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What's YOUR blues?

Discussion in 'Music Theory [DB]' started by Aaron Saunders, Aug 8, 2005.

  1. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    The morning of the day I lent my guitar player my copy of The Jazz Theory book, I was looking at all the different kinds of blues changes. Also recently, I've been busting up the tune "Eighty-One," which I'm sure we're all familiar with -- those who aren't, it's a blues progression over latin rhythms. Also, at my lesson, my teacher showed me another variation that he called "jazz blues," because instead of this:
    |V7 |VI7 |I7 |I7 |
    It does this:
    |ii7 |V7 |I7 |V7 | in the last 4 bars.

    What do you find to be the easiest/most fun blues to walk over? Personally, I found the one we were playing on tonight ("jazz blues" also has the V7 chord on the second bar and comes back to the I7 for the third and fourth) to be a lot of fun to walk on. See, on a really barebones blues form, I feel like there's a certain lack of direction, because the space between changes is so long, and that can feel like forever at slower tempos.

    Also...anyone have any examples of blues progressions where the playing is most certainly NOT blues -- eg, Eighty-One? My teacher was telling me tonight that he had been listening to Eighty-One for 10 years before he even realized it was a blues!

    (PS: I noticed on my 3rd listen ;). It's just that I spent an entire day listening to BB King, so I can usually spot a blues progression pretty quick.)
  2. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Well, easiest isn't usually the most fun, but I've always liked "Mr Syms" as played by Trane on "Plays The Blues". I like the piano voicings in particular and the different feels in the various sections. I also always enjoy "12 More Bars To Go" by Wayne Shorter. Chick Corea's "Matrix" is fun if you have a pianist who can play it.
  3. DeanG


    Jul 30, 2005
    I never played "jazz blues" much until college but I grew to like it quickly. Walkin' the ii-V is sounds much better to me that the I-IV-V.
  4. abaguer


    Nov 27, 2001
    Milford, NJ
    One I always like incorporates a bunch of ii-v changes in the first four bars.

    In key of F

    F / E-7b5 A7/D-7 G7/C-7 F7/ then to the IV chord. Charlie Parker uses it in a bunch of tunes like Confirmation, Blues for Alice etc.
  5. Pcocobass


    Jun 16, 2005
    New York
    That freaked me out the first time I heard it and realized it was a blues...
  6. Tbeers


    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Does jazz blues include the V7/ii chord right before the ii7? That's how I like it best.
  7. abaguer


    Nov 27, 2001
    Milford, NJ
    Tbeers, what do you mean by a V7/ii?
  8. Tbeers


    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Let's take C blues:

    C7 / F7 / C7 / C7
    F7 / F7 / C7 / A7
    Dm7 / G7 / C7......

    The bold chord is the one I'm calling V7/ii.

    Also sometimes the underlined chord sounds good as either F# half dim or maybe even F minor 7 (but maybe that's a stretch).

    All of this is assuming key of C just for simplicity, of course.
  9. nypiano


    Feb 10, 2003
    The biggest part is having stuff to say within the language you're speaking. And they are different for blues and jazz. The "jazz solution" is to add more harmonic complexities such as dominant "V7 of" chords in specific places, along with their II chords. In bebop this amounted to half step harmony that moves in II-Vs in logical sequence to the basic blues targets on bars 5, 7,9 and 11.

    Generally speaking, having a lot to say on slow tunes or changes that repeat one chord is a challenge for the jazz oriented player. It involves hearing more horizontally and thematically rather than being steered through sign-posts. Freight Trane is an example of that.

    Sometimes a jazz player can sound pretty stiff in a more restricted harmonic setting. I struggle with it. The only thing you can do is investigate the masters of the particular style.

    Some ex's of "out of the box" blues tunes with different ending turnarounds would be:

    Blues on the Corner
    Freddie Freeloader
  10. tzadik


    Jan 6, 2005
    I used to have the worst time playing MUSIC over a blues. Hell, I STILL can't play the blues. Then again, I'm a white Jew girl from New England... LOL... So it isn't exaclty in my blood.

    It got better with time. I don't roll my eyes over the blues so much anymore. I actually have become quite fond of disguised blues changes.

    John Carisi wrote a great minor blues called Israel. Check it out - it's in the book.

    Hassan's Dream - can't remember composer - is another great minorl blues that my trio often does as a like a cool/chilled-out latin thing. Also in the book.

    I wrote a blues in three last winter which actually turned out borderline okay. It's minor (see a trend here? I just loff minor.) and it's in 3/4 and it is designed around a single phrygian scale - though players are encouraged to dig deeper.

    My point? Lots of things are the blues, so you might as well learn to love em and practice playing the crap out of em. And I don't mean bluesy licks, I mean melodic LINES of MUSIC. I think we've all been pleasantly surprised, at some time or another, by tunes that we never realized were blues - but then we listened again and lo and behold... I-IV-V. Listen listen listen.

    So, you've learned a few excellent basic blues', now go forward into the world and learn a million more. :)

    PS Eighty-One makes me cry. Just gotta make up stuff to keep yourself occupied and to keep the groove badass. If the playing sitution allows, experiment with adding in your own changes. If it doesn't practice playing the same sorts of stuffis in different positions. :bag: Sometimes this is all you can do.
  11. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Hey, you should write your own blues....

    Well I'm a White Jew Girl from New England,

    (ba-DAHH dah bump) etc.