Tag Archives: jazz blues licks guitar

Why Their Jazz Blues Solos Always Sound Better Than Yours

Jazz Blues is surprisingly simple. The Lines are a lot simpler than you might think and probably stuff you already know, you just need to learn how to get it to sound right, and that is also easier than you might think!

Let me show you some amazing examples from what are probably also your favorite Jazz artists, they all play unbelievable Jazz blues solos and also give you some ways to make your own solid Jazz blues licks.

The sound of Jazz Blues is different than the sound of Jazz, the lines are related to Bebop lines, but they are different in quite a few ways, and that is probably what I like about them. Of course, the same is true if you compare Jazz Blues to what you might consider “straight blues playing” like this

In this video, I want to take a look at what that difference is, because if you know that then you also have an easier time getting the sound right in your playing.

Is This Overlooked When It Comes To Blues?

The first aspect of Jazz Blues is actually not as much about note choice or rhythm, it is about something that is at the core of the Blues sound. Try to listen to this part of George Benson’s solo on Bille’s Bounce. Notice how he is not just weaving through the changes, he is doing something else.

The scale that he is using here is often also a bit misunderstood, calling it Dorian is, I think, a bit misleading, but I will return to that part of it later. What you probably noticed is that he is repeating phrases, and he is also playing fairly short phrases. Obviously, motivic development is a massive part of most excellent jazz musicians’ toolbox, but here it is also related to Blues since the form of a 12-bar traditional Blues is about repeating and developing a motif through the form (Blues Progression diagram with phrases) In this case, the motif is a pretty simple descending melody and Benson is also moving the motif around rhythmically a bit, which is less common with blues but it is still clearly connected to Blues.

One thing that you want to be able to do is to play short phrases and find ways to repeat them through the form.

If you start to listen to it then you will hear this all over the place in the solos of Wes Montgomery, George Benson, and Charlie Parker, in fact, you will see quite a few examples of it in this video.  Let’s look at some rhythms

Stop Playing Bebop All The Time!

Another thing that is different from more straight Jazz or Bebop is how many notes you are playing and what rhythms. Again George Benson is a great example, so I’ll start with him and then move on to Wes. Check out how this phrase sounds amazing but certainly isn’t a Bebop line:

There are several reasons that this isn’t a Bebop line, but mostly the fact that he is playing quarter notes more than 8th notes is a big part of it.

Having simpler and more grounded rhythms is in fact also a part of the Blues sound where Bebop uses more syncopated rhythms in accents in longer lines.

Like Benson, Wes can do amazing things with this, and you want to notice that both the previous 2 and this next example are really only the same notes over the Blues, which is also important to learn. You could reduce it to a scale, but that might really help you as much as you think. You can also hear some of the other things I already talked about

As you probably noticed then, Wes is also repeating a phrase and developing it, just like George Benson was in the first example.

He also relies mostly on quarter note rhythms and not a Bebop 8th note flow,

and I think sometimes people forget that if you want to be able to play phrases and rhythms like this then you need to work on that. If you only practice playing 8th note lines through changes all the time, then you won’t get there. A part of the Jazz Blues sound with both Wes and Benson examples here, and this is true for these examples but also quite common in general in the solos I have checked out, is that the phrases seem to emphasize two notes: the 6th of the key, in F major which is a D, and the Ab,  the minor 3rd.

If you look at the Wes motif then it has the D as the outer note and the Ab is the other note that stands out:

And the first example with Benson sort of does the same:

Play the 2nd Benson motif where the D is also the outer notes of the scale.

Of course, that is not going to be true for all phrases, but it comes back more often than you might think, and it can be fun to mess around with. Let’s go a bit deeper with the note choices and figure out if there is a “Jazz Blues Scale”.

Is There A Jazz Blues Scale?

