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  1. #1

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    Hey guys. I've played guitar for almost 25 years now. It's mostly been blues with occasional rock and country. However, jazz was always my achilles heel. I was afraid of it. Striving to conquer those fears I dedicated myself to learning it a year and a half ago. I've played or listened to little else in that time and have been turned on to some amazing artists. I've been working with a jazz guitar teacher once a week on this stuff the entire time and feel like I've learned a lot. I'm particularly excited about what I've learned about comping and chord structures. I've got a long ways to go with those still but am really enjoying hearing how they work over the tunes I'm practicing. Unfortunately... soloing is another thing. I just don't get it I guess. My instructor has been trying his best to help me get it, but I just simply don't understand the thinking that goes into creating a solo. After 25 years of playing, I'm certain I can make my hands do whatever my brain tells them to do. It's just that I'm stuck. I can learn arpeggios and scales and even play them over the chord changes until I'm blue in the face but I'm still not hearing it. So, I've listened over and over to horn players soloing. I've tried transcribing them but always end up frustrated. Too damn fast! I also just don't see how they're coming up with what they're playing. Was I just ruined by years of blues, rock, and country. Those are so much simpler to solo over. I had nice little patterns on the fretboard to base my solos from. Then I'd just move a few notes around that pattern to give them character. That doesn't seem to be appropriate in jazz. I'm at my wits end and am about to say to hell with all this. But I don't wanna give up. Please help. Please give me some insight. Is it going to take another 25 years before I'm proficient enough to play a simple solo?

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  3. #2

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    Hey Dallas,
    I know you're not alone out there ...

    First, though, I'd wonder what your teacher has to say about your dilemma?

  4. #3

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    Ask you teacher..."Why am I not getting this?"....

    Are you really listening..??

    ..do you understand the theory of what notes to play over a given chord..

    do you see what notes are written and are played in a transcription against a given chord..?

    you have to get acclimated to the jazz language....both listening and in your playing....

    if you give a 4 bar phrase (written) to a rock guitar player...a classical guitar player...and a jazz guitar player..and have each one play the phrase...(one at a time alone without hearing one another playing)...you will hear three different variations in the outcome....

    it's not the notes but the way they are played...

    the bigger the island the longer the shoreline...playing jazz takes a bit more time....

    time on the instrument..

  5. #4

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    a few ideas:

    start simple. focus on 12-bar blues at first. scat sing solos over jazz blues tunes - over and over. play simple blues solos too. try simple question and answer motifs.

    try Basic Improvisation at Berklee Music Online or buy Ed Tomassi's DVD (much cheaper).

    listen to some Chet Baker. he played by ear and took his time. for example - he played beautiful, masterful, melodic solos on Jim Hall's Concierto LP. you may want to learn his solo on the title track, its a simple modal progression and goes at a liesurely pace. very nice.

    Dexter Gordon was another terrific player who was very melodic. check him out too. again, especially on the blues.

    for guitar you can start with Grant Green and Charlie Christian solos.

  6. #5

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    You just gotta be patient and stick with it. One common problem I've noticed is that in this age with so much easy access to information (the internet and a million books), people often get overloaded with concepts. When you try to take on too much at once, you will get overloaded and easily frustrated. Jazz improvisation is possibly the most difficult thing to teach in music. Teaching people how to read, chords, scales, theory -- that is all very straight forward. But teaching someone how to be creative with notes and chords is quite difficult, and even harder to learn it. For me jazz improvisation has been a 23 year journey and I still feel like a noob, and like there is more I that I don't know than I know.

    I don't think it will take you another 25 years though. With a few years of regular practice on jazz improvisation techniques, and just as important -- listen to jazz constantly and copying what you hear --- you should be able to do some adequate jazz soloing in that time.

    Another possiblity to consider is that your jazz teacher isn't really quite up to snuff on jazz. I know where I live there is this thrash metal guitar player who teaches "jazz". I've heard him play what he calls "jazz" and it sounds like absolute crap. He thinks just because he knows lot's of scales and what a ii-V-I is, he is a jazz teacher. IMO, You can't really teach someone how to play authentic sounding jazz unless you play jazz as your primary style, for a loooooooooooooooooooooong time. I've stumbled on more than a few "jazz" guitar teachers online too that have websites / skype lessons and you listen to their playing and you can tell their just playing memorized Charlie Parker licks or something, lol. That doesn't necessarily make them a good jazz teacher. Or even worse, they don't have any examples of their playing posted...

    Anyways, even if your teacher is a competent jazz soloer, like I said, it's extremely difficult to teach & learn. Just stick with it man. Everything that you learn, every scale, arpeggio, jazz theory, memorized charlie parker lick, whatever, it's going to help. The enemy of musical learning is impatience and frustration. So don't be impatient ;o) I know easier said that done.

    And if you haven't already signed up for Gary Burton's free jazz improv class, do it:
    https://www.coursera.org/#course/improvisation

    It starts in 3 days!

  7. #6

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    I highly recommend this instructional video course : Bebop Improvisation Survival Guide - Fareed Haque - Guitar Lessons

    This might be the most helpful instructional video I've seen, Fareed's way of teaching improvisation is simple but very effective, and it just made perfect sense to me. You'll have many many hours of training material and I can assure you it will put you on the right track. I've taken many lessons with teachers, paying 40$ per hour. This is only 29 $ so it's a real steal.

