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.
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.
When learning how to play jazz guitar, one of the first things we often explore in the practice room is outlining chord changes using arpeggios. Since arpeggios use only the notes in each chord, 1-3-5-7, they are great melodic devices to use when looking to dig into the chords you are soloing over, and bring out the exact sound of each change in the progression.
When learning how to play jazz guitar, one of the most common progressions guitarists check out is the jazz blues progression. Since it is a fundamental form in just about every genre of modern music, the blues is a natural first step for guitarists who are moving into jazz from a rock, blues or pop background.
ii-Vs are some of the most commonly used and important chords in the jazz repertoire. It’s a progression you’ll see often as a jazz guitarist, so being able to confidently solo over these chords is an essential skill. When first learning to blow over these chords, we often start with the Dorian and Mixolydian modes over each chord, respectively.
It often seems there are limited voicings for the iim7b5 chord that consistently appears in minor keys, and too many options for the V7alt chord that follows the iim7b5 in a ii V I minor progression. In today’s lesson, we’re going to look at three different licks, with each using different ways of playing the iim7b5 chord as well as specific ways to connect those voicings to the tonic chord through the V7alt chord in various alterations.
Learning to improvise over jazz tunes in a convincing fashion means learning how to move between creating tension and resolving this tension in your lines and phrases. Though there are a ton of different ways to create tension in your lines, from using exotic scales to advanced chord substitutions, one of the easiest and quickest ways to achieve this sound in your solos is to use chromatic passing chords, especially over ii-V-I progressions.
Learning to play both dominant 7th chords and Drop 2 chord voicings are essential steps in the development of any jazz guitarist. While both of these concepts are important to have under your fingers, running them through exercises such as inversions or chromatically across the neck, although productive exercises, can sometimes lead to boredom in the practice room.