50 Jazz Blues Licks is an exclusive series of video guitar lessons by David Hamburger covering the jazz blues styles of historically great guitarists like George Benson, Kenny Burrell, Joe Pass, and many others. A new lick will be released each week, so be sure to subscribe and check back often!

Dexter Gordon could do a lot of things really well. He was one of the first to adapt the language of bebop to the tenor saxophone, while retaining the warm, romantic expressiveness of a 1940s balladeer. When the sixties came along and he made one of his famous resurgences, a handful of records for Blue Note showed him keeping up with the times, cutting long, exploratory blues and modal tracks along with a mix of the ballads and standards he clearly loved. Tall and handsome, with a gravelly voice out of Central Casting, he had his final bout of recognition with his role in the film “Round Midnight,” in which, while basically playing himself, he stood in for any number of quirky, individualistic musicians before him who, like Gordon in real life in the 1960s, found Europe a more racially benign and culturally appreciative milieu than the country they and their art form hailed from. This lick draws on an idea Gordon employed on his tune “The Panther” from the 1970 Prestige album of the same name. In a nod to the sounds of the times, it’s a funky straight-eighths blues, and for much of his solo Gordon does indeed stick to the blues, dropping in a nod to the changes from time to time.

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Video Guitar Lesson

If you like these guitar lessons, be sure to also check out Frank Vignola’s Jazz Up Your Blues, which showcases essential jazz blues vocabulary and techniques, Mark Stefani’s Jazzed Blues Assembly Lines, which takes you on a sonic learning tour through the funky rhythm and blues stylings and fretboard concepts of top jazz blues players, and of course all of David Hamburger’s courses.