Tag Archives: John Coltrane

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!


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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The PDF with examples for this video is available through Patreon. You can check out my Patreon Page here: https://www.patreon.com/jenslarsen

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This Is Not Bebop, But It Is A Great Coltrane Solo

It is not surprising that a Coltrane solo isn’t bebop, but it is interesting to figure out why that is the case. Understanding what types of licks or melodies are typical for a style of music is a really good description of what is going on.

The solo that I am talking about in this video is John Coltrane’s solo on the F blues – Take the Coltrane off the Coltrane/Ellington album from 1963.

In the video I am presenting an analysis of the solo with a focus on the melodies, there placement and function in the form and not only the notes that are being used. I find that it takes a more detailed view to understand a solo than just what scales are being used.

Let me know what you think?

A few thoughts on this Coltrane solo Analysis

As always music is not an exact science so this solo has a lot of traits that are really not bebop sounding but it still contains examples of normal bop lines and chromatic passing notes etc. So clearly Coltrane is rooted in that tradition even if he is moving away from it.

I am going to talk about this using three examples from the solo but it can be a good idea to check out the whole solo. There are a lot of transcriptions online so you can easily find that and listen to the solo.

Some of the things that are different are about the choice of sounds, but in my opinion it is more about how the sounds are used and the melodies than what scale. I am curious what you think?

Melodies without direction and not playing blues

What is interesting about this first part of the solo: He doesn’t play the 3rd of the chord at all for the first 8 bars, that is very different from bebop where everything is tied much more closely to the chord. Here the melodic statement is very strong and fairly long but it is intentionally vague. If you play the melody it could fit on a Cm blues just as easily as a F blues which is not really going to be the case for a Parker or Stitt solo. There is a Wes solo that does this as well and Wes would often sit heavily on the “II” sound on a V chord.

The 2nd 4 bars is a development of the first 4 but then moving with the chords, still not playing the 3rd of the chords.

So this is really about what note he isn’t playing and it becomes even more clear when we don’t have the piano comping.

Unresolving Tensions and Angular melodies

This example illustrates how the approach is much more modal. Coltrane is very often playing melodies that fit the chord but are not really functional and moving forward towards the next chord.

This is clear in the first bars where there is first an angular statement just using an F7 arpeggio. In fact using the 2nd inversion F major triad which Coltrane seems obsessed with in this solo.

A great example of how the emphasis is on sound rather than function is the Altered dominant in bars 3 and 4 of this example. Here there is a clear altered or tritone sound and the b5 is really at the center of the line, but the line is not resolved. It stops before changing and the statement on the Bb7 is unrelated to the altered line.

The last part of this example is demonstrating how the chords are interpreted. The statement on the Bb7 is turned into a motief that is moved down in half steps to give us an Am7 Abm7 Gm7 progression.

Another thing that shows how this is less functional is that the final II V is replaced with C7 Bb7 in the song taking away the main cadence of the Jazz Blues.

Super-imposed Pentatonic Scales

Coltrane doesn’t really use normal blues phrasing a lot in this solo and here he does use Fm pentatonic in a way that is really typical for everybody who came after him. I think it is important to notice that using Fm pentatonic on a Blues in F is something that is quite rare with the bop guys. Pentatonic scales are not really a part of bebop in the way they are used as a sound here.
The blues phrases of Joe Pass and Charlie Parker are quite different and much more a mix of major and minor.

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Get the PDF!

You can also download the PDF of my examples here:

Why Coltrane is not bebop

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for topics then please let me know. Leave a comment on the video or  send me an e-mail. That is the best way for me to improve my lessons and make them fit what you are searching for.

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How to Play and Use Coltrane Patterns – Easy and Useful

Coltrane Patterns are amazing melodic patterns to have in your vocabulary. They are probably mostly connected to the Giant Steps solos on that Coltrane Album, but are actually very common melodies.

The fact that they are easy to play and map onto a major scale makes them ideal for adding to your vocabulary as useful and flexible melodic fragments.

This video will cover how you construct a major and a minor Coltrane Pattern. How you can make diatonic versions. Different ways of playing them using different techniques. I will also discuss how you can choose different Coltrane Patterns for chords.

Finally I also have two examples of how you use them for superimposing strong melodies on top of other chords like altered dominants.


0:00 Intro – Coltrane Patterns

0:35 Solo with Coltrane Patterns

0:45 The Giant Steps connection and why they are great

1:07 What is a Coltrane Pattern, Major and Minor versions

1:22 Major Variation

1:40 Minor Variation

2:18 Three ways to play the Coltrane Pattern in several octaves

2:41 2-2 version

2:44 3-1 version

3:02 1-2-1 version

3:32 Simple ways of making melodies with the notes

3:46 Combining this with a major scale – Diatonic to each step in the scale

5:05 Applying the Patterns to a II V I in G major

5:20 Which pattern for which chord

5:50 Example Lick with an Am7 using Em Coltrane Pattern

6:02 Example Lick with an Am Coltrane Pattern on a D7

6:43 How it isn’t really a “Coltrane” Pattern

7:06 Super-imposing Coltrane Patterns

7:32 Lydian Augmented example

8:00 Short solo example on a Cmaj7 Shell-voicing

8:13 Altered Dominant example

8:42 Ab7alt line with an E Coltrane Pattern

9:17 How do you use or practice Coltrane Patterns?

9:58 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!