Jazz Notes 21: Minor Blues

by Jerry Arcidiacono

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  • Hi GMC:ers!

    This lesson is about minor blues, with a standard 12-bar form.

    Some Jazz standards with this kind of progression are:

    - Equinox (John Coltrane)

    - Stolen Moments (Oliver Nelson)

    - Mr. P.C. (John Coltrane)

    - Israel (John Carisi)

    - Birk's Works" (Dizzy Gillespie)

    To keep things simple I used the following chord progression:

    Cm7 | % | % | % |

    Fm7 | % | Cm7 | % |

    Ab7 | G7 | Cm7 | % |

    To improvise over the Cm7 I use the C Melodic Minor scale (sometimes this scale is called Jazz Minor scale) and the C Blues scale.

    C Melodic Minor scale has the B note. If you play this note against the Cm7 chord which has a flat B, you hear a dissonance. By the way, you can use this note to play some interesting lines, instead of using Minor Pentatonic or Dorian scales, usually played as first choice over minor 7th chord. If you play the B note as a passing tone you don't have problem because if you resolve to the C note, it sounds like a chromatic passage.

    To improvise over the Fm7 chord I use the F Dorian scale, pretty standard solution. The effect is different from the previous scale and it's possible to get an interesting sound.

    For the turnaround at the end I use the Ab Mixolydian scale against the Ab7 chord and the G Superlocrian (or Altered) scale against the G7 chord to add more tension.

    Take a look at previous Jazz Notes 17: Choosing The Scale to understand how different scale work over dominant 7th chord.

    Here are the scale diagrams:

    The gear I've used on this lesson is

    - Washburn WI67Pro
    - Cubase 4 (as DAW, for double bass and piano sounds)
    - EZdrummer (Vintage Rock kit)
    - Overloud TH1 (for guitar sound)

    Time signature: 4/4
    Tempo: 120 bpm


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