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  1. #1

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    Hi there, not sure if there is any blues players here? I find blues improv to be really interesting and musical (Im from Spain) and kinda of bread and butter for jazz improv too, I could be wrong, Id love to share with you few random bluesy improvs I did this weekend so you can please tell me how to improve my groove, prhasing and stuff, cheers.

    Lets start with a slow Bb one.


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  3. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by Basshead
    Hi there, not sure if there is any blues players here? I find blues improv to be really interesting and musical (Im from Spain) and kinda of bread and butter for jazz improv too, I could be wrong, Id love to share with you few random bluesy improvs I did this weekend so you can please tell me how to improve my groove, prhasing and stuff, cheers.

    Lets start with a slow Bb one.

    You sound good, man!

    Blues informs everything i play. Everything. Its the root of the tree.

  4. #3

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    Some of my blues tracks with the Revalators can be heard on the Soundcloud address that is part of my signature below. Also the track "The Blues Place" is an original composition in the playlist UTONIA, my 2003 solo album. TBP is also in Bb, as I recall. Waking from a dream, I grabbed my guitar and started playing. That was the genesis of the song. Recording it was a bit more complicated.

  5. #4

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    say thank you to the three Kings....

  6. #5
    THANK YOU!

    LOL I love Freddie and Albert, BB was amazing too, I think I use too long phrases, any exercise for that? I heard Steve Morse talked about that the other day, he said something about forcing yourself to breath every 2 bars, interesting exercise.

  7. #6
    I was practicing some shufle, which I find really hard as I normally practice over swing loops, a Russian guy with Spanish gypsy background told me one day that before you play a shufle you have to go to Texas and ride a horse... well that might explain why I suck at it LOL

    Any tips, constructive criticism is welcome, thanks.



  8. #7

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    Get your blues right here from the Philly Blues Kings! I'm on the left playing the 7 string Les Paul and singing. Our second guitarist is a better vocalist, so he does most of the singing - but this tune (Just a Dream) is one of my favorites and I enjoy singing it.


  9. #8
    Thanks for sharing your live performance, sounds clean.
    Last edited by Basshead; 07-28-2021 at 06:57 AM.

  10. #9
    I was trying to connect chord tones and triad pair ideas without losing the groove, click on 2 you know, how do you guys practice this jazzy blues stuff?


  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Basshead
    I was trying to connect chord tones and triad pair ideas without losing the groove, click on 2 you know, how do you guys practice this jazzy blues stuff?
    To get a feel for the genre and to find your own voice within it, you have to listen to everything, so you can find the grooves you like and in which you're most comfortable playing. BB King and Little Milton are at the less-is-more end of the spectrum and fire beathers like Melvin Taylor and Stevie Ray Vaughan are at the other end. Listen to Chris Cain and Robben Ford play the blues for a wonderful shot of truly jazzy blues stuff. Check out T-Bone Walker, Larry McCray, Coco Montoya, Duke Robillard, Little Charlie Baty, Clarence Spady, Albert Collins and Larry Garner, for a start. A lot of blues legends lived and died on quarter notes, too - it's not all about the flash.

    Even after 60+ years of active playing, I still listen to at least a few tunes every day to learn and to find new inspiration. There's also nothing wrong with memorizing someone else's solo if you love the way it sounds. Once you get it down, you can play with it to tease out what you love about it and add those licks and that feel to your own playing. Listening is a critical part of practicing.

    For me, "the blues" is no tighter a wrapper than "jazz". So I play each tune the way I feel it while I'm playing it, when it's only my band and reputation on stage. I do not do this when I'm a sideman, in which role I'm there to support whoever hired me and play what he or she wants the way he or she wants it. When I was playing for national acts, my job was to help them sound like they sound on their records and in the minds of their fans. This is true for jazz, blues, commercial, and any other setting in which you play. If your name's on the sign out front, you can play it your way. If you're supporting someone else, play it their way.

