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“Super Blues” Scales for Leveling-Up Your Jazz Blues Improv

The blues scale is a very useful scale, but I’ve found it doesn’t always adequately capture what jazz musicians actually play when improvising over a blues in a “bluesy” way. I distinguish the “bluesy” moments...

2 Exercises for Practicing the Major Modes

As jazz improvisers, we want to know how to navigate our instruments competently. The ultimate goal is to have the freedom to play whatever we want, and not be tied down by our technical...

Understanding Tritone Substitution

For some reason the term "Tritone Substitution" makes some musicians freeze up with terror.  While tritone substitution sounds like a tricky concept at first, it's actually not that complicated.  Let's start with a basic...

Use of Melodic Minor scale in Stella by Starlight

When you play over a minor ii-V chord progression, such as the first two chords of Stella by Starlight (which you expect to resolve to the minor i, D-, but it goes to a...

How to Master the “Backdoor” Jazz Chord Progression

Jazz’s harmonic language features a lot of common chord progressions that appear often in different jazz standards. For example, jazz musicians frequently encounter II-V-I’s, dominant 7th chords through the cycle of fourths, and III-VI-II-V’s...
3 Lessons Bill Evans Taught Me On What Is This Thing Called Love

3 Lessons Bill Evans Taught Me On “What is this Thing Called Love”

Bill Evans’s 1959 recording of “What is this Thing Called Love” from Portrait in Jazz was one of the first solos I transcribed as a jazz major in college. I learned improvisational strategies from this...

Mastering Scales with Tetrachords, Part 2

Tetrachords are groups of four notes that make up half of a scale.  You can combine two tetrachords to form any of the common jazz scales (through you may need to add a doubled...
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3 Types of Tritone Substitution with Lick Examples

An important technique that jazz musicians use to create harmonic movement is tritone substitution. This technique can add some great color to your jazz solos. In this lesson, I'm going to talk about tritone substitution, what...

2 Rhythmic Exercises Every Jazz Musician Should Practice

Every time I listen to an aspiring jazz musician, I find that for many of them their rhythmic game is not at the same level as the harmonic one. This is because most of...

Understanding Coltrane Changes Part 1

Coltrane Changes. If you've been playing jazz for a while and have really gotten deep into it, you've probably had to confront them.  At some point you've attempted to play Giant Steps at a jam...

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