Tag Archives: wes montgomery

Creating 10 Great Bebop Licks With A Cmaj7 arpeggio

Sometimes I like to challenge myself to find new things to play in solos, and one way I do that is to limit myself to a single thing and then really explore that, and that is what I am going to do in this video with a basic Cmaj7 arpeggio and all the Bebop Tricks I can think of, or at least most of them.

#1 Parker and the Blues Mystery

Of course, you want to explore the beautiful vocabulary of the great players, and then use that to make your own licks.

This is classic Bebop: maj7 arpeggio followed by a descending chromatic run. This is all over Parker and Benson solos.

This specific example is really just a variation of a Parker line that he plays on Au Privave:

Charlie Parker and the Maj7 arpeggios on a Blues

An interesting side-note here is that Parker is old-school: he plays Fmaj7 on an F blues, especially in bar 6. There are quite a few examples of this and that is a great sound to explore! Of course, this is coming from Blues first being just triads F, Bb and C, then probably 6th chords before we started using dominant chords, and I think this is a great reminder of you should not always reduce songs to chord symbols, because we lose something in the process. I am curious what you think?

 

As I said, Charlie Parker does this very often and another great variation is this example from his solo on Now’s The Time. (Example)

But you don’t want to only play ascending melodies with arpeggios, so before we make it really complicated then let’s try a descending version:

#2 Descending Is Great As Well

With this example, I really love how you can really bring out the chromatic leading notes by sliding into the resolution. Here it sounds great and also helps you get away with a fairly harsh leading note on beat one, and as you can hear the descending 8th note triplet sounds great as well.

To me, whether something is Bebop is probably more about how the melody flows than what notes are being played, I will give you a more detailed example of that later in the video.

#3 Making Scale Runs Sound Amazing

When you are creating lines with a certain type of arpeggio like this Cmaj7 then it is also a test of what you can do with all the other things you know.

In this example, the line is really just the arpeggio and a scale run, but I am adding in a few chord tones to break up the scale run that otherwise would be:

Example scale run #1

And then I am adding Cmaj7 chord tones on off-beats to make the line pop and make more interesting like this:

Example scale run #2

So here you have a high G on the 4& and a low G on the 1&.

#4 This Is Also In There

Combining Arpeggios is a great way to make interesting melodies, a bonus with the Cmaj7 is that you can also just take the upper part which is an Em triad like I do here triads are after all incredibly strong melodies. Another great option is to add more complicated and interesting chromatic enclosures as you will see in the next example.

#5 First A Beautiful Chromatic Phrase

Here I have a chromatic enclosure that is targeting the B, and follow this with the descending arpeggio creating a great line. You could also see the entire descending melody as an Am9 arpeggio. But you don’t need to only add the chromatic phrases before or after the arpeggio, they fit in the middle as well.

When Is It Bebop?

I keep talking about Bebop , but when is something bebop? To me, the type of melody in the examples are Bebop oriented, which I think mostly means that the melody has direction and follows the harmony. In Bebop you are finding creative ways to spell out the changes and create beautiful flowing melodies, but you can easily play licks with the same material that are not like this at all but still sound great:

In this lick, the Am7 line only uses Cmaj7 arpeggio notes, but it does not really sound like a Bebop melody, mostly because it is skipping around more wildly, and the melodies don’t have as much forward motion.

#6 Chromatic Detour

This line is really just a Cmaj7 arpeggio where I add two chromatic phrases..

You start with the Cmaj7 then on the 3rd(E) you add an enclosure which is scale note above, F, chromatic below: D#

The next step is to add a walk-up to the 7th using A and A# as an approach.

Having several descending melodies next to each other can create a great rhythmical cascading effect, like the next lick which is Wes Inspired.

#7 A Great rhythm from Wes, Pat Martino or Parker?

This combination adds a descending line that I have found in both Wes Montgomery and Pat Martino solos, and actually, I have the impression that it is really a Parker lick, but I can’t remember where I heard it. You can let me know in the comments if you know.

