Tag Archives: jazz solo

A Great New Sound In Your Jazz Solo

Arpeggios and scales are often reduced to the notes they contain against a chord, but by doing that you throw away other information that is more important for the sound of your jazz solo, and this is something you want to be aware of and not miss.

It is a way to get so much more out of scales and even pentatonic scales that you already know because you can use them in a different way.

What is the difference?

If you listen to how quartal arpeggios sound on a II V I: 

Compared to a more traditional bop line:

Of course, you can mix the two as well, but I think this makes the difference quite clear.

There are a few ways to approach this, and I am going to go over both diatonic and pentatonic options using the II V I in G major: Am7 D7alt Gmaj7

The Scale and a Diatonic Arpeggio exercise

For the Am7 and Gmaj7, you can use the G major scale, and it is fairly easy to play a G major scale in diatonic quartal arpeggios:

The construction of a diatonic quartal arpeggio is really simple:

G A B C D E F# G A B C D

if you want to find the quartal arpeggio on B you just stack 4th intervals: B E A:

 

or for C: C F# B, but notice here that you get an augmented 4th between C and F#:

Using this on the Am7 chord

It is easy to make some lines using these arpeggios on Am7, especially if you avoid using the ones with the F# in there (for now anyway)

That gives us these:

Example using Quartal Arpeggios on Am7

Here I am using two quartal arpeggios on Am7, the one from B and the one from A. I actually continue with quartals on the D7 altered, but I am going to cover those a little later.  First, let’s try to come at this from a pentatonic scale instead of a major scale.

Am pentatonic scale and an important exercise

You all know the Am pentatonic scale:

And if you play this exercise in that scale:

A lot of these are quartal arpeggios (high light and explain) also the C and Am triads

Example using the Pentatonic scale

You can use this as a way to get to this sound in a lick like this

Quartal Arpeggios on an Altered Dominant

Now let’s look at how you can also use quartal harmony on an altered dominant:

Here I am using quartal harmony on all 3 chords and it is constructed so that I am moving two quartal arpeggios on each chord as a motif.

You can practice the quartal arpeggios in the Eb melodic minor

See this in use on a song:

Lady Bird – Arpeggios & Pentatonic Scales

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How To Make It Sound Like Jazz – Great Embellishments

In this lesson, I am going to show you some techniques and ways to play simple phrases that make them sound more like Jazz. There are some very common phrasing techniques in Jazz Guitar that are a huge part of the sound, and you can quite easily start adding them to your playing if you want to work on your Jazz phrasing.

I am going to go over how you might play them and also give you some good examples of how they can be added to a line.

In the lesson, I will show you how to get better sounding lines by adding them to a basic Cmaj7 arpeggio, and while I was preparing this video I was actually quite surprised about how they really give you a lot of sounds, especially some of the longer embellishments at the end of the video.

Slides (and the triplet trick)

The basic Cmaj7 arpeggio can be played as is shown below.

I am also going to play it with a leading note and then making it a triplet which is also a very bebop thing to do, which is shown in the following bar.

Adding a Slide to the top-note

One of the easiest ways to get this slightly boring arpeggio to have a little more life is to use slides, so you can slide into the top note, which serves as a sort of target for the arpeggio when you use the triplet.

Notice how I play the notes at the end of the phrases short most of the time, that is also a way to connect with the groove and make the lick sound better.

This is a big part of Wes Montgomery’s phrasing vocabulary like this from his solo on Unit 7. which is a Gm(11) arpeggio over a C7 chord

Delaying the target note

Chromatic passing notes are great for getting things to sound like Jazz, and this is a quite simple way to make that work on the Cmaj7 arpeggio. As I said before, the “target note” of the arpeggio is the B, and delaying this works really well:

Sometimes you will get told that chromatic leading notes have to be on the offbeat and resolve back on the beat. As you can hear in this example that is not true, but don’t take my word for it, ask Charlie Parker:

Above you can see how Parker uses a leading note on the beat. In bar 2, beat 4 and in bar 6, beat 3 and 4.

