- Develop a better sense of harmony and rhythm.
- Create more interesting comping patterns.
- Learn how to outline harmony without using chords.
The intersection between guitar and piano is ever present—and so is the potential for harmonic conflict, especially when improvising. However, guitar and piano can be a wonderful combination. Listen to the recordings of Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays, or Jim Hall and Bill Evans for stellar examples. But if your ears aren’t turned up it can be a recipe for disaster.
Often, the paradigm on the bandstand is that if there is a harmonic clash between the guitar and piano, it’s automatically the guitar player’s fault. So how do we deal with this? There are a couple of methods to take a more defensive approach, but the one we’ll address is to learn which notes to omit. Trim down those chords and be nimbler and stronger. Chords with more than two or three notes are, for our purposes, a full-on failure. The good news is that these lean-and-mean chords are easy to play and, within the context of the band, sound way better than the ubiquitous barre chord.
The basis of the chords we’re looking at are subsets of chords that are likely already very familiar to you (Ex. 1)
The “money” in these chord forms is literally in the middle of the chord. On the 3rd and 4th strings lie the 3 and 7 of the chords. These are the most important two notes of your chord. The different variations of the 3 and 7 give each chord its unique color, such as major 7, dominant 7, or minor 7.
If we reduce these chords to their essence, we get the shape in Ex. 2. This trims down the Bb7 to Ab and D, while the C7 is simply the E and Bb. These notes are sometimes referred to as guide tones. We’ll move this shape up or down the fretboard to accommodate each required chord quality.
We’re only going to use two other interval shapes in addition to the tritone. In Ex. 3 you can see a perfect fourth on the left and a perfect fifth on the right. They are super easy to play and ultra-effective in our journey to more defensive guitar playing. Feel free to use whatever fingering suits you.
Let’s put these shapes in context. In Ex. 4 you can see how these shapes work with a 6th-string root (top row) and a 5th-string root (bottom row). I’ve included the root notes simply for reference and to help you better visualize the shapes. In a solo setting you may even want to include the roots.
An excellent “closet organizer” for musical data is the 12-bar jazz blues form. In Ex. 5 I use our core family of shapes to work through an entire progression. I’ve made sure to include dominant, major, minor, and diminished chords in this example. The first step should be to play it with the roots and then try to “hear” the roots while playing only the guide tones.
The absolute undisputed king of playing these types of chords is Freddie Green, who was the longtime guitarist in the Count Basie Band. He made an entire career of playing quarter-note rhythms and being the glue that held the rhythm section together. In Ex. 6 you can how Green might play a 12-bar blues in Bb. Check out the chromatic movement in the last two measures. It’s amazing how smooth you’re able to connect the chords using only two notes.
Admittedly, the rhythm is a bit bland and feels sterile. In Ex. 7 I play the exact same chords but add in a bit of chromatic movement and some offbeat rhythms. The occasional extension (9, 11, or 13) is cool, but pick your spots wisely. Listen to the piano and look for your space.
This same concept can be applied to your single-note improvisations as well. In fact, this is a valuable step in learning to play over changes. The goal is to outline the chords so well that your ear can imagine the harmony going by. In Ex. 8 you can see how I might approach this. Notice the lack of “blues licks.”
While it always looks cool on your IG page to be seen playing stretchy Alan Holdsworth-looking chords, sometimes it’s the simple and economic approach that goes down easiest. Whether comping behind a singer, playing with a jazz big band or playing chords and walking bass Joe Pass-style, the defensive approach to harmony can oftentimes be your ticket to ride.
The silky smooth slide man may raise a few eyebrows with his gear—a hollow, steel-bodied baritone and .017s on a Jazzmaster—but every note and tone he plays sounds just right.
KingTone’s The Duellist is currently Ariel Posen’s most-used pedal. One side of the dual drive (the Bluesbreaker voicing) is always on. But there’s another duality at play when Posen plugs in—the balance between songwriter and guitarist.
“These days, I like listening to songs and the story and the total package,” Posen told PG back in 2019, when talking about his solo debut, How Long, after departing from his sideman slot for the Bros. Landreth. “Obviously, I’m known as a guitar player, but my music and the music I write is not guitar music. It’s songs, and it goes back to the Beatles. I love songs, and I love story and melody and singing, and there was a lot of detail and attention put into the guitar sound and the playing and the parts—almost more than I’ve ever done.”
