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Home LJS Podcast LJS 236: Spice Up Your Jazz Ballad Playing with Side Step 2-5's

LJS 236: Spice Up Your Jazz Ballad Playing with Side Step 2-5’s

Welcome to episode 236 of the LJS Podcast where today I show you a simple technique that will help you take your jazz ballad playing to the next level. One of the challenges of playing ballads is the slow tempo and chords that seem to last forever. Side step 2-5’s will help you add more harmonic movement and have you sounding like a pro.

Listen to episode 236

Ballads can be some of the more difficult jazz standards to solo over top of because they’re typically played at fairly slow tempos and there’s usually a lot of space in between each chord. 

And now that may seem like a bit of a luxury for those who struggle with playing over up-tempos but believe me when I say that soloing over top of slow tempos on ballads can be just as difficult if not more difficult than playing on uptempos. 

So in today’s episode, I’m going to be giving you a cool little technique called side step 2-5’s that can actually help you fill in more of that space, create more harmonic movement and therefore, give you more options and more creativity in your jazz ballad playing.

In this episode:

1. Side Step #1: 2-5 replacing the V

2. Side Step #2: 2-5 replacing the vi

Important Links

1. LJS Inner Circle Membership (Access to ear training course)

2. LJS 59: 5 Tips for Playing Jazz Ballads Like an Expert

Brent Vaartstrahttp://www.brentvaartstra.com
Brent Vaartstra is a professional jazz guitarist and educator living in New York City. He is the head blogger and podcast host for learnjazzstandards.com 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."

3 COMMENTS

  1. I have a different(and maybe easier/lesson confusing?) way of looking at it. I’m seeing it as a chromatic descending bassline.

    Bbm7-A7-AbMaj7. And whenever you have a V7 chord, you can always add its relative ii-7.

  2. I have basically the same question as Len Bates.

    If I play sax, I guess that the piano player or guitar player as to do the same side stepping that I do in my solo ? If he does not, will my lines still sound OK, since after sounding « outside », they resolve nicely ?

  3. Side-step 2-5 sounds beautiful. Question: is this mostly for piano or guitar alone without bass accompaniment? Or can this work with a horn accompanied by a rhythm section without conflicting with the written changes?

    Thanks,
    Len Bates

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