Turns

The names for embellishments like this are a little open, so sometimes what I am calling turns here are also called trills and slurs. It’s like chord symbols, just try to figure out what is meant and don’t worry about it.

For this video, a turn is more or less a short faster phrase with notes close to a target note. The examples will make it easier to understand what I mean.

There are a few ways you can add turns to this arpeggio.

Turn #1 – 16th note pull-off

The first variation is shown here below:

The easiest way to work on this is probably to play the scale with the turn on one string like this:

Turn #2 – 16th triplet – Mid Phrase

The 16th note triplet is also a good way to get into this. It should be executed with a quick hammer-on/pull-off and is a very common and very effective way to break things up.

Turn #3 – 16th triplet – Begin Phrase

Another way you can use this embellishment is at the beginning of a phrase.

That is what I am doing in the example below, think of it as a way of sending off the arpeggio. The line continues with a slide to the high B.

Joe Pass using “Double Turns”

To give you an example of how this is used by jazz artists, here is a lick from Joe Pass on a II V I in D major.

Pass uses the turns in the 2nd half of the A7 bar, and the last turn is used to introduce a b13 and create a little tension before resolving to Dmaj7.

Take It To a Song and Into Your Playing!

Take The A Train – Bebop Embellishments

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The Most Important Solo Tools For A Maj7 Chord

Sometimes it is hard to come up with something that inspires you when you are improvising a jazz solo. There are a lot of things you can use if you want to improvise over a maj7 chord, and in this video, I am going to give you some of my favourites terms of arpeggios, triads, pentatonics and a few special tricks as well.

You should have a lot of things to start working with at the end of this video, and most of it is really just a new way to use the things you already know.

Focus on how it sounds because I think that is how you are going to be inspired by it, and I will also give you some other tips on getting new ideas that are not only about what notes to play.

Cmaj7 – You can always get more out of this!

The basic material in this video is this chord, the C major scale.

And the one Cmaj7 octave arpeggio

Chromaticism – Pure Bebop

A great way to tap into Jazz as a sound and getting this type of melodies into your playing is to use chromaticism.

The example below has two short lines using different chromatic enclosures and a melody build around a Cmaj7 chord. You can check out more information on different types of chromatic enclosures here: 5 chromatic enclosures

There are more examples in this lesson: 10 Great Chromatic Ideas in Jazz Licks (Easy to Weird)

Be creative! Don’t just run up and down arpeggios

Very often when I listen to a great line and check out what it is and how to use it. Often I find that the melody is actually a basic arpeggio melody. Below are some examples of lines like this that I have come across.

You can use a variation of the Rosenwinkel melody like this:

You can also experiment with inventing melodies playing patterns with a one octave arpeggio. Try to mess around and see if you find something that sounds like an interesting melody.

Em7 – Don’t Box yourself in, you are missing out

The Em7 arpeggio is the diatonic arpeggio from the 3rd of Cmaj7.

If you look at the notes of Cmaj7: C E G B – and look at the notes of Em7: E G B D you can see that they share most of the notes and the Em7 adds a D, the 9th of C. That makes it a great arpeggio to use on a Cmaj7.

In fact the arpeggio found on the 3rd of the chord works great for most chords.

Sometimes you miss great melodies because the focus is on learning in a position, in a scale or in some other shape. This example using an Em7 arpeggio is branching out of the regular patterns and making specific melodies a lot easier to play.

Gsus4 – Not Obivous and Very Cool

The thing with the sus triads is that they sound a little less obvious and that is why they are great to use once in a while. In this first example I am using the Gsus4 triad to make a 5-note group that I can repeat before continuing, another way to change things up in a solo: odd-note groupings.

Another way to play the notes of the Gsus4 triad is this beautiful C quintal arpeggio that is the perfect way to add some larger intervals to your lines. In this case, I am combining it with a sus4 triad which is another great tool on a Cmaj7.

The Esus4 triad is really useful (leave this clip out?)

Esus4 – Complete Chord And some Color!

The Esus4 is really the complete chord, it has an E and a B so the 3rd and 7th of Cmaj7 and also the 13th: A adding some color. Here I am using it as a 3-note grouping and again taking advantage of sus4 triads being less obvious so that it is easier to repeat them in a melody without it getting boring.