    Remember that a lot of the blues community dislikes "jazzy blues stuff" because they think it's not the essence of the blues. To be honest, I often throw concepts into my solos to see how they sound with my band and to get the spontaneous responses of both the other players and the audience. Here's a solo from a modern classic ("Born Under a Bad Sign" by William Bell and Booker T, first recorded in 1967 by Albert King) in which I went up to the edge of the blues envelope just to see how the ideas sounded in that tune:


  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Basshead

    Any tips, constructive criticism is welcome, thanks.


    Maybe rotate your body 90 degrees counter-clockwise and turn the lights on?

  13. #12
    Thanks John, is a Insta live recording with some funny video fx, anyways... what about focusing on the music? if I suck suck, let me know, thanks.

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Basshead
    Thanks John, is a Insta live recording with some funny video fx, anyways... what about focusing on the music? if I suck suck, let me know, thanks.
    You obviously have reasonable command of the instrument, but you're not playing music here. You're just noodling over vamps and backing tracks. Blues is not a bunch of licks. It's a song form about human experience. Play/sing a song that expresses something. Play a solo that fits within that song, has a beginning, a middle and an end and tells some sort of story. If you understand what I mean by that and can do that, you don't suck. If not, you still don't stuck, but have some stuff to figure out that has nothing to do with technique or playing the right notes.

    Here's an example


  15. #14
    Thanks John, very didactic.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Basshead
    Thanks John, very didactic.
    ...and illustrative! That's wonderful playing and singing, John - it's a great definition of the blues. I hope you won't mind my suggestion that basshead consider learning a few of your licks from that track as part of his (or her - I don't want to offend by assuming) education and practice.

    Much of the essence of the blues is simply and artfully "playing the changes". The tracks we've posted in this thread illustrate that we're just organizing the notes into compositions rather than playing them as simple sequentially arpeggiated chords and scales. This is true for much (most?) of the blues and a lot of jazz as well. It's not too far a stretch to say that much of Miles' improvisation was in this mold, especially before Bitches' Brew but even through his electric period.

    Here's an old practice video with a simple approach to the blues (and perhaps a few more good licks for basshead):


  17. #16
    Sorry John and nevershould, I did not want to say this but your solos sound pretty amateur to me, basic boring licks out of the pocket most of the time, dodgy bends, I can tell that you dont hear what you are playing, you just trying to place those memorized cliches and most of them sound rushed, maybe Im crazy here, in that case no worries

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Basshead
    Sorry John and nevershould, I did not want to say this but your solos sound pretty amateur to me, basic boring licks out of the pocket most of the time, dodgy bends, I can tell that you dont hear what you are playing, you just trying to place those memorized cliches and most of them sound rushed, maybe Im crazy here, in that case no worries

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Basshead
    Sorry John and nevershould, I did not want to say this but your solos sound pretty amateur to me, basic boring licks out of the pocket most of the time, dodgy bends, I can tell that you dont hear what you are playing, you just trying to place those memorized cliches and most of them sound rushed, maybe Im crazy here, in that case no worries
    Hmmmmm. If that's not a joke, your concept of the blues is a bit different from ours. I have no problem at all with that - differences among us promote variety and foster new ideas. But denigrating people who are honestly trying to help you is at least as much of a cliché as anything we're playing. I (and, I presume, John) set out to answer the question you asked, which was "...please tell me how to improve my groove, prhasing [sic] and stuff", in case you forgot.

    Those boring licks and dodgy bends are considered by most to be classic expressions of the blues. I don't care if you like my style, but John's playing is both excellent and a fine example of the genre. We both play this way because that's what gets us hired - believe it or not, people pay to hear this stuff. Although none of those licks is a "memorized cliché", they're all part of the vocabulary of the blues. Have you listened to B B King lately?