This rhythm is an example of playing groups of 3 8th notes, which is both an important sound in Jazz and a great way to change things up. Of course, the Cmaj7 doesn’t have to be the one-chord in the progression, it can also be an upper-structure like it is in the next example.

#8 It Does Not Have To Be A Cmaj7 Chord

Here I am using the Cmaj7 for an Am7 chord in a II V in G.

One of the things I really like about this lick is that I am using the arpeggios to harmonize a really simple melody, so in a way, it is just this melody

That is harmonized with descending arpeggios creating Cmaj7, Am7, and then a C Diminished triad.

#9 Creating Patterns and Pedal Notes

A great way to not only have lines moving from target note to target note is to add some pedal point melodies as I do in this example where the E in the Cmaj7 arpeggio becomes a pedal point with the G B and A melody above.

Another way to make the lines more interesting is to use phrasing and, to me, a Master of that was Wes, so the next example is using some of his techniques.

#10 Wes Uses Technique To Get Phrasing

In this example, there is a bit more space, and the line is using chromatic passing notes that slide into the resolution. This is a technique that I really picked up on from Wes, and it is one of the best ways to just add a subtle change in the sound of your lines, while also making it more surprising. You hear George Benson use this very often as well.

This example is adding leading notes to the B and the E.

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5 Easy Solos to Learn By Ear and Boost Your Jazz Guitar Skills

Learning to play Jazz is a huge challenge, and when I started out then I spent a lot of time working out some solos by ear which taught me a lot of things, and also a lot of things I didn’t realize I was learning. In this video, I am going to recommend some good solos if you want to get started learning solos by ear, some I checked out myself in the beginning and some that I have use often with students, and along the way, I am going to talk about what you learn and give you some tips about how to learn from by ear.

The most efficient way to learn what is probably a lot of the most important things in Jazz is to learn solos by ear, what we often call transcribing even though you might not really want to write them down, but I will talk about that later. Among other things this is something that helps you improve: Swing, Timing, Phrasing, Dynamics, Shape, Contrast, Build up, Technique, Fretboard Knowledge.

This is pretty difficult to get started with, and getting sensible suggestions that help you get started with this is something that there are nowhere near enough recommendations for. I will go over some more tips later in the video, but If you are new to Jazz then don’t start by transcribing Charlie Parker on Donna Lee or John Coltrane on Countdown, find some short and easy examples and build your skills so that you give yourself the best possible chance to develop this ability. Otherwise, you are just going to get frustrated and fail

The Conga Conundrum

The first solo is one that I did not check out when I was learning Jazz, in fact, I somehow missed Kenny Burrell almost completely for some reason and didn’t discover him until much later, but this is the opening track from a truly iconic jazz guitar album: Midnight Blue. A weird side-step here, but In the early 60s everybody had to add conga’s to their jazz albums. You can hear that with Pat Martino but also with Wes (El hombre and Cotton Tail)

I wish somebody could explain to me why they did that?

Kenny Burrell – Chitlins Con Carne

This is one of the first solos that I give to my students, mainly because it is just a medium 12-bar blues in C, not even a Jazz Blues because there is no II V. Kenny Burrell is mostly just using C minor pentatonic and you can play it mostly in the Box 1 pentatonic position. The lines are great, so you learn how he is using a lot of interesting techniques, melodies, and phrasing.

On the recording, Kenny Burrell is comping himself, with the C7#9 but to make it easier in the beginning then I usually tell students to leave out the chords, just to make it simpler. In a way, the fact that Kenny Burrell plays the chords really helps make the whole thing easier to learn, because it is keeping the phrases compact, and with a clear beginning and end, divided by the chords.

This solo is very easy, and I tend to use it to help people get started transcribing and really get used to how it is to learn a solo by ear more than trying to teach phrasing and vocabulary, but of course, you do learn a lot of other things while checking out the solo. Starting to get used to learning by ear will help you pick up a lot of things so much faster, so that is extremely important and useful and that is important enough to see learning this solo by ear as an independent goal.

I’ll talk more about some of the things you want to do when you are transcribing solos later in the video.

