Category Archives for Jazz Guitar Standards

Jazz Guitar Standards – Body and Soul – Transcriptions

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.

Jazz Guitar Standards – Blue Bossa Solo

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.

Jazz Guitar Chord Melody – Blue Bossa

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.

Have fun!

You can listen to it here:

Blue Bossa Chord Melody

Blue Bossa Chord Melody 2

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.

Jazz Guitar Standards – All of Me

Here’s a jazz standard tune for you with analysis and bebop solo exercise (just look at the chords above the staff).

Here’s a neat gypsy jazz guitar version so you can hear it:

With no sharps and flats, song starting on C6 and melody starting and ending on the note C, we can say that this song is in the key of C major. The 7th chords in C major are Cmaj7, Dm7, Em7, Fmaj7, G7, Am7, and Bm7b5. The easy way I analyze (and teach you) songs is to try and stay in key as much as possible and just adjust notes as necessary. Many jazz tunes don’t really go out of key but alter chords from m7 to dom7 for example.

C6 is a common chord in place of Cmaj7 (uses A instead of B which often clashes with melody note). Then in bar 3 we have E7 instead of the expected Em7. So we just sharpen the G to a G# and stay in key of C (this is usually called phrygian dominant mode but let’s not go there!). E7 leads nicely to the next A7 chord because it’s a 5th above (a common movement). In bar 5 we have an A7 instead of an Am7. So same concept, sharpen the C to C#. This would be a mixolydian b6 mode. Note that for both the E7 and A7 chords you are playing a F from the original key of C major.

Then we have Dm7 which is in key, E7 again (play G#), Am7 (in key), the D7 (raise F to F#), then Dm7 to G7 (in key). So you see how much easier this is to play and conceptualize. Just play in key of C using the 5 CAGED shapes I teach and modify a note here and there as required!

The second half of the tune is pretty much the same except for the late 8 bars. We have an F6 which is the four chord in original key. But then it goes to Fmin (common to switch from major to minor). So you can modify the A to Ab, E to Eb and B to Bb (a dorian mode sound). Most of the remaining other chords are back in the other key except for the last Ebdim7 (shown as the enharmonic D#dim7).

I’ve written out a solo for you that demonstrates how to target chord tones. This isn’t something you would play live due to it’s academic nature but it shows many important points. It will also get you playing fast bebop style lines which can be tricky due to the addition of chromatic notes. Here’s the solo and analysis:

allofmesolo - page 1

allofmesolo - page 2

We start on the root (C) and ascending with eighth notes with a goal of targeting chord tones on the strong beats 1 and 3. For a major 6/6th chord we target the root, 3rd, 5th and 6th instead of the maj.7 because the maj.7 and root are a half step apart so that would throw us off our goal of hitting chord tones on strong beats. We are sticking with ‘shape 7’ in the key of C major as much as possible (as I describe in the Fretboard Mastery course).

A common occurrence is to add a chromatic tone between the min.7 and the root. for both dominant and minor seventh chords. On ascending sections we approach a note chromatically from below with our index finger. For descending passages we approach a note from above chromatically using our pinky.

Jazz Guitar Standards – Easy To Love – Bill Evans Transcription

If you’re having trouble soloing over a certain song progression, it can be helpful to transcribe one of the jazz masters, to hear what they do. In this case I transcribed some of Bill Evans’ solo on Easy to Love. I transposed it to they key of C and adjusted some notes for the range of the guitar. Right away I noticed some fairly obvious ideas – over Dm7 you can play the minor 7 arpeggio built on the 5th (Am7) as well as a major 7 arpeggio built on the 3rd (F). Notice how the Am7 arpeggio leads to the Fmaj7 arpeggio – the E and G surround the approached F. Then the same thing is done over the Gm7. A Dm7 arp is played and then a Bbmajor7 arp (again built off of the 5th and 3rd respectively). Even the Cmaj7 has an Em7 arpeggio following by a Cmaj7 arp starting on B.

If you listen to this solo and look at the transcription you will see a few ideas that are repeated quite often. The arpeggios I mentioned as well as the b9/#9s over the G7, and a descending m7 arpeggio with the added 9th (E) -see below. But the ideas connect nicely and are not abruptly connected, but it’s done very smoothly. So if you want to use this idea try to lead into the phrase with approach notes, such as chromatic or diatonic notes.

Arpeggios superpositions and descending m7 with added 9 (E).

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b9/#9 approach

Here’s the Easy To Love – Bill Evans Transcription.

Jazz Guitar Standards – All The Things You Are Transcription

I transcribed the solo to ATTYA by Tony Greaves in his excellent Pentatonics lessons.

There are some great things to take note of such as:

-chromatic encircling of chord tone before ascending the triad (eg. Db triad over Bbm7, Eb triad over Eb7 encircling the 5th in both cases)
-Triads over Cmajor7 chord – C major triad, D major triad giving you the #11 (F#) for Lydian sound.
-pentatonic lines over the ii-V-Is (Am7-D7-Gmaj7) and F#m7-B7-Emaj7 with 5th and 4th intervals

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All The Things You Are_Greaves

Jazz Guitar Standards – Autumn Leaves – Phrase development

Autumn Leaves has a lot of ii-V-I progressions in both G major and E minor (minor ii-V-i) so you might be tempted to plug in your favorite jazz guitar licks, especially if you’re a beginner. It’s great to be able to play something, anything over a jazz guitar standard especially if you come from a rock/blues background. Once you have fun plugging in your favorite licks, the next step would be to provide more cohesion to your solo. One way to do this is to repeat the lick that you played over Am7-D7-Gmaj when you play F#m7b5-B7-Em. When I say repeat I don’t mean note for note but tweak it in a way that fits the minor progression. Luckily G major and E minor are related (E minor is the relative minor of G major).

Also we want to work on playing over the bar line instead of playing two separate phrases over each progression. So adding a few notes during the C major bar approaching the F#m7b5 is a great way to start. So enough talk, let’s get to the phrase!

Screen shot 2012-09-19 at 12.16.35 PM

The phrase starts with an ascending A minor arpeggio then continues to F# over the D7 (the 3rd). The notes over D7 basically outline a D7 arpeggio with the root being approached from a chromatic step above and below. Then we hit the B over G major7 (the 3rd) ending on the root (G). Over the minor progression we approach the F# with a descending scale (over Cmaj7) then play a similar phrase but this time encircling the D# since we’re playing a B7 (the 3rd). Then we land on G over the Em7 (the 3rd).

This phrase is easily explainable as it uses mostly arpeggios (chord tones) and we repeat the melodic idea to give the listener something to grab onto. Playing one line after another that aren’t related can get really boring. Try changing the notes over Cmajor7 to approach the F# note (eg. from below, triad instead of scalar approach, etc). Also try changing the ending phrase over Em7.

Also take small pieces of the lick and use them in shorter phrases before playing the full lick. In other words, take some essence of the lick and use it in other parts of the solo, it could be as small as an interval or idea (eg. chromatic encircling, rhythm, etc).

I have another example over Blue Bossa where I create a short, melodic phrase and repeat the idea.

Jazz Standards – All the Things You Are

All The Things You Are is a popular jazz standard and was written by Jerome Kern.

Here’s the All the Things You Are lead sheet

Here are some resources (solo and transcription) for soloing over All the Things You Are. If you’re like me and struggle with figuring out what to play over chord changes, start by learning what others have done (duh!) 🙂




This link of Keith Jarrett exercises takes some of Keith Jarrett’s ideas and shows you how to expand upon them.

Here’s my All the Things You Are chord melody arrangement.

Learn some of the phrases and understand how they work. Then use them in your own solos.

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