I always like to provide real life examples of jazz guitar solos, comping, and chord melody arrangements because not only can you borrow the ideas and use them in your own playing, but they can serve to inspire and also give you something to work with.
Over the years I’ve seen so many people struggle to make music from all the chords they’ve learned. Many of them play one chord for the whole bar, or if they’ve learned some inversions they might bounce back and forth between each inversion. Hopefully we can do better than that.
Many of the pro jazz guitar musicians will use a lot of chord movement in their comping, and these added chords often make a nice melody with the highest notes of the chords.
A very common approach is to use approach chords either from above or below. So if we have a Bb7 chord, we can approach it from below by a half step, which is an A7 chord. Or we can approach it from above using a B7 chord.
Here’s a full chorus of a Jazz blues comping example. Obviously with comping in a live setting you will want to listen to the other players and react to what they are playing. But this example can give you something melodic to play in addition to the basic chords that are available to you in the progression.
Since we are usually comping with a bass player, we are generally omitting the roots of the chords and playing on the upper 4 or 5 strings.
We approach the Bb7 from a 1/2 step above (B7) which is common but it also serves a purpose in our melody. I repeat the same melody but this time over the Eb7. In measure 3 I ascend up the scale from F over Bb7 but instead of playing another Bb7 over the Ab I shift up a 1/2 step to play a B13 fragment, making the Ab more properly called a G#.
Over the Eb7 it’s basically the same idea. Notice I repeat the same phrase idea using the same rhythms. It’s basically 2 eighth notes with the second one tied. A couple measures have 4 quarter notes to break up the monotony of the repeated eighth notes.
Notice the use of chord fragments. We don’t have to use the entire chord. 3 notes or even 2 notes can work!
For the G7 we opt to use a #5 and a #9 which gives us Bb in the melody. I also use a b9 and since I used both the #9 and b9 in the melody I opted to use the #5 as well. For F7 we also use #5 and #9 as well as b9 to end the chorus.
If these chords are foreign to you, we can do a webcam guitar lesson or I can try to add more chord lessons if you let me know.