Let’s take another example which was one of the very first solos I ever learned played by no other than the father of Jazz Guitar!

Charlie Christian – Grand Slam

Sometimes you learn a solo just because you are curious about what is being played and why it sounds like Jazz. That was the main reason I checked out Charlie Christian’s Grand Slam solo. At that point, I had an idea about what it meant to solo over changes but I hadn’t figured out enough examples to really know what to do and how it worked.

This 30-second 2-chorus blues solo by Charlie Christian is a great study in especially rhythm. Charlie Christians playing here is bebop-related, but the lines are as much swing language as they are bop, and they are great clear examples of that. Often having rhythms like this in your playing is really overlooked, but it will really boost how you sound if you work on it.

This was on one of the first Jazz CDs that I ever bought and I sat down and learned this solo in a day to figure out what was going on. At the time I was tuning my Strat down a half step and not being familiar with Jazz found the key of F for a blues a very odd choice (and I was in fact playing it in F# of course), I have since become more used to playing Blues in F, maybe even more so than in E…

Two other guitarists, that I checked out a lot, both talk about Charlie Christian as their main influence: Wes Montgomery and Jim Hall. Jim Hall even credits the Grand Slam solo as the reason for him getting into playing Jazz.

Grant Green – Cool Blues

Another solo that I picked up along the way as a teacher was Grant Green’s solo on Cool Blues. Grant Green is a great resource for learning Bebop on guitar and most of my students have had his solos as homework.

This solo is on Green’s “Born To Be Blue Album” and it is full of the typical strong Bebop Grant Green language that is so useful to check out and also very playable on the guitar. I imagine he got it straight from Parker, but I actually don’t know. This is a practical solo because the tempo is relaxed and the solo is not that long.

A bonus to this recording is that Grant takes an extra solo before the last theme, so if you are in the zone you can check that out as well.

Don’t forget to like the video if you find this useful, that is a huge help for me and the channel.

Tips for Transcribing solos

There is a right and a wrong way to go about learning a solo by ear, and here are a few things you want to pay attention to and try to get right when you are learning a solo.

Listen To The Solo (And Then Listen To It Another 10 times)

This can not be understated, the more you listen to the solo the easier it will be for you to learn to play it, and trust me, you will probably save time if you first just listen to the solo a lot, and I mean REALLY a lot! In fact, just listen until you can sing it.

Know The Song

Solos in Jazz are generally on a form, and if you know the chords where they are in the song then you are going to have a much easier time learning the solo and hearing what is being played, simply because you know what that part of the song sounds like, for example, if you are transcribing a solo on Just Friends and knows that it goes from Bbmaj7 to Bbm6 then it is easier to figure out what is going on.

Learn Phrases Not Single Notes

If you want to remember what you are learning then it is important that you start thinking of the solo in phrases and learn it phrase by phrase. That way it is going to make more sense and be a lot easier to get into your system. It is similar to how you don’t try to learn a language word for word, but really try to learn to say something.

Don’t Write It Down, Focus On Playing The Solo

I think it is often overlooked what is most useful in learning a solo, because I don’t think it is the exact phrases or notes. It is much more about the way the phrase sits on the groove in this performance or the exact phrasing and subtle things like that don’t make into a transcription, so you are better of learning it by ear and memorizing it like that instead of writing it out and then playing what is on the page, which is really more of a reading exercise that leaves a lot of information behind.

Wes Montgomery – Four On Six

Four on Six is probably the most famous Wes song, and the first recording off “The Incredible Jazz Guitar” album is a great solo to check out for some of the things that you definitely want to learn from Wes:

Melodic and short phrases, motivic development, Call-response, rhythm. It is all in there.

For this solo you can also leave out the octave and chord parts as they are more difficult, just learning the first few single-note choruses will already teach you a ton of great stuff.

Learning Wes solos taught me a lot about phrasing and being melodic but still swinging, and the clarity in his melodic ideas are worthwhile checking out for anybody who wants to play Jazz. I ended up having a year in my study where I was always learning Wes solos and got through most of Smokin’ at The Half Note and a lot of other songs as well.

