Tag Archives: jazz rhythm guitar

An Overlooked Skill That Will Give Your Jazz Solos A Massive Boost

It is funny how sometimes a single solo that you hear can really change the way you think about music and what you are trying to learn.

In this case, it was a pretty obscure video and a single solo, that I kept coming back to and that has influenced what I practiced for years, and I never even transcribed it, I just realized that I needed to figure out how to get that one thing a lot stronger in my playing.

The solo I am talking about is this incredibly low-resolution Jon Damian solo, where he is playing Sweet Georgia Brown in a duo with Jake Langley, both, of course, amazing guitarists.

A part of what made it stand out is probably the contrast between Jon and Jake’s solos, where Jake is playing a lot more traditional Bop-oriented 8th-note lines and Jon is relying almost purely on sparse melodies and A LOT of creative and swinging rhythms.

When I first listened to this then I did not immediately get what it was that I liked so much about the solo, but that is why I kept coming back to it and I tried to figure out why I thought it was great. Gradually I started to realize that it was about playing more interesting rhythms and not focus as much on 8th note lines which is what I had done until then. I needed to learn to hear phrases with that type of rhythm.

What Is The Difference?

Let’s first look at what I am talking about. A great but dense 8th note Bebop line could be something like this:

But Jazz is also about syncopation and rhythm and what you also want to be able to do is improvise lines like this:

And here you have fewer notes, but there is a lot of energy and tension in the rhythm that really comes to life, Who said early Jim Hall?

Get More Creative With Rhythm

So How Do You Practice This? Ironically the best way to get more options is to limit yourself and use that to develop your skills.

Let’s start with a simple rhythm, something you compose or take something from a solo that you like. Actually, there are some great themes and solos to check out for inspiration, but I will come back to that later.

In this rhythm, I am just using a few notes to keep it flexible. Here, I am using 2, but 3 would work as well. Just make sure that you don’t make a long complicated phrase like this:

And that is because you want something you can work with, and make variations of and eventually even take through an entire song.

Displaced Rhythms

Displacing rhythms is actually a very important part of jazz phrasing and jazz melodies if you listen to songs like Bernie’s Tune or Broadway.

You can practice is to take the basic phrase and then move it around, that can be in like this where I am shifting the phrase around one 8th note at the time:

Example 5

Of course, this is a pretty intense exercise and you can also just work with this as a way of composing lines and in that way expand the rhythms you use. This could give you a II V I line like this:

Another thing that can be fun is working with this on a one-chord backing track is a great way to learn to hear more rhythms and in that way expand what you can do, and gradually start to move it over to more complicated progressions.

Developing Rhythm and Melody

There is another way that you can develop more rhythmical playing, which will also lead me to give advice that I usually never give..

What you can do is explore simple ways to make variations of the rhythm.

Since there is a fair amount of space in the main rhythm that you are using then you can easily explore how to make variations by adding more notes here and there.

When you have very active rhythms like this then it is often easier to use very basic melodies. Usually, I suggest working with arpeggios, but you should probably start by using scale melodies here because that is less likely to sound like abstract skipping around.

You can of course also explore removing notes or shortening the phrase instead of adding to it and in that way take it further

Who To Check Out?

Anything you want to learn, you also want to learn at least partially by ear. You need to know what it sounds like.

I have already mentioned that you should check out themes similar to Bernie’s Tune or Broadway. Actually working on Bebop themes in general, is very useful, because even if Charlie Parker often plays more dense lines then these rhythms are certainly there and most of his compositions are not great examples to learn from. This is also one of the main reasons why Donna Lee may not be written by Parker since it is a lot more dense and on the bear than the rest of his compositions.

Call-Response

As you can probably tell by now, I am using the same tools for the rhythm that I use when I am working on melodic skills in solos. Another great way to work with melodies is to use Call-response.

The concept here is that you listen to what you play and then come up with a response to that.

In this case, the main statement is relying mostly on off beats, which creates tension, and then a logical response will be more resolved and have more downbeat. That is also what you can see in both of the examples of responses.

Of course, these are just examples of what I hear as a response, and you might hear something completely different, which is actually great.

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Comping Rhythms – 10 Examples You Need To Know

Rhythm is everything in Jazz and especially comping. Building a solid vocabulary of great Jazz Comping Rhythms is difficult. In this video, I am going to go over 10 examples of comping rhythms to check out.

I play each example 3 times, so you can either use it as inspiration for your own practice or even use the video as a play along and comp together with me.

