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LJS 162: Developing an Engaging Story Line for Your Jazz Solos (feat. Aimee Nolte)

Welcome to episode 162 of the LJS Podcast where today we have on special guest Aimee Nolte on the show to share with us how to develop an engaging solo that tells a story. Aimee thinks the biggest mistake she sees jazz improvisers make is coming out of the gate playing a slew of notes and run-on lines. She shows us how she develops a great jazz solo and let’s loose and some amazing tips.

Listen to episode 162

I don’t know about you, but the solos that I take where I leave feeling satisfied and happy with them are the ones where I start out with some ideas.

I build on those ideas. I develop them. I climax the ideas, then I hand off the baton to the next musician to improvise.

And the solos that I feel unsatisfied with or disappointed with are the ones where I just start playing as many notes as possible, getting as many ideas out there under the table. And not really considering the development of the solo.

Well, that’s what Aimee Nolte calls one of the biggest mistakes that she sees jazz musicians do when they are improvising.

So, on the show today, I have special guest Aimee Nolte to lay it down for us, to tell us how we can develop awesome jazz solos.

In this episode:

1. The biggest mistake jazz improvisers make

2. How to use simple melodic ideas that repeat to make the audience “feel smart”

3. How to develop your solo so it tells a story

4. Aimee’s new album and why you should check it out

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

Aimee’s website

Aimee’s new album

LJS 60: How to Develop Relative Pitch (feat. Aimee Nolte)

LJS 154: How to Avoid Meandering Jazz Solos (feat. Jeff Schneider)

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. This was a great episode. I loved the idea of just carving out a couple chords or bars and working on ideas over just those changes. And listening for an idea and responding to the last idea played. Really a great way to build a story. Also Aimee's idea of the solo or performance as an series of interactions with an audience, sometimes engaging them by fulfilling expectations and then sometimes holding their interest by surprising them — what a great way to think about a musical performance … especially an instrumental musical performance.


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