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HomeLJS PodcastLearn Jazz Standards Mapping out a Jazz Blues for Improv Success

[Strategy #1] Mapping out a Jazz Blues for Improv Success

Welcome to episode 185 of the LJS Podcast where we continue “Jazz Blues Month!” In this episode, I cover the first of 3 strategies I’ll be covering on crushing it on a jazz blues. Strategy #1 is “Mapping”, and I go over 3 phases of mapping over a jazz blues. After mapping, the mystery of what notes to play will be completely solved.

Listen to episode 185

We are continuing Jazz Blues Month here on the LJS podcast where we are diving in deep to the jazz blues, the importance of it and of course, how to improvise over it and master the jazz blues.

In week 1, last week of the podcast, I gave you 3 reasons why you need to master the jazz blues, how important this is and how powerful this is and how it can give you an unfair advantage in your jazz playing if you are highly proficient at it.

And in this week, we are starting our first of 3 strategies we are going over here. We are talking about how to map out a jazz blues for improv success and how important I believe this is in the several different phases of the mapping process that will start to unlock this important chord form in jazz.

In this episode:

1. Mapping and why it’s so important

2. A Basic Jazz Blues Form run-through

3. Phase 1: Chord Tone Mapping

4. Phase 2: Guide Tone Mapping

5. Phase 3: Scale Mapping

6. How to take Mapping to the next level on a jazz blues

Thanks for listening to this episode of the Learn Jazz Standards Podcast. If you aren’t already, make sure you are subscribed on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

I look forward to having you join me in the next episode!

Important Links

Jazz Blues Accelerator Course

LJS 184: 3 Reasons You NEED to Master a Jazz Blues

Brent Vaartstra
Brent Vaartstra is a professional jazz guitarist and educator living in New York City. He is the head blogger and podcast host for which he owns and operates. He actively performs around the New York metropolitan area and is the author of the Hal Leonard publication "Visual Improvisation for Jazz Guitar." He's also the host of the music entrepreneurship podcast "Passive Income Musician."


  1. Hey, Brent! Fantastic content in this podcast. This is the most concise, logical, and understandable explanation of mapping I've ever seen or heard. Thanks for that. Question: when you play the I7 chord, I hear a 6th in there, and not a dominant 7th. Is my ear (and keyboard) in need of recalibration?

    • Hey Christopher, glad you enjoyed this episode! What you're actually hearing is the 13th, so just the extension on top of the Dominant 7 basic structure, which is common. No need for calibration, but just to realize you can add many different extensions and alterations on top of the basic R-3-5-b7 structure.

  2. Great podcast Brent; rapid fire and crammed with essentials. I love all the podcasts but am especially tuned in for jazz blues month. With all this upfront information, it’s hard to imagine there’ll be anything left to cover in the jazz blues accelerator course, but I know there will be, no need to reassure.

    • Hey Aidan, glad you're enjoying them! I'm all about being transparent and share as much value as I possibly can. While there certainly is new information in Jazz Blues Accelerator, this course is all about the process, strategy, materials, community, and transformation. Not just piling on a bunch of tactics and tools. All of which I will provide! Hope to see you in the Boost Your Jazz Blues free Masterclass of Sunday, October 6th, and in Jazz Blues Accelerator after.

  3. Brent – I enjoyed this podcast and am looking forward to the release of the jazz blues course.

    I'm an intermediate guitar player, so when you say "mapping out" would you recommend that I literally tab out the elements you describe in the podcast (chord tone, guide tone and scale mapping)? I have a great program that helps me do this and I believe it would be beneficial for me to do this, but wanted to get your thoughts.

    Thank you again for the wonderful podcasts and website!

    • Hey there! Glad you enjoyed the episode and happy to hear you are considering Jazz Blues Accelerator.

      I personally don't think there is a problem with tabbing out stuff, but at the same time, the goal is not that you are reading them on a page. Unless this is a substitute for regular notation? If you're looking for fingerings, I would say just spend the extra time exploring ones that work best for you.


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