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Beyond Blues: Progressive Progressions


In our final example (Fig. 3), I’ve thrown everything together but have tried to make things a little more musical by using some of the organ comping ideas we’ve talked about in the past. I’ve omitted the quick change here and opted instead to use a nice little Robben Ford-style idea (I pinched this from the incredible Kirk Fletcher). From our organ-inspired comping (triads over bass notes), we then shift up to G13, voiced higher on the neck. From there, we move up chromatically to our home of A with an A13 chord.

For the IV chord (D9), I approach it chromatically from a half-step above with a rootless Eb9 voicing. Another way you can think of this is a m7b5 chord that’s built on the 3 of the dominant chord—in this case, Eb9. I then got a little “Joe Pass” with things and shifted up to a higher voicing that I treated in a more chord-melody style. Although each chord is a D7 sound, we have the D-E-D-C-A melody riding on top of the chords, and this is really pleasant on the ear.

The chromatic walk-down from the I chord to the VI chord is yet another bit I’ve lifted from Joe Pass. I’m using a common 13 chord shape and simple alternating chord stabs with melodic phrases focused on the root and 13. I then move up to the B7 chord and imitate the organ idea we began with before I finally shift to an E7#9 in place of our E7 chord. This one sounds great with an open E string.

For the final turnaround, I’ve taken the idea from our previous example’s second ending and concluded with a spacey A13 chord—something you’re likely to hear from fusion master Scott Henderson. I think it’s important to take advantage of tricks like these ... shifting a chord up and down is a lot easier on the brain than thinking A7, F#7#5#11, B9, E7#5#11, A13. Remember, we want to be able to improvise rhythm guitar like this and have fun with it. To do this, your ear has to be free to make music and not be bogged down with complex music theory that’s reminiscent of rocket science!