Em pentatonic – Quartal Cmaj7 licks

The Pentatonic scale is very closely related to the sound of quartal harmony, and since it is a scale that we guitarists are usually very familiar with then it is a great place to find some interesting lines.

Practicing the pentatonic scale in the way shown below can help you explore melodies similar to what I use in the example.

Triad Pairs

This triad pair works fantastic for Cmaj7, besides that they are also what I used to make the most annoying picking exercise I ever cam up with…. (B-roll) and the way I usually improvise with triad pairs is by chaining together inversions to get different colors on top of the chords. This has a sound that is different from other types of melodies and still produces very strong melodies.

Putting these concepts in a song

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Something You Are Not Practicing But You Should Be

One thing that is not often part of most people’s Jazz solo practice is really ignoring the way that people like Wes Montgomery or Kenny Burrel play most of their solos. And that is a pity because it is surprisingly easy to work on and is also very effective.

In this video, I am going over what you are missing and how you can start working like this to get that sound of compact strong phrases.

Content:

0:00 Intro -The difference between You and Wes

0:45 Different types of phrases 

1:18 An Angry YouTube comment 

1:38 How to get started 

1:52 Breaking down a Wes solo for phrases

2:54 Example solo on Out of Nowhere 

3:18 Rhythm – Less notes = better rhythms

3:55 Repeating Phrases and making a solo that is a whole piece of music

4:53 Breaking down the structure of Autumn Leaves 

5:27 Example solo moving a phrase through Out of Nowhere 

5:54 How to start practicing this. 

6:30 Developing Phrases in a solo

7:02 Solo example developing phrases. 

7:36 Like the video? Check out my Patreon page

Improve you Jazz Phrasing

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How To Make Jazz Licks From Easy Chord Shapes

When you use the chord shapes you play to make solo lines you can access a lot of very useful material. The Link also helps your solos in other ways because it makes it easier to use the chords to tie together several phrases.

In this lesson, I am going to go over this approach with some easy chord shapes and show you how you can apply this to a song and also how you can put it to use on complicated progressions like Giant Steps.

Setting up this Jazz Solo Lesson

To show you how easy this is I am going to take the first 8 bars of Take The A-train, make some easy voicings and use them to make some lines. (here we go)

Finding Voicings for a Solo

A simple way to play the chords of Take The A-train with basic jazz chords could be:

To make them more useful for solos then it makes sense to take away the root and turn them into more compact 3-note voicings:

Examples making lines on a Cmaj7

Now you have some chord voicings and you can start working on turning them into solo lines. The concept is really simple, the melody is using the notes of the chord and adding notes around it from the scale.

These two examples are just basic ways to turn the rootless Cmaj7 voicing into a line by using the voicing and some of the notes around the voicing.

Another example could be this one:

Notice how the lines are different from what you normally will end up with if you use scales and arpeggios.

Playing a Solo based on the Chords

Turning this into a complete solo is really just following the same principle

First, let’s have a look at how the lick is constructed and then I can show you how that works in connecting the lines.

Voice-leading Jazz Licks

The big advantage is that now you have a melody based around the 3-note chord and for the next chord you can use the same lick and just move it to that voicing. In that way you are voice-leading the entire thing. This is exactly what I do in example 3 on the Cmaj7-D7 chords.

Voicings as more interesting melodies

If you use this technique on a II V I with common voicings like the ones shown below, then you can get some really great fresh sounding melodies.

The melody is really just arpeggiating the Dm7 shape, but because the voicing has the 9th(E) in there then we get a nice maj7 interval in the melody.

If you think about this then it is as much a question of learning songs to improvise on and then use the chords as a way of getting some solo material as well

A Practical approach to turnarounds

A basic way to play a turnaround in C could be using the chords shown below.

This is easily turned into a lick, just playing the chord shapes and adding an occasional extra note here and there:

A Solid Strategy for Giant Steps

This is also a refreshing way to approach Giant Steps where you can get some new melodies using shapes that you already have in your fingers.