For each of the rhythms, I have an illustration of how the basic pattern is and a version that is written out with chord voicings to play on guitar.

All the examples are using a turnaround in C major.

Rhythm #1 – Charleston

This first example is the “Charleston rhythm” and is very useful also as a repeating riff.

It has the clarity of the changes with the chord on beat 1 and the syncopation with the chord on the 2&

Rhythm #2 – Shifted Charleston

A variation of the Charleston is this 1 bar pattern where the whole rhythm is shifted an 8th note.

Rhythm #3 – Forward motion with Syncopation

This rhythm uses the tension of the sustained note on the 3& to move the progression forward towards the next chord stated on beat one.

Rhythm #4 – Red Garland

Red Garland is often associated with this way of mostly comping on the anticipated heavy beats: 2& and 4&.

Rhythm #5 – Basic Syncopation

This rhythm is a great way of turning the basic syncopation rhythm into a riff that sits well on top of a swing groove.

Rhythm #6 – Quarter Note Rhythms

Often the focus in comping is too much on all the 8th note upbeats and we forget that you can do a lot with quarter notes as well.

Rhythm #7 – Dotted Quarter notes

Using the dotted quarter note rhythms in jazz comping is very common and very worth incorporating into your vocabulary.

Rhythm #8 – Shifting motif

Another great way to work with rhythm is to shift a motif around. This example is a very basic version of this.

Rhythm #9 – Call-Response phrases

Besides motifs you can also use call-response as a way of generating phrases in your comping.

Rhythm #10 – Anticipated Beat 4

This rhythm is often left out but is very common in a lot of themes (and pretty much all of Salsa), so it is very worthwhile to know and feel comfortable with.

Take the Comping Rhythms Further

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3 Ways To Play More Interesting Rhythms In Your Solos

Learning to play solos where the rhythm really sounds like Jazz is difficult and it is probably the most important part of Jazz. Jazz Rhythm is a language that you need to develop.

What you want to focus on is practicing things that help you hear phrases that have those rhythms in them. They have to be in your ear and in your system if you want them to come out into your playing.

Content:

0:00 Intro – Jazz Rhythm – Hearing Phrases with great rhythms

0:30 #1 Themes and Melodies

0:45 Internalizing melodies = internalizing rhythms

1:34 Using Theme Rhythms in Solos – Tenor Madness

2:04 The other elusive skill for Jazz Playing

2:18 Rhythmical Target Notes

2:33 The Different Kinds of Target Notes

2:53 Example: 4& as Rhythmical Target on a Turnaround

3:40 #3 Rhythmical Displacement

4:13 Example Motif from Bernie’s Tune

5:20 More than just the notes

5:40 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page

How to Improve your vocabulary of Jazz Rhythms

We don’t often talk about is how rhythm is actually also a melody, and how to work on your vocabulary for jazz rhythm. But,of course, a very important part of playing jazz is interesting and great rhythms.

In this video, I am going to go over some great examples of rhythms used in a jazz solo taken from Chet Baker, Kenny Burrel, and Jim Hall. I also discuss how you might want to work on improving this part of your own playing.

Content:

0:00 Intro – Adding New Rhythms To Your Solos

0:14 Getting Inspirations from Kenny Burrell Jim Hall and Chet Baker

0:32 Example #1

0:39 Kenny Burrell – Mastering Medium Swing

1:06 How To Use Simple (but great 8th Note Rhythms)

1:24 Example #1 Slow

1:34 How To Use The Material

1:57 Example Lick #1

2:14 Example Lick #2

2:22 Ideas with more of a concept

2:40 Example #2

2:46 Chet Baker – Strong Rhythm and Simple Notes

3:02 Analyzing the line

3:58 Example Lick #3

4:26 Example Lick #4

4:52 Example #3 

4:59 Jim Hall – Rhythmical Diversity and Strong Melodies

5:36 Motif and a Scale Sequence

5:59 Example #3 Slow

6:07 Getting More Out of the Pattern and understanding why it is great!

6:30 Example Lick #5

6:40 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

Check out more lessons on Jim Hall

Here are a few more Lessons I did on Jim Hall and his fantastic playing that always contains a strong and interesting rhythmical concept as well as beautiful melodies.

Jim Hall – Ingredients Of The Best Solos

Jim Hall on Autumn Leaves – Can it get any better?

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Jazz Rhythm – The Most Important Aspect of Jazz

Learning jazz is often mostly about playing 8th note lines, but if you listen to amazing musicians like Charlie Parker then you can hear that he doesn’t only play dense 8th note lines. He also plays very interesting rhythms. So we need to learn to hear rhythms like that.