And in 2021, he found himself equally expressing his yin-and-yang artistry by releasing two albums that represented both sides of his musicality. First, Headway continued the sultry sizzle of songwriting featured on How Long. Then he surprised everyone, especially guitarists, by dropping Mile End, which is a 6-string buffet of solo dishes with nothing but Ariel and his instrument of choice.
But what should fans expect when they see him perform live? “I just trust my gut. I can reach more people by playing songs, and I get moved more by a story and lyrics and harmony, so that’s where I naturally go. The live show is a lot more guitar centric. If you want to hear me stretch out on some solos, come see a show. I want the record and the live show to be two separate things.”
The afternoon ahead of Posen’s headlining performance at Nashville’s Basement East, the guitar-playing musical force invited PG’s Chris Kies on stage for a robust chat about gear. The 30-minute conversation covers Posen’s potent pair of moody blue bombshells—a hollow, metal-bodied Mule Resophonic and a Fender Custom Shop Jazzmaster—and why any Two-Rock is his go-to amp. He also shares his reasoning behind avoiding effects loops and volume pedals.
Brought to you by D’Addario XPND Pedalboard.
Blue the Mule III
If you’ve spent any time with Ariel Posen’s first solo record, How Long, you know that the ripping, raunchy slide solo packed within “Get You Back” is an aural high mark. As explained in a 2019 PG interview, Posen’s pairing for that song were two cheapos: a $50 Teisco Del Rey into a Kay combo. However, when he took the pawnshop prize onstage, the magic was gone. “It wouldn’t stay in tune and wouldn’t stop feeding back—it was unbearable [laughs].”
Posen was familiar with Matt Eich of Mule Resophonic—who specializes in building metal-body resonators—so he approached the luthier to construct him a steel-bodied, Strat-style baritone. Eich was reluctant at first (he typically builds roundneck resos and T-style baritones), but after seeing a clip of Posen playing live, the partnership was started.
The above steel-bodied Strat-style guitar is Posen’s third custom 25"-scale baritone. (On Mule Resophonic’s website, it’s affectionately named the “Posencaster.”) The gold-foil-looking pickups are handwound by Eich, and are actually mini humbuckers. He employs a custom Stringjoy set (.017–.064 with a wound G) and typically tunes to B standard. The massive strings allow the shorter-scale baritone to maintain a regular-tension feel. And when he gigs, he tours light (usually with two guitars), so he’ll use a capo to morph into D or E standard.
Another one that saw recording time for Headway and Mile End was the above Fender Custom Shop Masterbuilt ’60s Jazzmaster, made by Carlos Lopez. To make it work better for him, he had the treble-bleed circuit removed, so that when the guitar’s volume is lowered it actually gets warmer.
"Clean and Loud"
Last time we spoke with Posen, he plugged into a Two-Rock Classic Reverb Signature. It’s typically his live amp. However, since this winter’s U.S. run was a batch of fly dates, he packed light and rented backlines. Being in Music City, he didn’t need to go too deep into his phone’s contacts to find a guitar-playing friend that owned a Two-Rock. This Bloomfield Drive was loaned to Ariel by occasional PG contributor Corey Congilio. On the brand’s consistent tone monsters, Posen said, “To be honest, put a blindfold on me and make one of Two-Rock’s amps clean and loud—I don’t care what one it is.”
The loaner vertical 2x12 cab was stocked with a pair of Two-Rock 12-65B speakers made by Warehouse Guitar Speakers.
Ariel Posen’s Pedalboard
There are a handful of carryovers from Ariel’s previous pedalboard that was featured in our 2021 tone talk: a TC Electronic PolyTune 3 Noir, a Morningstar MC3 MIDI Controller, an Eventide H9, a Mythos Pedals Argonaut Mini Octave Up, and a KingTone miniFUZZ Ge. His additions include a custom edition Keeley Hydra Stereo Reverb & Tremolo (featuring Headway artwork), an Old Blood Noise Endeavors Black Fountain oil can delay, Chase Bliss Audio Thermae Analog Delay and Pitch Shifter, and a KingTone The Duellist overdrive.
Another big piece of the tonal pie for Posen is his signature brass Rock Slide. He worked alongside Rock Slide’s Danny Songhurst to develop his namesake slide that features a round-tip end that helps Posen avoid dead spots or unwanted scratching. While he prefers polished brass, you can see above that it’s also available in a nickel-plated finish and an aged brass.