You may remember that I said these first 3 examples could be seen as using the same scale. To me, they don’t immediately sound like it though, so maybe it is a bit of a stretch, but check this out:

The 2nd George Benson example is clearly using the major blues scale,

so the major pentatonic with an added minor 3rd: F G Ab A C D F

And, the 1st George Benson example uses the same note set but doesn’t really use the A (except for the pickup);

if you look at the Wes example then that is also using that note set:

“The Scale Is NOT The Answer”

So all of the examples would be covered by the Major blues scale, and that is an important building block, but something that I find myself saying more and more often to people, and which seems more and more true every time I think about it:

If I am trying to understand a phrase and learn from it then the answer is almost never a scale. It is not just a set of notes that makes something music. We are all using mostly the same notes, There are Amazing Bebop phrases – and – very Boring Heavy Metal scale sequences that use the same major scale.

But at the same time, the major blues scale is a very useful resource to explore and is probably used a lot more than you’d expect in Jazz Blues, also in some pretty creative ways when it comes to double stops which you will see later in the video.

But if there isn’t really a Blues scale then there is another way to think about it.

The Mighty Triad (and a few other tricks)

Like any style of music, there isn’t a single approach that describes everything that is possible, which is probably also better because if it was a formula like that then the music would probably be boring. Still, there are some things you can do that work really well and are used often.

Notice how Parker uses motifs, or maybe riffs is a better word for it, and also how he gets from the I to the IV chord in this example from Now’s The Time:

The motif in this example is built around an F major triad on the F7

and then he changes it to Fm when the song moves to Bb7 to spell out that chord change and still connect the phrases.

In thiscase, Parker doesn’t use the major pentatonic scale, a better description is probably that he is adding notes around an F major triad, and there are some really great and fairly famous lines of his that follow that recipe, like this one from the opening of the Now’s The Time solos.

The first part is really just an F major triad with some chromatic approach notes:

Phrasing Without Bends

But you can also go more for more of a major pentatonic phrase like this Wes line from his solo on Fried Pies, and notice how Wes is really relying on slides as a part of his phrasing, you could say that he uses those instead of bends in the phrase, and the slides are mostly targeting the major 3rd, A. Something that is very common for this sound:

In general, slides, hammer-on and pull-offs are often the preferred techniques in Jazz blues over bending, probably because people like Wes had very heavy strings and not a lot of sustain, but you can find examples of bending, they are just less common. What you want to explore is using slides and hammer-ons to get to the 3rd of the chord:

You had George Bensons pick up in the first example –

But you also have a sort of enclosure like this:

 

or using a hammer on like this

Without bending there are other things that Jazz guitarists get very creative with: Double Stops.

The Power of Double Stops

This first one is a great example of how Jazz Blues should not always go with the changes in the way Bebop usually does, because in this chorus from Wes’s solo, he just sticks to the same 2 bar riff, but what you want to notice besides the double-stops is also how that really creates some tension and drives the whole thing forward. And pay attention to what type of double stop this is.

This type of double stop is a sort of pedal point where the high D note is ringing through and then you have a G that is sometimes turned into a short blues phrase.

A great variation on this double stop you can hear in Wes’ solo on Fried Pies. The high D is still a pedal point but it is now becoming a part of a call-response phrase and I think this double stop is a lot less common outside Jazz:

You want to listen to this solo for how he develops phrases and connects from one phrase to the next, it is pretty amazing!

Chord Solos in Jazz Blues

Another important part of Jazz Blues is combining Jazz chords with Blues licks, which is an amazing sound, and here Joe Pass is absolutely mind-blowing. If you want to explore how he does this and also how he approaches Jazz Blues in general, then check out this video which has some of the most solid Jazz Blues you will ever hear!

This Jazz Blues Solo is Perfect And Nobody Is Talking About It

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This BEST Jazz Blues Solo For Bebop, Blues and Brilliant Phrasing

It’s George Benson, so it is usually pretty solid! This solo is certainly no exception, and it is from probably my favorite period of Benson with a lot of Bebop, high energy, amazing phrasing, and some really solid Blues!

