Jazz Licks Lesson

by Ben Howell

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  • Hey Guys!

    Im Ben, a Musician/Guitarist from Bath, Uk.

    Welcome to my first lesson!

    This lesson is an introduction to ‘jazz’. A scary word to some people but it really isn’t that hard once you get used to it.

    Much of jazz is based around the ii-V-I progression. This progression involves the minor ii chord, the dominant V chord and the Major I chord. To understand this you need to know about how chords are built from a major scale. If this is all foreign to you, delve into the nearest theory book, or alternatively send me an email!

    This ii-V-I progression is in the key of C major, so we have the chords Dmin 7, G7 and Cmaj7.

    Now for soloing purposes, because the harmony belongs to the key of C, we can use the C major scale to improvise over it. BUT, jazz improvisation requires much more than simply running the scale up and down as we need to spell out the changes so the listener can hear the chord changes or the implied harmony. This sounds much more complicated than it is, but you will notice in any professional jazz player-Charlie Parker, George Benson, Joe Pass etc- the changes are being spelt out.

    If you don’t know already, the most important chord tones in a chord are the 3rd and the 7th, as they define what quality the chord is (Major, minor, Dominant etc).
    One way of making these changes is to start your lines/licks on these chord tones. They will sound great because the notes are in the chord, and you will also be spelling out the changes. Have a practice over the backing tracks, for example over Dmin7 try starting and ending lines on ‘F’, or ‘C’ (the minor third and the flat seventh). For G7 ‘B’ and ‘F’ and so on.

    Resolution is important in jazz and any genre as we don’t want to end on the ‘wrong’ note. Now the word ‘wrong’ can be used lightly in jazz, because a skilled improviser can make any note fit and sound musical, but resolving a line on Eb (the b2) over Dmin7, wont sound musical, it’ll just sound wrong! Try resolving/ending your lines on the root, 3rd, 5th , 7th or 9th as these tones are relatively ‘stable’ to our ears.

    I have also included the jazz lines in audio format so you can hear them just that bit clearer.

    Anyway, enough from me, hope you enjoy the lesson, any questions fire away!

    See you next time,

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