Using these shapes to play a lick could give you something like this:

With Giant Steps I think it really works well to also add melodies that are not only 8th notes, something that we play too often on changes like that.

Learning Songs to Solo on

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Amazing Little Solo Exercise That You Don’t Want To Miss

Working with limitations can be a really good way to help you explore and dig deep into how you solo over a chord progression.
This exercise that I am going to show you works great as a few different levels of practicing and will help you develop:

  • Fretboard overview
  • Making it impossible to rely on habits
  • Creativity with Rhythm and Melody

I am going to apply this to the song Ladybird in the video, but I actually also used to practice this with a single pentatonic scale, and you can also change the way you approach it so that it fits you.

Start with a song you know, but you can also use it to open up songs you are studying and really work on connecting the harmony and moving freely through the chords.

A Pretty Simple The Exercise

I am going to stick to one position and use 3 strings to really explore:

  • How the changes connect
  • What Melodies I can make
  • How to make music with a limited amount of notes

It is a limitation but it is also in a way really making it a lot easier because I don’t have to think about a million possibilities and scale…

Ladybird and Some arpeggios

If you look at the Chord Progressions of Ladybird you can see that essentially it is in C major:

The Basic Scale position and reduction

Since the song is in C major then the basic scale position could be:

And I am going to reduce that to these 3 strings:

The Arpeggios and REALLY knowing the Harmony

The first part of the exercise is to take this small area of the neck and find all the arpeggios. This is because I want to improvise in this area just using the arpeggios, which is a great way to REALLY solidify your fretboard knowledge and know the harmony of the song.

The way I found these arpeggios is using my fretboard knowledge, so the way that I see the notes on the neck and how I organize using the Arpeggio fingerings that I am familiar with. It is very important that you use your own version of this, you could play through mine and see what you think, but it is more important that you use your own choices, that is the information you want to get better at using and my arpeggio fingerings may not help you with that.

Cmaj7

Fm7

Bb7

Cmaj7

Bbm7

Eb7

Abmaj7

Am7

D7

Dm7

G7

Cmaj7

Eb7

Abmaj7

Db7

If you want to download a PDF of my Arpeggios then there is a from further down in the article.

Getting Started

The first exercise is to use the arpeggios above and then solo on the song.

If this is completely new to you then it can be good to run through the song in rubato and get used to making melodies within these limitations.

I play two different solos with this in the video, one with and one without a backing track.

What You Want To Improve

What you want to focus on when playing like this:

  • Freedom when improvising, try new things
  • Using your overview of the fretboard
  • Find NEW melodies

The Next Step – Adding the context

The next thing you can start working with is to take the overview you have of the arpeggios and the harmony and then add in the rest of the material you usually use, so scale, chromaticism etc.

I have a solo demonstrating that in the video as well. Again you want to focus on how free you are and finding new things to play. Really digging in and getting everything out of the few notes you have available.

Putting this to use on other Jazz Standards

It is important to work through the harmony of standards and really get the scales and arpeggios under control just like you need to know the melody and the chords by heart.

This collection of lessons will help you build that foundation for 5 songs:

Getting more arpeggios and scale positions

If you want to expand your knowledge of arpeggios and scales you can also check out the PDF chart section of my website:

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5 Ingredients Of The Best Jazz Phrases

This Jazz Solo Lesson is for you if all the lines in your solos are just a sequence of “now I am playing an arpeggio” then “a bit of scale”. That is of course not that exciting to listen to. There is more to jazz lines and jazz melodies than just trying to put arpeggios and scales next to each other.

In this video, I am going to show you some of the ways that you can make more interesting melodies in your solos. It is all about surprising to the listener without just being weird and hard to understand.

In hindsight, this is a lesson I really wish I had when I was starting to learn Jazz and wanted to play better lines in my solos.

Content:

0:00 Intro – Less boring and predictable Lines in Your solos

0:57 #1 Breaking up Scale melodies – Adding a lower chord tone.

2:05 Example 2

2:52 #2 Breaking up Scale melodies – Chromaticism & Chord Tones

3:56 #3 Breaking up Scale Melodies – I can fit an entire arpeggio in here!

