Hey Jazz Guy,
How can I make my blues soloing more jazzy, to fit the jazz-blues chord changes from the July issue? —Blue and Bored in Birmingham
Dear Blue and Bored,
The best way to become accustomed to the shift in language is through listening.
Particularly by listening to older jazz (bebop and hard bop), you will get a good feel for the harmonic vocabulary and rhythms. This 12-bar solo comes right from the bop book and includes several stylistic devices that are important. First of all, the main rhythm is eighth-notes. There are several places where triplets are used, especially on ascending and descending arpeggios (bars 4 and 12).
Secondly, chord tensions such as the b9 (bars 4, 8, and 10) and approach notes to chord tones (bars 1, 2, 6, and 12) are an important part of the jazz harmonic system. Notice also that the majority of the notes are either chord tones or approaches to chord tones. These approaches can be diatonic or chromatic (bar 8).
Lastly, pay attention to the fingering listed here. This is important because of the articulation required to make the phrases sound correct. To practice, play through the example slowly to hear the harmony. Listen to guitarists that are coming from the blues, such as Grant Green and Kenny Burrell, and you’ll be on your way to a much jazzier blues experience.
Jake Hertzog is the jazz ambassador to the non-jazz world. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Jake’s latest release is Patterns [Buckyball].