Jazz Theory

3 Techniques to Improve Your Bebop Playing

So much of jazz’s musical vocabulary today comes directly or indirectly from bebop. Even though it’s over half a century old, bebop continues to capture music lovers’ ears and imaginations as a unique sub-style...

How to Add Chromaticism Into Your Jazz Lines

One question I get asked about from time to time from beginner jazz students is "how do I get my solos to have that jazz sound?" What they really want to know is how jazz...

How to Play the Modes of the Melodic Minor Scale

In addition to learning the major scale in all 12 keys and the 7 diatonic or “church” modes derived from the major scale, the melodic minor scale is one of the most important and...

How to Play 7th Chords Like a Pro

One of the characteristics of jazz standards are the lush, colorful chords that populate their harmonies. Jazz musicians often use chords that offer more harmonic information than simple triads. These basic types of chords are called...

How to Improvise Over “Stella By Starlight”

Stella By Starlight is arguably one of the most popular jazz standards of all time. As one of the most commonly called “workhorse” songs on gigs and jam sessions, this is a must-know tune...

How to Build Chord Extensions and Alterations

It’s important that you understand that all 7th chords can be extended and altered. This is not only important to comprehend if you play a chordal instrument, like a piano or guitar, but it’s...

5 Sonny Rollins Licks Over “Tenor Madness”

One of my favorite jazz albums is Sonny Rollins' "Tenor Madness." It was recorded in 1956 and is especially notable because it's the only known recording that features both Sonny and John Coltrane. I used...

Odd Times: Strategies to Improve Your 7/4 Playing

In my first odd meter post, I talked about some of the ways you can approach learning how to play better in 5/4 time. In this follow-up, I want to take some of those...

How to Improvise Over “All of Me”

All of Me was written by Gerald Marks and Seymour Simon in 1931 and has subsequently become one of the most recorded songs from that era. Popular versions of All of Me were immortalized...

How to Simplify Your Lines With Major Pentatonic Scales

Though pentatonic scales have been mentioned on the LJS site before, I want to look specifically at major pentatonic scales more in depth in this post. I’ll briefly introduce the way I think about...

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