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Learn and Use Jazz Licks the Smart Way

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I got this comment on another one of my videos this week and it really got me thinking.

And it says, “But when you learn licks in isolation it’s hard to fit them into your solo without it sounding awkward. Some licks are only good because they were previously developed by the soloist.”

And I totally agree with that. A lot of people use jazz licks as copy and paste ideas to throw into their solos and as a result, it sounds awkward, doesn’t sound natural, and it doesn’t sound musical.

So, in today’s video, I’ll be going over how I believe you should learn jazz licks and how to use them effectively in your jazz solos.

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Further Reading:

Jazz Improvisation Made Simple: A Step-by-Step Guide

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. Good ideas thanks Brent. As a tenor player I have some keys which are more `useful `than others. I will attempt to play any riff that appeals in different keys by ear…as well as working things out on paper if I get stuck . Maybe this is how the Charlie Parkers of a bygone age worked through, listening and modifying, keeping the key in mind.


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