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  • frank foster be bop guitar

    Introduction to Jazz Blues

    by Simon James

    I always encourage my students to work on their understanding of the Blues and Blues repertoire as it plays a fundamental role in almost every aspect of modern popular music. As Jazz is so influenced by the Blues being familiar with Blues Music can make the crossover into Jazz a little more accessible.

    In the following study we will be looking at a standard Jazz Blues progression using the typical 12 Bar Blues form.

    First Four Bars:

    The first four bars of the 12 are the same as in the traditional 12 bar form with the exception of the Quick Change that happens in the second bar. The quick change uses the first chord but then shifts to the 4 in bar 2 before returning to the first chord in bars 3 and 4 as follows:


    Second Four Bars:

    It is in bars 5-8 that the variations from the original 12 bar blues form begin to occur. At this point the sequence begins the same with a IV7 in bar 5, but then in bar 6 it uses a #IVdim7 chord that leads on into the I7 chord in bar 7.

    At bar 7 there is aVI7b9 or a V7b9/ii depending on which way you look at it that completes the middle four bars before we enter the Turnaround in the final four bars.

    When learning how to solo over this part of the 12 bars the player often encounters the most difficulties because it contains both the dim7 and the 7b9 chords. Make sure you spend extra time here really focusing on these chords so that you avoid hitting a brick wall when playing over the top.

    Third Four Bars:

    The last four bars uses the staple ii-V-I to bring us back round to the start.

    In bar 9 there is a iim7 that leads into the V7 in bar 10 before resolving on the i7 at the start of bar 11. The final two bars is a condensed version of the last four bars. From bar 7 you have a I7-VI7b9-iim7-V7 taking a bar each. In the last two bars each chord gets two beats or half a bar each.

    Jazz Blues Progression

    Here is a typical jazz blues progression in the key of F with the chord chart written above the bars and below the bars as Roman numerals for reference. If you can learn the chord progression as Roman numerals it will help you how the chords relate to the key and make transposing a great deal easier!

    jazz blues in f

    Common Chord Voicings

    In the chart below you will see some common chord voicings used in the key of F. In the form you will notice that the F7 and the Bb7 have been replaced by F9 and B13 in some of the measures. When playing Jazz it is possible to use extended chords such as 9ths and 13ths when you have 7ths written in the chart to add colour and enhance the Jazzy feel of your rhythm part.

    A word of warning: Be careful when using these extended chords that you don't use them at points where the extra notes will clash with the melody line. The more musicians that you jam the more care you must take for those unwanted clashes in harmony!

    frank foster be bop guitar


    Related Posts:

    1. Blues Variations Part 1

    2. Blues Variations Part 2

    3. Using Altered Scales in Jazz Blues Progressions

    4. How To Play 12 Bar Blues

    5. Jazz Blues Licks