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LJS 247: How to Crush It On a “Bird Blues” and Simplify Your Solos

Welcome to episode 247 where today we discuss strategies on Charlie Parker’s variation on a blues which has been dubbed a “Bird Blues.” Using this song form as a vessel, I show you how you can take fast moving changes, simplify them, and start navigating them without playing a bunch of notes.

Listen to episode 247

I often say that the blues is an incredible jumping-off point into jazz in learning jazz standards and how to improvise over them. 

And in today’s episode, I’m actually going to talk about a variation on the blues called a “Bird Blues”. And “bird”, of course, refers to the great saxophonist Charlie Parker, the bebop legend. 

He kind of took those basic blues changes and transformed them into lots of extra moving harmony that just made it creative. 

I think that the “Bird Blues” is an excellent example of how we can take a basic blues form and start transitioning into a more typical jazz standard harmony which is going to open up the doors to being able to improvise over tons and tons of different tunes professionally. 

This is going to be a really good episode. I’m going to give you some strategies and go over what “Bird Blues” is. 

In this episode:

1. Understanding “Bird Blues” Harmony

2. Sensoring the chord changes

3. Using motivic development to simplify your lines

Important Links

1. Learn Jazz Live 2021 Virtual Summit

2. LJS Inner Circle Membership

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. Her Gregg
    Check out iReal pro app. 1300 jazz tunes with chords and backing tracks. Blues for Alice are the same changes as this podcast- bird blues. So that might help. Then you can pick up lines that Brent is playing pretty easy by ear, maybe? Or your on melodic ideas
    Good luck


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