Jazz guitar probably wouldn’t be Jazz guitar without this era of Bensons playing, but I think that will be clear from this. It seems hard to believe that I nearly walked out of a concert the first time I heard him play, I’ll tell you about that later.

Benny’s Back

The song is a fairly basic Blues in C with one twist in the harmony, and Benson’s solo is mind-blowing, it even has a phrase that I can’t analyze or really make sense of but it still sounds great!

The theme is sort of built around a sound that I used to call “Expensive” or “Sophisticated” Blues.

The Best Period For George Benson?

Before we get into the solo and the mysterious phrases that I can’t analyze let me just recommend this album! The track is off the George Benson Cookbook

which is one of my favorites. This album and the one before it called “It’s Uptown” are the same core band and are great examples of what George Benson did as a sideman before really launching into a solo career. Both are great albums that you want to check out!

There is a lot to talk about already with the theme, even if it isn’t complicated then it is doing the simple things right to make it work, both with the rhythm, the melody and the harmony. This is on quite a few levels actually.

Let’s start with the main riff:

What I used to call Expensive Blues was when I had solos that used the 6th or 13th together with the minor 3rd, this is from before I started playing Jazz. A trill with the blue note and a descending run that ends on the 6th.

What makes this really work is that it is repeated, but it is repeated so that it is not the same rhythm since the first one starts on beat one and then the 2nd time it is on beat 4.

In fact, the 2-bar riff splits the two bars into 3-3-2 beat groups, so it has a sort of 3-2 clave feel as well, not unlike New Orleans grooves or what you may know from Bo Diddley.

The tag in this riff is C major pentatonic, something that you will see Benson use quite a lot in his solo as well.

The progression is a 12-bar blues, except for bars 9 and 10 where they play Ab7 to G7. It is also worth mentioning that they use these chords in the theme, but it is not in the solo where Benson plays either Dm7 G7 or D7 G7.

You will actually come across this in more songs where the theme has complicated harmony and then it is made simpler and more open when you solo.

I think this song illustrates in so many ways: Keeping it simple but strong really works, the pickup for the solo also shows this:

Setting it Up With Some Bebop (pickup)

 

Benson has a 1 bar break and is coming out of all the syncopated notes so the energy is already really high, and he matches that with the first phrase.

But it is really simple, an Altered dominant and a simple enclosure taking us to the 3rd of C on beat one, and it also really works! Jazz doesn’t have to be complicated all the time!

And he continues with a very basic triadic C melody which is sort of a major blues cliché

I am saying this is simple, but as you will see then it is not just him running scales, he is really playing phrases or melodies, all the time. The next phrase is very complicated, but I am not 100% that it is on purpose.

What Is This Now?

That’s a LOT of half-steps and a really weird interval in the middle.

It starts as a blues phrase and it ends as a blues phrase and then the middle part is really unclear. I could overanalyze it as super-imposing a dominant or using Barry Harris’ 6th dim with a million leading notes, but that doesn’t really make sense to me.

It is not the first time I have had phrases in a solo that I couldn’t really explain but sounds fine when I listen to the solo. I suspect this might just be a few wrong notes. One thing that is on point is the timing of the phrase and later there are some really solid rhythmical examples, a phrasing thing that is done with picking (I think), and of course some Bebop.

I forgot to mention that this piece is probably dedicated to the Trombone player Bennie Green who is also a featured guest soloist on the track.

Super Simple but Super Solid!

Here’s some super solid Bebop, but it is again very simple, and notice how relative short the phrases are for Bop stuff.

I think it is interesting because I know he was inspired by Pat Martino, and to me, this does sort of have a Pat Martino vibe or Pat Martino energy, but at the same time the material is much simpler and the lines are shorter with more emphasis on rhythm. One thing that you can really hear in this solo, which I have to tell students very often is that there are not a lot of phrases ending with long notes, in fact, it is mostly ending staccato, so very short.