A mini masterclass in effortless swing, futuristic fusion, and dirty blues.
- Develop a deeper understanding of phrasing.
- Dig deep into the Lydian dominant scale.
- Learn to navigate tricky harmonic passages.
Ex. 1 is about as Scofield as we can get without consulting a patent lawyer, though a good case could be made that he took this idea from pianist Thelonious Monk. You can hear this descending whole-tone-based lick in many of Sco’s solos. The notes impart a strong Bb7#11 sound and the final note is pushed off the fingerboard and returned in a vibrato-like motion. That’s another great Scofield-ism that just can’t be ignored.
Turn up that chorus pedal and hone your string-skipping chops with Ex. 2, a 1980s-style 16th-note funk lick. The basic sound is G7, but with a host of alterations. The G half/whole diminished scale (G–Ab–Bb–B–C#–D–E–F) is clearly important, but it doesn’t explain everything Scofield plays. As Scofield has mentioned regarding playing over vamps like this one, “I’m not really sure what I’m doing. It’s just an in-and-out bop style.” Feel free to include chromatic approaches and blues licks as done here as well.
The IIm–V–I lick in Ex. 3 shows how Scofield could extend basic bebop mannerisms into something distinctly original. It’s clear that the thinking is F Lydian dominant (F–G–A–B–C–D–Eb) over both the Cm7 and the F7 chords. Scofield would occasionally “summarize” both chords as simply F7.
Scofield’s now-classic albums with Medeski, Martin, and Wood have garnered mass appeal among funk and jam band enthusiasts over recent decades. Most of his playing on these records is roots-based and you’ll hear plenty of straightforward, blues-inspired licks like this one (Ex. 4) in B minor.
The B Dorian (B–C#–D–E–F#–G#–A) lick in Ex. 5 is a good example of how Scofield develops a simple motive and answers it with contrasting material. Pinch harmonics can always be used in Scofield’s style. Don’t be concerned with these harmonics generating a specific pitch or even getting them to sound perfect—the randomness is all part of the charm.
Superimposing ideas in novel ways is important to Sco’s approach and a great way to generate interest over static harmonies. Ex. 6 begins with a simple root/fifth figure in Bb that’s shifted up a half-step to B, and finally resolving back to Bb at the end. It’s an effective way to establish tension and release in a line.
In recent years, Scofield has embraced a cleaner tone on some of his straight-ahead recordings. Think Vox amp and no RAT. Ex. 7 is an ever-flowing line that he might play over the first phrase of an F blues. Notice how the pickup bar is a G7 idea over the C7 and the first part of measure 1 is actually a C7 line over the F7. This kind of “misalignment” is something that intermediate players often miss, trying to faithfully match the chords all the time. Before long, the music is back on track and matching the chords in a more predictable manner, at least until the eclectic use of an A major line leading into the Bb7. Finish everything up with a Sco trademark major seventh double-stop.
Ex. 8 is a particularly guitaristic way to play over the second phrase of an F blues. Even though the line is fingered in the 6th position, why not use an open string? The open high E (a #11) gives us the opportunity to get a cool angular sound to the Bb7 line that would otherwise be impossible.
This phrase (Ex. 9), which begins in the 8th measure of the blues, shows Scofield’s mastery of bebop language. The D7b9 lick pushes into Gm7, which begins the final phrase of the 12-bar form. The IIm–V is clearly a simple sequence from C Lydian dominant (C–D–E–F#–G–A–Bb). The big lesson here is the importance of knowing your bebop fundamentals.
Now that we’ve broken out the nuts and bolts of this lesson, let’s listen to few essential Scofield tracks to get our ears right. Even jazzers were making music videos in the 1980s.
John Scofield Protocol
“Protocol” from Still Warm, has a classic fusion groove thanks to drummer Omar Hakim and bassist Darryl Jones (both of whom played with Scofield in Miles Davis’ group). Sco’s tone is wide thanks to his signature chorus sound, an often-imitated element of his style.
When Enroute landed in 2004 it instantly became a classic guitar trio album. Recorded live at the Blue Note, it featured Sco’s longtime trio of drummer Bill Stewart and mentor/electric bassist Steve Swallow. “Wee” is a “rhythm changes” tune, which isn’t that groundbreaking, but the playing takes Denzil Best’s most well-known composition to another planet.
