rss YouTube Logo Facebook Logo twitter Logo linkedin tumblr Logo YouTube Logo


  • winton marsalis

    Jazz Blues Licks

    by Simon James




    How To Solo in Jazz Blues

    Learning to solo over Jazz Blues Progressions can give extremely valuable insight into how to construct solos and harmonise correctly. The 12 Bar Blues Form form is relatively simple to master and because nearly all aspects of modern popular music are in some way touched by the blues it should sound suitably familiar.

    All of the licks in this study are based around a Blues in F, but once learned it is recommended that you practice them in all 12 keys to ensure full mastery of the positions and also so that you can quickly change from one key to another at will.

    jazz blues in f  

    Lick 1: The Quick Change

    The first phrase involves a solo over the quick change from the I7 to the IV7 in bars 1 and 2 and is reminiscent of the kind of phrases used by Charlie Christian.

    This lick involves the iconic shift from Minor 3rd to Major 3rd (in this case Ab to A) at the start of the first bar that is so typical in blues solos, and then rises through the 6th before descending using downward steps of the Bebop Scale. This in turn joins to the 3rd and the 9th before resolving on the 7th of the IV7.

    jazz blues lick  

    The following phrase is known as the "Honeysuckle Rose Lick" made famous by Fats Waller and is a staple element in Bebop soloing. It uses a descending F7 Bebop scale with a Dmin Triad inserted after the b7 and can be used in Bars 3 and 4:

    bebop lick  

    Lick 2: Bars Five and Six- Diminished Arpeggio

    The second lick consists of a phrase that ties together the IV7 to the #IVdim7. In traditional blues following the harmony at this point usually poses few problems. However, when playing Jazz Blues extra care must be taken here when playing over the #IVdim7 to make the solo sound pleasing and to avoid running into a dead end when improvising.

    In the following lick I suggest a phrase which links the two chords together well and utilises a typical Bebop Soloing technique, namely combining a Bebop scale with a Diminished 7th Arpeggio.

    At bar 5 follow the Bebop Scale backwards from the Root until you reach the 4th (Eb) and by way of a Db join the run to a Diminished 7th Arpeggio before finishing on the 7th over the B Diminished chord.

    b diminished 7 arpeggio lick  

    This is an effective and very simple phrase that really marks the harmony with a classic piece of bebop phrasing, but take extra care on the fingering of the run as you shift from the Bebop scale into the Diminished 7th Arpeggio.

    Lick 3: Turnaround Lick

    The final lick in this study involves a phrase that works well as a Turnaround at the end of the 12 bars. In Bar 11 the first two notes of an F7 Arpeggio mark the chord before jumping an octave and making a descending run down the F7 Bebop scale to the 6th before moving into a descending D7(b9) triad. As we have seen before inserting a Triad into a Bebop scale in this way is a very typical Bebop soloing technique in Jazz Blues.

    In bar 12, complete the turnaround by finishing on the 3rd of a C7 chord by way of a G min Triad.

    In this Turnaround lick, nothing particularly complicated happens. All we are doing is using part of a Bebop scale and because of the quick movement through the chords at this point the harmony can be marked simply by playing the chords as triads.

    jazz blues turnaround lick  

    Practice all of these phrases over and over and when you have them down in the key of F, play them in all 12 keys around the guitar. Pretty soon you will find that you will be soloing and improvising around the 12 bar blues with some fluency!



    Related Posts:

    1. Blues Variations Part 1

    2. Blues Variations Part 2

    3. Introduction to Jazz Blues

    4. Bebop Scales and Jazz Soloing

    5. Useful Bebop Solos and Phrases

    6. Using Altered Scales in Jazz Blues Progressions