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  1. #1

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    I've been analyzing this Grant Green song I transcribed(you can see it in the "Songs" section here) and wanted to ask people's opinions on a passage.

    I noticed that Grant has a pattern he follows throughout the tune, where he plays a pentatonic/blues over the first 4(ish) bars, and then switches when the song changes to the 2nd 4 bars. This is the part I highlighted in yellow. This seems like a Bb Spanish Phrygian, but it's also an Eb Harmonic Minor (my limited theory tells me this is simply a relative of the Harm Minor scale). He plays this scale every time I believe when the song switches to Eb7 for the two bars, often starting it in the last bar of Bb however.

    I was wondering what people think. Was Grant thinking the Eb here or the Bb? It seems he often starts these phrases on the Bb so I would think he's thinking the Spanish Phrygian.

    What makes me question the Phrygian is he then *always* switches to a Bb Harmonic Minor after the first two bars of Eb (highlighted in this section in blue). He does this constantly throughout the song.

    Anyone smarter than I wanna take a crack at explaining what's going on here? I know it's impossible to actually get into what Grant's thinking here, but from examining what he plays, I'm curious what other's think.
    Attached Images Attached Images Question about this Grant Green song.-grant1-png 

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  3. #2

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    What's the tune, I'd like to hear the whole thing in context, including the melody.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
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  4. #3

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    It's Tracin' Tracey from his Sunday Morning album. What I find interesting about this song is it's simply a Bb blues, but he really makes it sound hip. It seems very similar to Midnight Blue I think.

    Grant Green - Tracin' Tracey Transcription

  5. #4

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    Ah...listen carefully. Tracy's a minor blues.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
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    "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

  6. #5

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    The yellow one is Eb harmonic minor. Nothing more. Try playing it over the Eb minor shape at the 6th fret. The thing is that he's playing it over Bb7 and Eb7 so it sounds like a Bb7b9 run and Ebm blues respectively.

    The blue one is Bb harmonic minor over the Bbm shape at the 6th too. Over the Bb7 that sounds like Bbm blues and over the Eb7 it's just the ii of that.

    No big deal. Don't over-analyse, these guys are human. Technically I suppose the Bbm should have been melodic (with a G not a Gb) but I expect he was trying something out, or trying to emulate the feel of the Ebm. Or that's just the way it came out at the time (he plays a wrong note later in the recording too, you can hear it).

    It doesn't matter what it's called, it's how it sounds. Seriously.
    Last edited by ragman1; 03-18-2019 at 04:22 AM.

  7. #6

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    Yellow bit starts 1.05.


  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    The yellow one is E harmonic minor. Nothing more. Try playing it over the Eb minor shape at the 6th fret. The thing is that he's playing it over Bb7 and Eb7 so it sounds like a Bb7b9 run and Ebm blues respectively.

    The blue one is Bb harmonic minor over the Bbm shape at the 6th too. Over the Bb7 that sounds like Bbm blues and over the Eb7 it's just the ii of that.

    No big deal. Don't over-analyse, these guys are human. Technically I suppose the Bbm should have been melodic (with a G not a Gb) but I expect he was trying something out, or trying to emulate the feel of the Ebm. Or that's just the way it came out at the time (he plays a wrong note later in the recording too, you can hear it).

    It doesn't matter what it's called, it's how it sounds. Seriously.
    Thanks. It's nice to think that I'm at least getting a little into what and why these guys play something, other than just learning what they are playing.

    btw - do you mean Eb Harm Minor? Those notes (and the others he plays in other parts) match perfectly to Eb, but not to E.

    It's not so much about over analyzing as it is learning how these guys mix up playing a blues by using something other than pentatonics. But I will counter that it's easy to say "it's how it sounds", but you have to learn what it is to understand how it sounds. Analyzing this solo has really opened up some ideas to me on how guys approach chords, and if you look at the song, it's easy to see how Grant does it in this case. Each chorus, his approach is almost exactly the same.

    But he does play a lot of wrong notes here...it does sound like he's struggling with parts of it. If I remember, the song was originally left off the album and was added later with CD and digital releases. I can see how he might not have been pleased with it, but I think despite the mistakes, there's some great lines to learn and digest.

  9. #8

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    You're missing that it's a minor blues!
    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

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    You're missing that it's a minor blues!
    Then please explain.