In 1998, Scofield teamed up with funk-jazz stalwarts Medeski, Martin, and Wood for A-Go-Go, which is a standout in Sco’s discography. This was the album that introduced him to the jam band scene and informed many of his more recent albums.
Learn to land your phrases like Coltrane, Cannonball, and Dexter.
• Use rhythmic "push-pull" technique to create momentum.
• Extend your lines with turnaround progressions.
• Build tension with repetitive motifs.
The solo break can often be one of the most exciting moments in a jazz recording. Allow me to set the scene: The band sets up a tune with a light intro. They play through the melody of the tune, all while ramping up in energy and building the audience's anticipation towards an unaccompanied improvisational break where the first soloist will mark their entrance and establish the mood for their first chorus. This break is a test of a soloist's ability to sustain momentum without the accompaniment of a rhythm section. A good solo break can make an audience jump out of their seats, tap their toes, or even laugh. It commands their attention.
Some of the most famous solo breaks are fiery, virtuosic displays of instrumental prowess. Take for example John Coltrane's solo break on "I Love You," from the album Lush Life (1961). Following in the footsteps of Charlie Parker's famous "A Night in Tunisia" solo break, Coltrane plays a robust and perfectly articulated 16th-note phrase that establishes an energetic start to his legendary solo on this tune. (It happens at about 1:09 in the video below.)
John Coltrane - I Love You
The break gives us a taste of Coltrane's command of harmony. The line in question (similar to Ex. 1) outlines an Fmaj7–Am7–D7 harmony. Despite there being no harmonic accompaniment, you can hear the chord changes as clear as day. This is due to the chord tones primarily being placed on strong beats. In the case of a double-time line, strong beats are both downbeats as well as upbeats (the "and" of each beat), while the other subdivisions ("e" and "a") would be weaker beats. You don't always have to place chord tones on strong beats, but if your goal is to coherently spell chord changes, it's a good thing to keep in mind!
The Art of the Solo Break Ex. 1
Pay close attention to the shape (where it goes up and down) of Coltrane's line. Try singing this line—not necessarily with exact pitches, but just try to match the general direction. This will help you internalize melodic ideas for use in your own improvisations, which will put you on the path to creating your own jaw-dropping solo breaks!
Here's a line that I composed over the same implied chord progression (Fmaj7–Amin7–D7) that takes some of my favorite shapes from the Coltrane line (Ex. 2). In this phrase, I'm also conscious of putting a healthy amount of chord tones on strong beats. To further the process of internalizing Coltrane's ideas, I put these shapes alongside things that I typically improvise. Framing new vocabulary with old vocabulary is key to getting transcribed vocabulary to come out in your playing.
The Art of the Solo Break Ex. 2
Ex. 3 is another line using some of Coltrane's shapes over a different chord progression, a IIm7–V7–I in F major:
The Art of the Solo Break Ex. 3
In addition to the melodic and harmonic qualities of a double-time solo break, the line's ending will determine how well you can keep your listeners' attention. Part of what makes Coltrane's break satisfying is that he lands in a way that assures you he's completely in control of the pulse. Not only does his phrase line up right on the first beat of the form, but he also extends his line past the break with an eighth-note triplet figure that gives music an interesting "push-pull" quality. When you're creating your solo break, be mindful of how you're landing, and how the ideas you play after the break relate to what you just played (Ex. 4).
The Art of the Solo Break Ex. 4
Ex. 5 flips the rhythmic skeleton of Coltrane's idea. Now the break is a series of eighth-note triplets, while the line after the break is mainly 16th-notes, reintroducing that "push-pull" quality.
The Art of the Solo Break Ex. 5
Now that we've seen an example of a bebop-oriented solo break, let's explore a more bluesy break that relies heavily on repetition to get a listener to bob their head and tap their toes. Ex. 6 is similar to what Cannonball Adderley plays on "One for Daddy-O" from his album Something Else (1958).
Cannonball Adderley - One for Daddy-O
This line (Ex. 6) begins with a Bb blues-based motif that you'd be likely to hear in a big band shout chorus and ends with a more bebop-oriented figure that (similarly to Coltrane's idea) outlines an implied F7–the V chord.
The Art of the Solo Break Ex. 6
Using the language of the blues in a jazz context is key to creating a musical statement linked to the tradition and rhythmic placement is key to making a blues idea speak. Cannonball's repetitive rhythmic figure not only creates tension, but it also gives a listener something to latch onto. Toward the end of Cannonball's solo break, we feel another example of the "push-pull" which comes from his use of contrasting rhythms: The muscular 16th-note-heavy phrase that begins the break is contrasted with a wispy 16th-note triplet idea that carries us into the form.
