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HomeLJS PodcastHow to Turn Scales Into Killer Jazz Solos

How to Turn Scales Into Killer Jazz Solos

Welcome to episode 229 of the LJS Podcast where today I have on special guest Brett Pontecorvo to teach us how to properly use scales to build great solos. Scales are useful tools, but if applied in an un-musical way, can be problematic. Brett walks us through some solid tips for taking vanilla scales and developing them into melodic masterpieces.

Listen to episode 229

Scales are a classic way to get started with improvising over a jazz standard and they can be quite useful. 

However, in the wrong hands and used the wrong way, they just end up sounding like scales. Very unmusical, very vanilla, and it just sort of sounds like you are playing notes overtop of jazz standards.

And that’s not really what we want. We want to play actual music, actual melodies. 

So the real big question here is how do we make scales musical?

How do we take something that is a linear pattern and turn it into something that actually has great melodic value, yet still helps you identify notes and get ideas and sounds in your head that you can use in your jazz improv?

Well, on today’s show, I have very special guest Brett Pontecorvo, who is my music production manager at Learn Jazz Standards, a phenomenal pianist and educator. He is going to teach us exactly how to take scales and make them musical so that you can play killer jazz solos with them.

In this episode:

1. How to choose which scales to play over chords

2. Mapping scales to connect them together

3. Using rhythms as a starting point

4. Intervals and leaps to begin developing melody

5. How chromaticism can help emphasize important scale tones

Important Links

1. LJS Inner Circle Membership

2. Brett’s

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."



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