A lot of basic stuff, notice the line on the Eø A7 because he uses a variation of this later.

Again just really spelling out the changes, targeting the 3rd of A on beat 3:

He is using an Fmaj9 arpeggio over Dm7 and changing up the sound with slides in the turnaround.

So a different way of playing the notes and short phrases and more rhythm!

The next phrase has a lot of notes and only a few different notes at the same time, but it is really about rhythm and phrasing.

A Picking Trick

This is just repeating a note and making it sound different by using different strings. He is really playing around with the 3-note groupings on top of the song,

and he is sort of just spelling out F7, F#dim to C7 which is a common set of changes for a blues in C.

Let’s check out a variation of the Eø A7 that I mentioned earlier:

Octave Displacement And An Extra Dom7th

On the Eø A7 you have essentially the same phrase as before:

but now it is with octave displacement so that he skips up to the Bb.

In fact, he does a lot of great interval skips in this solo which really makes it more melodic.

You can also see that he comes out on a D7 this time, really playing D major pentatonic

before moving into some C blues over the G7 (play), which is also a way to create tension on that dominant.

Again not filling it up with 8th notes, and making the rhythm interesting without it being overly complicated.

`And that is a choice, as you can see from this phrase which is some solid syncopation.

Benson Blues

But first, as I mentioned that I nearly walked out of a George Benson concert. I was always completely blown away by Benson on stuff like this, or his solo on Billie’s Bounce I also made a video on it, and his straight-ahead playing is so incredible. But obviously, he is, by now, much more popular as a singer and sits more in pop and smooth jazz, which is not really my thing. The first time I heard him live, he was playing at the North Sea Jazz Festival. I was in my 2nd year of conservatory, and we had just played at the festival with the conservatory big band conducted by Jim McNeely. I had been listening to a LOT to this album that year, so I was really looking forward to seeing him play. He was in the big hall at the festival, and we went there. Of course, it was completely packed so we had to stand far back in the hall. I have to admit that in the concert, I was completely baffled and pretty disappointed that he didn’t play guitar at all in the concert, he was only singing. After 30 minutes, I gave up and I was already beginning to make my way to the exit to see something else when he finally picked up the guitar and played an amazing instrumental Blues, and The next and last song luckily also had a guitar solo as well. It was so good that it was actually worth waiting for.

Syncopated Blues Cliche

This is really just a syncopated version of the A-train ending (play) but like this, it has a lot more energy, and at this tempo, it is also tricky to nail it, but I am, again, really impressed with how simple it really is.

What makes all of this work is the execution, the phrasing, and energy that George Benson just nails in the solo.

A Better Tempo For Jazz Blues

That is the real challenge, because if you don’t have that then no amount of scales or complicated arpeggios will save you. But maybe this tempo is a bit fast to get started with this, and there is another Jazz blues solo that is in a much slower tempo but which also is full of perfect phrases, most of which are pretty simple, and that this Joe Pass solo that is off my favorite Joe Pass album.

This Jazz Blues Solo is Perfect And Nobody Is Talking About It

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This Jazz Blues Solo is Perfect And Nobody Is Talking About It

Like me, you probably transitioned from playing some sort of Blues or Rock into playing Jazz, and often one of the first things that you “get” when listening to Jazz and that makes you explore the genre more is Jazz Blues. For getting that sort of crossover sound then I think this solo is the best there is, the perfect storm, and I never hear people talk about it which I find super weird.  It is the perfect mix of Bebop lines and Blues Licks and it is much more dynamic than most Jazz, but I’ll explain that along the way.

I was talking about this with one of the students in the Roadmap course the other day, and that made me think of this solo which really nails what Jazz Blues as a sound is and it is an Amazing solo! Certainly one of my favorite Jazz guitar solos of all time, and probably my favorite Joe Pass solo. It is a great song to demonstrate what is Blues and What is Jazz because it has clear elements from both and Joe Pass mixes that up and uses it in an amazing and creative way while also demonstrating just how incredible his range is with the music both in tempo, technique, sound, and harmony. Some of it is about the notes, but there is a LOT more going on.

