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Concepts and Techniques: Jim Hall

Concepts and Techniques: Jim Hall

Fig. 4 highlights the concept of soloing on non-adjacent strings. It’s a surefire way to spruce up your technique, and Hall uses it tastefully in almost every solo he takes. He’ll also use one note as a pivot tone or springboard to play through the changes. This uses the chords from the first four measures of “My Funny Valentine.”

Speaking of pivot notes, Hall also likes to create chord melodies within his solos, no matter what the instrumentation of the ensemble. Sometimes he’ll choose a note and harmonize it within the context of a tune. Fig. 5 is an example of something he might play over the harmony to “All the Things You Are.”

The techniques used in the examples above are simple and should be transposed into all keys. In doing so, not only will you develop a solid knowledge of the fretboard in general, but you’ll also have more creative avenues through which to improvise. Pick one technique at a time and play it over a jazz standard—or even just a 12-bar blues to start. Work on it slowly and before you know it, you’ll have these sounds under your fingers and in your ears.

Amanda Monaco
Amanda Monaco is an Assistant Professor at Berklee College of Music and a founder of the Queens Jazz OverGround, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing more jazz to the borough of Queens, in New York City, through free workshops and concerts. The author of Jazz Guitar for the Absolute Beginner (Alfred), she has recorded five CDs as a leader and is currently working on a new recording to be released in late 2013. For more information, visit

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