Kenny burrell jazz guitar licks

Kenny Burrell | 10 Dominant Jazz Blues Licks For Beginners

Kenny BurrellKenneth Earl "Kenny" Burrell (July 31, 1931) is an American jazz guitarist from Detroit. With Wes Montgomery and Charlie Christian he is one of the most influential jazz guitarist, epitome of good taste and unique swing. His guitar sound is clear, refined and raw, easy to recognize. His guitar playing is unique, grounded in bebop and blues, the man is able to play both blues licks and swinging bebop lines.

He has collaborated with many artists as sideman (Dizzy Gillespie, "Jimmy Hammond" Smith, Billy Holiday, Milt Jackson, Stanley Turrentine, Stan Getz, Chet Baker, The Jones Brothers...) and recorded many solo albums including the famous "Midnight blue" (Blue note, 1963).

He has played Gibson guitars (ES-175, super 400) for the majority of is career plugged into a Fender deluxe amp.

Midnight blue

How smooth can jazz guitar get ? Right here is the answer. Midnight Blue (released in 1963 by blue note records and recorded by Rudy Van Gelder) is one of those records that you just put on, sit back and relaxis. In this album Kenny Burrell is accompanied by the tenor-saxophonist Stanley Turrentine in a pianoless quintet that also includes Ray Barretto on congas (a highly regarded bandleader in his own right who injects a dash of Latin flavor), Major Holley on bass and Bill English on drums. Midnight blue is considered one of the best recordings of Kenny Burrell's career.

  1. Chitlins Con Carne (5:25)Midnight blue - Kenny Burrell
  2. Mule (6:53)
  3. Soul Lament (2:39)
  4. Midnight Blue (3:59)
  5. Wavy Gravy (5:43)
  6. Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good To You (4:21)
  7. Saturday Night Blues (6:13)
  8. Kenny’s Sound (4:39) 
  9. K Twist (3:35) 

This album is very useful for basic call-and-response type blues phrasing, recommend for anyone trying to learn playing jazz blues on guitar.

Chitlins con carne - 10 dominant jazz guitar lines for beginners

"Chitlins con carne" is a twelve bar blues in the key of C mixing blues and bossa nova spirit. The following 10 jazz lines are based on the first degree (C7#9) of a C blues, it seems that you can try to replace this jazz lines in your guitar solo over the first degree of a blues. Take a look below and you will see that unlike a basic blues progression the dominant 7th chords are replaced by ninth chords except the first degree that is replaced by a C dominant seventh sharp ninth chord (C7#9).

Classic blues progression /

C7 | % | % | % |

F7 | % | C7 | % | 

G7 | F7 | C7 | % | 

Chitlins con carne chord progression /

C7#9 | % | % | % |

F9 | % | C7#9 | % | 

G9 | F9 | C7#9 | % | 

Scales and chords to know

C7#9 chord

This chord is built with :

  • Root (C)
  • Major third (E)
  • Fifth (G)
  • Minor seventh (Bb)
  • Sharp ninth (D#)

Here are three common C7#9 guitar positions. The last one (on the right) is used by Kenny Burrell in "Chitlins con carne", it has no root (C) and no major third (E).

C7#9 guitar chord diagram C7#9 guitar chord position C7#9 guitar chord diagram

C minor pentatonic scale

As its name implies the minor pentatonic scale contains five notes, it is mainly played by Kenny Burrell in Chitlins con carne over C7#9 :

  • Root
  • minor third
  • perfect fourth (eleventh)
  • perfect fifth
  • minor seventh. 

That gives the following notes in the key of C : C-Eb-F-G-Bb.

What we can deduce is that the C minor pentatonic scale contains notes that belongs to the C7#9 chord : C is the root, Eb is the #9, F is the fifth and Bb the minor seventh of C7#9.

C minor blues scale

The minor blues scale contains the same notes as the minor pentatonic scale, including a passing tone (Flat fifth) also called "Blue note". It is made up with six notes : 

  • Root 
  • minor third  
  • perfect fourth (or eleventh)  
  • Flat fifth (blue note) 
  • perfect fifth 
  • minor seventh

We get this in the key of C :


Here are 10 jazz blues guitar lines for beginners transcribed from the "Chitlins con carne" guitar solo. The aim of this lesson is to understand Kenny Burrell soloing approach over dominant 7th chords. Try to memorize these short lines, transpose them in twelve keys and feel free to develop them by adding notes.


Kenny Burrell - Lick # 1

In this first lick Kenny Burell played the C minor pentatonic scale over the C7#9. Notice that the C minor pentatonic scale is made up of the following notes : C-Eb-F-G-Bb. It starts with the fifth (G) and goes on with a triplet and two 1/4 bends on beats 3 & 4. You can hear a C7#9 in the second bar (b7-#9-5, root and major third are not strummed).


Kenny burrell jazz guitar lick


Kenny Burrell - Lick # 2

C minor pentatonic again in this lick starting with the fifth (G).

Kenny burrell jazz lick

Kenny Burrell - Lick # 3

Descending C minor pentatonic scale starting with the major third.

Kenny burrell jazz guitar lick

Kenny Burrell - Lick # 4

This one starts with with the flat fifth (Gb) also known as "blue note" which, is present in the C minor blues scale. C-Eb-F-Gb-G-Bb.

Kenny burrell jazz guitar lick

Kenny Burrell - Lick # 5

Pretty easy...C minor pentatonic scale again

Kenny burrell lick 9

Kenny Burrell - Lick # 6

2 triplets in this one on beat 3 and 4. Be sure to slide from below to approach the G (beat 2, bar 1).

Kenny burrell jazz guitar lick

Kenny Burrell - Lick # 7

You have to play the major third (E) approached with a slide or a hammer-on. Adding the major third to the minor pentatonic scale is common trick to improvise over dominant 7th chords in jazz and blues music.

Kenny burrell jazz lick

Kenny Burrell - Lick # 8

C minor pentatonic scale.

Kenny burrell jazz lick lesson

Kenny Burrell - Lick # 9

As we saw in lick #7, you can add the major third (E) to the minor pentatonic scale. You can also add another note that belongs to the major scale, this is the major sixth (A). It can bring an interesting color to your jazz blues improvisations. The chord in bar 2 is named C13, you can play it instead of the C7(#9).

Kenny burrell jazz lick

Kenny Burrell - Lick # 10

C minor pentatonic scale, C13 chord and major third.

Kenny burrell jazz lick

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