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Jazz solos

Discussion in 'Ask Michael Dimin' started by JazZ-A-LoT, Jan 5, 2003.

  1. JazZ-A-LoT


    Jan 5, 2003
    Heay I've been playing in a really great jazz group for a while now. I've had no problem coming up with walking bass lines and keeping up. Lately the guys(Sax, guitar, drums) wanted me to solo in some songs, I can lay down a really basic solo, but I'd like to expand it. What advice can you offer for Jazz solos?
  2. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin Banned

    Dec 11, 1999

    First, learn the melody. Any good solo is really a theme and variations on the melody. Second, make sure you know the chord scales that go along with each of the chords in the progression. This is a really good start. You can create a melody and embellish it with notes from the individual chord scales.

    Okay, great start! Now, learn each of the chord scales in a single position (+/- frets). What I mean by this is that as the chords change you are able to change the chord scales without changing positions. This shows you, from chord to chord, which of the notes change and you can create a more melodic line as your not playing scale to scale, etc.

    Here is an example, take the last 4 measure of Mingus' "Nostalgia in Time Square" -

    /D-7 G7/C-7 F7/Bb-7 Eb7/F7 /F7 //

    This is a series of II-V's leading to the I (F7). You can analyze the tonal centers as: Cmaj/Bbmaj/Abmaj/ leading to the F.

    If you try to play those scales, each lasting one measure long, your solo will sound stilted. If I look at the chord scales, all in one position, I see:
    /Cmaj/C Dorian/Cphrygian (Dorian based on the 2nd, phrygian based on the 3rd degree of the scale)

    From here I can see some nice melodic figures, for example the E (3rd of C) to an Eb (3rd of C dorian) and finally the Db (2nd of the C phrygian).

    I can now create a solo line that emphasizes the uniquness of each chord scale. Got it?

    Here is another example: Footprints by Wayne Shorter. Footprints is a minore blues in C minor. There is a change fom the I chord to the IV chord (C-7 to F-7). The melody outlines the Dorian mode on each of the chords (Over the C-7 there is an "A" natural, there is also a "D" natural over the F-7).

    If we look at the 2 chord scales C dorian and F dorian we see only one note different. The C Dorian has an A while the F Dorian has an Ab. This gives us melodic content to develop the solo. Using that change fro A to Ab gives your solo variation and change.

    Wow, I'm on a roll (it's 3:30 am so give me a break).
    Two more concepts to lay on you. I use "Scale Forms" rather than modes/scales. The difference is that Scale Forms utilyze every note in a certain scale in any given position. Therefore a Gmajor scale is G,A,B,C,D,E,F#,G while "Scale Form I" in 2nd position is F#,G,A,B,C,D,E,F#,G,A,B,C. Apply this to the above mentioned ideas.

    Finally (bet your tired of reading by now). There are some other melodic changes I will make. The use of blue notes (b3 and b5), major bebop scale (add a #5), Dorian bebop scale (add nat 3), the Mixolydian bebop scale (add the nat 7) and the bebop melodic minor (add #5). These additional notes are used as passing tones.

    Remember, you should know these in any given position to take advantage of the melodic changes we talked about earlier.

    I would like to just say at this point, that it is a good idea to have a concept of functional harmony - that way you can at least define the proper chord scales. Here are two resources:

    The Jazz Theory Book by Mark Levine
    Fingerboard Harmony for Bass by Gary Willis

    The first book is, as it says, all about the theory. The second involves the Scale Forms that I was mentioning

    Hope this helps. have a wonderful new year

  3. JazZ-A-LoT


    Jan 5, 2003
    Thanks a lot that was a big help.

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