  11. #10

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    He plays that pattern alot. Patterns as in not necessarily those notes of the scale but identical guitar centric pull on pull off thing.

    I would suggest in terms of thinking he is thinking what am I gonna play next, what am I feeling here, whilst he fills in the blank with one of his go to licks.
    “When you’re creating your own ...., man, even the sky ain’t the limit.”
    Miles Davis

  12. #11

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    Well, the chords are Bbm and Ebm, not Bb7 and Eb7.

    The line in question is played on the classic minor blues i--iv transition, which makes the i a I7 (so that might be the Bb7 you heard), transitioning to the iv almost as a new "i."

    In other words, its THE cadence in jazz for harmonic minor. You hear it everywhere on a minor blues...which is actually a very cool and challenging form.

    There's not really any wrong notes, though, if you consider the chords this way...
    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

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    Well, the chords are Bbm and Ebm, not Bb7 and Eb7.

    The line in question is played on the classic minor blues i--iv transition, which makes the i a I7 (so that might be the Bb7 you heard), transitioning to the iv almost as a new "i."

    In other words, its THE cadence in jazz for harmonic minor. You hear it everywhere on a minor blues...which is actually a very cool and challenging form.

    There's not really any wrong notes, though, if you consider the chords this way...
    Alright, that's interesting, I didn't consider it was using m7 instead of dominants. I'll have to update that.

    Understand, to me this is something completely new. I've never really considered harmonic minor before, so finding this on a "blues" is eye opening to me. Now that I understand that a little more I hopefully can use that learn a little more, so thank you.

    I still think he's got some bad lines in the solo tho. Like I said, he sounds a little lost at times. But the lines when he's trading with the drummer are some really hip stuff.

  14. #13

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    Yes I hear that lost kinda vibe on a few other recordings with Baby Face Willet, Ike Quebec and Sonny Red. Then he pulls out some ripping lines and it is all systems go.
    “When you’re creating your own ...., man, even the sky ain’t the limit.”
    Miles Davis

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bahnzo View Post
    btw - do you mean Eb Harm Minor? Those notes (and the others he plays in other parts) match perfectly to Eb, but not to E.
    I certainly did! Don't know how that slipped through... must be like guitar playing :-) I've edited that, thanks.

    It's not so much about over analyzing as it is learning how these guys mix up playing a blues by using something other than pentatonics. But I will counter that it's easy to say "it's how it sounds", but you have to learn what it is to understand how it sounds. Analyzing this solo has really opened up some ideas to me on how guys approach chords, and if you look at the song, it's easy to see how Grant does it in this case. Each chorus, his approach is almost exactly the same. But he does play a lot of wrong notes here...it does sound like he's struggling with parts of it.
    I had the impression it was all a bit nervous too. Maybe he'd just got this harmonic minor thing in his head and wanted to see if it worked.

    If I remember, the song was originally left off the album and was added later with CD and digital releases. I can see how he might not have been pleased with it, but I think despite the mistakes, there's some great lines to learn and digest.
    Ah, you know more than me. I guess there's something to be learned from everything.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    You're missing that it's a minor blues!
    I never got that far, too late at night. So where did that pdf with Bb7 come from then? Or was that the dom before the Ebm?

    I give up, god knows what he was doing.

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    I never got that far, too late at night. So where did that pdf with Bb7 come from then?
    That was mine. I've been transcribing songs to teach myself, but since I couldn't find a chord chart for the song, I (wrongly) assumed it was a Bb blues. Learning...

  18. #17

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    Oh, okay. Anyway, it's still about what it sounds like. In the end.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post

    There's not really any wrong notes, though, if you consider the chords this way...
    I insist I heard at least one :-)

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bahnzo View Post

    Understand, to me this is something completely new. I've never really considered harmonic minor before, so finding this on a "blues" is eye opening to me. Now that I understand that a little more I hopefully can use that learn a little more, so thank you.
    No worries, you're starting in a great spot. Grant's stuff is so good.

    As you listen more, you'll hear that device a lot on a minor blues form...it certainly wasn't new to grant, or jazz at all at the time of this record, but it sure does work and it sounds great.
    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

  21. #20

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    Bahnzo -

    Okay, sorry about that. I could tell you about the flu and the dentist this morning but I won't. Someone once described this forum as the blind leading the blind but I've always thought that was cynical and highly inaccurate. In this case, however, I plead guilty, I didn't check properly before posting. Thanks to Beaumont for alerting me.