If you want to check out some of my videos on Wes solos then there is a playlist in the video description: Videos analyzing Wes Montgomery solos

George Benson

I have always loved how George Benson could make pretty much anything sound like fantastic Jazz phrases, and this solo on “The Borgia Stick, off The George Benson Cook Book” is no exception. This was also one of the first solos that I say down and obsessed about when I was just starting out, and I am still a bit surprised that I managed to figure out the chords in there.

This solo is great if you are not that at home in Jazz Harmony. The lines are surprisingly simple and most are really just A minor pentatonic stuff, but learning to play them and add all the beautiful rhythms and grace notes in this Benson solo is going to be great for your playing. His use of intervals and chords is also amazing and still fairly simple.

Honorable Mentions

Of course, there are many many solos to check out, and these 5 are just the tip of the iceberg. If you have great suggestions for Jazz guitar solos to learn then leave a comment, maybe we can make an even longer list of recommendations to help learn Jazz..

A few others that I spent time on, in the beginning, deserve a mention as well:

Jim Hall on Stella By Starlight, in fact, that whole first Jim Hall Album is a masterclass in swinging rhythms and motivic development, but the Stella solo is fairly easy to check out.

Another Stella solo is by Ulf Wakenius. This is fairly unknown, and it is off a Niels Henning Ørsted Pedersen album called “To A Brother” and Ulf Wakenius is playing a lot simpler than what I am used to from him, but both this solo and the one on Alone Together are great and really helped me out in the first few months when I had trouble telling what was the theme and what was the solo.

Another thing that you should not underestimate is the wealth of great solos that are on YouTube and not on any albums. A Solo that I always found to be a great example of Bensons playing is this really simple 1-chorus solo on Take The A-train from some obscure television show in the 70s. Lots of Blues but only great phrases! There are some hidden gems out there!

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3 Great Ways To Use Arpeggios In A Solo

Arpeggios are one of the building blocks you need to have in your vocabulary. But using Arpeggios in a solo can be very difficult. They can be hard to use in a way that sounds like a natural melody and not an exercise.

One way you can learn that is to check out how master jazz guitarists like Wes Montgomery and Pat Martino use arpeggios in their playing. Take over some of their great ideas and start using similar concepts in your own jazz licks and solos.

In this video, I am going to show analyze some great arpeggio phrases and talk about how you can use them in your own playing.

Content:

0:00 Intro – Arpeggios and Jazz Vocabulary

0:35 Example #1

0:37 Wes Montgomery – Great Arpeggio Polyrhythm idea

1:47 Example #1 Slow

1:52 Example #2

2:07 Pat Martino’s take on this rhythmical idea

3:02 Example #2 Slow

3:09 Putting this into your playing #1

3:29 Putting this into your playing #2

4:12 Example #3

4:14 Pat Martino’s Power Arpeggio Pickup

5:08 A Great Chromatic Idea

5:25 Example #3

5:49 Putting this into your playing #3

6:07 Putting this into your playing #4

6:41 How To Practice This and What To Focus on

7:27 Example #4

7:38 Wes’ Amazing Sense Of Melody

8:29 Example #4 Slow

8:46 Making Long Phrases like Wes!

9:27 Putting this into your playing #4

9:33 Like The Video? Check out My Patreon Page!

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5 Jazz Blues Licks – How to use Transcribed ideas

In this video, I go over 5 longer Jazz Blues Licks that incorporate different ideas that I took from transcriptions of great guitarists such as Grant Green, George Benson, Charlie Parker(not really a guitarist, but he wished he was), Wes Montgomery, and John Scofield.

These examples really highlights how I work with material that I have transcribed, and most of them are in fact in videos I have done on these artists.

How I use transcribed licks

For me using larger chunks of a solo from somebody else was never really working. I always preferred to work with small phrases or even the concept behind a phrase and then use that to make my own version of that idea.

