Category Archives for Jazz Guitar Solos

Improvising Over Chord Changes Part 2

In the previous lesson Playing Over Chord Changes I talked about laying out chord tones on strong beats (1 and 3) and then approaching them with a triad that ‘encircles’ the target chord tone.

In part 2 I take the same basic chord tone outline but do a few different things to approach the chord tones. Over the Fm7 we do the same thing as last time but then approaching the Bbm7 we descend from the root (F) down to the 5th (C) then up to the min7 (Eb) then to the Db (3rd of Bbm7). Also note we have added an anticipation so we play the upcoming chord tone on the ‘and of beat 4’. Also note the Db is approached from below and above.

Same thing basically happens over the Bbm7 at the end of the measure. We encircle the upcoming 3rd of Eb7 (G). Notice it’s slightly different from what we did over the Fm7. First we did F, C, Eb, Db which is Root, 5th, min7th to min.3 of Bbm7. For Bbm7 we did Bb, Ab, F, Gb which is Root, min7, 5th, #5 to maj3 of Eb7 (G). So at this point you have 3 ways to approach chord tones.

For a fourth way to approach a chord tone that works great over dominant 7th chords, check out measure 3 over the Eb7. The idea can be broken down into two pieces – from maj3 to root (G to Eb), then from Eb to the Ab (3rd of Abmaj7). The idea is G, F, Gb, E, Eb (maj3, maj2, #9, b9 to root) then to Db, Bb, B to C which circles the chord tone with a chromatic ascent. The first part is a bit out there with the #9, b9 – it take a while for you to get used to this if you haven’t heard that before. I like to think in 4 note groups including the target tone.

So now you have 4 ways to approach chord tones. Try writing our chord tone outlines (use 5ths and 7ths as well in various combinations) and then approaching them with these 4 techniques. Mix and match, add anticipations, compress the rhyhtms (delay the start and then add a triplet for example). Most of all have fun!

Bebop Blues Solo

This is a jazz blues solo of mine. Note the outside notes which I love nowadays!

Easy Jazz Blues Guitar Solo

Jazz blues is a modified version of the ‘regular’ 3 chord I-IV-V blues. It can be scary and intimidating at first as there are more chords and often unfamiliar keys. So a 12-bar Bb jazz blues will look something like this (there are many variations):

Bb7 / Eb7 / Bb7 / Bb7
E7 / E#dim7 / Bb7 / G7
Cm7 / F7 / Bb7 G7 / Cm7 F7

The last four chords are 2 per measure. Here’s a PDF of the progression to give you a better idea.

With jazz we have to be a lot more aware of the underlying chords since many of our blues/rock licks won’t work too well. I think this is why we have so many problems with jazz, is a general lack of awareness of how to play over chord progressions, other than playing in the general key of the tune.

For soloing, we could talk about a lot of theory but I don’t want to go there right now. Instead a very effective way to start soloing is to learn 2 to 4 bar phrases that you pick up from other solos. The easiest way to get started and to mimic what singers do in blues is to divide the 12 bar blues into 3 groups of 4 bars (measures). So play a 4 bar phrase, repeat the same basic phrase over the next 4 bars that fits the chords. Do a final similar phrase over the final 4 bars but make it sound more complete by say, landing on root notes (ie. Bb).

Here’s an example of a basic jazz blues solo. It is quite repetitious but we have to start simple. I’ve taken a little 4 note motif and repeated it, modifying it slightly to fit each chord. The final four bars stars out repeating the same idea but expands upon it a little taking into account the current chords. You’ll notice a lot of chord tones such as D over Bb7 (the major third), Db over Eb7 (the minor 7th), etc. So get to know your chord tones. Repeating melodic contours and rhythms is very effective but you don’t want to over do it.

Here’s the Jazz Blues Solo PDF.

Here’s the blues solo mp3 played by Guitar Pro 6.
Jazz Blues Solo.mp3

So to summarize, a very effective method to learn jazz soloing is to think in phrases, intelligently cut and paste them into solos, use repetition and development of the phrases, understand why the phrases work, create your own by modifying existing phrases.

I am building up some libraries of jazz blues phrases that I will make available so be sure to keep an eye out for those products in the future!

Jazz Blues Guitar Solo

Here’s a new jazz blues guitar solo for you!

Jazz Guitar Standards – Blue Bossa Jazz Guitar Solo

A one chorus solo of Blue Bossa. Transcription by Robert Conti – a genius jazz guitar player and teacher!

Jazz Guitar Etudes – Irving Park Road

Here’s another jazz guitar etude played by me (Will Kriski).
You can pick up Jazz Guitar Etudes (with Tab) by Greg Fishman at Amazon.

Halsted Street – Jazz Guitar Etudes by Greg Fishman

Here’s me playing the first etude from Greg Fishman’s Jazz Guitar Etudes (with Tab)

You can pick up Jazz Guitar Etudes (with Tab) at Amazon.