Category: Improvisation

Me Playing a Solo on Blue Bossa

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My recent focus has been strictly focusing on building my jazz improvisational vocabulary. In other words, I'm trying to learn some "stuff to play" during the solos on many popular jazz standards. The first tune I've looked at heavily is Blue Bossa. I've been using that as a template to develop my language for major and minor 251 progressions. The tune also has a key change in it (and not a major to a relative minor). It's a key change that requires a shift in scale position or pattern. Anyway, Read more [...]

Learn Easy, 2 Note 251 Licks For Your Jazz Solos

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Have you ever heard the great jazz artists begin their solos with super simple licks that contain just 2-3 notes? Or at the climax of their solo, they hang on a single note over multiple chords to create a dramatic feeling? I've certainly heard these and it got me curious about the technical reasons why these simple little licks sounded good to the ear. They're good to start a solo with because you're probably not going to want to start a solo with some super giant monster lick. They're also good Read more [...]

How to Start Improvising Over Intimidating Jazz Chord Progressions

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Are you intimidated by how to get started improvising over one of your favorite jazz tunes? I'd like to share one tip with you that will hopefully simplify the process and give you a foundation upon which to build your solo. It's really pretty simple. In fact, it’s downright stupid simple. As you're listening to the chord progression, simply play the root notes of the chord. There you go, that's it! If you're using a certain scale pattern, map out the root notes as the chords change. In other Read more [...]

How to Use Diatonic Substitution to Play 6th & 9th Arpeggios

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In my previous post, I discussed how important it is to use chord tones during your solos to outline the harmony of whatever tune you're playing. I also discussed that playing the exact same chord tones of the chord you're improvising over can begin to sound plain if that's all you play. What I mean is if the tune calls for a minor 7 chord, it won't hurt to play a minor 9 arpeggio over that chord to add some color and variety. But does that mean we have to learn entirely different arpeggio shapes Read more [...]

An Introduction to Jazz Guitar Improvisation for Newbies

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If you're a guitar player and you come from a background of playing rock/pop/blues tunes, like I did, you may find jazz tunes a bit complex and quite simply...difficult to grasp. I believe this is a barrier to entry for many potential jazz guitarists, but you have to decide if you're going to be one of those who give up or press on. How badly do you want to be able to play these tunes? How much do you love this art form called jazz? As I said, jazz tunes are a bit more complex compared to many Read more [...]

Me Playing & Transcribing Movin’ Along Solo by Wes Montgomery

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I was inspired by Matt Warnock's article here about great jazz guitar solos to transcribe. One of the ones he suggests in the article is Wes Montgomery's solo in Movin' Along, so I have decided that I would dedicate a thorough study of this solo, not to mention learn how to play it. So this blog post is a progressive post that I have contributed to at different times throughout the process of this transcription. But let's get started with the initial thoughts I had when I first started then proceed Read more [...]

Transcribing Solos Beats any Jazz Guitar Method Book

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I've recently transcribed my first complete jazz guitar solo. It was Movin' Along by Wes Montgomery. (I plan to post a video of me playing it soon.) I can't even begin to tell you how much it has helped me so much more compared to any other previous method of learning jazz guitar. I think the reason is because it goes back to a principal that I learned from others when I first started studying jazz guitar, but have seemed to have gotten away from. Start with the end result in mind. In other Read more [...]

Jazz Blues Licks Study – Blues for Brandon

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The previous lessons from this beginner jazz guitar course have looked at learning jazz guitar chords, comping patterns, licks, and learning tunes. This final article is a jazz blues licks study that combines everything looked at in the earlier lessons in a full performance piece. When learning jazz guitar it is essential that you have a couple of tunes to practice and apply the different techniques you are learning to. This final study piece is applied to a jazz blues tune. Once this article Read more [...]

3 Beginner Jazz Guitar Licks

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So far this Beginner Jazz Guitar Lesson series has focused on jazz chords and comping patterns. In this 3rd installment of the series we are looking how to take our improvisation to the next level by learning 3 licks. If you are just checking in with the series and are new to jazz it is highly recommended that you learn the material from the two lessons first. 12 Essential Beginner Jazz Guitar Chords 3 Beginner Chord Progression Studies for Jazz Guitar This article explains how to learn Read more [...]

Jazz Improvisation – Getting Started

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The Myth There is a prevailing ethos that somehow jazz can only be played by the chosen few, and it cannot, therefore, be taught. Let’s dispel that myth from the get go. The best way to do that is by highlighting the major stumbling block that many students encounter when embarking on the jazz journey. Classical musicians seem particularly prone to this mental block, because they fail to appreciate that the same time and effort they put into perfecting a classical piece, needs to be applied Read more [...]