My book, Jazz Guitar Lines of the Greats (published by Jamey Aebersold Jazz), features almost 700 examples of what the greatest jazz guitarists played over various types of chords in their solos. It was fun to transcribe these ideas of Joe Pass, Wes Montgomery, Jimmy Raney, Tal Farlow and Pat Martino. Knowing how the masters went about their business is the best way to increase your jazz vocabulary.
This lesson features examples of their ideas played over IIm7-V7-I patterns - a very common jazz progression - in a major key. Ex. 1 shows how Joe Pass uses chromatic movement from the 4th, major 3rd (a passing tone), then down to the minor 3rd of the Cm7 chord. A triplet arpeggio-based figure then leads to a phrase on the F7 featuring the use of the b13 (Db).
In Ex. 2, Jimmy Raney first plays the non-chord tones E and G before landing on the F, the third of the Dm7 chord. In the second measure, the B of the G7 chord is approached from below by two half-steps. He then uses a b9 (Ab) in his line over the G7 chord.
Ex. 3 clearly illustrates one of Pat Martino’s signatures: rapid sixteenth-note lines! It features stepwise motion as well as arpeggios, and I recommend that you work on it very slowly at first.
In Ex. 4, notice how Wes Montgomery treats the Gm7 with many chromatic tones. On the C7, he includes chord extensions such as the Ab (b13), Eb (#9), and Db (b9). Work these new phrases into your own playing, continue to add new ideas, and of course, modify them however you’d like to suit your own playing style. Who better to learn from than these all-time greats? Best of luck!