Licks & transcriptions
This blog section contains jazz guitar licks and transcriptions.
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Giant Steps is one of those tunes in jazz that sends a bolt of fear through a lot of young or even experienced jazz musicians. It certainly does that to me anyway! The fast harmonic rhythm and the seemingly distant relationships between the chords means it is a very daunting challenge.
However, there is a very cool and simple way of practicing navigating through these changes and it involves using 3 different pentatonic scales.
The music of Thelonious Monk is music which evokes many different emotions and ideas in a huge demographic of musicians and instrumentalists. With that in mind, the emotions and ideas evoked by legendary jazz guitarist, Peter Bernstein, in this showcase album range from childish playfulness, faithful to the source of the music, to coherent and thorough modern jazz playing in the upper echelons of technical and interactive ability.
It’s been noted previously in reviews, at the time of the album’s release, that a collection of Monk tunes by a guitarist is a rare occurrence that was a huge breath of fresh air to all those who knew about its existence. I’ve never heard such faithful music made with such individualism and taste without any sense imitation. This is most definitely Bernstein plays Monk and not the other way around.
When a jazz beginner starts to improvise over a II-V-I progression, he generally plays arpeggios corresponding to the chords of the sequence. In other words, he learns to play minor arpeggios over the minor chord (II), dominant 7th arpeggio over the 7th chord (V) and major arpeggio over the major 7 chord (I). This way the harmony is highlighted without taking risks. Then comes the modes, the basic rules concerning modes is that to play dorian over the minor chord , mixolydian over the dominant and ionian over the major chord. In short, in the long-run there is nothing exciting. That's why there is a nice trick used by number of jazz players to add smoothness to a line over a dominant 7th chord. This is a little tip that makes all the difference, simply play the notes of a major 7th arpeggio over the V7 rooted on its b7 degree.
A new video has been uploaded on the youtube channel. It is a Barry Galbraith comping study named "Like someone". This is the last study from the Barry Galbraith book "Jazz guitar comping series, vol #3" published by Jamey Aebersold. Most of the accompaniments studies (comps) in this book are designed to accompany a melody or an improvised solo with bass lines like a pianist would do. It is a very great book to practice jazz guitar comping.
A new video has been uploaded on the youtube channel. It is a jazz guitar transcription of the jazz standard "In a mellow tone" composed by Duke Ellington and performed by Kenny Burrell in 1990. Here is the Kenny Burrell version on which the transcription is based and the link to the album dedicated to Duke Ellington.
In this lesson we will see how to use the minor pentatonic scale over a II-Valt-I sequence. The principle is simple, it consists to play three minor pentatonic scales spaced apart of 1 semitone one from the other. This way you will bring out interesting colors to your jazz lines.
- II chord: Play the minor pentatonic starting on the 5th degree of the II chord. This way you will highlight the fifth (5), the minor seventh (b7), the root (R), the ninth (9) and the eleventh (11) of the minor II chord. (Exemple for Cm7 play G- pentatonic).
- V chord : Play the minor pentatonic scale up a half step starting on the #9 of the V7alt chord (Ab-pentatonic over F7alt for example). Therefore, you will play the main altered tones of the V7alt namely #9, #11, b13, b7, b9.
- I chord : Play the minor pentatonic up a half step again starting on the 7th of the I maj7#11 (Example with A minor penta for Bbmaj7#11). Thus giving the 7, 9, 3, #11 and the thirteenth of the I chord.
This lesson is about a 12-bar blues in the key of Bb included two guitar transcriptions with tabs : a guitar walking bass line for the accompaniment and a guitar improvisation to solo over.
Note that this study is based on a common blues jazz progression but with a descending chromatic progression in bars 7 & 8 using three dominant 7th chords (Bb7, A7, Ab7) to approach G7 at the end of the bar 8.
Bb7 | Eb7 | Bb7 | % |
Eb7 | Edim7 | Bb7 A7 | Ab7 G7 |
C-7 | G7 | Bb7 G7 | C-7 F7 |