Imagine this: as a jazz guitarist you are accompanying a vocalist as part of a duo. Now, you’ve finished playing the theme and it’s your time to improvise. How do you approach this? Some solo jazz guitar players sprinkle melodies in between chords. Others will string sections of single-note lines together and simply imply harmony. In any case, to be prepared, you need to develop a rich palette of meaningful melodic and harmonic options to employ.
In his course, Solo Jazz Pathways: Chordal Improv, Tim Lerch helps you expand this palette so you can keep your audience captivated, and the song swinging.
Here are 10 free video jazz improvisation guitar lessons from the course. For the full course, check out Tim Lerch’s Solo Jazz Pathways: Chordal Improv on TrueFire!
Jazz Guitar Lesson – ii V I Improv in C: Performance
In this brief improvised performance, I try to put all of the devices together so you can see how it might sound in real time. Slow it down, loop it, use the tools, there is a lot going on here so take your time.
Jazz Guitar Lesson – Using Chromaticism ii V I VI in D: Demo
In this example, I use a chromatic palette to increase the “gravitational pull” from chord to chord. Remember to put the chromatic notes on the “weak” part of the beat and “stick the landings”.
Jazz Guitar Lesson – I VI ii V Improv in Eb: Performance
Using a kind of bouncy “two feel”, I’m bringing together all of the approaches we have demonstrated so far and a few special ideas like contrary motion. This chord progression is so common that you would be well rewarded to get this stuff under your fingers. Make sure to use the tools and slow it down and loop it to get to the treasure trove of ideas.
Jazz Guitar Lesson – Basic Melody & Movement: Demo
First some basic moves in Dmin on a ii V i. Notice that the Dmin chord is referred to as i, the lower case Roman numeral indicates that the chord is minor. This is a great sound and is very useful in jazz and popular music.
Jazz Guitar Lesson – Jazz Blues Improv in Bb: Performance
Here is a nice mellow blues in Bb using lots of the things we talked about in this segment. Lots of moving bass via inversions, block chords, and some sliding double and triple stops for good measure. I can play like this for hours and love every minute of it. If you already like to play blues try to introduce some harmony into your melodic vocabulary, you’ll be a happy camper if you do.
Jazz Guitar Lesson – What are Inversions?: Overview
The wide scope of this course won’t allow for an exhaustive exploration of inversions, but the basic idea is to start with a root position chord that you already know and then move each note in the chord up to the next higher chord tone on the same string. So, a dominant 7th chord spelled 1 5 b7 3 on the middle set of strings would invert to 3 b7 1 5 then 5 1 3 b7 then b7 3 5 1. Do this to all chord qualities and you’ll be swimming in beautiful inversion that you can introduce into your comping and solo playing. Do this to all chord qualities, Maj 6, Maj7, Dom7, Min7, Min6 Min7b5, and Diminished 7.
Jazz Guitar Lesson – Simple Subs for ii V I in C: Flat Five Subs Demo
Using Db7 to replace G7 creates a G7 altered type of sound with a chromatically descending bass movement.
Jazz Guitar Lesson – Well Behaved Progression: Performance
This improvisation, based on the changes of “Aint Misbehavin'”, uses lots of the ideas we have been looking at so far. It even includes a little bit of contrary motion on the diminished 7 chord later on in the piece. It goes by a bit quickly so use the tools, slow it dow, loop it , and take small sections at a time.
Jazz Guitar Lesson – It’s Just Us: Overview
Another long time favorite of mine and a tune that we guitarists seem to love. With its slightly unusual form and interesting changes, it’s always fun to explore. So, I wanted to create a slightly funky percolating groove for this one and keep a conversation going between the harmony, bass and melody.
Jazz Guitar Lesson – It’s Just Us: Performance
Now, I’ll perform this one up to tempo so you can hear how I apply some of these concepts.
Digging these free video jazz improvisation guitar lessons? Check out Tim Lerch’s Solo Jazz Pathways: Chordal Improv.