There is a lot of real blues in this, with minor pentatonic stuff already from the rubato intro:

This is really all Blues scale stuff and using that sound. But he goes into some bop lines quite fast afterwards. Side note: I think the first part he is playing with his fingers and not with a pick, it is a little bit like you can hear the finger mute the string before it sounds which is different from playing with a pick, with a pick it is faster, almost instant.

Joe’s Blues & The Album

The song is off the “Intercontinental” album from 1970 which has Joe playing in a trio with drummer Kenny Clare and bass player Eberhard Weber.

Weber, is for me, much more associated with modern ECM stuff, so to hear him in this setting playing on an album of mostly standards is a bit funny, but he plays great on it! I have talked about how this is one of my favorite Joe Pass albums, if not just my favorite album. As far as I can tell, they didn’t rehearse anything and just spend a day in the studio with Joe calling tunes, which makes this album even more mind-blowing.

B-roll: Viking guitar teacher – “Learn Joe Pass” “go practice” + tape with Joe’s Blues

I was introduced to this song as homework, which was sort of scary. My teacher copied a tape of it and told me to go learn it. At the time I hadn’t really been listening to Joe Pass that much, I had been checking out Wes, Ulf Wakenius, Scofield, and Pat Martino,  not so much a choice on my part, it was just what people told me to listen to, since this was before the internet, so I couldn’t google it

This solo was really different from the other Jazz Blues things I had heard.

Most of the time when I had heard Jazz Blues then it was a LOT faster and a lot denser, more 8th note based, like Parker playing Au Privave.

And at those tempos then the solos are much more bebop lines and most of the time the emphasis is really on the Jazz side of things with phrases weaving through the changes.

That is not how Joe’s blues works though, there’s a lot more space in there.

The Sound – Archtop and Polytone?

But first, let’s talk a little bit about the sound, I think Joe’s sound on this album is a great traditional Jazz guitar sound. I always imagined that he used his ES175 into a polytone on this album, but I don’t know if it was that guitar and what amp was there, though it does have a polytone vibe to me, it could just as easily be fender tube amp or a music man. I am not even sure if Polytone amps existed in 1970?

There is also quite a bit of reverb on the guitar, and, to me, that sounds like a plate reverb, not an amp spring reverb, which you may already know that I don’t really like. As far as I know, most Polytones don’t have a reverb, so it is likely that it was a plate reverb given that it was recorded in 1970 before digital reverbs.

I am curious what you think he used, and you can hear it all quite clearly in the intro before the rhythm section comes in. Let me know if you have a suggestion, or maybe you know what he used.

Leave a comment to let me know!

Jazz Guitar Has NO Dynamics

Jazz guitar as an instrument actually suffers a bit from not having a very wide dynamic range, compared to drums or a trumpet. In this song, then the rhythm section is really playing as if they are in your living room, so the bass is really loud in the mix, and the drums playing only brushes is really just supplying a clear groove for Joe Pass to lock in with and float over, and because the drums are very soft then Joe Pass has an easier time using the dynamics of the guitar to the full extent.

I don’t know if you have thought about that, but traditionally,  Jazz guitar trios were often softer than bands with horns, and you can tell that they often are still a bit more in the chamber ensemble corner when they play. Like if you listen to Julian Lage trio, or Gilad Hekselman

Both, modern guitarists, who really embrace this and are very good at using dynamics and colors in their playing, while also being really different.

If you listen to Julian Lage on Nocturne then you can probably hear that if the band was louder then his soft call-response would just disappear, or have to be so loud that it wouldn’t come across as comping the melody.

And that is also how the rhythm section works behind Joe Pass giving him room to really get the contrast out between loud and soft and using chords and single-note lines. Let’s look at some of those types of phrases he is using, and how that is as much about rhythm.