In these examples, I am mostly using small bits and pieces of other guitarists licks. This is mainly because the relation to the original would maybe be too unclear.

Grant Green and his great triad lick

This first example uses an opening phrase that is quite common with Grant Green. He uses this 2nd inversion triad in both Miss Ann’s Tempo and I’ll Remember April.

For the rest the line is using some of the great ideas that we use in Blues influenced jazz with the sliding leading notes and especially approaching the 3rd from a half step below.

Another typical jazz line is the use of the G augmented triad to help pull towards the C7.

George Bensons Major Blues Genius

A comment on my recent video on George Benson went on and on about how his use of major pentatonic lines was dreadful. A very strange idea since most of the guys (like Parker and Coltrane) use this sound a lot. And besides that I can’t imagine not wanting to be able to play Blues phrases with the soul of Benson.

The quote in this phrase is in the middle of the line. It starts in bar 2 and continues into bar 3. In the original(in F) he playes the upbeat in quarter notes. Here I turned that into 8th ntoes.

The phrase in bar 4 is a Parker line similar to one of his lines in his original version of Billie’s Bounce.

Kenny Burrel and Wes Montgomery

The first phrase (another major pentatonic 🙂 ) is from Kenny Burrell. The descending 6th at the end is really beautiful. On the C7 I am using a double stop trill that you can hear both Benson and Montgomery use. Wes plays a whole chorus in No Blues off Smoking at the Half note with this phrase. Here I am putting it on the IV chord rather than the I where both Benson and Wes use it.

Scofield’s Amazing Arpeggio Ideas and slides

This example is beginning with a lick that is not exactly taken from a Scofield solo but is more “in the vein of” The way he uses different types of legato techniques to create a really nice flow is beautiful, even if it is a little tricky to play.

The phrase in bars 3 and 4 is more of a direct quote from Scofield but the 2nd half is my take on developing the original as a motif. Here I take the opportunity to also turn it into a more altered sound.

Imitating Wes is always worthwhile

This example is a take on a Wes line from his (unbelievable) solo on Four on Six off the Smoking at the half note album. The original is on 4 bars of G minor, but here I have taken it to G major keeping the basic shape and changing the notes around.

What to take away from this lesson

I think these examples describe how I work with material that I have transcribed. Some of the examples I might really play in a solo and some that I might work with while practicing to develop them into more personal takes on the lines.

Developing your own material is important (and fun) so I’d suggest you do the same.

Supercharge your Blues playing!

If you want some more jazz blues examples then check out this WebStore lesson:

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Wes Montgomery – How to make Simple sound Amazing

This Wes Montgomery Guitar Lesson is breaking down parts of the solo on Four on Six. This version is from the album: “The Incredible Jazz Guitar”. What makes Wes a great improviser and jazz guitarist is not that he played octaves or chord solos. There are other aspects of his playing that are the reason that we consider him the most important jazz guitarist in modern jazz.
This video goes over 5 aspects of his playing that you can easily work on in your own guitar solos. I think really defines what is great about his playing.

If you want to check out another Wes Montgomery Lesson then have a look at this lesson:
Wes Montgomery – This is What Makes Him Amazing

Content:

0:00 Intro Wes Montgomery – Four On Six

0:10 5 Simple Things in Wes’ Style

0:53 Four on Six and The Incredible Jazz Guitar of WM

1:22 #1 Just use the arpeggios (and make great melodies)

3:32 #2 Don’t be afraid to Use Repeated Notes (Groove and Melody)

5:24 What are the things you love about Wes Montgomery? Leave a comment

5:50 #3 Motifs and Call-Response melodies

8:05 #4 Dynamics within the Solo lines

9:28 #5 Do You Have The Blues?

11:26 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

Want to develop you Chord Solo Chops?

One of the most interesting and impressive aspects of Wes Montgomery’s playing is his chord solos. If you want to develop your own skills with chord solos you can do this here:

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Wes Montgomery – This is What Makes Him Amazing

One aspect of the playing of Wes Montgomery that we never talk about is in my opinion the real reason he is the amazing jazz improviser that he is.

