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> Jazz Help, Strugling with changes
post Jan 29 2010, 12:48 PM
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Hi guys,

I am kind of hoping of a miracle bit of advise here but to be honest I'm not too optimistic!!

I'm really struggling with Jazz changes at the min, I normally just bluff my way through, playing mostly linear lines in a swing style, picking out chord tones on chords that hang arouind long enough, dropping some octaves and widish intervals hoping I fall on something interesting/nice in between.

Decided I have to get this sorted (as I've been asked to sit in with a few Jazz combos).

I'm really struggling getting my soloing over changes down. I have a nice book on Grant Green licks, which I'm adopting into my own and borrowed some nice ones off this site.

I have (or am trying) to learn II-V-I licks both 2 and 4 measure. and turnaround licks.

I have inputed a number of chord progressions in to Band in a box. II-V-I (2 & 4 measure) progressions. 1. staying in C. 2. Desending a tone at a time. 3. Rising a 4th at a time. I'm running them pretty slow approx 120bpm (the changes, in one key I'm running them around 150bpm) .

The problems I have are:

1. I'm finding it really hard to learn the licks (or remember them) I'm trying to learn them in relation to the chord. i.e this lick is based around this postion of the scale against this chord (starting on whatever degree). It is coming but god its hard.

2. Its ok when I play in one key, but as soon as I put the changes on I just lose my place straight away and can't link them up & just end up getting really confused.

For songs like take the A train I can def see an improvement as it's preety much one tonal center then a short II-V-I following a longer one, the a dom chord. But songs like Satin Doll are just proing a bit tricky!

Really I know the answer and its practise more and don't be so lazy, but if anyone does have a magic word (other than practise) please let me know...


This post has been edited by stratman79: Jan 29 2010, 01:39 PM
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post Jan 29 2010, 03:38 PM
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Hmmmm, there is really that many ways to improvise as there are jazz-players.... but there is some common ways to tackle hard chord progressions......

1) Try to find the scale(s) and the tonal centers around these 2-5 stuff rather than try to play on each of them, You will see that in most common tunes there is not more than 3-4 keys that really is played, even that there might be lots of them at the first sight.

2) Use chromatism to play over "unknown" chords.... (well, thats a cheat....)

3) Improvise over the melody rather than the chords.

4) Practise the whole song using just broken chords and lead in notes to those in "even eights" at a VERY slow tempo at first....

5) Make pauses over "unknown" chords... (another "cheat")

6) Play rhytmic interesting stuff instead of "speedy" stuff, and try to make some melodies out of it.... play "by ear", it always turn out better...

Regarding "lick-playing" I always found it difficult, I even had problems remember "Smoke on the water".... tongue.gif And imo. its pointless in jazz-music, since You only gonna end up sounding like somebody else. But in studying a particular style/learn how other players think it may has a point. What is much more fun is to make up Your own "licks" - eg. play a chord/change and try to find a nice phrase. That will be MUCH easier to remember since You made it up by Yourself.

Otherwise that the above, I strongly suggest practising timing/rhytm, since it doesnt really matter what notes You play - if its done with confidence and the phrases lands on an appropiate note.

Hope You can get some inspiration out of this, and good luck! smile.gif


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This post has been edited by Staffy: Jan 29 2010, 03:40 PM


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Jerry Arcidiacon...
post Jan 29 2010, 04:52 PM
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QUOTE (stratman79 @ Jan 29 2010, 12:48 PM) *
Really I know the answer and its practise more and don't be so lazy, but if anyone does have a magic word (other than practise) please let me know...

You have already wrote the answer. There's no magic or magic word. The only way we have to learn new things is to practice them. Somebody learn faster and somebody else not as faster as before.
As guitarist you need to know how each fret sounds with your tuning. Learning licks is cool but this in not the key point because usually this means to play in a "cut-and-paste" style. You should learn FROM the lick, not only the lick itself. I hope to cover this concept on the next lessons of the JN series.
Try to sing along the scales you know, the arpeggios you know and the licks you know. This usually helps a lot!
Remember that your final goal is to hear a melody in your mind and play it on your guitar.
Also, take a good Jazz player and listen to his solos. Even he's improvising, each lick has something in relation with the previous Jazz players.
Steal licks and learn from them!

/edit typo

This post has been edited by Jerry Arcidiacono: Jan 29 2010, 04:53 PM


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Pedja Simovic
post Jan 29 2010, 11:34 PM
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If you are around the site in 20+ minutes, stop by the chat room. I will do video chat and will be happy to help you out with soloing over changes.

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Daniel Realpe
post Feb 9 2010, 06:13 PM
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I think Pedja is the man to help you with that!

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Gerardo Siere
post Feb 9 2010, 07:29 PM
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A II-V-I uses the scale of I as I is the target, try to group chords like this, ignore passing chords. The placemente of each progression in the overall form is also important.
Get transcription of real recorded solo play the and make some analysis. A good book are the series of Jerry Bergonzy, I founded very hard and avanced but the concepts are clearer there.
The most important is to play over changes of real songs imo. Try to get some real book, and don´t forget to play the lead melody first. Songs have grrove, speed, form and specific elements of their own.
Great players like Joe Pass, Herb Ellis and Jimmy Bruno have a 3 queality chord and group of chords aproach: major, minor and dominant and oftenly they stay with the scales patterns that has roots on 5th and 6th string and then add some extranotes to fit certain situations.

The form is really important if we play II-V-I and use each I as an ending or place to rest and look for the next changes it isnt very musical. Take your progressions and compose a little lead sheet for it, when your soloing take the lengjt of each phrase into consideration to have consistency.

Good luck. It´s hard to play jazz.

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post Feb 15 2010, 02:00 AM
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Thankyou for your very kind offer,

Sorry I wasn't on here to take advantage of your offer.

I will be trying to get on here more and will keep an eye open for when you are going video chats.

I have changed my approach slightly as the cut and paste lick thing wasn't working so well and loking a more linear scale ideas/developing my own licks etc.

Although have been experimenting with dropping on to a IV dorian over V7 chord. (i.e in playing F dorian over G7) kind of gives the altered/diminshed arpeggio (up a semitone) feel but less cliche...

Gerardo your not wrong, its hard to play Jazz!!!

I feel like the ultimate N00B!!
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