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Blues for Alice

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Blues for Alice on Learn Jazz Standards is a great way to improve your ability to play more inside the changes with bebop ideas. Check out our Blues for Alice jazz etude and the solo transcription of Charlie Parker’s solo below!

Blues for Alice isn’t just an easy blues with I, IV, and V chords.   Blues for Alice changes are also referred to as “backdoor” blues changes. Whereas most blues heads move from F to Bb7, from the I7 up to the IV7 chord, Blues for Alice goes through the backdoor, down to Em7b5 (into a ii-7b5-V7-i in the relative minor, D minor).

This tune is more difficult to improvise on than the average blues tune.  The changes contain harmonic nuances, and you’ll want to construct lines that highlight the harmonic movement of the tune.  You shouldn’t navigate them with straight major and minor pentatonics. Here is an etude demonstrating a solo which navigates the changes using bebop ideas, highlighting the 3rds and 7ths of each chord.

.PDF of the Jazz Etude

Blues for Alice Etude-C Instruments (.pdf)

Blues for Alice Etude-Bb Trumpet

Blues for Alice Etude-Tenor Sax

Blues for Alice Etude-Eb Instruments

Blues for Alice Etude-Bass Clef

You can also study Bird’s original solo to help you improve your solo ideas.  Check out the way he navigates that changes.  Click here for a transcription of Bird’s solo on Blues for Alice. 

Videos to learn the melody/changes

Camden Hughes
Camden is a working jazz pianist, multi-instrumentalist, and music educator currently living near Boise, ID. He teaches music at the Idaho Arts Charter School, and is the jazz adjunct professor at Northwest Nazarene University. Check out his music at


  1. Here’s a question about this tune… and I always get bogged down with this sort of thing. I really like to learn changes to jazz tunes, standards etc by ear as much as possible. Once I’ve settled on something I then like to compare it against lead sheets… I just don’t like to start there as I feel I internalize chord changes better this way and also improve my ability to hear changes. I’ve mostly figured it all out fine by ear and comparing the ireal chart, with the real book and the chart you’ve posted here even the differences I see between them all make musical sense to me.
    However… bar 7 is a mystery to me. I’ve been through several spots and the bass player always seems to playing some kind of E to A chord. Which feels like it should be E-7b5 to A7 but every chart has this has A-7 to D7 for that bar (or on your chart it’s reduced to A-7). I get really stuck on this kind of detail as I can’t figure out what’s going on and want to understand the original changes! There isn’t really a piano chord there to help either (in the head…) just Bird’s sax and the bass. Any thoughts would be much appreciated. Best, David.


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