The Wes Montgomery Jazz Guitar Style

Most of the time we are in impressed with Wes for playing everything with the thumb, using octaves and playing swinging lines. But actually there is one aspect of his playing that maybe does not get the attention it deserves, and which in my opinion is also more important than the things I already talked about.

Phrasing but also great lines and melodies

When I transcribed or learned this solo I was not really analyzing his playing and I didn’t write down the phrases I just played along with the record and tried to get close to his phrasing. That was very helpful for a lot of things with timing and phrasing and is probably what I would suggest you do when working on transcriptions.

This video is really about something else: How to connect your solo and have a longer story or musical idea in your playing using Wes as an example because he was extremely good at this.

Four on Six and Smokin at the Half Note 

Four on Six is to me “The” Wes montgomery piece, and it is also the one that I have learned the most solos with the 3 different versions. If you want to check out my Top 5 classic Albums list you can do so here: Top 5 Classic Jazz Albums

The song is a 16 bar form and it is based on the changes of Summertime with a few extra II V progressions. Something Wes very often adds to his compositions and which is also very typical for Hard bop compositions in general.

Summertime in the key of Gm is clearly the same form and harmony:

What I really want to show you is how long the melodic ideas in Wes solo are and how that really ties the whole thing together.

Melodic ideas over 8 bars – True melodic improvisation

Example 1:

This is a great example of Wes extra-ordinary sense of melody. The initial statement is a call response with a high and a low part.The melody is coming out of a Gm11 arpeggio emphasizing the 9 and the 11.
This is stated on the Gm and then repeated with a slight variation.Then it is developed and shortened on the descending II V’s using just the descending arpeggio.

So what we have here is a melodic idea that spans 8 bars.

Melodies moving through fast changes

Example 2:

This is a much shorter phrase but it is very impressive how Wes moves this around the changes and still manages to spell out the chords. The first part is an F7alt then moving onto Bbmaj7 and really nailing the cadence to the Gm

Jazz is about Rhythm and so is Melodic development

Example 3:

Is a very simple way of using an easy to play motif and then still manage to make it an interesting development across 4 bars.

The motif is repeated for each of the descending II V’s

What to take away from this analysis

The way Wes Montgomery is always making longer musical statements and connects phrases across longer stretches is really what makes him a musical genius to me. Keeping this in mind and working on this aspect of your playing can really improve your solos more than you can imagine.

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Explore Chord soloing like Wes and Joe Pass

Another cornerstone in Wes’ style of playing is his ability to solo with chords. I have a webstore lesson working with a chord solo on the song Summertime here:

Jazz Swing Feel – How To Get It Right (And You Want To)

How to Swing and how to work on your swing feel. Swing feel is the elusive part of Jazz Phrasing that we can’t really describe and tell you how to work on. Most of the time it is hard to understand and work on. In this video I am going over how to hear, practice and understand different types of swing feel and use this to improve your playing.

Examples of Jazz Swing Feel in recordings

In the video I am referencing some recordings by Jazz Guitarists that you can check out as examples of different types of swing feel: 

Joe Pass Stompin at the Savoy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4AglV3X5EjQ

Pat Martino https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kEdoHGmDwU

Wes Montgomery https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HmUUi6wGwRA

Content:

0:00 Intro

1:07 What is Swing-Feel?

1:20 Sub-division, notation and different interpretation

1:55 We can’t really write it down and there is no one perfect solution

2:23 Train you ears, Hearing rhythms

2:51 3 Examples of different swing feel

3:06 Joe Pass – Slow Medium

3:37 Pat Martino – Medium Up

3:56 Wes Montgomery – Medium

4:20 Check out the complete tracks for a better impression of the feel

4:32 Ways to work on Swing-Feel

4:40 Imitate solos and really nail the phrasing

5:08 Experiment with what you can play

6:03 Who is your favoirite when it comes to swing feel?

6:31 Like the video? Check out my Patreon Page!

