George Benson – George sings and comps but Ronnie Cuber plays a bari sax solo
Lester Young & Teddy Wilson
I actually really enjoyed this guy’s melodic sax phrasing on YouTube so check it out
All of Me – Backing Track
Here is my All of Me Bebop scales exercise and lesson
Once you can play jazz arpeggios over a jazz standard, ascending and descending, starting on different chord tones, the next step would be to use them in a more melodic way. Many students stop at the point where they can arpeggiate a standard but they aren’t shown how to apply the ideas in a solo, so it always sounds like an exercise.
A very common way that arpeggios are used in jazz improvisation is as approach notes to a target tone. So ideally you hear a certain note that you want to target for an upcoming chord and you approach that using an arpeggio from the previous chord, often in the previous bar.
Also since many of us struggle with connecting chords this can be a great way to play across bar lines and connect chords from different keys. This technique is great because you are isolating all the possible things you could practice which can be overwhelming. Even though we are focusing on using arpeggios to approach target notes we are also working on playing across the bar line, connecting chords, starting lines later in the measure, repeating similar rhythms and so on.
In the first measure we have Ebm7 going to Bb7b9. So the first phrase shows a descending Ebm7 starting on the 5th (Bb) that targets the 3rd (D) over the Bb7. Notice how the Eb and Db encircle the D giving a very strong pull towards the D.
In the second measure I play a descending Ebm7 starting on the m7 (Db) and ending on C targeting the 3rd of Ab7 (C). This time the entire line continues in a downward direction.
In the 4th measure I play an ascending Edim7 arpeggio starting on the b5 (B) and targeting the Gb on the Ebm7 in measure 5. Notice the E and G encircle the Gb.
In the 6th measure I play an ascending Cm7b5 arpeggio starting on the root (C) targeting the A over F7 by encircling it again.
Over the Ab7#5 I play a descending Ab7#5 arpeggio. The interesting thing here is if the arpeggio has the same note as the target note (common tone) you can land on it and anticipate the upcoming chord (rather than encircling the target note). So I land on the Ab and hold it as the Dbmaj7 chord approaches.
In measure 8 I play a Bb7b9 arpeggio (Bdim7 arpeggio) to approach the 5th of the Ebm7 chord. Notice the encircling again.
In measure 9 I play a descending Bb7b9#5 arpeggio targeting the 5th (Bb) over the Ebm7 chord in measure 10.
If you look at the overall phrasing you will see that there is more than just approach arpeggios here. For example the first one measure phrase is repeated in the second measure. You might not do this much of one concept in one chorus but it’s good practice to overdo it as first.
There are other possibilities as well if you mix up the arpeggio, instead of always ascending or descending. Give them a try!
Try to finish off the solo using the same technique.
What do you think of approach arpeggios? Post your comments in the comments section below.
All Blues is a blues tune in 6/8 and was written by Miles Davis on his Kind of Blue album back in 1959. Other musicians included Bill Evans, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Jimmy Cobb, Paul Chambers and Wynton Kelly (on one track). This album is one of the most popular jazz albums of all time and is often suggested as a starting point for people getting into jazz.
All Blues Lead Sheet All Blues Chords
Kenny Burrell (live)
Play along / Backing Track
What are your favourite performances and transcriptions of All Blues? Post them in the comments below.
I like to apply arpeggios to an actual song rather than spend too much time on separate arpeggio exercises, but a good way to get familiar with the arpeggios is to play them over a standard such as the chord changes to Body and Soul. It can help you get the sound of the changes in your ear but there are other ways that I will discuss in the future (hint: just play individual chord tones over each chord – root, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 11th, 13th).
This exercise attempts to stay in the general 5th fret area. As you play the exercise you’ll be able to see the simple 4 note shapes that each arpeggio makes. Many of the shapes are quite similar but due to the way the guitar is tuned you will get slight differences on different string sets. Knowing the notes on the fretboard helps as well so you are not just memorizing patterns.
Jazz guitar arpeggios can give you some confidence as they give you something to play, especially when you start to learn to play jazz guitar and for difficult tunes – the chord progression to Body and Soul has 2 or more chords per bar and some key changes that can cause difficulty.