Mixing Up Blues and Bebop

Most Jazz solos will stick to the subdivision of the groove, which is usually 8th notes, but for a slow blues like this that really is more like a ballad then you can do a LOT more and Joe Pass almost uses all the options!

He has phrases that are using 8th notes as this part from the beginning:

But since Blues is more fluid on top of the groove he also uses that in some of the phrases mixing 16th notes and triplets into it, more open but also sort of going for the Blues feel.

And then a few beats later he plays double time phrases:

And we didn’t even get to the IV chord in bar 5 yet!

Another really nice harmonic trick that he uses a few times is to turn the Am7 in bar 9 into an A7, and then us notes from the G blues scale to make it sort of an altered sound and then stick to the blues sound on the D7 that follows.

That is really giving you an A7 with a b9 and a #9 when he uses C and Bb over the A7 it is like a phrase you can hear in two ways at the same time.

Another nice variation with the rhythm is where he uses straight 8th notes on top of the swing groove

Harmonizing Blues Licks

Of course, there are also some really great phrases, harmonizing melodies, and mixing chords with single-note lines.

A great example is this really simple 3-note Blues phrase that is harmonized on a G7:

and then repeated on a C7

First using G7 and Ab7 chords and then the same notes but now using C7 and Db7 chords and he is using some of the same chords and a G pedal note for this simple but very effective part of the solo

 

Wes Montgomery!

Another guitarist with incredibly strong melodic ideas who is a a master of using chords in his solos is Wes Montgomery. If you want to know more about his playing, then check out this video that talks about both his singl note lines and his chord solos.

3 Reasons Wes Montgomery Is Amazing And Worth Checking Out

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTOTO4CGrzs&list=PLWYuNvZPqqcGmFEa5n98zh0m46GcARyUh&index=1

 

 

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A Simple Jazz Blues Approach That Makes You Sound Better

You already know it: It is not nearly as important what notes you play compared to how you play them. That is what I am going to use in this video because you can just take some really basic notes and then work on playing them in a way that sounds better. Once I started thinking more like that I really started to feel a difference in what I played, and it really lifted the solos and made them sound much more like “Real Jazz” (if that is actually a thing)

We can start with a basic C7:

And then use this simple one-octave version of the arpeggio for a C7:

Phrasing And A Little Rhythm

Now you can start working playing these notes and get them to sound like a Jazz Blues phrase. This is really about imagining a slow medium groove and just see if you can make some simple melodies, something like this:

So simple short phrases in the groove, think Wes Montgomery or Grant Green, and just try experimenting with coming up with some melodies.

You can actually get them to sound even better by adding this:

All that is changing is that you slide into the notes, which is sort of the Jazz version of bending strings.

Before you move on to another technique you probably also want to start to make longer phrases as well:

Here you want to notice that the longer phrases is really just two phrases put together and that one phrase works as a call (play) and the other as a response.

You can practice this by just playing a phrase then stop and try to imagine what you think should come after it, is it an ascending or descending phrase? A lot of notes or a few etc. Try to start getting used to hearing phrases and listen to what you hear inside

The Power of Legato Dynamics

Often when you practice legato technique then you are probably working on getting notes to sound equally loud so that there is no real difference between the picked notes and the ones you play with hammer-on/pull-offs

but they do have a different quality of tone, and this is something you can use to make your solos much more expressive and add some dynamics to your lines, which is a really important part of Jazz lines.

First, you can add the rest of the position around the one-octave arpeggio

This is just to have more places with two notes on one string so that you can use legato.

Now you can start creating lines like this:

And the fact that some notes are louder than others really helps make the whole thing much more interesting, so it is also something you can incorporate in your music as a dynamic quality. In fact, the is what you will hear with a lot of players like Grant Green, Wes, and more modern guys like Pat Metheny.

Adding A Little Color

Because you start with the basic chord tones then everything you play will sound good, but also very safe and maybe even a little bit boring. Besides working with phrasing techniques you can start to add in some more colors by surrounding the arpeggio with the rest of the scale. So let’s do that and then move on to some double stops.

