Jazz

  • Are you convinced of the benefits to learning jazz guitar but have no idea where to start?
  • Have you studied jazz before but feel frustrated that your playing doesn’t sound like jazz?
  • Do you play other styles of music and wish you could apply innovative jazz concepts to your playing?

You‘re probably amazed by watching some of the world’s top jazz guitar improvisers perform.  You might feel that you are watching them completely improvise their magical solos right on the spot.  While it’s true that the solos aren’t planned out ahead of time, much of what they’re playing has been worked out over many years of practice and improvement.

Legendary jazz guitarist Joe Diorio once said that even on his best night, he was only truly improvising 20% to 30% of the time.  For the rest of the time, he was playing ideas, lines, and concepts that he had the chance to work on and fully develop.

Most people starting to play jazz learn first about modes and the chord-scale relationship.  In this method, you look at each chord, play what scale or mode best fits it, and also determine if the nearby chords can also use the same scale.  Then, you simply connect different scales and modes depending on what the tune calls for.

While you’re playing the ‘right’ notes with this method, you aren’t necessarily thinking about each chord change.  For example, if you’re playing A minor 7 to D7 to G major 7, you can technically play a G major scale over the entire progression and perhaps you switch to G Lydian over the G major 7.  While you’re hitting all of the ‘right’ notes that are diatonic, you aren’t necessarily outlining each individual chord and each chord change.

When improvisations are based solely around modes and scales, it almost never sounds like you’re playing authentic jazz.  To play jazz well, you have to be able to play the changes and outline each chord you’re playing over.  I teach several powerful concepts that allow my students to accomplish this, including a practically unknown approach to playing bebop that the legendary Dr. David Baker created.

You may have heard before that music and jazz is a language.  While it can take time to fully understand that idea, it’s true that music is a language and that you can benefit from learning music as if you’re learning a language.

As an infant, you learned to speak by imitating the words you heard around you.  In jazz, it’s very important to learn the lines of the jazz masters and then imitate those lines.  For example, if you learn a great Coltrane ii-V-I lick, you need to insert that exact lick into tunes you know.  What will eventually happen is that the lick will become engrained in your playing.

This will start the process of you thinking about jazz as sounds and colors.  You will begin to instinctively know what sounds good over certain chords and over chord progressions.  Plus your playing will start to naturally sound like authentic jazz.

Transcribing and learning the lines of the masters is another area of learning jazz that if done correctly, will pay off substantially in the long run!

In addition to single note playing, I also teach people how to comp appropriately, how to play chord melody, and how to play solo guitar.  Most importantly, people learn how to develop their own voice while playing jazz.

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