You could play the arpeggios I showed in different ways, or play the arpeggio an octave above or below where I show it. But go through this exercise until you are comfortable. Note the shape of each type of arpeggio – minor 7th, major 7th, dominant 7th, minor7b5, and diminished 7.
Each time you decide to play something over a chord progression you will have to make decisions on the fly. I had decide where to start the exercise (5th fret), which octave to play if I had a choice, what to do with one chord per bar (I continued the arpeggio up another octave if I could reach or back down if I couldn’t), what to do with 3 or 4 chords per bar (I play two notes from each arpeggio). In the 2nd ending to the A section I decide to just play the A7 instead of Em7-A7. This happens a lot in jazz – you can turn a dominant chord into a ii-V7 or turn a ii-V7 into just a ii or just a V7.
You can download the Body and Soul Arpeggios here.
You should also play these descending and in different areas of the neck. You can also play inversions of the arpeggio so that you start on different chord tones not always the root or 7th.
Once you get familiar with this you want to quickly move on to more melodic uses for arpeggios. The reasons this sounds like an exercise is because there is a constant, never ending barrage of eight notes, we always ascend from the root, and we only play arpeggios (chord tones) and no other melodic cells (scales, etc) amongst other reasons.
When I improvise I like to target notes that I want to play, and approach them with arpeggios which is much more melodic than arpeggio exercises. I will discuss this approach in a future lesson so stay tuned!
What do you think about arpeggios? Post your comments in the section below.
It’s that time of year again and so I thought I would arrange a classic Christmas tune for you in the simplest way possible. I’ve seen much harder versions out there.
When you first start to learn how to play jazz guitar, the idea that you can play chords and melody together is pretty exciting but can be a little intimidating. The Christmas season gives us a chance to play full songs all by ourselves on solo guitar for our family and friends. One such tune is Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. This is a great tune for any studying jazz guitarist to spend some time getting under their fingers and into their repertoire. Wouldn’t it be great to learn some Christmas chord melodies in time for Christmas? It takes a while get these down so get started now 🙂
The song uses a common I-vi-ii-V progression repeatedly which in the key of Cmaj7 is C Am7 Dm7 G7.
Here’s the Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas chord melody arrangement.
The arrangements are laid out with a chord grid about the basic melody of the song. This way you can easily see the chords and by playing the chords you will automatically be playing the melody note, as it’s the highest note of the chord! Then I make sure that other melody notes can be easily played while letting the current chord ring. Some chord melodies have a lot of single note soloing in them, but I prefer to have just chords and melody while everything ringing.
If you find yourself getting stuck and need more help in learning Frosty the Snowman, send me a note through my contact page and we can get together for a video lesson to help you tackle any problem areas in this, or any other, chord melody arrangement.
I don’t have a video for this at the moment but you can check out my other jazz guitar performances to see how I play.
Here are some of my favourite performances. I used these for transcription and to get ideas, a great way to see what to do over unfamiliar chord progressions. With YouTube you can slow them down to 50% or export to mp3 and use Transcribe! to slow them down to 20% if necessary.
An amazing performance by Chris Potter. Here’s the Body and Soul transcription.
Wabash Avenue by Greg Fishman (Body and Soul) – sample of the mp3 here.
Do you have other favourite performances or transcriptions of Body and Soul? Post them in the comments section below.
Blue Bossa is a good song to start with if you want to learn to play jazz guitar.
I’ve written a simple, but effective jazz guitar solo over the same chord progression as in the jazz standard Blue Bossa. If you like Stan Getz and Jim Hall for the motivic development and phrasing you should enjoy this solo. If you want to learn to play jazz guitar I would recommend starting with this approach instead of just practicing scales. I explain the solo below.
First let’s have a listen (if you can’t see/play the audio below please go to this link at Soundcloud:
Measure 1 – Since the melody starts with a dotted quarter and then an eighth note, I thought I would take this phrase and develop it. Also the first melodic phrase starts on G and ends on C, so I took this descending 5th interval and used it in my 2 note phrase. Then I left some space so the idea can be absorbed by the listener.
Measure 2 – after leaving some space I approach the target Ab in measure 3 with an ascending scale. I also am thinking about a 4 note rhythm starting on beat 3.
