Uptown Stomp – Introduction
Great West Coast Blues players can take a standard blues piece and turn it on its ear using rhythmic and melodic ideas from a number of related styles, delivering a unique and authentic sound. Infusing jazz and blues ideas into one cohesive style, “Uptown Stomp” is our first foray into the jazz/blues amalgam.
“Uptown Stomp” is unique in the way it suggests chord changes that don’t actually occur, “implying” chord substitutions. These implied chords are based on substitutions commonly found in both jazz and blues styles. Incorporating this implied chord-change technique into your lead work adds sophistication to your solos while opening up a new world of harmonic possibilities.
Uptown Stomp – Solo: Chorus 1
When it comes to swing and jump blues, there is a single name where both guitar styles converge–Duke Robillard. Duke is a treasure trove of classic phrasing, incorporating the moves of such iconic musicians as Charlie Christian, Tiny Grimes, T-Bone Walker and Charlie Parker. “Uptown Stomp” is heavily influenced by Duke and does its best to recreate some of his signature phrasing.
Uptown Stomp – Chorus 1 Breakdown
This solo features implied chord changes over a straight-ahead, uptempo swing-blues. Implying changes is a key element to this style, adding excitement and sophistication to otherwise standard blues progressions. Focus on chord tones on the downbeat of each change for effective note targeting. Also, playing with an uptown flare requires extending and alerting basic chords with chord tones such as the 6th, 9th, b9th, b5 and #5.
Uptown Stomp – Solo: Chorus 2
“Uptown Stomp’s” second solo adds chromaticism into the mix as well as the effective targeting of key altered scale tones like the #5 and b9. For a crash course on extended blues harmony licks, pick up a copy of Swing by Duke Robillard.
Uptown Stomp – Chorus 2 Breakdown
A key lick that highlights the change from the I to the IV chord appears in the fourth measure, creating tension through its use of the C’s #5. The b5 played just before the change to the IV chord voice leads perfectly into 9 of the IV chord–a half step down to the eighth fret on the B string. Be sure to check out the slide from b9 to the 9 over the G in the turnaround, creating a similar kind of tension.
Uptown Stomp – Solo: Chorus 3
West Coast players tend to cop licks and melodies from horn players more than fellow pickers, giving them a more sophisticated than usual approach to a blues progression. For extended listening in this vein, check out Up At Minton’s by Stanley Turrentine.
Uptown Stomp – Chorus 3 Breakdown
This tune’s third solo incorporates a slide into the major 7 played over the I chord, resolving to the 6 to add a jazzy feel, in addition to some tasty voice leading into the IV chord. Having some solid major-based melody licks gives you a much wider spectrum to impart different feels.