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Learn how to bridge jazz and blues by tackling one of the most popular progressions around.


Chops: Intermediate
Theory: Intermediate
Lesson Overview:
• Learn how to play convincingly over “rhythm” changes.
• Develop deeper bebop vocabulary.
• Understand how to outline chords using Mixolydian, Lydian Dominant, and Super Locrian scales.


Click here to download a printable PDF of this lesson's notation.

One of the most daunting aspects of taking your blues playing to the next level is turning up to a jam night and finding out that the players lean toward the jazzier side of the blues. For the last few years, this column has sought to shed light on relevant aspects of the jazz idiom by introducing you to intriguing scales and soloing concepts you can use in a blues context. But what happens if the context is jazz? There’s a common pool of songs that jazz musicians pull from, and some of those songs can be classified as a contrafact. A contrafact is a composition that’s based on an established set of chord changes. The practice became common in the bebop era when musicians wanted to improve their chops by playing over chord progressions they were extremely familiar with. They would then write new melodies to some of their favorites songs.

It wouldn’t be a stretch to consider the blues progression as a contrafact, since so many tunes use those changes. Other common jazz tunes that have served as inspiration for countless contrafacts are “Cherokee,” “All the Things You Are,” “Giant Steps,” and of course “I Got Rhythm.” There are so many tunes based on that Gershwin classic that the progression has become known simply as “rhythm” changes.

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A hands-on look at the staccato stylings of Catfish Collins, Bruno Speight, Jimmy Nolen, and others.

Intermediate

Intermediate

• Learn how to improve your sense of internal time.
• Develop groovy parts in the style of Catfish Collins and David Williams.
• Understand how to fit within a rhythm section.

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The vast amount of research out there on right-hand technique and its application to lead-guitar pyrotechnics over the last 40 years is staggering, and it's a fair wager that observing rhythm guitar to a similar degree would produce interesting finds. However, in my many years as a guitarist I've been surprised by the lack of information available in regard to rhythm playing. Learning my favorite funk and R&B parts got me to a place where I could play rhythm confidently in many different situations, but something always felt a little "off" with the way I was approaching it technically.

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The Most Popular Scale in the World?

It’s not the blues scale. Thankfully.

Chops: Beginner
Theory: Beginner
Lesson Overview:
• Demonstrate several uses for the major pentatonic scale.
• Explore different forms of world music.
• Highlight techniques that will give your guitar playing a more cosmopolitan sound.

Click here to download a printable PDF of this lesson's notation.

While many guitarists are aware of the minor pentatonic scale's use in blues and rock music, it's the major pentatonic that is known the world over. Or is it? In this lesson we'll span the globe searching for the prevalence of the major pentatonic.

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