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Three Ways to Add Arpeggios to Your Jazz Guitar Licks

We spend a lot of time practicing and learning Arpeggios, so it makes a lot of sense to have several ways to use them in our playing. In this lesson I will show you 3 ways you can add arpeggios to your lines so that they help you create more interesting licks and you get more out of the time you have spend practicing.

The examples in this lesson are all on a II V I in Eb major, so Fm7, Bb7 to Ebmaj7.

Emphasizing a Target note

Really bringing out interesting extensions and alterations is a great way to use arpeggios.

In the example below the target note G, the 9th, is given an extra emphasis because it is the top note in an arpeggio. The note is given even more energy by the fact that the arpeggio is played as an 8th note triplet. This heightens the velocity towards it and makes it sound more like a resolution. The fact that the G is on a heavy beat also helps give it more emphasis.

Learn from Charlie Parker and Wes Montgomery

Playing arpeggios and using the top note as a target is something that has been common in Jazz since Charlie Parker. Wes Montgomery also uses 5 or 6 note arpeggios to bring out specific targets in his solo. A recent video I did on his playing talked about his use of this to emphasize the 11th over a minor chord.

Moving this to the Eb major II V I then that would be:

In the example above the Ab major triad is used to target the Bb on beat 3. The arpeggio is really useful and the technique of summing up your lines in the important target notes can be useful to realize this and also for a lot of other things in the line.

Changing direction and adding large intervals

Playing lines that consist of melodies that only move in one direction can become boring and predictable for the listener. Arpeggios and especially arpeggio inversions can help doing this really well. If you look at the general movement from Fm7 to Bb it is a scale run from C to F and then moving from Eb to D on the Bb7.

The arpeggio is here used to introduce a skip from F down to Ab. From there it moves back up to then return to the D.

Change direction on Chord tones

The strong place to do this is to use it when you are on a chord tone. In the example above it was on the root (F). Below I am using the same technique but now the arpeggio is inserted on the 3rd(Ab). The arpeggio I use is a 1st inversion Abmaj7 arpeggio.

Coltrane and his descending Arpeggio Cascades

The previous technique used the arpeggio to introduce a large interval skip which is then resolved by the rest of the arpeggio. In the example below I am using a quote from John Coltrane’s Cousin Mary Solo, a song off “Giant Steps”

One way to summarize the Fm7 bar is to see it as a three note descending scale run: Bb, Ab, G with two arpeggios inserted after the last two notes. The arbeggios are an Fm 2nd inversion triad and an Abmaj7.

This melody is more radical but therefore also more dramatic and surprising. This probably has to do with the fact that the large interval skip is at the end of the arpeggio and not at the beginning. At the same time the dramatic cascade effect is a great way to shake things up a little.

For me personally this is a great example of how powerful Coltrane’s melodic concept was!

Use what you Practice and explore what is possible!

Exploring how to use the things we practice is almost as important as practicing them in the first place. Of course there are many ways we can do this, both by composing and experimenting but certainly also by transcribing and analyzing. 

This lesson demonstrates both transcribing and composing as examples, and for me those are the two main sources of inspiration and knowledge when it comes to applying what I practice.

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Three ways to Use Arpeggios in Scale Runs

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Best exercise for jazz guitar chord solos!

Chord solos have been a part of the Jazz Guitar skill set since the 50’s  and 60’s when players like Joe Pass and Wes Montgomery used it in their music. A Chord solo is a harmonized melody line, so you don’t only improvise a melody, you also harmonize it by adding chords to it.

This might seem a little scary to start working on, but if what you want to work on is harmonising melodies. One of the simplest melodies you can harmonize is a scale, so in this lesson I will take an F major scale and show you how you can harmonize it with both some chords and some progressions.

This material I will also put to use in some chord solo licks that I have written over a turnaround in F.

The Scale

The scale that I am using for the exercises is this segment from the F major scale. It is on the top two strings because then it is easier to put a chord under it. In the exercises I might choose to move notes between the strings depending on the chords and voicings.

