Tag Archives: jazz blues tutorial

Jazz Blues – How To Solo Only Using Triads And Why It Is Powerful

Why would you want to play a Jazz Blues just using triads?

When you have one triad per chord then that is only 3 notes:

  • That It is easy to remember
  • It helps you play better melodies and use more creative rhythms and
  • It is an amazing foundation for more complicated lines.

And finally, It also kind of fun to mess around with.

What is a Jazz Blues?

Let’s take a blues in C. If you take a simple 12 bar blues, the kind that would make ZZ top proud, then that would be these chords:

For a Jazz Blues then there are a few other chords in there, the II V, a dim chord, and some short II V’s:

To keep it simple let’s reduce it to one chord per bar and turn some of the quick II V’s into a single dominant>

Let’s keep it really easy:

For the C7 you can use a C major triad, like this one:

and then you can play solid phrases like this:

The next thing we need to figure out is what to play on the F7, but you probably already know this F7(9) chord:

and the top part of this F7 chord is a Cm triad, so for the F7 you can use a Cm triad.

and you already have a line on the F7, just change one note in the C7 line.

With these two triads you can cover the first two bars of the solo:

This idea of playing a C major and then a Cm phrase on the first two bars is a really great way to connect melodies and is something you’ll hear Parker do ALL THE TIME.

Triads For Altered Dominants

The next chord in the progression that you need a triad for is C7alt.

One way that you often play a chord like this is this C7(b9b13):

Here you have a Dbm triad as the top part of the chord, and that will work very well:

And because it is really close to the C major and the Cm triads then it is easy to make some strong melodies:

The Bonus of Limitation

Notice how you are really using the limitation of 3 notes to get a lot more creative with rhythm and melody. This is something I always liked about limitation exercises: Limiting yourself with one thing actually opens up more options with all the other things that you are not limiting. You will also see another nice side effect once we get to the II V in a few bars.

That Damned Diminished

Now we have the F#dim chord,

and here I will just take a triad in the chord: Eb dim, which is F#dim without the C.

And you can use that in a lick like this:

Notice that you can create the lick by moving the melody on the F7 and play the same melody on the F#dim, and again that also just ties those two phrases in a musical way.

A Scary Altered Chord

Before going on to the II V then there is one difficult-looking chord to deal with that isn’t really that difficult: A7alt.

You can use the same trick as with the C7alt. A7alt could be played like this:

So you have a Bbm triad at the top of this chord, and that triad is going to be a great fit for the chord. You can play that like this:

And then you can create lines like this:

II V Hacking with Triads

Let’s use a hack for the II V Since they are so common in Jazz then it makes sense to figure out these two chords at the same time and make sure the two triads really fit together.

One way you could play the chords would be this:

For the Dm7 that gives you an F major triad and the G7(b9) is an F diminished triad.

And these two fit together very well so they are easy to make lines with and also to create some motivic melodies. Something like this:

What you want to practice with material like this is really just being able to play more rhythmical and clear melodies. It is also a great way to really start getting those nice syncopated rhythms into your solos.

 

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3 Things That Make You Sound Better Comping A Jazz Blues

When comping sounds great then it is actually not because of the chords you are playing. It is more about all the other things that you do with them that makes it work. Things like rhythm, chord movement, and melodies. This video will l help you get started developing your comping so that you don’t get stuck just playing chords and wondering why it doesn’t really work.

#1 The Easy Guitar Trick for Chords

One of the main things that you need to include in anything you play is tension and release. That is the way you make things interesting to listen to and keep people listening.

In this case, this is something that you can add to your comping in a very easy way on guitar, and it sounds both natural and pretty hip. But

 

at the beginning of this example, I am just using the basic 3rd and 7th voicings on the chord but as you can see this works just as well with chords with more extensions.

The principle is really simple; you create tension by moving the chord up or down a half step and then resolve the tension by moving back.

And this works great for the 3rd and 7th shells but is equally useful for larger chord voicings.

Let’s have a look at how you can use tension and release in a different way to make things flow a lot better

Comping in a band

One of the things that I learned a lot from with comping was focusing on being together with the drummer, so really trying to play clear ideas and react to what was happening especially on the snare so that it really becomes like a single instrument backing up the soloist! Of course, this doesn’t really work with a backing track as I use in this video.

#2 Give It Direction and Energy

One of the things that I love about Bebop is how the solo lines flow through the changes and are always moving towards the next chord.

And this is actually built into the harmony, so the chord progressions are really pushing forward which is not always what we focus on when playing the chords.

But it is really useful to always think ahead and try to work on ways to move to the next chord. There are 3 things you can use to get that forward motion.

In the first bar, I am using a melody that is ending clearly on the Eb7 which is helping things to move along.

The next two bars are setting up a rhythm and then in bar 4 playing the 3& really creates tension that wants to resolve on the next downbeat which pulls us to the Eb7

Bar 6 is first a bit of movement with the Edim chord and then a chromatic passing chord on beat 4 that resolves back into Bb7 and in that way adds energy and tension.