  8. #7

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    What music do you love most? Really take some time and think about it; what do you love and most want to play? If you could only play one style or genre, what would you choose? Is it bebop, cool jazz, smooth, blues, rock, bluegrass ? As Guitarzen mentioned above it is very easy to be overloaded with information, and with that info comes the mindset that you have to "do it all", master every style like Tommy Tedesco. The studio musicians "coming out of their closet" in the 70's made a lot of players feel that they weren't good enough because they just couldn't (or hadn't thought to) play every style under the sun. You don't have to, and very few ever do, on any instrument. Do you want to play jazz because you're following your heart, or because you think you have to "be a good musician" in your own mind or others?

  9. #8

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    Assuming your goal is to play solos over changes in the bebop tradition, transcribe and memorize a few solos from players you like. Use a slow down program. Play them over and over again with the recording for months until they are fully internalized and try to get them up to tempo. Pay attention to the harmonic cells, particularly II-V-Is. Internalizing one chorus of a wes or grant or raney solo will do more for your soloing than memorizing a thousand scales and arpeggios in every position.

    If you feel like you understand the bebop language but can't play it in "real time" then pre-compose your own solos on paper, and then memorize and play them at slow tempos with a backing track. Pick tunes with changes (i.e. not autumn leaves or blue bossa!)

  10. #9

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    go on a jazz concerts and meet people you need only inspiration, and jazzy friends.. try a jazz worschop a best way to know people

  11. #10

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    try a jazz workshoop

  12. #11

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    When you have a big, complicated goal, it is usually helpful to break it down into small, achievable tasks.

    So, if you want to learn to solo over changes, practice over small chunks of changes at a slow tempo, with a limited group of note choices--you only need twelve (or fewer) tones to create a compelling solo. Start looping the changes and experimenting. Make incremental changes to your solo, changing a note or a rhythm here or there, noting what choices take the solo in the dirction that sounds right. Record your experiments and anylize them. IReal book, Band in a Box, or Impro-Visor will be helpful with slowing down and looping phrases. As you improve you can increase length, speed, note choices--but don't increase all at once.

    The way you describe yourself sounds like an "advanced beginner". You have learned scales and arpeggios, so you know the "avoid" notes. I am going to guess that some of your experiments will show you why avoid notes can also be "color tones".

    "The Goal Note Method", by Shedon Berg, provides a good overview about how to improvise. There are probably some good materials on specific genres that you are interested in. There is slow-down software to help with transcribing, but I don't think there is enough bang for the buck in transcribing for an advanced beginner. Plenty of people disagree with me there.

    Keep spending some daily practice time working on scales and arpeggios. They have to become second nature. Don't practice them in the same patterns all the time.

    Don't get discouraged. I think if you start expermenting and analyizing you will discover how to make solos that sound good to you, and you will see how the fundamentals you have learned are used to build those solos.

  13. #12

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    Well for me, my little Sony digital recorder is indispensable. One, after taping a piece of someone's solo, I can put it on the computer and slow it down. I might work for about a half hour to get 10 to 15 seconds of music transcribed.

    After enough sessions, I have the whole solo, and then work on getting the playing closer to the original in terms of timing and phrasing.

    The other thing is, when working on a tune, I'll record the rhythm chords, then play the melody over and over. It's important to memorize these.

    Then I'll make a "road map" thru the changes, using arpeggios for quick changes and scales for longer ones. Play with note order, connecting one to the other, etc. Again, very important to memorize.

    Also by playing the melody against the chords over and over, little embellishments start to happen. Then the idea is to merge the two pieces, melodic embellishments and "road map".

    I'm still at the stage of "slow motion" improv, in other words, worked out solos. For me this is a necessary stage towards eventually doing true improv.

    Time on the ... ah, you get it.

  14. #13

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    You've had a long history with your instrument. The guitar is your friend. Not always. You are, of course, haunted by things that came easy in other genres. You hands have ways and your imagination has other ways.
    Have you tried putting your guitar down?
    If you can't sing it without a guitar, your hands will tell your story for you but your ears may not be happy.
    In plain English, try to imagine a solo, sing your imagination, make your voice your instrument. Then teach your hands to play your ideas.
    You might try putting on a recording, some Miles, something you like that's not all over the place. Do you like it? Can you sing some ideas that would work? Can you see your sense of space forming something out of the chaos? Make a little solo?
    Don't worry if you don't nail every arpeggio your teacher told you you need to know, this is about getting to know your music sense. Sing along, hum along, tap along, but join the band. NOT a playalong record. I mean a recording.

    If you begin to sense your own tendencies, the ease of how you create a line, keep those things in mind as cues to what to do when a guitar is in your hands.

    Or not. Just a humble suggestion.
    David

  15. #14

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    In addition to all the good (albeit sometimes a little conflicting) advice already here, I'll toss in a plug for book that has helped many: Effortless Mastery by Kenny Werner.

    Matt

  16. #15

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    Frustrated and ready to give up!-mick2-pngFrom The Advancing Guitarist by Mick Goodrick keep this book in mind. It may be the most important book you run across when you do seek it out... this from Pg.95:

    Feeling "Stale?"

