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Storm Stenvold >> Lead Guitar Styles >>
Lesson Subject: Lead Guitar Styles
What you learn: Jazz Soloing
Teacher: Storm Stenvold

Storm: Hi. Thanks for dropping in for our Jazz Soloing lesson. This we look at soloing over a progression similar to the Blues Lead Lesson's '12-Bar Blues' progression. But more changes, more of a jazz player's perspective. Still 12 bars, but a 'Jazz Blues'.

Jazz Blues Progression in Bb

sr: I'm working on these chords for now.

Storm: Please do. You should always know the chord progression and melody of the song you are soloing on. Also notice the underlying rhythm of the jam track and the licks. Work on the lesson examples using this 'swing' feel. Now by listening and comparing notes you can identify the central note to this chord progression as 'Bb'. You will be most 'satisfied' by ending on the Bb chord. In tonal center theory you would call the 'Bb' by the number '1'. And you would call the 'Bb' chord by the number 'I'. Other chords would be named by their letter distance to the I chord letter. Here is the Jazz Blues progression expressed in these terms.

Jazz Blues - Transposable

Storm: Now our first scale of the night.

Storm: The tab indicates the 'Bb' major pentatonic fingering. The highlighted dots create the major pentatonic blues flavor with the addition of the 'b3'. USE THIS AS AN INTUITIVE APPROACH TO JAZZ BLUES. It's a mistake to think that jazz players improvise intellectually. A lot of listening and practicing leads to a very comfortable and intuitive approach that takes the theory and puts them 'into your fingers' and 'into your ear'. Start developing a 'jazz-ear' by using the major pentatonic scale as your foundation improvising tool in jazz blues.

Storm: This is a fingering for the IV9 chord, Eb9. Notice that the 'b7' of this chord, the highlighted dot, is the same note as the highlighted note in the major pentatonic pattern sent before. There it would be called 'b3'. The Eb9 chord thus provides an ideal opportunity to emphasize the b3 addition to the major pentatonic.

Paul: It seems like there are hundreds of chords in jazz. Are there just a few that will get you most of what you need?

Storm: This is a great progression to work on jazz chords. The three fundamental 'families' of chords are major, minor, and dominant. There a many substitions and extensions within each. The jazz blues uses all three. So it is a great progression to work on new voicings. Try the tab sent at the beginning for some fundamental 'jazz' chord voicings.

Storm: This is the 'Bb' minor pentatonic blues scale. This is another effective way to address the 'b3' quality that the Eb chord brings to the Bb tonal center. Notice that the highlighted dots create a b9 effect when numbered from the chord center of Eb. This is a powerful tool because your ear and fingers are used to it and can control it.

Storm: Over a major chord, like the opening Bbmaj7, a couple of common scale choices.

Storm: This is the Ionian Mode, commonly known as the major scale. Looking at the theory of this progression the Bb, F9, Cm7 and Gm7 are all in the family of Bb major. So Bb Ionian works over all but bars 4-6 of this progression. Bb7 is from the key of Eb major, and Eb9 is from the Ab major. These major scales can be used during their chords, respectively.

Storm: The Lydian Mode is a favored choice of jazz players over major chords.

Storm: Note that Lydian is only one note different from the major scale. The scale diagram shows the changed note as 'b5'. More correct to think of this note as a '#4'.

Storm: This tab shows a visualization and fingering pattern for an E diminished arpeggio. The non-highlighted dots complete this diagram to create an E diminished scale. Notice that the lowest note is a Bb (same as the blues tonal center). Think of this as a Bb diminished arpeggio for convenience. Eo7 = E diminished. The chord in bar 6 of the progression.

paul2: Was that a typo?

Storm: No. Eo7 means E diminished 7. Diminished is another 'quality' of chord. Like minor or major, just not as used. Diminished arpeggios, the notes of the diminished chord played in single note patterns, can be used to create a slight and effective tension.

paul2: I was thinking dominant, which would be E7 right?

Storm: You got it.

Storm: Playing a diminished chord up a half-step from the root of a dominant chord actually includes three of the four notes of that dominant chord. The additional note, the 'b9' thinking in relation to the dominant chord, is a great 'tension' note. The dominant chords in this progression would be a prime place for a jazz player to go 'outside'. Outside, meaning notes that add tension. The 'jazzier' sound comes from using notes that have some dissonance to the chord being played over. But hopefully 'resolved' into the next chord change. The diminished scale, and arpeggios, are a jazz favorite for adding tension. The notes that provide this tension are called the 'altered' tones. In relation to the chord these would be the 'b9', the '#9', the 'b5' and the '#5'.

Storm: This is one of the more complex scales that has developed as a way to achieve altered tension against the dominant V chord. It has three common names. Depending on what you think of as the number '1'. All three scales end up accessing the b9,#9,b5,and #5 altered tones against the F dominant.

Storm: If F is thought of as the '1' the scale is called the 'F altered' scale. Play at the chord root. It the Gb is thought of as '1' then it is called Gb melodic minor. Played 1/2 step above chord root. If the Cb is thought of as the '1' call it 'Cb Lydian b7'. Played off the b5 of the chord. Let me send a couple more ideas.

Storm: Octave shapes are a nice 'jazzy' sound. Trademark of jazz great Wes Montgomery and often strummed with the thumb rather than the pick for Wes' sound. A video of the same lick follows.

Storm: And finally lets look at an arpeggio phrase. Playing through a jazz progression using only arpeggios is great way to open your ears to the 'strong' notes as you move through the progression.

Storm: Well, that's it. Thanks for joining me for these lessons. And check us out on the web for more stuff.

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