Ex. 7 uses a rhythmic skeleton like Cannonball's line. I start with a bluesy idea with a repetitive rhythm (a polyrhythmic group of five 16th-notes over 4/4 time) and break things up with a bebop-derived 16th-note triplet idea that lands squarely on beat 1 of the third measure.
The Art of the Solo Break Ex. 7
Let's take a look at our final type of solo break, which arguably is the most effective in commanding a listener's attention: the quote. Quotes are commonplace in jazz improvisation, with soloists taking something as dense as a bebop melody (or as recognizable as a nursery rhyme) and superimposing it on top of a new set of chord changes. A quote-based solo break is a surefire way to establish a playful (and sometimes humorous) mood for your first solo. The break we'll use for this example is Dexter Gordon on "Three O' Clock in the Morning" from Go (1962). Dexter Gordon is known as one of the greatest tenor saxophonists of all time, with a discography spanning bebop to post-bop, and he's also known as jazz's master of quotes.
Dexter Gordon-Three O'Clock in the Morning
In Gordon's solo break, he quotes "Westminster Quarters," which is the melody Big Ben's bells play to mark every quarter-hour (Ex. 8). This melody is also used as the intro for Gordon's version of the tune in question, as well as for Miles Davis' version of "If I Were a Bell." Gordon's quote is made even more playful by the fact that he doesn't finish the entire melody.
The Art of the Solo Break Ex. 8
Ex. 9 shows what the full quote would sound like. By leaving the melody unfinished, Gordon creates tension that is unresolved, which is a great way to leave your listener on edge. Throughout the course of his masterful solo, Gordon quotes "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," "Poinciana," and "Three Blind Mice," proving that there is no end to his bank of melodies.
The Art of the Solo Break Ex. 9
Ex. 10 uses "Jingle Bells" over "Rhythm" changes, just to show how you can really make anything work if there's enough conviction. There isn't really a recommended list of quotable tunes, it just depends on how well known the given melody is. I've heard soloists quote everything from "Careless Whisper" on a minor blues to "Pop Goes the Weasel" on "Giant Steps," the possibilities are endless!
The Art of the Solo Break Ex. 10
Now that you're familiar with three different types of solo breaks, try composing a couple of your own original breaks on a tune you're familiar with. Keep in mind the melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic characteristics of Coltrane, Adderley, and Gordon's breaks. Once you're able to hear bits and pieces of their vocabulary alongside your own, try your hand at improvising some breaks. You'll be sure to get a reaction out of your listeners!
A foray into the fretboard wizardry of one of the greatest of all time.
• Unleash the power of the superimposed arpeggio.
• Organize advanced language in a guitar-friendly way.
• Create excitement and forward motion in your solos.
George Benson is a jack-of-all-trades in the music world. He's known by many as a talented R&B singer and he's floored listeners with his melodic guitar-driven smooth jazz instrumentals, but to me (and my fellow jazz guitar nerds), Benson has all of the qualities that make him one of the greatest straight-ahead jazz guitarists of all time.
He is fiercely swinging, has a fluid command of the jazz/blues language, and possesses some of the fastest fingers in the business.
Influenced by instrumentalists such as Grant Green, Wes Montgomery, and Charlie Parker, Benson has a very deep bag of bebop licks and tricks. This style of jazz improv is notoriously hard to approach on guitar, but Benson's virtuosity lies in the way that he's reworked key elements of the jazz idiom to fit the nature of the guitar. Dense chromatic lines, chordal soloing, and blazing triplets sound and feel as natural as an A minor pentatonic scale using his intuitive ways of organizing the fretboard.
Ex. 1 is an excerpt from one of my favorite Benson solos, "I'll Drink to That," a blues in F off of organist Jimmy Smith's classic 1982 release Off the Top. Benson blazes through some otherworldly double-time ideas that almost knocked me out of my chair when I first heard them. This lick is textbook Benson: a muscular barrage of 16th-notes packed with superimposed arpeggios, sinewy chromaticism, and a punchy minor pentatonic idea to bring things back home.
