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10 Must Know Jazz Guitar Licks

Building A Vocabulary From Studying What The Masters Play

Written By: Jamie Holroyd Edited By: Jamie Holroyd and Britt Reed 2012 Jamie Holroyd


Thank you for subscribing to my weekly jazz guitar newsletter, I am glad to have you on board! Building a well rounded and solid jazz vocabulary should be part of every guitarists practice routine and this book aims to help get some of the signature sounds of the jazz language into your ears and fingers. Jazz guitarists need many different licks and ideas to improvise over the different chord progressions found within the idiom so Ive chosen licks that are based of common jazz progressions found throughout the jazz repertoire so that you can apply them to the tunes youre working on. Because the lines are over different progressions you will be able to see how different jazz guitarists approach the same progressions and also how you could use small fragments from one lick in different circumstances. For example there are some progressions such as rhythm changes where you only have half a bar on each chord so you cant always use a full II-V-I lick, but you may be able to use fragments of them. The types of licks that are covered in this ebook are: Jazz Blues Licks II V I Licks V I Licks Pattern Licks I VI II V Licks

I hope that you enjoy playing and studying the licks in this ebook. They have been of great use to me over the years, and I am now happy to pass them on to you, my newsletter subscribers. Remember that this is a PDF so that you can always print it off and study away from the computer if you wish or download it onto your mobile phone and tablet. I only ask that you dont share or upload it to any other websites. If you wish to share this ebook with a friend please send them this link and I will them a copy: http://jamieholroydguitar.com/free-guitar-ebook


Jazz Blues Lick

The blues genre came first so it seems appropriate that we start this study of licks by checking out some jazz blues language. These licks will work in both traditional and jazz blues contents. The first lick is the definitive jazz blues lick because it is used by so many guitarists, everyone from Charlie Christian, Grant Green, Wes Montgomery, BB King and Pat Metheny has used this lick in some way or form and there are many variations that you can apply to it. To view a video lesson about how to play this lick and learn some variations that you can apply, follow this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKOiCQUrZ6w

The lick is based off a root position Bb triad. To learn more about how to practice and use triads across the guitar neck, follow this link: http://jamieholroydguitar.com/how-to-play-triads-on-guitar The syncopated start to this lick provides a nice bouncy feel and using the minor 3rd (C#) as a passing note to the major 3rd gives a good aesthetic bluesy feel. Scale wise the lick comes from Bb major pentatonic.

George Benson Jazz Blues Lick

This next lick is a classic George Benson lick that has been adapted by many guitarists over the years. This lick starts in almost the same way as the first example, based off triads which is demonstrated in bars 1 and 2. Like the first example the minor 3rd is used as a passing note like providing a classic blues feel. This lick can be applied over the first two bars of a jazz blues progression and it can also be applied over a diatonic I-V-II-V.


II V I Bebop Lick
Learning to play jazz guitar means studying the bebop language, so heres a great bebop lick that uses a common jazz guitar technique called enclosures. Enclosures are used here in bar 2 over the G7 chord where the 7th (F) is approached from a scale step above then below. This enclosure technique is later reversed over the 3rd (B) in the same bar where instead of approaching the note from a scale step above then below, this time the 3rd is enclosed by going a scale step below then above. 4ths are also used throughout the line which gives it a nice intervallic feel. This lick is over a very common jazz chord progression, the II-V-I but you could also shorten the lick and use the last two bars over a progressions where the II-V is condensed into one bar instead of having one bar of each chord. Click the following link to watch the video lesson for this lick http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nw7s7KJdKiY&feature=player_embedded

Dominant Bebop Scale II V I Lick

This lick demonstrates a clich jazz lick called the Honeysuckle Rose lick which comes from the Fats Waller composition Honeysuckle Rose. This lick is used extensively by bebop jazz musicians so its worth having under your fingers. The dominant 7th bebop scale is used in bar 2 which provides an effective form of tension and release. To learn more about bebop scales and how they are used click on the following link: http://jamieholroydguitar.com/how-to-play-bebop-scales-on-guitar


Minor Bebop Scale II V I Lick

This lick demonstrates another commonly played minor bebop scale lick pattern, this time demonstrated over the II chord, D-7. There is also a dominant 7b9 arpeggio in the second bar which is a used device by jazz musicians. The lick also resolves nicely to E, the third of the C major 7th chord using enclosures, and finally the root which gives the line a clear ending. The enclosure technique used on the E natural in the last bar is the 1 above, 2 below enclosure pattern.