In this video, I am going to go over an exercise that you can apply to the songs that you play and help develop your ability to play much more interesting solos with more inspired rhythmical ideas.

Developing Rhythmical ideas

The exercise I am using in this lesson is reducing the amount of notes that you use and in that open up to give more attention to the rhythm.

To have a progression to work on I am using the A-part of Take the A-train which is fairly simple. You can, of course, choose any song you like, but make sure that you choose one with not too many chords. Try to also pick one that you know very well.

The chords of the A-train A-part is shown here below:

The Three Notes

Let’s first find three notes for the chords. I am treating the II V as one chord.

If you can see figure out where I got the three notes from then leave a comment on this post 🙂

Rhythm #1

The first rhythm is shown here below. The note on the 4th beat helps it drive it forward. The 2& also helps a lot with adding some “jazz feel” to the rhythm.

First play the rhythm with just one note to get it into your system.

Applying Rhythm #1 to The Chord Progression

A way to improvise through the progression with the 3 notes could look or sound like this. When you work with the rhythm try to keep improvising until it becomes really easy to improvise. That way you have really internalized the rhythm and it is more likely to show up in your playing.

Rhythm #2

This rhythm is actually just a basic syncopation, but at the same time also a very important rhythm to be familiar with in Jazz.

Using Rhythm #2 in a Jazz Solo

As you can see I am starting to mix up the rhythms so that I am not only using one rhythm. In many ways I am using the rhythms to help create a sense of Call-Response in the solo.

Rhythm #3

More complicated rhythms work as well. This one is a lot less clear and can also help you develop your ability to feel off beats more precisely.

Rhythm #3 – Mixing it all up

This 8 bar examples uses Rhythm #3 but I am also mixing it up quite a bit with the previous rhythms. I think this also illustrates how much variation is available like this using more interesting rhythms and a smaller set of notes.

Bebop Phrasing Lesson

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5 Comping Exercises for Jazz Rhythm on the Blues

Rhythm is much more important than notes. This is very true for jazz and certainly for comping. The easiest way to learn some new rhythms for your comping is to come up with some small riffs and practice playing those through a chord progression. In this jazz rhythm guitar lesson, I am going to show you 5 great variations on some great Comping rhythms and how they sound through a Blues In F.

If you want to practice them with me then you can go to the second examples via the link in the description of this video. I’ll talk a little about that later. This way of really thinking in rhythms as phrases are really important because you can’t think about the notes, you have to hear them.

If you want to check out more material that you can use for both soloing and comping on an F blues then have a look at this Study Guide: F Blues Study Guide

The Shell-Voicings

Instead of using the voicings that I use in the example you can also simplify that part by using shell voicings. In the end this is much more about rhythm than it is about the chord voicings so that will still teach you the most important part of the material in this lesson.

Practice with the video!

In this video I have added the count-off to the perfromances so if you want to play the rhythms together with me then you can do that. If you are a Patron of the channel then you can also download the mp3 backing track via my Patreon Page

The Shell-voicings are shown here below.

You can go through these voicings and use them while practicing the rhythms in the 5 exercises.

#1 Charleston Rhythm

The Charleston rhythm is a great place to start! It is in many ways the most simple rhythm that has it all. It clearly shows the chords by stating that on the 1 and the groove and swing feel is clear from the 2& that follows it.

If you are playing with people you don’t know: When in doubt, Charleston!

#2 Pulling Forward

This rhythm is a little more busy. Here the goal is to state the groove with the first two 8th notes and then use the 3& to really pull the song forward. The 3& sound adds tension or energy and the following chord on the 1 resolves that tension.

#3 Clear Groove

This example is a little busy if you play it too much, especially if the tempo is higher than a slow medium.

It is however a complete groove and a way of laying down the harmony and the groove in a very clear way. This can work as a a great solid background for a soloist, but for some it may also get in the way.

#4 Up-Beat Energy

This rhythm is a little lighter and a great way to break things up a little. It is important to be able to play comping rhythms that are not on the 1st beat all the time.

#5 Leave it to Bass and Drums

Another exercise is to play rhythms starting on beat 2. This exercise helps you feel(or think) the first beat and then play on the 2nd. Internalizing the rhythm and the meter like this is really useful for your overall timing and time-feel.

Get more ideas for comping

If you want to expand your comping and check out some more ideas then check out this lesson in my WebStore:

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And the Shell-voicings are available here:

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