange since it is a reharmonization of that, very well known progression.

The Maj7 chord

The first thing that stands out is that the first chord is a Maj7 chord and not a dom7th.  Whenever you play a blues all the main chords in there are dom7th chords, so you would expect an F7.

In fact there are more explanations for this. In earlier jazz than bebop the Blues was played with triads or 6th chords so they were not yet dominant chords. Parker actually will sometimes play the major scale of the tonic on a blues. An example is Cool blues which also does not have a IV in bar 2.

Another plausible explanation was that in bebop it was common to disguise the original progression by changing the chords slightly. Ornithology is an example of this where an Ebmaj7 is turned into an Eb7.

Bebop Back cycling

A defining charateristic of bebop is that the focus is to play the movement of the chords. Bebop is full of chains of chords that don’t stand still and continue to move. The progression in bars 2-4 is an example of this. The original blues progression might have a Cm7 F7 in bar 4. The Dm7 G7 and EΓΈ A7 are just adding a movement to point towards those chords and therefore also point to Bb7.

Chromatic II V Cadences

On the IV chord I have written  two chords:  Bb7 and Bbmaj7 this is because Blues for Alice, the blue print for this type of progression has a Dom7th there, but two other famous variations: Freight Trane and Bluesette both use maj7 chords on the IV.

The progression from IV to the II in bar 9 is a long row of II V chords descending chromatically.

Moving from IV the song goes to IVm which is a very common tonal progression. In true bebop fashion it here appears as a II V or IVm7 bVII7. And where you would expect a tonic chord you get the II V a half step below: Am7 D7 which is then followed by a II V in Gb: Abm7 Db7.

When playing this it is about descending II V’s and it is more parallel harmony than anything else, how ever you could also interpret it as a reharmonization of IV IVm I bIIIdim:

Bb Bbm F/A Abdim that is reharmonized as Bb Bbm7 Eb7 Am7 D7 Abm7 Db7.

This way of reharmonizing a dim chord to a II V is also what happens in Just Friends.

The final cadence and turnaround

As you can see the final cadence and turnaround does not differ much from a standard blues. On ooccasion the V chord will be replaced with the tritone II V so Dbm7 Gb7 instead of C7. For the rest there is not really anything to talk about.

Bebop Comping: Drop2 voicings

One of the most important voicing types when it comes to bebop is Drop2 voicings. This is true both for piano and guitar. Here under I have written out a basic chorus of drop2 voicings on the Parker Blues that you can work through when comping on this form.

You can of course also check out more on drop2 voicings in my study guide:  How to Learn to Play Jazz Chords – Study Guide

Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

Bird Blues – How to play and Understand the Chords + Diagrams

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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How to use Drop 2 Chords on a Jazz Blues – Bebop Skill

Drop 2 chords are one of the most important types of chord voicings in Jazz, and especially when it comes to the bebop or hardbop styles. This lesson is focusing on the Drop 2 voicings on the middle string set. I played and transcribed an example on a medium jazz blues. The example illustrates how great these are for groove oriented medium swing comping.

What are Drop 2 Voicings

If you are not familiar with drop2 voicings the name may seem confusing. It isn’t necessary to know how they are constructed, but it can also be nice to understand the principle. 

Below in example 2 I have first written out a root position F7.

The notes in this chord are low to high: F, A, C, Eb. The main voicing is playable but as you can see in the video the inversions of this voicing are not practical for comping (or in fact playing on the guitar).

If we number the notes in the voicing in order of pitch high to low:

F A C Eb

4 3 2  1

The creating the drop2 voicing is then done by moving the second highest note (in this case C) down an octave.

This is shown in the 2nd  bar of example 2. The first version of the drop2 voicing is not a lot easier to play but in the 2nd half of the bar I have a more useful fingering for  the same notes. 

Constructing Drop 2 voicings

Inversions and adding chord extensions to the drop2 chords

With the voicing from example 2 it is now possible to make some inversions.

The first bar of example 3 are the inversions of the F7 voicing.

When making inversions on the same string set of a chord you need to order the notes in pitch, which for this chord could be: F A C Eb.

For each string in the first voicing you can then move the voice on each string up.