    Things to try when you feel "stale" (about your playing or music):

    - Play on the tunes that you are currently playing, but at least twice as slow. (And no double time!) This way, if you start to play any of your "pet licks" (or your "beef stew"), it will sound so bad to you that you'll probably stop right in the middle and quite possibly actually start to improvise, since, at the slower tempo, yo'll have much more time (and space) to think/hear/feel other kinds of ideas.

    -Ask yourself: "Is there anything really important in music that I've forgotten about?"

    -Feed a loaf (or two) of bread to some pigeons, ducks, sea gulls, or other types of birds.

    -Imagine a time or circumstance where you could never play the guitar again.

    -Go for a long walk.

    -Cry

    -Stop playing the guitar and/or listening to music for 1,2,3,4,5,6 or 7 days.

    -Stop playing the guitar, but listen to a lot of music for 1,2,3,4,5,6 or 7 days.

    -Change the strings on your guitar and polish it.

    -Send your guitar "back to the factory" to either be retuned or recycled.



    ' hope you find something useful or amusing in this-
    David



    Last edited by TH; 04-28-2013 at 03:28 PM.

  17. #16

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    Ha ha. The truth is, I dare you to give up. I'm afraid you have reached the point of no return. Welcome to the realm of the damned, welcome to.....jazz. It chooses you, you don't choose it.

  18. #17

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    I second TruthHertz endorsement of Mick Goodrick's book. Goodrick, like Kenny Werner, is clearly influenced by Zen and/or other "eastern" schools of thought. Interesting that the last thing on Mick's list is "send your guitar back", which could be read as "give up." In Kenny's book he also mentions at one point something about how "some of you reading this" would in fact be happier if you did give up. I think the point both guys are making is to examine and re-examine why we do this in the first place. You almost have to fall in love with the process rather than the outcomes. (Although outcomes are certainly nice, and normal to desire). If one desires to become a full-time professional jazz musician, you have a lot of work do. If one's goal is mostly to have fun, challenge oneself, maybe play a few gigs, you still have a lot of work to do. Either way, relaxing into the long process is important.

    To the OP, I have similar experience to you in that I played blues (and other "roots" music) for years and only dabbled in jazz. Then I hardly did anything with the guitar or music at all for years. Then about a year and 8 months ago, I decided to get back into it, with a heavy focus on jazz. I have seem some progress, but still feel dissatisfied a lot. It seems quite common actually to feel this way about ones own playing. Check out that recent thread Flyin' Brian started with the Pat Metheny quotes to see how many "masters" are also frustrated or insecure with their own playing. So really, when you say you've been at for a year and half, that really isn't that long when put in perspective. Jazz just takes a while.

    Another point is that you say you feel you've made progress with chords and comping and you're excited about it. Great! Soloing isn't everything, and for guitarists, it may not even be the most important thing in terms of many gigs.

    Lastly, for whatever it's worth-if you are into books, I (and many others) have found a few in particular very useful in terms of analyzing what makes scales and arpeggios into more musical, melodic lines, which of course translates into how to practice the material. Bert Ligons' Comprehensive Technique for Jazz Musicians has an enormous amount of well organized material, and Randy Vincent's recent Line Games is great because it is guitar-specific. Lots of other stuff out there, but I've found those two very useful.
    Last edited by MattC; 04-28-2013 at 09:24 AM.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by TruthHertz View Post
    Frustrated and ready to give up!-mick2-pngFrom The Advancing Guitarist by Mick Goodrick keep this book in mind. It may be the most important book you run across when you do seek it out...

    I love that section of the book!

    And great pic of Mick with an archtop -- cool!

  20. #19

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    Thanks so much for the replies... and definitely keep them coming. I love hearing from guys who've played jazz for a while and might've encountered roadblocks like the one I'm struggling with. Some of the points that really resonated with me here are these: to decide what kind of music I really enjoy, listen to the music more, be able to hum lines, solos, or phrases. These are all points that my teacher has tried to relate to me. I see the merit in them all and try to do them everyday. Sometimes, however, I think I might actually listen to too much music. Does that make sense? It's hard to absorb anything when I feel so all over the map. For instance, I might listen to Benny Goodman, Lester Young, Count Basie, Wes Montgomery, Miles, Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Kenny Burrell, Jimmy Smith, Sonny Rollins, Grant Green... the list goes on, in any given week. I get so much music bombarding my imagination that it's virtually impossible to really... I mean really... listen. Has anyone ever experienced this? Then I'm stuck trying to decide which path to follow.

