Whether you are gearing up for gigs, playing for family and friends, or just trying to expand your skills as a guitarist, learning to play solo arrangements is a worthy goal to strive for. Though, learning arrangements like this without guidance can sometimes lead you to for habits that are less intuitive.
In his course, Solo
Here are 7 free solo
Any Minor or Dom Can Be a ii V
This is one of the coolest ideas we have. Now that we have all these dominant chords in our arrangement, we can start to turn them all into ii-Vs. So, C7 becomes Gm-C7. F7 becomes Cm-F7, G7 becomes Am – D7. Basically, each dominant chord we use in our arrangement pretends to be a V chord, and now we’re simply adding in the ii to that V.
Let’s take a minute and talk about ii- V’s. If you’ve gone through my Jazz Comping Survival Guide, you may already be hip to some of this. Go back to that course and check it out, but here’s the short version: One of the most common chord progressions in all of Western music is the suspension. That’s when the 4th of a chord moves to the 3rd of a chord. C to B in a G chord for example (see chart). A ii-V is actually a just a jazzed-up version of a suspension. In the key of C, the ii is Dm7 and the V is G7. If you notice the motion of the guide tones (3 and 7, remember?) you’ll notice that the guide tones of Dm7 are C and F, and the guide tones of G7 are B and F. So, the only thing that really changes in a ii-V are the root moving and the 7th of the Dm going to the 3rd of G7, or a C going to a B. Just like our classic old suspension.
Dom ii V Performance
Keep in mind I’m purposely trying to use only the one principle here, so you can hear it demonstrated clearly. In real life, however, we’ll mix and match all of these principles together to create our own personal sound.
Sub or Lead with a Tritone
In this section we’re going to talk about the much misunderstood, overly complicated, and crazy sounds of the tritone substitution. You can find all sorts of theoretical explanations of this in theory books, but really this evolved organically through the traditions of jazz.
Back in the early days of jazz, the tuba was playing the bass, and the tuba player would just sit on the bass note. They’d often times get bored, and eventually might succumb to the temptation to play a little chromatic run to the next, using a leading note into the next chord. In doing this, he accidentally created a new sound that is now a cornerstone of jazz.
Now, we’ll take our progression from Amazing Grace and add in some tritone subs. Don’t be scared!
Tritone Subs Performance
Can you imagine that tubist or bassist just goin’ nuts!? Truth be told, the tritone sub was not really invented by a bored tuba player in New Orleans, but most likely a bored tuba player in Germany, Italy, or somewhere around 1830 or so. Honestly, jazz musicians get their panties all in a bunch over the originality of jazz, but everything jazz musicians have done harmonically, was pretty much done by classical musicians 100 years or so earlier. Most of jazz’s contributions to musical form have to do with rhythm, and in many cases harmonic rhythm (the timing of chords changing). That’s why so many jazz musicians are into comedy…and so many comedians are into jazz…’cause the real secret to jazz is…timing!
Amazing Grace Overview
While I’m throwing in all of the principles and ideas we’ve covered, I also want to make sure this is something that most of you can play through and take some ideas from, so I’m trying not to play too much crazy fast or hard stuff. For that, go to my upcoming solo jazz
Amazing Grace Performance
At 2:20 or so, I play a nice bebop lick that connects Cmaj7 to Gmin7 – C7 then to F. Learn that one in a few keys! At 2:25, I play a nice F#dim7 chord and then slap a diminished scale over it to lead back to the G7.
Whispering Full Performance
A few things to notice: At 2:15, I play a little chord riff on A7. This is called a walk-up and is a very common device in rhythm jazz
Since I’m improvising here, you may notice that I had to take my time. Always remember that since you’re solo, you have all the time you want. Also, did you notice that I got into a little trouble at 2:22. Not really a mistake, I just was thinking for a second. And so, I just played the melody! Go back and listen to the version down once more and count how many times I just play the melody by itself with no chords at all. So, remember to punctuate the melody with chords on important words, and important downbeats, and for the rest, space is the place! Silence and melody are your friends and your safety net, always there to scoop you up and transport you to the next easy chord or downbeat!
Digging these free solo