The first voicing is C F A Eb and this means that the 2nd one will be Eb A C F.

Rules for adding extensions to a chord

For adding extensions to the F7 chord there are two rules we can use:

  • The 9th replaces the root
  • The 13th replaces the 5th

This means that if we want to turn our 1st voicing (C F A Eb) into an F7(9) then we can replace the root(F) with the 9th(G). This yields the voicing on beat 1 of bar 2: C G A Eb.

The rest  of the bar are then the inversions of this voicing.

In the same way we can replace the 5th(C) with the 13th(D) to and get the voicings in bar 3. 

Bar 4 is combining these two approaches so that we have a dom7th voicing with both a 9th and 13th.

From these two rules we now have 4 different types of F7 voicings. The same thing is possible with Bb7 and C7 in the F blues.

Drop 2 chords inversions with extensions
Drop 2 chords inversions with extensions

Groovy Jazz Blues comping

 The slightly darker sounding middle string set works really well for hard bop comping focused on groove while still conveying the harmony.

The example starts with an F7(13) voicing. The top note melody moves from F to G. This idea is repeated on the Bb7 where it is played with first a Bb7(9) and then a Bb(9,13). THe F7 in bar 3 repeats the F and the G. 

Bar 4 is turned into a II V to Bb to help the progression move to the IV in bar 5. The F7alt voicing can be seen as a B7(9,13) voicing. This way of using the tritone substitute to generate altered dominant voicings is very useful for drop 2 chords.

On the Bb7 the melody is also alternating between the root and the 9th. This also a good example of why it is useful to consider the drop 2 voicings variations of each other.

IN Bar 6 the Bdim is using the symmetrical aspect of dim chords moving the same chord voicing around.

The II V cadence to Gm in bar 8 is also using voicing symmetry. The first chord is a basic AΓΈ drop2 (which is of course the same as our F7(9) voicings) and this is moved up a minor 3rd for the D7. This becomes a D7(b9,b13) voicing: F#, C, Eb and Bb.

The cadence back to F is first a Gm7 and Gm7(9). The C7alt is a C7 with a #9 and b13.

On the turnaround the drop2 chords are using the same ones used previously except for the D7(b9) which is an Ebdim chord.

Jazz Blues using Drop 2 chords

Using the drop 2 chords

Of course you can get a lot out of practicing the inversions and learning the example that I played and included here. At the same time  you are probably getting more out of the voicings if you also begin to comp through a blues with them on your own. I show some simple ways of doing this at the end of the video, which might be useful to check out.

Check out more examples of Drop 2 comping!

If you want to go a bit further with the drop 2 chordsyou can check out some of the lessons in my webstore on this topic. Below is a 3 chorus example on the standard There Will Never Be Another You. I have one on All The Things You Are as well.

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Drop 2 Voicings on a Jazz Blues

Drop 2 Voicings on a Jazz Blues – Chord Diagrams

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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Blues With Bruno Pelletier-Bacquaert

This is a duo with Bruno Pelletier-Bacquaert a French/American Jazz guitarist living in San Francisco.

I came across one of his videos and we decided to make thsi small collaboration.

I hope you like it! Check out:

Hope you like it!

Guitar Solo With Only Triads – Jazz Blues

The triad is one of the strongest melodies that we have. It is a part of so many famous songs that it makes sense to work on using triads when playing a jazz guitar solo. 

In this lesson I will go over the triads you can use for all the chords in a 12 bar Jazz Blues in the key of F. I also will talk about how I use some of these triads in a solo that I played and transcribed. At the end of the lesson I will also go over some exercises that are useful if you want to be more flexible when using triad based improvisation.

Getting started with Triads

The first thing we need to do is to find some triads for each of the chords in the 12 bar blues.

The chord progression is shown here below:

In this next part of the lesson I will quickly go over the different triads that we have available.

Finding triads for the I and the IV chord

In the blues the I and the IV chord, in this case F7 and Bb7, are more or less identical. They are both mixolydian sounding dominant chords.

