Premier Guitar

Premier Clinic: Jazz

April 16, 2007

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Bb Blues: Rhythm
from Mimi Fox''s Jazz Anatomy

Jazz guitar is mysterious and intimidating for most players – so many chords, changes, feels and then the capper; you have to improvise over all of it. There’s really no shortcut for developing jazz chops, but there is an underlying structure and if you understand that structure, the chops will quickly follow.

In this first lesson, powered by Mimi Fox’s Jazz Anatomy TrueFire course, we’ll examine the first basic jazz rhythm for guitarists to master – the “four to the bar,” sometimes referred to as “Freddie Green style,” because of his masterful playing in this idiom. Check out the classic Count Basie recordings with Freddie to hear how he propelled the band with his tremendous chordal work. In this lesson we cover this style.


Bb Blues: Comping
This series of lessons will allow you to be able to play through blues in Bb, and you can use all of the cool information that you’ll find here for comping and soloing over literally hundreds and hundreds of tunes – blues tunes like “Kansas City” and “Summertime” and all of the great jazz tunes, like Charlie Parker’s “Billie’s Bounce” and “Now’s the Time.” Also, you can use it to play over Thelonious Monk’s “Straight, No Chaser,” and “Blue Monk;” Miles Davis’ “Freddy Freeloader”, “Tenor Madness,” and “Walkin.”

Let’s go through the blues in Bb. We’ll start off with the old rhythm that was made famous by Freddie Green, called the “four to the bar,” and this is probably the most common way that jazz players will start to play the blues. This gives a strong sense of forward motion and works well in conjunction with more complicated patterns. Listen to drummers to improve your comping!

We’ve got Bb, Eb, Bb, Fm, Bb, Eb, Edim, Bb, G7 (the 6 chord), Cm (the 2 chord), F (the 5 chord), then a turnaround 1, 6, 2, 5. Those are the basic chords that the song is built on and you can use slight variations when playing to liven things up.

Variation
To change things up, for example, you can use a tritone substitution – a dominant seventh chord three whole steps away from the original seventh chord. For the G7 in our progression, you could substitute Db7 – so for instance, on a 1,6,2,5 turnaround, instead of going 1,6,2,5, you could go Bb, Db7, Cm, and then B7 – another tritone sub for the F7. This is just another way of substituting chords to lead in a more colorful way over a basic 12 bar blues.

You can also use what is commonly called a Charleston rhythm. You are actually playing on the one and the “and” of two. Obviously if you were to play this all the way through it would get a little boring, so it’s best mixed with a four to the bar. If you master these 2 basic jazz guitar comping techniques, you’ll go a long way to really understanding how to play over the blues in a jazz setting.


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