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Evolution of Jazz Guitar - Friday - Week 1

Early Jazz Guitar Pioneers

Hank "Sugarfoot" Garland was born November 11, 1930 in Cowpens, South Carolina. At the early age of six he started playing guitar and listening to mostly country gospel music. During his teens he moved to Nashville and began to work with Paul Howard and the rest of his "Cotton Pickers Band". He later became a first-call session guitarist in town, even though his love was jazz and the bebop scene in New York. Hank served as a conduit between the two separate worlds of Nashville and New York. Much of his solo work on his country recording sessions has a strong jazz influence, as you will see in the example below.

Today's lick is a short and sweet II - V - I, taken from Hank's recording of "Relaxin" and packed with some interesting tension. Instead of a minor II, the tune uses a dominant II chord and Hank chose to emphasize its subtleties. The first note at the top of the F7 bar is a B natural, which is a #11 tension. It is typical as a dominant seventh tension and but assumes a different role over a minor chord. In fact, if we analyze all of the note choices, we will find the other tensions closely associated with the raised eleventh, the 9 and 13. An interesting side note; if you play just the 9, #11 and 13 by themselves over a dominant chord, you are simply playing a major triad a whole-step away from the root of the dominant chord (e.g. G major triad over F7). Over the Bb7, Hank slides the same arpeggio shape for the F7 down a half-step to imply an E7 (with the same tensions, 9, #11, and 13) or a Bb7 altered. This is one of the perks of playing a series of dominant chords a fourth apart on the guitar. Whatever idea you present over the first dominant chord, you can slide that down a fret to the next dominant chord. The tensions will change of course, but in many cases that is just fine.

Learn this lick and practice with this jam track
Skill Level: guitar pick onguitar pick onguitar pick onguitar pick off
Key: Eb

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