So I am using:

  • Melody
  • Rhythm
  • Chromatic Passing Chords

to create a comp that is moving forward, and working on these things with the forward motion in mind can help you get that into your playing.

#3 The Most Important Rhythm To Learn

Jazz is about rhythm, and If you think about it you probably already know that the rhythms that are important are the syncopated rhythms, the off-beats.

One way of really using this in your comping is to work on playing anticipated chords, something often associated with Red Garland, the piano player in the 1st Miles Davis Quintet

Practicing to use this in your comping is something you can do by only focusing on that by setting a metronome to 2&4 and play a vamp, like this:

And once you are familiar with this exercise then you can start to work on using it on the Blues like this

Rhythm is probably the strongest ingredient in comping, or in Jazz in general, and this last exercise is also the one that will improve your comping the most.

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Jazz Blues – 3 Easy Techniques That Make You Sound Better

Most guitar players, and it is probably the same for other instruments as well, know the sound of the blues and can play blues solos. And then you start playing Jazz, and it is all about playing changes and using arpeggios and the right scales, but there is no common ground, and you don’t have a way to combine the two like you hear Charlie Parker, Oscar Peterson or George Benson do.

In this video, I am going to show you some of the techniques you can use to get that mix in there and play Jazz Blues, something that is great on a 12 bar blues, but that will work for you on pretty much all songs.

For this video, I am going to use a basic 12 bar Jazz Blues in F, which happens to also be the key of the transcribed examples which probably says something about how common that is.

The Jazz Blues is pretty similar a straight ahead blues except for the II V in the last line, the cadence to II in bar 8 and the dim chord in bar 6.

The things I cover in this video are applied to a blues and are things you anyway want to be able to do there, but you can easily put it to use on other songs as well. (maybe too much ?)

#1 Riff Melodies in Jazz Solos

B-roll slow bar of parker 1 (maybe 2) chords Bb7 Bdim

This first technique is a way of creating melodies so that you A) nail the changes and B) make a really solid melody over the first few bars.

It is extremely common, and you will find it in most Charlie Parker Solos, and in a ton of other solos and themes.

In the example below you can see a basic phrase in the first F7 bar which is repeated but now the A is changed to Ab on the Bb7. The original statement is further developed in bar 3 and reappears as an altered lick in bar 4.

As I mentioned this is very common in both solos and themes a very clear example is Sonny Rollins’ Tenor Madness

You can see how this theme uses the exact same formula as what I played in example 1 with the main motif and then repeating it in the second bar, only changing the 3rd of the chord to fit the next chord. Then returning to the original motif.

Charlie Parker on Now’s The Time

In a solo, it can be useful to also develop the motif a bit like Parker does on Now’s the time.

In the next chorus, he uses this concept again but is also very creative with it

To be honest I think this is where I learned this, listening to Parker playing Blues.

In Other places in the form

A bonus feature from this way of making melodies is that it works in a lot of contexts, you can use it on the IV #IV dim in bar 5 and 6 of a Blues:

And you can even put it to use on a II V by just changing on note going from II to V

Let’s look at how you phrase the notes and not only the type of melodies you make.

#2 Slides and Phrasing

As you may have noticed bends are not that common in Jazz. Not sure why, but it is likely because the music was invented in a time where the guitar strings were very heavy and guitars had a lot less sustain. Instead, slides are often used, creating a similar sound as the grace notes you hear on the piano.

It is easy to get this type of sound into you lines when you solo. The best place to start is to slide into the important notes in the melody which would be the arpeggio notes.

An example of this could sound like this:

So you can see how I slide into 3rds and 5ths on the chord.

An example of  this a little closer to how you might use bending would be something like this:

Working on using this is pretty simple, just start making short phrases with an F7 arpeggio and experiment with adding slides to it.

Try some of these examples:

#3 Easy Double stops that sound great!

Another thing that is probably also borrowed from the piano is using intervals and double stops. Chuck Berry wasn’t the only one who had that idea, so there are lots of double-stops you can use for Jazz Blues phrases.

Sliding into the 3rd interval that is the upper part of an F major triad. The melody is using the same concept going from I to IV by modifying the motif. 3rds are very practical for double stops and therefore also very common, but there are some other good options as well. First I’ll go over another example and then I will show you how to find some double stops for a chord.

This example is using an A as a lower pedal point and then later returns to the 6th interval to emphasize the first note in that phrase. 6th intervals and tritone intervals like you find in this phrase are also fine options for the F7.

Finding Double Stops for a chord

Zoom in and explain and play – neck diagram! – refer to the different chord shapes

And using double stops as a way of emphasizing a note is really use a simple line using a 5th interval we just found could be something like this.

Level up your Jazz Blues

Jazz Blues Solo Intro Pack

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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

Content:

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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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 Eø 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

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

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