  21. #20

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    It's a very good thing to listen to a lot of music. Be aware that there are many ways to listen to music. The better (the more thinking, aware and feeling) an instrumentalist you are, the more you'll hear in what you listen to. At first it's always nice to dig the groove, the technical abilities, the sound of an artist, but as you grow, you'll (hopefully) be aware of the choices they took not to play something, to embrace the unexpected. The process of listening should grow as your ability to hear, sing and control your hands. It takes time. Don't ever stop growing. Collect the music you love in your mental i-tunes, and be patient; in the end, that journey is never wasted.
    Or I might say, don't ever stop going after what makes you happy
    David

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by dallasblues View Post
    Thanks so much for the replies... and definitely keep them coming. I love hearing from guys who've played jazz for a while and might've encountered roadblocks like the one I'm struggling with. Some of the points that really resonated with me here are these: to decide what kind of music I really enjoy, listen to the music more, be able to hum lines, solos, or phrases. These are all points that my teacher has tried to relate to me. I see the merit in them all and try to do them everyday. Sometimes, however, I think I might actually listen to too much music. Does that make sense? It's hard to absorb anything when I feel so all over the map. For instance, I might listen to Benny Goodman, Lester Young, Count Basie, Wes Montgomery, Miles, Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Kenny Burrell, Jimmy Smith, Sonny Rollins, Grant Green... the list goes on, in any given week. I get so much music bombarding my imagination that it's virtually impossible to really... I mean really... listen. Has anyone ever experienced this? Then I'm stuck trying to decide which path to follow.
    Learn swing first and forget bebop.

  23. #22

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    Huh?

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevebol View Post
    Learn swing first and forget bebop.
    This is kinda what I'm starting to wonder. Am I trying to run before I've learned to walk? There's some Bebop that I'd really like to play. But at this stage, I just don't "get it" yet. I feel like I'm trying to force it to happen. It's like cramming a square peg through a round hole. However, I can listen to Count Basie or Charlie Christian and can hear and feel what's going on. My foot taps and it feels good. When I listen to Charlie Parker or Sonny Rollins (whom I love) I start thinking and trying to figure it out. It's not a feel thing there, it's analytical. That's when I get frustrated.

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by dallasblues View Post
    I had nice little patterns on the fretboard to base my solos from. Then I'd just move a few notes around that pattern to give them character. That doesn't seem to be appropriate in jazz. I'm at my wits end and am about to say to hell with all this. But I don't wanna give up. Please help. Please give me some insight. Is it going to take another 25 years before I'm proficient enough to play a simple solo?
    That's exactly what is happening in jazz too! A lot of solos are based around motifs. Little melodic fragments. Say you have the chords Cmaj7 to C7 to Fmaj7. You could play a simple sequence of notes like E,G,B,D,C,G. For the C7, you could play the same phrase just change the B to a Bb. Then on the Fmaj7 you could follow up with a new phrase that outlines that chord but somehow is a good follow up to the preceding two phrases.

    Trying to play long, flowing notes of 8th notes with triplets and flurries is usually too demanding in the beginning before your ear has picked up the vocabulary of jazz, and that vocabulary is in your ear and under your fingers.

    What tunes are you working on? Maybe your teacher has you playing "All the things you are" or some tune with lots of key changes. That's a nice intermendiate tune, but not what I'd assign a beginner to learn, especially not for soloing.

    I don't teach much these days, but when I had students I usually had them play over "Autumn Leaves" as their first tune. It's a very simple tune to play over. 12 bar blues is actually difficult to sound good on. Anyone can play blues licks off the tonal center on that tune just like you'd approach a blues in a rock setting. But to really outline the chords on that form and sound good is really difficult.

    Another simple tune to start with is "Take the A Train". The chord movements are not too hard to hear on that one. "Bye Bye Blackbird" is also a good beginner tune, and you can keep working on that tune for a long time as you get more advanced.

    If you can't hear what you're playing, you might play too fast tempos or too many notes.
    Try this on a simple tune. Pick an interval. Thirds are good for starters since they are easy to hear. Now on each chord you play the third only, but you vary the rhythm. Then the next step is to approach that third from a half step below. Then add a half step above. Then enclose the third chromatically above and below and vice versa. Then build a diatonic arpeggio from the third(ex: on a Cmaj7 in the key of C you'd build and Em7 arp, on Dm7 in the key of C you'd build an Fmaj7 arp).

    Then when you have these concepts mix them up. Approach the arpeggio chromatically and change the order of notes in the arpeggio. Then add scales and before too long, you'll play some great lines!

    Again I think it boils down to this: Beginners try to play too fast tempos and too many notes. For your ear to pick up the sounds, you can't have them fly by super fast. When I was starting out I practiced everything at 120bpm. I still do that whenever there is a new concept I want to work into my ear. You have to practice slow when something is not in your ear.

    I hope this helps. It'd be great to hear more specifically what your teacher has assigned you to work on, especially for repertoire. Does he teach a chord-scale approach or a key-center approach? Are you assigned to work on licks as a supplemental practice?

    Hope this helps.

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by AmundLauritzen View Post
    That's exactly what is happening in jazz too! A lot of solos are based around motifs. Little melodic fragments. Say you have the chords Cmaj7 to C7 to Fmaj7. You could play a simple sequence of notes like E,G,B,D,C,G. For the C7, you could play the same phrase just change the B to a Bb. Then on the Fmaj7 you could follow up with a new phrase that outlines that chord but somehow is a good follow up to the preceding two phrases.

    Trying to play long, flowing notes of 8th notes with triplets and flurries is usually too demanding in the beginning before your ear has picked up the vocabulary of jazz, and that vocabulary is in your ear and under your fingers.

    What tunes are you working on? Maybe your teacher has you playing "All the things you are" or some tune with lots of key changes. That's a nice intermendiate tune, but not what I'd assign a beginner to learn, especially not for soloing.