5:34 Example 2

6:10 #4 Benson’s Top-note melodies

7:37 Simpler Example

8:24 #5 Pedal Point Strategies

9:13 II V I Example

10:00 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

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3 Things You Need to Improve in Your Jazz Solos

The fact that you need to improve something in your playing is not the end of the world. In this jazz solo lesson, I am going to discuss how you are able to spot problems and realize that it needs work. Then you can start looking for a good strategy to fix issues and get you on the path to becoming a better Musician.

This Jazz Solo Lesson is a little philosophical and going over 3 very common problems that I come across with students and with my own playing. I also discuss some of the strategies that you can apply to help solve the problem.

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:12 Improving and learning is a part of playing Jazz

0:28 3 Common Problems and how you deal with them

0:52 #1 Overplaying

1:34 Good Taste?

2:15 A Solution (and Wes Montgomery)

2:58 Ideas for Exercises

3:28 #2 Timing – A problem with a few nuances

4:10 Authentic Re-enactment of bad timing

4:44 Ideas for Exercises and ways of working

5:40 #3 Playing The Changes

6:00 Identifying the problem

6:25 Ideas for exercises

7:24 Like The Video? Check Out My Patreon Page

Get your Timing and Practice sessions together

Rhythm is the most important part of Jazz, and a big part of having good rhythm is your ability to play in time and feel time. Check out some solid exercises in this playlist:

Metronome Practice – Tips and Tricks for Jazz Learning

If you want to check out more advice and ideas for your practice sessions and your journey to learn jazz guitar then check out this playlist:

Learn Jazz Guitar – Thoughts and Advice on how and what to practice

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How To Understand The Style of Jazz Solos

The Style of a Jazz Solo is about how the notes are used in melodies and against the chords.

John Coltrane and Lester Young are mostly playing the same notes, and they are more similar than different. Yet if you listen to Jazz, they are worlds apart.

In this video, I am going to take a phrase from Lester Young, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, and Joe Henderson and then compare how they improvise in their solos.

This will give you a clear picture of why these styles sound so different and also some ideas on what and how to work on your own playing to sound the way you want to.

I am curious what you guys think!

Content:

0:00 Intro

0:12 4 Solos From Different Styles

0:27 Working on knowing different Styles of phrasing and improvising

0:41 #1 Lester Young – All Of Me

0:52 Analysing Lester – Melodies on top of the chords

2:15 Example #1 Slow

2:37 #2 Charlie Parker – Anthropology

2:41 Bebop – Forward motion and Harmony

3:50 Example #2 Slow

4:00 #3 John Coltrane – Take The Coltrane

4:08  Painting on a Chord Progression  – Abstraction on a Blues

5:36 Example #3 Slow

5:54 #4 Joe Henderson – Solid

6:07 Hardbop – New Melodies and Old Blues

7:38 Example #4 Slow

7:56 What Do You Think Is The Difference between the Styles

8:20 Like The Video? Check out my Patreon Page

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

I have been planning to make this George Benson Guitar Lesson for a long time! When it comes to Bop phrasing and Jazz Blues then George Benson is really in the top 5 with most people. This guitar lesson takes a look at the George Benson solo on the Charlie Parker F Blues: Billie’s Bounce

I spend days figuring out this solo when I got into jazz. His playing and phrasing on this F blues is truely mind-blowing. This is by far one of the best jazz blues solos that I know and really a must if you want to stufy Jazz Guitar in a bebop or hardbop style.

You should also check out how great Herbie Hancock, Billy Cobham and Ron Carter play on this. Especially Hancocks solo is amazing and the trading with piano and guitar is also great and really illustrates how George Benson can also go outside and play more modern jazz licks.

George Benson skills to add to your tool-set

Some of the things that I will cover in this video is

  • How he mixes blues and bop phrases into one great language
  • His favourite Arpeggio
  • What makes his licks so great
  • How he is mostly using very very simple things in the solo (he is just very good at it)

And then I am also going to show you one way of thinking about chords, scales and arpeggios that he uses here that is not that common but he makes it into some really great lines, it’s something he uses a lot in this solo.

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