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  • lenny breau

    Lenny Breau Style Jazz Blues Comping

    by Simon James




    Once you have become familiar with a standard Jazz Blues Progression you will notice how many guitarists often embellish the staple I-IV-V form with passing chords, substitutions, extra IIm-V-I cadences and backcycling progressions. In order to apply them to your own method of playing you will find it necessary to learn some more jazzed up blues progressions.

    A good way to start is with four to the bar comping. This is a style rhythm guitar made famous by the late Freddie Green who was the acknowledged master of this style. He would typically use 3 note chord voicings on the 6th, 4th and 3rd strings. Despite being somewhat abbreviated in size these chords are substantial enough to give a full sound to the rhythm part.

    Lenny Breau took this method a stage further by lessening the load and often only played two note chords, occasionally adding a third note to add colour and movement to his progressions. He was a master at using the 3rd and 7th effectively.

    In the following study I have noted out a Jazz Blues progression in C using the 3rds and 7ths with a 3rd note added to make some interesting contrasts. Ensure that you mute the 1st, 2nd and 5th strings and then record the changes as a backing track. As you play over the more complex changes using a C minor blues scale you will notice that some of the familiar blues licks suddenly sound all the more fresh.

    Notice how in bars 2 and 6 how the F#dim7 passing chord moves you smoothly from the IV back to the I. Also, in bar 5 viewing the F7 as a temporary I ensures that the preceding Gm7-C7 change becomes a IIm-V ramp into F7. Finally, there are two more IIm-V-I cadences in bars 8-11 (Em7-A7-D7 and Dm7-G7-C7). Notice how the last three dominant 7ths backcycle in fourths to the tonic: A7-D7-G7-C6. With their strong resolution, the IIm-V-I changes and backcycling dominants pull you through the changes in a forward motion and ultimately back round to the start.

    lenny breau jazz blues progression  


    Related Posts:

    1. Jazz Blues Licks

    2. Introduction to Jazz Blues

    3. How To Play 12 Bar Blues

    4. Stormy Monday: How Jazz Influenced Blues

    5. Playing on Two Strings: Double Stops and 6ths