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Home LJS Podcast LJS 210: 1-6-2-5 Licks Over Rhythm Changes (Learning From Dexter Gordon)

LJS 210: 1-6-2-5 Licks Over Rhythm Changes (Learning From Dexter Gordon)

Welcome to episode 210 of the LJS Podcast where today I take out my guitar and do a little bit of practicing with you. We explore some incredible jazz language over 1-6-2-5 chord progressions while listening to a Dexter Gordon recording of a rhythm changes. I learn and pick apart licks from scratch to help you understand what makes them so effective and great.

Listen to episode 210

We are going to have some fun on the podcast today. 

I have not been able to pick up my guitar in a little while. I’ve been traveling. I’ve been doing a lot of work for a new membership that we have coming up here later on in the year for Learn Jazz Standards. 

And so, I’m going to be practicing with you today. We are going to learn some 1-6-2-5 material with the help of our good friend Dexter Gordon, to show us the light, to show us the way on some killer jazz language to play over 1-6-2-5 chord progressions. 

This is going to be fun. I’m excited to learn and I hope that you are excited to learn along with me. 

In this episode:

1. How Dexter Gordon uses minimalism to play powerful melody over fast-moving chord changes.

2. How Dexter Gordon plays great bebop lines over 1-6-2-5’s.

3. How Dexter Gordon makes the major pentatonic scale musical over a 1-6-2-5.

4. The power of resolving to the 3rds of different chords in the progression.

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

How to Improvise on Rhythm Changes Like a Pro

Jazz Improvisation Made Simple (book)

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 episode is, in my opinion, one of the best, if not THE best. Learning Jazz improvisation is not just a matter of theory, of licks to be linked one after the other. It is above all a lot of work, alone in front of your instrument. It is this type of information, pragmatic, that an amateur musician of beginner/intermediate level like me needs to answer the central question related to the practice of music: what do I have to work on today? How will I occupy every minute of my training session?
    Thank a lot!!

  2. I’m glad I listened to this and played along when possible. Thank ou for creating it. Very valuable. I learned a lot. A transcript would be very helpful–trying to remember all of this by ear is almost impossible.

  3. That melodic part of the lick at 11:16 that you really like is a nod to Lester Young. I can’t place the song, but I but someone else on the comments section can find it. Dex definitely has one foot in the swing era and one foot in the bebop era–just like most great beboppers of the time (like, ahem, Charlie Parker). Great podcast episode, by the way. Really enjoyed it! Hats off to your guitar sound, really clear and bell like. Non of that post Metheny mud.

  4. How do you start and stop recording??? I can’t use the tech for this. I would need to go slower than you.
    Thank you. Great lesson!!!


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