The first measure of this lick is straight bebop, with Benson making extended use of the Dm7b5 (D–F–Ab–C) and Abmaj7 (Ab–C–Eb–G) arpeggios on a Bb7 chord. Superimposed arpeggios are often used to emphasize different colors on a chord or tonality, but in this instance, Benson uses it to generate forward linear motion and get from one area of the fretboard to the next.
Benson also utilizes a delayed melodic resolution in the first measure of Ex. 1, landing on a B natural directly on beat two, but immediately resolving it to a Bb by way of a chromatic enclosure. Delayed melodic resolution is a hallmark of the bebop idiom, having been pioneered by Charlie Parker and Bud Powell. The chromaticism in this idea also happens to be symmetrical, with the interval of a minor third anchoring the outside note to the key. Oftentimes without a common interval linking chromaticism together, it can sound random or unorganized. Guitarists like Benson and Pat Martino have employed this symmetrical chromaticism to great lengths, as it not only sounds great, but it feels great and lays out nicely on the fretboard.
George Benson Ex. 1
Ex. 2 gives you an idea of the possibilities of the superimposed arpeggio over a Bb7, and also happens to be similar to a lick that Benson plays in a variety of contexts. The concept is to move through different arpeggios over a given chord and connect to the various arpeggios using scales and chromaticism. In this lick, we're using the arpeggios Abmaj7, Dm7b5, and Fm7 (F–Ab–C–Eb) over a Bb7. The superimposed arpeggios also give you an idea of what other harmonies you can use this lick over: Bb7, Dm7b5, Fm7, and Bb7 are all interchangeable.
The picking directions for Ex. 2 will also include some insight into how Benson groups lines on the fretboard to work in favor of his right hand. A lot of times, he'll begin each string with a downstroke and end each string with an upstroke, a system that a lot of speedy pickers have favored. But when playing arpeggios like we see in this example, Benson will utilize short downward sweeps to execute them confidently and not run into any right-hand "hiccups."
George Benson Ex. 2
I demonstrate more symmetrical chromaticism over a Bb7 in Ex. 3. This lick uses descending minor thirds to connect chromatically from Bb to Ab, and then descending major thirds to connect chromatically from D to C. Gaining fluidity with this concept will really open up the bebop sound in your playing and will help thread together longer lines.
George Benson, Ex. 3
I think that one of the coolest things about Benson's original lick is how he slips into a greasy minor pentatonic run in the second measure. This is a masterful display of bridging the gap between bebop and blues: two styles that are like bread and butter in the hands of a masterful jazz guitarist.
Ex. 4 shows another way of injecting blues into your bebop playing (or vice-versa). This time we start with an F blues scale run, which seamlessly transitions into a more bebop-oriented idea with chromatic approaches targeting Bb7 chord tones. The logic that ties these two worlds together is melodic voice leading. This essentially means that we're looking for areas where we can connect the two ideas (the blues scale and bebop derived ideas) using the least motion possible. To accomplish this type of voice leading, it's important to understand the shared notes between sets of scales, arpeggios, chords—whatever it is you're trying to voice lead between.
George Benson Ex. 4
This next example is one of my favorite ways that Benson commandeered a concept that is not typically guitar-friendly: soloing with chords (Ex. 5). Chord soloing, especially at any tempo faster than a ballad, is usually best left to the pianists. The nature of the guitar makes it very difficult to shift around different chord shapes quickly, but Benson remedies this by moving around the same chord shape quickly. By taking a stack of fourths (or a quartal voicing) and using it to harmonize a blues scale melody, Benson creates forward motion and excitement. It's important to note that the only consistent notes from the blues scale are the top notes of each voicing, the bottom and middle notes are usually non-diatonic.
George Benson Ex. 5
Ex. 6 will give you an idea of how you can extend this quartal idea to include more chromaticism. Getting accustomed to using ideas like this on a blues will train your ears to hear bluesy key-center based chordal lines on standards, which provides a nice contrast to strictly playing the changes.
George Benson Ex. 6
In jazz and blues playing, the notes are only half the battle. Playing along to recordings of guitarists like Benson, Wes, and Grant Green will show you how to swing and phrase in a way that's informed by the tradition.
For more great straight-ahead Benson, I'd recommend checking out the albums It's Uptown, Giblet Gravy, Big Boss Band, and my personal favorite, Cookbook. Finally, listen to hear the natural progression of the jazz guitar vocabulary in Benson's behemoth of a solo on the tune "Ready and Able."