So you go from this:

And then you place that in the scale:

The best strategy is probably to start by just adding notes in between the notes of the arpeggio:

Here you have the A before the 7th but notice that you can still use the slide to add another sound and the F is inserted to lead to the E.

And you are using scale notes to lead into the arpeggio. here’s another example:

Notice how the slide takes an incredibly simple melody adds a more bluesy character.

So the difference between the two bars below:

Double-stops and Pedal-tones

Double stops are often associated with Blues and work great for the sound. But there is another polyphonic technique that is also really great that you use which I will cover after this.

You can use double stops as a sort of emphasis on a chord tone, like this:

Here the double-stop is the important part of the phrase, and then the descending melody ending on the b7 drives home the blues feel. This is btw something you will hear Parker do very often: ending phrases on the 7th in a blues, especially just before moving to the IV chord.

Another great way to use double-stops could be this:

Example 13

The tritone is a great choice for a double stop that also really nails the sound of the chord.

Another way to use several voices that Kenny Burrell also uses quite often works like this:

Example 14

Using Pedal notes is a great sound, and it is a little overlooked, but still something you will hear in Stevie Ray Vaughn’s playing quite frequently.

 

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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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How To Make Jazz Blues Licks – The Best Ingredients

You know what a blues lick is and you are making your own jazz licks. But, there is also this great mix of the two: Jazz Blues, with bluesy licks for Jazz songs or sophisticated licks for a Blues solo. That is what this Jazz Blues Lesson is going to show you.

In this video, I am going to show you some of the things that you can add to your playing to get a great mix of these two sounds.

So I am going to cover some really effective phrasing and Melody tricks that are actually really easy to use and you probably already know but just never thought about, and this can really add a completely new dimension to your playing. When it comes to blues but also when it comes to playing on Jazz Standards where this also sound great.

Really this is about getting the notes and the melodies to sound bluesy.

Two Scales and a Chord

In this video, I am going to use a Bb7 chord and these two scales to mix Jazz and Blues

The Mighty (but short) Grace notes

A great phrasing technique for getting a blues sound in Jazz is using grace notes. In Jazz, that is the way we simulate string bends. When Jazz was invented then the guitars had thick strings, and little sustain especially because of the amps. There fore actually bending strings was not that effective and pretty hard.

An example of a lick with this could be this:

When you use grace notes as a a way of getting Jazz blues phrasing then usually the emphasis is on the chord tones, so an exercise like this one can be useful:

Another more blues sounding phrase with sliding grace notes could be something like this:

Blues Scale and Jazz Arpeggios

The grace notes work with any material you use, but you can also work with mixing the two different scale sounds. The example below starts with a “Jazz” approach using a Dø arpeggio, and then transitions into using the blues scale to end the phrase.

This example starts with the blues-scale and ends with arpeggio notes:


Good triplet rhythm & simple blues scale chord tone ending with a nice interval skip at the end and that is the next thing to talk about.

Bluesy Intervals!

Both regular Blues and Jazz Blues vocabulary are based on using shorter phrases and both have a similar way of using larger intervals in the lines.

The example here below is similar to the way you will find Wes Montgomery or Kenny Burrell might use larger intervals.

In this case the 3rd and the 7th of the chord.

ne of my biggest influences when it comes to blues was Stevie Ray Vaughan and I was always fascinated with how he used large intervals in his playing so well. In fact Wes Montgomery does as well.

Double stops –

The next concept is also one of my favorites from SRV but I am going to apply it more in a Jazz way similar to what Wes and Kenny Burrell do.

Pedal points like you hear in the example above are often chord tones, but Wes also used other notes in his solos (like No blues)

Another example of how you can use an interval as an easy chord to use for chord soloing. This is an example of a lot of double stops and also how you can use some chromaticism with them.

Really Digging into Jazz Blues

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