Right hand technique

For me it is easier to play the chords with enough control if I use my fingers on my right hand. You can of course do this with a pick or with your thumb. Just make sure that the melody is clear when you play. It is quite common for students to focus only on the chord and forget that it is actually a melody with some chords under it.

The first exercises – Harmonizing the scale with one chord

To start with we can take the F major scale and harmonize it with an Fmaj7 chord. That is shown here below in example 1

Notice that I often use the same chord for several melody notes. This is purely to make it practical and easy to play. Another point of interest is the Bb. This note does not sound good over an Fmaj7, so I harmonize it with a Gm7. You can do several things in terms of choosing chords or even just changing the Bb to a B and play a Fmaj7(#11). What you end up doing is a question of the context and your taste.

In example 2 I harmonize the same scale with a Gm7 chord.

Here again I am using the same “chord” over several notes. The difficult  note is in this case an E. I opted for a Gm13 voicing, but you could also use a C major triad or Am7 passing chord.

You probably want to work out your own versions of these exercises for a few of the chords in F major, so I, II, IV, V, VI and maybe also try it on some harmonic minor or altered scales for some of the common dominants like C7 and D7.

Harmonizing the scale with a progression

Once you can get through the scales with one chord at a time then you can start using a progression so that the chords change along the melody. This is getting you a step further in being able to play chord solos.

In example 3 I have used a II V I VI(7) to harmonise the scale: 

So here we get a bit in trouble with the Bb on an Fmaj7 again, but here I solve it by making it a B. In that way I am able to keep the Fmaj7 there, since it would be problematic to just sub the chord for another chord.

Example 4 is harmonizing the scale with a I VI(7) II V:

This get’s us into trouble already in the first bar. The F and D7 chords are fine, but we end up with a Gm13 and a C7sus4 because there we have the E and the F as melody notes. For the rest it is quite easy to go up the scale. In the last bar we have an E over the D7. While this is possible a D7 in this context would really ask for an Eb. I could have changed the note but opted for a Dm7(9) chord. Another option would have been to use an Abdim chord.

Chord solo licks!

To demonstrate how I come up with chord solos I have written three examples of chord solo licks. They are all on a medium I VI II V in F major because that is a common progression especially in the types of pieces where you might play a chord solo.

If you want to check out some more examples you can also check out this Chord Solo on a Blues In F

Scale runs and chord economy

In this first example I am starting with a scale run over the Fmaj7. This is moving from the A down to E harmonized with two different chords. THe D7 is using the same C,F# tritone with first an Eb and then an F in the melody.

On the Gm7 I am using an ascending scale run from D to A. On the D and F I am using a Bb triad. The E is harmonized with a C major triad which is also easy to play. The last chord is a C7 altered. and is really just using the same voicing but first leaving out the top string.

Motif chord solos

The next example is using a simple motif and then first playing it on the I VI progression. Then it is repeated on the II V. The motief is a really simple repeating melody. The first part is harmonized with an Am7 voicing where I can change the top note. The dominant is taken care of with drop2 dim chords. On the Gm7 I can repeat the exact same idea as on the Fmaj7 but then 2 frets lower. The melody is varied on the C7 where I use a chromatic Db7 passing chord before I resolve to Fmaj7 

It is important to take care to make strong melodies when playing chord solos which I hope to illustrate with this example.

A great trick for harmonizing larger interval skips

In the last example I start out with a a  scale run on the Fmaj7 up to the #9 on D7. From there I it moves down to the Eb and then skips up to an Bb over the D7. This is achieved by using the same voicing but just adding the Bb on a higher string. This is a great smooth way to deal with the skib from Eb to Bb.

On the Gm7 I am using a simple melody consisiting of A and G which is harmonized with the same chord. The C7alt is a repeating note and chord which then resolves to Fmaj7. 

Conclusion: Make your own exercises!

So what you have to remember with this material is that you will learn the most if you make your own exercises that use the voicings you are comfortable with and you know the sound of. This will also help you figure out how to go through the scales and solve the problems that give, which is also very helpful!

Chord Solo transcription and Lesson!

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Best exercise for jazz guitar chord solos!

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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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