Yours truly doing a jazz guitar solo, Robert Conti style.
My Funny Valentine is a popular standard from 1937 written by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart.
Jim Hall and Bill Evans
I wrote a My Funny Valentine chord melody arrangement.
I always like these
My Funny Valentine backing track
‘Round Midnight was created by Thelonious Monk in 1944 and is a very popular standard (ballad). If you want to learn to play jazz guitar this will be one of the common standards you play at gigs.
‘Round Midnight chords / lead sheet. As usual the chords can vary widely in different recordings and lead sheets/fake books. Here is a discussion of some alternative harmonic approaches along with a Wes Montgomery Round Midnight chord solo transcription by Steve Khan.
Howard Morgen’s version from ‘Through Chord-Melody and Beyond’
If you haven’t seen the Lick By Neck site and software you need to check this out. He’s got a ton of arrangements.
‘Round Midnight backing track video
Here’s a sample of the chord melody. Play the chords from the grid and note the melody below and you have the chord melody! For a PDF of the full song please purchase it below the image.
Autumn Leaves is a popular jazz standards and is probably one of the easiest songs to get started with if you want to learn to play jazz guitar.
It was written by Joseph Kosma, with English lyrics by Johnny Mercer.
The song is in the key of E minor and of course can be played in other keys such as Gm. Here are the Autumn Leaves chords and melody.
Amazing performance by Ted Greene
I post a lot of non-guitar performances like sax and piano as I find them really melodic
Autumn Leaves Stan Getz transcription
Here is my Autumn Leaves chord melody arrangement.
Here are the Autumn Leaves arpeggios in 5th fret area.
Autumn Leaves Backing track (video)
Autumn in New York was written by Vernon Duke.
Here is the Autumn in New York lead sheet.
Autumn in New York Backing Track
Stella By Starlight is a jazz standard and ballad written by Victor Young.
Here’s the Stella By Starlight lead sheet.
Here’s a Stella By Starlight chord melody arrangement I created.
Stella By Starlight backing track (video)
Body and Soul is a popular jazz standard and is a ballad.
Here’s the Body and Soul lead sheet.
My favourite performance is Chris Potter
Here’s the Body and Soul Chris Potter transcription.
I really like this solo by Greg Fishman over the Body and Soul progression – he calls is Wabash Avenue. You can hear a sample over at Amazon.
Here is a Body and Soul chord melody I composed.
Here are Body and Soul arpeggios.
Here’s the Body and Soul backing track (video) for play along.
Blue Bossa was written by Kenny Dorham.
Blue Bossa Kenny Burrell (can’t embed)
Blue Bossa Dexter Gordon transcription (Dm – for sax)
Backing track video
You might also be interested in the Blue Bossa chord melody I did. I also wrote out a simple Blue Bossa jazz guitar solo. And here’s a video I did performing a Blue Bossa jazz guitar solo by Robert Conti.
Blue Bossa is a popular jazz standard and a great tune to learn for beginners. It was written by Kenny Dorham and performed on Joe Henderson’s album ‘Page One’, shown above in the video.
Blue Bossa has two keys making it one of the easier standards to play. It starts out in C minor (Eb relative major) and then modulates to Db major, and finally back to C minor. From a major key perspective there are just 2 keys: Eb and Db major.
I did a Blue Bossa guitar study you can check out.
If we build chords from C natural minor scale, the G chord would be Gm7 however since it’s the 5th note of the scale it is usually changed to a dominant 7 chord. This leads to stronger resolution from G7 to Cm and changes the Bb in Gm7 to B in G7. The original Gm7 would’ve taken the G phrygian scale so by changing just the Bb to B, it turns into Phrygian dominant. Of course dominant chords can take a variety of scales but this would be the first choice.
So the basic scales to use over the chord progression to Blue Bossa would be:
Cm – C Aeolian (try C melodic minor)
Fm7 – F Dorian
Dm7b5 – D Locrian
G7b9 – G Phrygian Dominant (or other altered dominant scales)
Eb-7 – Eb Dorian
Ab7 – Ab Mixolydian (or various altered scales as per any dominant chord).
Dbma7 – Db Ionian
When the minor chord is acting as a i chord as it is in this case, we can alternative play a C melodic minor. This gives us the A and B notes instead of Ab and Bb. This is quite a nice sound, see if you can find melodic phrases out there, or invent your own. You can get great sounds by mixing up the scale that you won’t hear by just playing the scale up and down.
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.