3-9 Arpeggio V-I Lick

Playing on the 9th of chords produces a sweet and effective sound that is used by jazz guitarists. The beginning of this lick starts with a 3-9 arpeggio which is also a descending B-7b5 arpeggio. The last note at the end of bar 1 which is F# provides a nice hint of the bebop scale before resolving. To learn more about how to use 3-9 arpeggios click the following link to view an article on my site which explains them: http://jamieholroydguitar.com/chordsubstitution-vs-chord-superimposition The reason the F# works against the G7 chord is because its on the off beat of the bar. If the major 7th which is F# in the case of G, was on a down beat it might not sound as pleasing.


Tritone Substitution V-I Lick

This lick demonstrates a common technique used by jazz musicians called tritone substitution. To learn about what tritone substitution is and how to use it follow this link: http://jamieholroydguitar.com/how-to-get-altered-sounds-using-tritonesubstitution The lick begins on F, the 7th of the G7, and then moves to the Eb, which is the b13 of the G7. The b13 adds some nice crunch to the line; notice again that this spicier interval is on the off beat. The tritone sub Db7 is more noticeable is the second half of the first bar due to the B (b7th), Ab (5th) and F (3rd). Finally the third of the I chord, E is approached by a scale step above, F.

Whole-Tone Scale Lick

Now that we have got some solid language over common chord progressions down, lets check out some different pattern based licks to add some variety to our language. One symmetrical scale that is often used by guitarists but forgotten in the practice room is the whole-tone scale. You only need to know the whole-tone scale in two keys a half-step apart to be able to use it over any chord, because the notes repeat themselves. This lick uses G, F, Eb, and Db augmented triads found within the scale.

Not only will the lick work over a G7, but also over A7, B7, Db7, Eb7, and F7. The constant triplets give the line a nice bouncy feel, and the way it lays on the fretboard makes for a great sweep-picking exercise. This line is ideal for altered chords that are resolving so it can be easily applied to II-V-I situations.


Tritone Triplet Lick

Our next pattern lick uses two triads that are a b5 or tritone apart which in this example are A7 and Eb. A7 is the chord in content and Eb is the tritone substation of A7. Each triad starts on the root so its not too tricky to visualize on the fretboard. The triplets give the lick a nice bouncy feel, but make it technically tougher to play at faster tunes, but it works great on ballads and medium tempo tunes. Just remember that you might have to change the rhythmic values if you are using at different tempos.

Joe Pass I VI II V Lick

Besides being a great solo jazz guitarist, Joe Pass was also a great single line improviser and had a ton of great language. This lick demonstrates how Joe would solo over a I VI II V progression by treating the V chord which is in this case, G7 as a #Io, a very common substitution used in jazz. This substitution provides great voice leading from the I chord, Bb major 7 to the #I chord because there is only one note difference in the triads, the root, which highlighted in this lick. To learn more about the I VI II V and the various substitutions and superimpositions follow this link: http://jamieholroydguitar.com/10-must-know-i-iv-ii-v-substitutions To learn more about soloing over the rhythm changes progression follow this link: http://jamieholroydguitar.com/rhythm-changes-soloing-guide-part-1-two-approaches


How to Practice Licks

Like anything you learn on guitar you must practice licks in the right way so that they can be internalized and you can use them in your own way without even thing about them. Heres a few ways that I teach my students to practice new licks so that they get the most benefit from them Work each lick out so you can play over the 4 different chord types: http://jamieholroydguitar.com/how-to-play-one-lick-over-four-chords Apply the lick to all the tunes you are currently working on http://jamieholroydguitar.com/5-effective-ways-to-learn-a-jazz-standard Try displacing licks by eight notes and quarter notes across the bar to work on rhythmic variety Piece different part of licks together to form new ones: http://jamieholroydguitar.com/double-your-jazz-vocabulary-by-100-withoutlearning-a-new-lick Create motifs from each lick by using small fragments instead of the full lick Practice each lick in all 12 keys and in different positions across the guitar neck

Recommended eBooks for Further Study

30 Days to Better Jazz Guitar Comping: http://tinyurl.com/cf66zy9 30 Days to Better Jazz Guitar: http://tinyurl.com/bub3jeb Modern Time: http://tinyurl.com/brjfr8o Building Bebop Guitar Vocabulary: http://tinyurl.com/c26y69v