    I don't teach much these days, but when I had students I usually had them play over "Autumn Leaves" as their first tune. It's a very simple tune to play over. 12 bar blues is actually difficult to sound good on. Anyone can play blues licks off the tonal center on that tune just like you'd approach a blues in a rock setting. But to really outline the chords on that form and sound good is really difficult.

    Another simple tune to start with is "Take the A Train". The chord movements are not too hard to hear on that one. "Bye Bye Blackbird" is also a good beginner tune, and you can keep working on that tune for a long time as you get more advanced.

    If you can't hear what you're playing, you might play too fast tempos or too many notes.
    Try this on a simple tune. Pick an interval. Thirds are good for starters since they are easy to hear. Now on each chord you play the third only, but you vary the rhythm. Then the next step is to approach that third from a half step below. Then add a half step above. Then enclose the third chromatically above and below and vice versa. Then build a diatonic arpeggio from the third(ex: on a Cmaj7 in the key of C you'd build and Em7 arp, on Dm7 in the key of C you'd build an Fmaj7 arp).

    Then when you have these concepts mix them up. Approach the arpeggio chromatically and change the order of notes in the arpeggio. Then add scales and before too long, you'll play some great lines!

    Again I think it boils down to this: Beginners try to play too fast tempos and too many notes. For your ear to pick up the sounds, you can't have them fly by super fast. When I was starting out I practiced everything at 120bpm. I still do that whenever there is a new concept I want to work into my ear. You have to practice slow when something is not in your ear.

    I hope this helps. It'd be great to hear more specifically what your teacher has assigned you to work on, especially for repertoire. Does he teach a chord-scale approach or a key-center approach? Are you assigned to work on licks as a supplemental practice?

    Hope this helps.
    Thank you! It does!

    So far, the jazz I'm trying to learn is all over the map. For instance, I might listen to Charlie Christian or Count Basie in the morning, Wes Montgomery at lunch, and Sonny Rollins or Coltrane in the evening. By the time I go to bed, I have multiple approaches to soloing rattling around in my head and feel overwhelmed. That being said, Charlie Christian's solos are the easiest for me to hear, feel and understand. They speak to me louder than just about anyone else's at the moment and I can visualize myself playing them. While Wes Montgomery and Rollins certainly give me a buzz, their solos just overwhelm me right now. Should I put them on the back-burner for now and focus on what speaks to me?

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by dallasblues View Post
    This is kinda what I'm starting to wonder. Am I trying to run before I've learned to walk? There's some Bebop that I'd really like to play. But at this stage, I just don't "get it" yet. I feel like I'm trying to force it to happen. It's like cramming a square peg through a round hole. However, I can listen to Count Basie or Charlie Christian and can hear and feel what's going on. My foot taps and it feels good. When I listen to Charlie Parker or Sonny Rollins (whom I love) I start thinking and trying to figure it out. It's not a feel thing there, it's analytical. That's when I get frustrated.
    My background might be similar to yours in a way. I've been playing 40+ years. For many years people tried to get me to be a Stevie Ray Vaughn clone and I always resisted. I played a lot of blues from the start but I also played Charlie Christian swing. I always included it.
    Bebop is tough and swing is much more accessable. It's better to be a good swing guitarist than a bad bop guitarist. I would definitely learn jazz progressively in your shoes. You could set aside a certain amount of time for bop but I'd focus on swing the majority of the time. Spend a little time on good Charlie Parker heads like 'Donna Lee' and 'Blues for Alice'. They sound good at any speed and I think of the heads as solos. There's a wealth of ideas there that will keep you going. The majority of the time- Charlie Christian. Everything Charlie Christian, and Freddie Green big band rhythm. Grab Peter Broadbents bio about Charlie for a fun read. It will get you into the swing of things.
    Boppers will tell you to throw the baby out with the bathwater and throw the whole spectrum of jazz at you. You'll only get frustrated. Be selective with what you listen to. Christian was a master at long solos and repitition so listen to the non-Goodman recordings a lot. Charlie Christian, a few Bird charts, a little Wes. See how Wes dealt with fast tempos.
    Blues guitarists usually play chords in a relaxed way and swing takes a little most strength. Learn your 3-4 voice chords and practice slowly shifting between them. I figured them out on my own but you can dig them up somewhere. Watch out for tabs of Charlie Christian solos. They have odd fingerings. Try to think of riffing off of chords. If you're playing in A for example there will be tons of licks off of the V chord- E7. Think of playing riffs out of different chords and postions, just like you would in blues. Maybe 4 differnt postions for one chord. Experiment.
    Give Eddie Lang a listen too. And Django. It's not like Charlie Christian was the only guy who could play guitar back then. I'd still choose him or someone from that era and make him the main focus.

    You'll be comfortable with the swing language if you know blues. You just have to think a little quicker. Blues tempos and meters are more difficult than the basic swing groove. For me anyway.
    Last edited by Stevebol; 04-29-2013 at 12:24 PM.

  28. #27

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    I definitely think you gotta go with what you can hear...start with CC...can't really go wrong...he kinda wrote the book for guitar players.

    And you gotta learn tunes...there has to be a context for this stuff...
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by dallasblues View Post
    Thank you! It does!