    There's a lot of resistance to jazz forms, chords, and timing among serious blues lovers, even though it's fun to fuse the two forms and play out of the box. But playing modal solos in a blues band can get you fired. I played for about 20 years for a blues great (Louisiana Blues Hall of Famer with a dozen albums, a W C Handy Award, etc) whose other guitarist, bass player, and drummer loved jazz and funk. So we started playing outside the blues box when we opened the show - and the leader went nuts on us. We played Chameleon one night and he hated it - and when we played All Blues in the style of Mike Stern and Miles, he thought we were playing the wrong notes. I didn't get fired, but we stuck to boring licks, dodgy bends, and memorized clichés after that.

    You remind me of the story of the woman and the hat maker. A woman was walking down 5th Avenue in New York when she spotted a fancy and beautiful hat in the window of a tiny shop. She went in to buy it, and the hat maker told her it would cost $1000. She was shocked by the high price and exclaimed, "That's ridiculous - it's nothing but a piece of felt!" The hat maker said "I may have something more to your liking in the back", left the room for a minute and returned with a piece of felt. She handed it to the woman and said "The felt will cost you $25 - make the hat yourself." You have the guitar and your own imagination. So improve your own groove, phrasing and stuff - you clearly don't need our help.

    In music as in other conversations (such as we're all having in this thread), it's not what you say that expresses your feelings - it's how you say it. I hope you find a way to express your musical ideas as clearly as you've expressed your thoughts about John and me. Since you don't like our playing, maybe you're looking for more of a blues-rock-funk fusion rather than a more traditional approach to electric blues. Here's a Robben Ford / Larry Carlton video with hope that you won't feel you've completely wasted your time reading our posts:


  20. #19

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    Just to point out that most of the Spanish people I know (OP says that's where he's from) are pretty chill

    ¿De qué vas chaval?

  21. #20
    Just telling the truth sorry, thats what I hear, if Im crazy or def, who cares... I have listened to that Carlton/Ford show a million time, Carlton sounds like heaven to me but Ford... boring as hell, flat, grey, not my cup of tea... there, cause there are some other shows where Robben shines way more and plays more in the way I enjoy.

    Might be a matter of taste

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by Basshead
    Just telling the truth sorry, thats what I hear
    There's no need to be sorry - it is what it is. I'm glad you like Larry Carlton. But most people do not consider him to be a blues guitarist, and he probably doesn't consider himself to be a blues guitarist. You don't like Robben Ford in that video, and you don't say what Robben Ford material you do like. As his approach to the blues is fairly consistent over the years, perhaps you're more fond of his jazz and fusion playing than you are of his approach to the blues. But he is widely considered to be a world class blues guitarist. And if you look beyond the flashy technique of great fusion players, you may even find a few memorized clichés and dodgy bends camouflaged by all those 32nd notes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Basshead
    Might be a matter of taste
    I'm sure that's what it is. Given our different opinions on so many things in the blues, it's also possible that we're not even talking about the same music. So since I don't seem to have anything of value to contribute to your thread, I'm signing off now. I wish you success and good luck in your quest to improve your groove, phrasing and stuff.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Basshead
    Sorry John and nevershould, I did not want to say this but your solos sound pretty amateur to me, basic boring licks out of the pocket most of the time, dodgy bends, I can tell that you dont hear what you are playing, you just trying to place those memorized cliches and most of them sound rushed, maybe Im crazy here, in that case no worries
    I give that observation all the consideration it deserves based on the quality of your contributions to the forum.

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by John A.
    I give that observation all the consideration it deserves based on the quality of your contributions to the forum.
    Perfect reply. Where do these people come from? Have they never heard of "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all?"

    Some people gain confidence by lowering others. The ego can be a terrible thing.

  25. #24
    Sorry I dont take guitar very seriously, at the end of the day we all have to truest our ears, is the only thing we got, peace.

  26. #25

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    I've never "ignored" anyone on a forum, but I guess there's a first time for everything...