Measure 3 – since I played G to C in measure 1 I thought I would play a similar idea, this time Ab to C, since the Ab fits over the Fm7. This is a similar interval to the first perfect 5th I played, but it now a b6 interval. So the idea here is that we can play a similarly sized interval even though it’s not exact. From measure 1 to 4 note the question and answer type of sound it has.
Measure 5 – I play the same idea over the Dm7b5 to G7 since the Ab to C also fits over the Dm7b5. This time my ascending scale adds a chromatic note so that I can land on G over the Cm7. Instead of descending from G to C as I did previously, I decided to ascending to the C an octave above the previous C. This foreshadows my upcoming ascending intervals. I did this to change things up after doing 3 previous descending 5ths/6ths which can get a little boring with too much repetition.
Measure 9 – Here we have a key change to Db major. I decided to use a polyrhythm here, playing 3 notes over the span of 4 quarter notes. It’s good to vary the rhythms you play. This is a four bar phrase. I also was thinking of ascending 5ths (like the first one I used) and intervals with that general size. The contour of the line goes up and then back down with a final descending 6th interval.
Measure 13 – a similar idea is used from measure 9, repeating the same rhthym but adjust the notes. Instead of ascending exactly the same as in measure 9 I adjust the notes over the G7 to target the final G to C interval I used at the beginning of the solo.
I hope you can see the beauty in this little solo, and after practicing and studying it you can use the same ideas in your own solos.
What do you think about using short, melodic ideas and motivic development? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
When you first start to learn how to play jazz guitar, one of the standards that many players come across is Blue Bossa. This is a great tune for any studying jazz guitarist to spend some time getting under their fingers and into their repertoire.
In today’s lesson, I’ve posted a chord melody version of Blue Bossa that I recently wrote out with beginner to intermediate players in mind. Often, when I was first learning how to play chord melodies on guitar, I noticed that while many arrangements sounded great, they were way over my head, causing me hours of frustration in the practice room and eventually to give up learning them all together.
So, I decided that I would write this arrangement in a manner that highlights the melody, introduces you to commonly used jazz guitar chords, and doesn’t stretch your fingers or technique too much so that a beginner or intermediate player could get this chord melody arrangement down in a week or so of practicing.
Check this chord melody arrangement of Blue Bossa out in your practice routine this week, and if you have any questions, comments or practice tips after you’ve worked throughout it, please share them in the comments section below.
To help you out, I’ve included an audio file of the arrangement to act as a guide for you in the practice room. But, if you find yourself getting stuck and need more help in learning Blue Bossa, send me a note through my contact page and we can get together for a video lesson to help you tackle any problem areas in this, or any other, chord melody arrangement.
You can listen to it here:
I don’t have a video for this at the moment but you can check out my other jazz guitar performances to see how I play.
When you first start to learn how to play jazz guitar, the idea that you can play chords and melody together is pretty exciting but can be a little intimidating. The Christmas season gives us a chance to play full songs all by ourselves on solo guitar for our family and friends. One such tune is Frosty the Snowman. This is a great tune for any studying jazz guitarist to spend some time getting under their fingers and into their repertoire. Wouldn’t it be great to learn some Christmas chord melodies in time for Christmas? It takes a while get these down so get started now 🙂
This arrangement is basically the one I picked up from Robert Conti. His arrangements have a lot of typical jazz guitar chords but you are free to remove some of the chords if it is too difficult for your current skill level.
Robert Conti’s arrangements are a great way to get started with chord melody. Two things that stand out to me is the harmonic density and the chord and related bass line movements. The arrangements usually have a different chord for each note of the melody. The chord and bass line movements follow a variety of common patterns. The chords move in the cycle of fourths (Am7, D7, Gmaj7, etc), chromatic descending (Fmaj7, E7#5, Eb13, D7, etc), and other such as chromatic ascending, and minor and major 3rds, as well as diatonically within the current key.
To help you out, I’ve included a video of me playing the arrangement to act as a guide for you in the practice room. But, if you find yourself getting stuck and need more help in learning Frosty the Snowman, send me a note through my contact page and we can get together for a video lesson to help you tackle any problem areas in this, or any other, chord melody arrangement.