    So far, the jazz I'm trying to learn is all over the map. For instance, I might listen to Charlie Christian or Count Basie in the morning, Wes Montgomery at lunch, and Sonny Rollins or Coltrane in the evening. By the time I go to bed, I have multiple approaches to soloing rattling around in my head and feel overwhelmed. That being said, Charlie Christian's solos are the easiest for me to hear, feel and understand. They speak to me louder than just about anyone else's at the moment and I can visualize myself playing them. While Wes Montgomery and Rollins certainly give me a buzz, their solos just overwhelm me right now. Should I put them on the back-burner for now and focus on what speaks to me?
    Absolutely! The more something hits home, the more likely it is that it'll start creeping into your playing. I'd say only transcribe what you really like. Some teachers say "transcribe [insert name here]", but if you don't dig that player it's a waste of time. When you sit down and try to work out a phrase or a solo by a player you really like, practicing is all that much more fun. Charlie Christian is a great place to start, because his phrases are simple but very rhythmically strong and musical. Many of the bebop guitar players who emerged in the 50's started out with Charlie Christian. Tal Farlow, Herb Ellis and Charlie Byrd. Even Wes has a foundation in Charlie Christians solos. Since his phrases are harmonically simple and rhythmically open, they are perfect as blueprints for your own phrases. You can attach new ideas to the phrases and twist them around to create new music. That is not always so simple if you're working with complex phrases by Metheny or Rosenwinkel for example.

    If you work with Charlie Christians phrases alongside with making up your own lines, you'll come a long way. Use scales and arpeggios as a template for constructing your own lines.
    Here's a nice way I like to work to get licks into my playing and make them a natural part of my vocab:

    On a tune, pick out the part that gives you the most trouble or that you have difficulty working on. Say you're working on "Bye Bye Blackbird" in the key of F and the bar with Bbm7 to Eb7 gives you trouble, but the rest of the tune you have no problem playing over.

    Now listen to a player you want to learn from playing that tune. Pick out a chorus where he plays over those chords where you really like what he's doing. Learn just that phrase. If it's a fast phrase, you can use a program like "Transcribe" to slow down the audio but retain the pitch so you can pick out and learn the phrase easier.

    Now improvise freely on the tune, but whenever that part comes around, play that lick you learned.

    When you really know that lick, you can transcribe another one and add that. This is how you build a vocabulary.

    If there are several places in the tune giving you problems, you can work on more licks simultaneously. Maybe the F7 on the bridge of "Bye Bye Blackbird" is giving you trouble. Learn a lick by your favorite player over that chord. Improvise freely on the form, but when the F7 part comes around and the Bbm7 to Eb7 part comes around, play those licks.

    After a while, you'll be able to lead in and out of the licks in a natural way. When you get even more practice, you'll find the lick has changed completely from it's original form, because you'll find yourself varying it rhythmically and altering it into something different.

    I took "Bye Bye Blackbird" as an example, but you can use whatever tune you're working on.

  30. #29

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    You can probably play better than you think. My suggestion is as follows:

    1. Put on a standard in the 60 to 100 bpm range.
    2. Put your hands randomly somewhere on the fret board
    3. Play by ear (don't think about scales chords etc.), but let your ear and intuition guide you. Be very careful to play in time.
    4. Listen very closely to what you are playing

    Record yourself if you can. You might be surprised.

  31. #30

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    I also agree with the comments about carefully choosing who you study and transcribe. Listen to whatever you like, but for transcribing and serious study, be selective. Ask yourself, if you had to pick only 2 or 3 players on which to base your sound, who would they be? Just making the decision in the first place might be revealing, let along the work of transcribing and studying!

    Matt

  32. #31

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    I know how you feel - I first started working on Jazz (on and off) nearly 40 years ago and I have limitations. I decided quite a while ago that I don't wanna play Charlie Parker or anything that's real technical. I'm pretty darn good at playing the blues, and I like Jazz with a blues feel. I like melodic phrases with some dissonance, but not way out there!

    You've been given some good advice here, and I have some similar suggestions.

    Don't listen to so much music. In fact, pick one song that you really like and listen to it over and over. You should end up with a recording of it in your head, including the guitar solo.

    Next, record yourself playing the chords of that song at a slower pace. Use that to jam along with, improvising and trying different ideas. When you're ready make another recording of the progression at a faster pace.

    Repeat the process with another song by a guitarist that you like and that isn't so challenging that you want to give up.

  33. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by garydriver5 View Post
    i have read that alot of people with diabetes have given up bread altogethor, but i have found that no 2 people are the same, some even as diabetics react differently to different food. i dont have such a blood sugar spike when i eat white bread, but i still eat whole wheat because it helps with diabetes. as so many tell you, test, then adjust. good luck.
    I have read that alot of people that are trying not to eat cupcakes are finding a workable solution by eating small pieces of cake in little round pieces of paper. They are able to tell themselves that "small cakes in paper wrappers" are in fact, NOT really cupcakes. Other people are able to give up cup cakes completely but different "cuppers" react to cup cakes differently, especially depending on what you have to drink with them. Good luck.

