In last month’s column, I discussed some techniques one can apply when soloing, specifically using both a single-note and a chordal approach in combination to create a kind of “harmonic” improvisation that helps us discover new chords and sounds.
Anyone learning how to play jazz guitar will know that the blues makes up a large part of the jazz soloing, comping and writing traditions. From the licks famous jazzers play, to the chord progressions they write their tunes over, the blues is deeply integrated into jazz soloing and composition.
When learning how to play jazz guitar, we can often get bogged down with learning scales and arpeggios and find ourselves not spending time learning the vocabulary that makes up the traditional and modern jazz language. One of the best ways to build your jazz vocabulary, and your scale knowledge, is to work on both at the same time.
The first time I came across this style of picking was in an article by guitarist Shawn Lane. I was totally blown away by his use of the traditional sweep picking while combining the use of his right-hand fingers to pick notes within the arpeggios. This technique works particularly well with major/minor scales or modal playing, as it is very easy to create three-string shapes that flow very nicely and closely together.
Van Halen’s impact on Dimebag’s playing is unmistakable. The “vibe” of early Van Halen is by far the most recognizable influence in Dimebag’s playing. From the grooving rhythms played like leads of their own, to the tone, to the phrasing in his lead playing, Dimebag took the inspiration of Edward Van Halen and forged his own identity.
The lick I play here is something I'd actually use in a solo as a run; it's not an exercise. In every Sick Lick, I demonstrate ideas I would actually use -- or have used -- in solos. I'm not one for creating pointless exercises. I believe you're better off spending time practicing things you can actually use rather than playing through repetitious, unusable trills.
For guitarists of any background or experience level, learning how to play jazz guitar means working through different types of standard tunes and forms, such as major blues, minor blues and rhythm changes. Though it is less common than its major and minor cousins, the Bird Blues chord progression, most notably demonstrated in the Charlie Parker tune “Blues for Alice,” is a tricky and important progression for any jazz guitarist to explore in the practice room.
In this Sick Lick, I'm using the Diminished 7th scale. I refer to this technique as the “Spider Technique." My friends came up with this name, and I thought that it was kind of cool, so it stuck! I'm forever searching for ideas and ways to push the boundaries of my playing. It's one thing to have an idea, but to actually follow through with it and get it up to a level where you can just rip it out is something else.