The triads that we have available are found on the root, 3rd, 5th and 6th of the scale:

F7: F major, A dim, C minor and D minor

Bb7: B major, D dim, F minor and G minor

Using Harmonic minor to pull to the IV

On the F7 in bar 4 I have an F7(b9) which is there to pull even stronger to Bb7 in bar 5. The scale I am using on this chord is F mixolydian b9,b13, also known as Bb harmonic minor.

The triads we get from this scale are:

F7: F major, A dim, Cdim and Edim

Triads for the #IV dim chord

On the #IV dim in bar 6 I use the C harmonic minor scale. This scale is both close to the F7 chord and contain the  B diminished chord.

Bdim: B dim, D dim, F dim, Ab dim

A secondary dominant resolving to minor

The D7 in bar 8 is an auxiliary dom7th chord used to take us to the Gm7 in the final cadence of the blues.

Since it is a dom7th chord resolving to a minor chord the scale that fits on this chord is a harmonic minor scale. In this case the G harmonic minor scale.

D7: D major, F# dim, Adim and Cdim

The II Chord in a major cadence

On the II chord I have three triads. Just the basic triads found on the root, 3rd and 5th:

Gm7: Gm, Bb, Dm

The Altered Dominant

The C7 in bar 10 is an altered dominant. The C7 altered scale is the same as Db melodic minor and the triads we can find here are a little different than those on the other chords:

C7alt: Dbm, Eaug, Gb, Bbdim

Guitar Solo with only triads

The solo is written out here below. In most of the bars I am only using one triad so it should be fairly easy to follow.

The first bar is using the basic F major triad in 1st inversion. On a blues you can easily use the triad on the root, and in fact this is a very good triad to get the blues sound across.

On the Bb7 in bar 2 the triad used is again 1st inversion. Here I use the triad found on the 3rd of Bb7: D dim.

Returning to the F7 the triad used is Dm. The Dm in bar 3 is “voice-lead” into an Eb dim triad in bar 4. The Eb dim triad is a great to get the F7b9 sound across.

In the Bb7, Bdim F7 section in bars 5-7 I have an alternative progression that makes sense in another way that the chords move under it. The triads use are F minor, F dim, and F major.

On the D7b9 the triad used is an F# dim.

In the final cadence in bars 9 and 10 I start to use more triads per bar. On the Gm7 it is a combination of a Bb major and a G minor triad. The C7 alt combines Gb major and E augmented triads.

The two triads on the C7 altered chord actually form a triad pair because they don’t have common notes. You can look up more of my lessons on triad pairs here: Triad Pairs

Getting more rhythms down

A bonus feature with using the triads like this is that you only have three notes. The fact that you only have three notes will force you to be more creative with the rhythms and I actually think that this is a good enough reason on it’s own to start working on this!

I will probably make a video on this approach at some time, let me know if you are interested.

 

Getting more flexible and opening up your abilities with the triads

As you can probably see I don’t only play the triads in root position from the root to the 5th, and there are a lot more ways to make melodies with them.

To get more options when using the triads I have included a few exercises that you can work on.

This first exercise is to just simply play the diatonic triads through the scale. This is important to be able to find the different triads for the chord and of course also to be able to play them in the context of the scale where the underlying chord is found.

To build a bigger overview I would recommend that you also check out the other inversions as well. Here are the 1st inversions of the diatonic triads

and the 2nd inversion:

Besides having the overview of the diatonic triads in a position it can also be very practical to know the triad in this position as shown here below.

Another useful exercise would be to play the position version of the triad  in inversions.

Exploring more melodies

A final idea is to mix up the order of the notes. If you think of a triad as 1,3 and 5, then you can also make a lot of other melodies by changing the order of the notes. The example here below is showing the diatonic triads played in a 3 1 5 pattern through the scale.

Adding the triads to your vocabulary!

Of course the example solo in this lesson is a bit radical in the sense that while it can be useful as an experiment to work like this and see what you can come up with. In the end you want to work on the process of finding the triads and you also want to try get used to make “alternative” chord progressions that you can use for solos.

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Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

Guitar Solo With Only Triads – Jazz Blues

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics or how I can make the lessons better 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.

Please subscribe to my YouTube channel and feel free to connect with me via Instagram,Twitter Google+ or Facebook to keep up to date with new lessons, concerts and releases.