Swingin’ with Larry Coryell

“Something I learned from the great Wes Montgomery is how to increase a solo’s ‘swing factor’ by going from single notes to octaves,” wrote fusion pioneer Larry Coryell in the February ’87 GP.
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To illustrate his point, he offered a few examples of the octaves-based soloing tactics he employs on “First Things First” (from Equipoise), including this juicy closer you can use to surf the last two bars of a 12-bar jazz-blues progression in C. As you may know, standard octaves come in two sizes—four frets (when they occur on the upper four strings) and three frets (when they’re fretted on the lower four strings). Though Coryell typically uses his 4th finger exclusively on the high notes of octaves (and shifts from the 1st to the 2nd finger when fretting the low notes of three-fret octaves), his somewhat unorthodox approach reminds us that there is no wrong way to finger these two shapes. Many jazzers fret all octaves, regardless of size, with their 1st and 4th fingers.

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