  34. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by dallasblues View Post
    Hey guys. I've played guitar for almost 25 years now. It's mostly been blues with occasional rock and country. However, jazz was always my achilles heel. I was afraid of it. Striving to conquer those fears I dedicated myself to learning it a year and a half ago. I've played or listened to little else in that time and have been turned on to some amazing artists. I've been working with a jazz guitar teacher once a week on this stuff the entire time and feel like I've learned a lot. I'm particularly excited about what I've learned about comping and chord structures. I've got a long ways to go with those still but am really enjoying hearing how they work over the tunes I'm practicing. Unfortunately... soloing is another thing. I just don't get it I guess. My instructor has been trying his best to help me get it, but I just simply don't understand the thinking that goes into creating a solo. After 25 years of playing, I'm certain I can make my hands do whatever my brain tells them to do. It's just that I'm stuck. I can learn arpeggios and scales and even play them over the chord changes until I'm blue in the face but I'm still not hearing it. So, I've listened over and over to horn players soloing. I've tried transcribing them but always end up frustrated. Too damn fast! I also just don't see how they're coming up with what they're playing. Was I just ruined by years of blues, rock, and country. Those are so much simpler to solo over. I had nice little patterns on the fretboard to base my solos from. Then I'd just move a few notes around that pattern to give them character. That doesn't seem to be appropriate in jazz. I'm at my wits end and am about to say to hell with all this. But I don't wanna give up. Please help. Please give me some insight. Is it going to take another 25 years before I'm proficient enough to play a simple solo?

    Hello Dallasblues!

    First, your message really touched me , because I've been there too , now those days are gone (but I'm still work my a.. off)
    My brother is older than me , is 12 years older, he began guitar when he was 16 (I was 4) and I began guitar when I was 6(self taught).
    Now were in 2013, and I help my brother to get to the next level/plateau.. whatever you wanna call it.
    First you are not ruined by years of blues country...it's in your fingers now, so it will help in the end to create/have your own style because of your own history. and a good rock country blues solo is not that easy!!!
    Blues is the greatest start imo to learn jazz, the difference in jazz is the articulation imo.
    I suppose you already know the pentatonic scale inside out so start from here
    My advice would be to listen loads of grant green to get a feel , I know people suggest to listen to horns, but my advice is to listen first to guitar players, that way you'll have the guitar language, and not haing to translate horns language into guitar which is another task!
    WORK SLOW! WORK SLOW! WORK SLOW!
    first learn bluesjazz (joe pass chords) I mean learn them, I mean reapeat them to the point they become second nature (as you did with the pentatonic for blues/rock solos)
    there is no shortcuts but you'll get them
    learn some solos you likeget them in your fingers then try to understand why (theory aspect), but learn to play first.
    it only require work and commitment, I've been ready to give up too in the past but I didn't!

    learn the melodic minor scale inside out and learn to use it in a II V I concept WORK SLOW!
    really a lot of the jazz vocabulary is there!

    hope this helps, we're in this together guitar brother!

  35. #34

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    JFK could have been talking about learning jazz guitar when he said the following (in September of 1962, when we were way behind the Russians in the space race):

    "We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too."

    Jazz is hard but don't give up.

  36. #35

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    Thank you all for the words of wisdom and encouragement. While I've played guitar for over 25 years, I'm a newbie when it comes to jazz. I think it's because of this that I've become so frustrated.

  37. #36

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    There's no sense in giving up. I've been trying to play bop like crazy the last couple years but there's almost no scene to speak of. Not sure what to do. I decided to look into playing blues again but this time I'm not going to try to sing. There are no great singers anymore and I sure can't sing. If you can deal with that reality then there are going to be opportunities playing blues. People like to hear it. That doesn't mean I'm going to stop playing jazz. Maybe I'll try to incorporate a little more into my playing but basically do it as a hobby.

    Don't give up but try to be realistic. Take what they give you.

    If you're in Texas just don't play metal. Doesn't matter what else you do.
    Last edited by Stevebol; 05-02-2013 at 06:14 PM.

  38. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevebol View Post
    There's no sense in giving up. I've been trying to play bop like crazy the last couple years but there's almost no scene to speak of. Not sure what to do. I decided to look into playing blues again but this time I'm not going to try to sing. There are no great singers anymore and I sure can't sing. If you can deal with that reality then there are going to be opportunities playing blues. People like to hear it. That doesn't mean I'm going to stop playing jazz. Maybe I'll try to incorporate a little more into my playing but basically do it as a hobby.

    Don't give up but try to be realistic. Take what they give you.

    If you're in Texas just don't play metal. Doesn't matter what else you do.
    Ha! Well... I'm definitely in Texas, but I haven't played a metal song since sometime in the late 80's. So I think I'm alright there. There's still some blues down here. However the blues scene isn't as robust as it was 10-15 years ago. I'm not sure I'm aware of any jazz scene though. Even if I get past this mental/creative block I don't know where and with whom I'd even play this music. That's not the driving force to learn the music of course. But I'm certain that the way to get really good is to play with other musicians.

  39. #38

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    I know a lot of guys here don't like key center approach but I think this approach will do you good at the stage you are at. Take a simple standard like "Autumn Leaves" which is in the key of G major and do the following:
    1. improvise eighth notes with only the the scale notes and work on your swing triplet feel.
    2. take the simple melody of the tune and change it a bit using the notes of the G major scale.
    3. improvise only on the scale notes and try to make rhythm variations (half notes quarter notes etc).
    4. add chromatic notes between the scale notes on the weak beat first try to create a line going from one scale note then a half step and then to the next scale note.

  40. #39

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    I'd say to anyone in the early stages, or hitting a wall is to get back to Charlie Christian & Lester Young.Also I'd recommend Steve Rochinski's book "The Motivic Basis of Jazz Guitar Improvisation"

  41. #40

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    It would be interesting to hear what your playing! Sometimes we are super criticle of ourselves.
    You still have patterns to rely on also in Jazz. Also do you practice with already recorded tracks?
    If you would like you could send me a track or put one on soundcloud site so I can go over it with you!
    Here are some of mine on sound cloud:www.soundcloud.com\marcwv
    My email is marcwv@socal.rr.com
    Regards, Marc

  42. #41

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    Dallasblues.I'm not going to pontificate as enough advice has been give already=but DONT give up.I've been playing for 70 yrs.and we all have a love hate relationship with this blasted tortuous wonderful instrument none more so than me. But I just couldn't give up as I would be totally lost without it and I really enjoy playing to my limited abilities. Keep on Pickin!

  43. #42

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    I looked up that book.

    You will not believe how much one person is asking for it on Amazon.

    The Motivic Basis for Jazz Guitar Improvisation: Steve Rochinski: 9780793588503: Amazon.com: Books

    Let me give you a hint, I could buy a brand new Gibson ES-335 from an authorized Gibson Dealer.

  44. #43

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    I read your post and really identify with your problem as I’m in exactly the same boat. I’ve also been playing other music for decades and am trying to unravel Jazz. I study, practice, and listen to Jazz every day but I make zero progress. I still can’t even play something simple over Autumn Leaves after all these years!

    So it’s probably a long shot that you’re even still on this forum, but if so, did you ever get to the point where you could improvise Bop? Because if so, I’d love to hear how you did it.

    Unfortunately I don’t have a teacher and am trying to teach myself. It’s overwhelming most days so hearing a success story from someone in a similar position would be most welcome.

    Thanks.

  45. #44

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    Jazz teaching has overcomplicated matters. Just keep playing the Barry Harris 5432 (and 876b6) phrases over and over and you will get it.

    They alternate between two cases: a pivot of chord tones (arp) and a triple chromatic enclosure of non-chord tones. Simple in theory. These are the two highest forms of embellishment and it's easy when conceptualized this way. It will get you there.

    Also his chromatic approach note before 3rds, triad arps, and finally 7th chord arps. Also, his chromatic scale device. You've got it all then. Oh don't forget some blues and triplets.
    Last edited by rintincop; 11-18-2019 at 04:51 PM.
    Casino Coupe with "Antiquity" P90s. Telecaster with S.D. Vintage Stack pickups. Stratocaster with 3 "Little 59s" pickups. Monoprice 5 watt with GG 12AY7 tube and Gold Lion 6V6, and Weber alnico speaker. Fender Rumble 40 with Eminence Baslite speaker.

  46. #45

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    If you’re trying to learn bop improvising, check out this YouTube channel, it might help you a bit:

    Things I've Learned From Barry Harris
    - YouTube

  47. #46

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    Quote Originally Posted by rintincop View Post
    Jazz teaching has overcomplicated matters. Just keep playing the Barrty Harris 5432 (and 876b6) phrases over and over and you will get it. They alternate between two cases: a pivot of chord tones (arp) and a triple chromatic enclosure of non-chord tones. Simple in theory. These are the two highest forms of embellishment and it's easy when conceptualized this way. It will get you there. Also his chromatic approach note before 3rds, triad arps, and finally 7th chord arps. Also, his chromatic scale device. You've got it all then. Oh don't forget some blues and triplets.
    Lord I have to chuckle a bit. I understood the first sentence you typed and then nothing after that. Over complicated indeed! Wow.

  48. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesrohr1 View Post
    Lord I have to chuckle a bit. I understood the first sentence you typed and then nothing after that. Over complicated indeed! Wow.
    yeah that won’t mean anything by itself, see my previous post.

  49. #48

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    Rome wasn't built in a day.
    Last edited by rintincop; 11-20-2019 at 09:38 PM.

  50. #49

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    Chris shows it all for free in his video series on this Forum... "Things I Learned From Barry Harris" on Youtube

    5432 phrases
    3rds then arpeggios
    chromatic approach note arpeggios
    chromatic scale
    Last edited by rintincop; 11-20-2019 at 09:38 PM.
    Casino Coupe with "Antiquity" P90s. Telecaster with S.D. Vintage Stack pickups. Stratocaster with 3 "Little 59s" pickups. Monoprice 5 watt with GG 12AY7 tube and Gold Lion 6V6, and Weber alnico speaker. Fender Rumble 40 with Eminence Baslite speaker.

  51. #50
    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesrohr1 View Post
    Lord I have to chuckle a bit. I understood the first sentence you typed and then nothing after that. Over complicated indeed! Wow.
    Yeah. But it's a playing thing. It's very cool that it can be conceptualized as a kind of theory and understood in that way. , but he was saying play it first. Learn them as licks etc. . Then the theory part will make more sense.