    So I've been over it. Bb minor blues. The intro progression is:

    Bbm - % - % - %
    Ebm - % - Bbm - %
    F7 - Eb7 - Bbm - F7

    After the intro progression they use something different, perhaps just Bbm.

    Notice the Eb7 in bar 10. It's not Ebm. I think there might be other departures or chordal embellishments in there. Or it might be an illusion because of the bass runs and piano, I'm not sure.

    Anyway, he's using the Bbm pentatonic a lot and Eb Dorian or harmonic minor - not just over the Ebm but in bar 4 before the Ebm. Whether it's the harmonic minor or Dorian with a D natural before the Eb, it's hard to say.

    Often that chord in bar 4 becomes a dominant and they play either a diminished or altered run. Not in this case apparently although the piano touches on it here and there.

    I can say this. If it was your intention to discover other scales than the blues pentatonic then you could try this lesson here on this site. That should keep you happy for a while :-)

    Jazz Guitar Scales For The Minor Blues + C Minor Blues Solo

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bahnzo View Post
    I've been analyzing this Grant Green song I transcribed(you can see it in the "Songs" section here) and wanted to ask people's opinions on a passage.

    I noticed that Grant has a pattern he follows throughout the tune, where he plays a pentatonic/blues over the first 4(ish) bars, and then switches when the song changes to the 2nd 4 bars. This is the part I highlighted in yellow. This seems like a Bb Spanish Phrygian, but it's also an Eb Harmonic Minor (my limited theory tells me this is simply a relative of the Harm Minor scale). He plays this scale every time I believe when the song switches to Eb7 for the two bars, often starting it in the last bar of Bb however.

    I was wondering what people think. Was Grant thinking the Eb here or the Bb? It seems he often starts these phrases on the Bb so I would think he's thinking the Spanish Phrygian.

    What makes me question the Phrygian is he then *always* switches to a Bb Harmonic Minor after the first two bars of Eb (highlighted in this section in blue). He does this constantly throughout the song.

    Anyone smarter than I wanna take a crack at explaining what's going on here? I know it's impossible to actually get into what Grant's thinking here, but from examining what he plays, I'm curious what other's think.
    Grant used Phrygian Dominant a lot. It's a common bop sound on 7b9. Often you get a mix of the phrygian and the phrygian dominant.

  23. #22

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    Phrygian Dominant
    Which is (a mode of) the harmonic minor. It's the yellow bit of the pdf over Bb7, really Bbm in bar 4, so he's used it as the pre-empt of Ebm.

    Although it could also be dorian with a nat D. But if GG uses hm a lot maybe it is hm. Etc etc.

    I hate analysing what others play unless it's obvious. How do we know what they were thinking?

  24. #23

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    Phrygian Dominant = Spanish Phrygian

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Phrygian Dominant = Spanish Phrygian
    I've definitely learned that since posting this. Searching and reading about harmonic minor and how there's seemingly different names for scales depending on who you listen to. I simply knew it as Spanish because that's what I initially learned it as. Is it more generally referred to as Dominant?

    As to the line I posted, I like to think of it as the Bb Phrygian Dominant, because (and correct me if I'm wrong) it's the same as Eb Harmonic minor, eh? So it "fits" both the Bb and the Eb chords.

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    So I've been over it. Bb minor blues. The intro progression is:

    Bbm - % - % - %
    Ebm - % - Bbm - %
    F7 - Eb7 - Bbm - F7

    After the intro progression they use something different, perhaps just Bbm.

    I can say this. If it was your intention to discover other scales than the blues pentatonic then you could try this lesson here on this site. That should keep you happy for a while :-)

    Jazz Guitar Scales For The Minor Blues + C Minor Blues Solo
    Thanks for the analysis. I did some reading on the minor blues form and it's various subs. It looks like your charting of the intro follows that form. I plan to spend some time tonight to listen to the song a little more carefully and try to understand the solo sections. I would generally assume the choruses simply follow the intro, but you think they use something different?

    I've definitely been using the lessons on this site, I'm trying to go thru them in order as I also use other sources. I like transcribing stuff as I think it's really one of the best ways to learn, as this Grant Green has shown.

  27. #26

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    No guitar or way to play music near me, but from what I remember, this is the form...

    Bbm6 | Ebm | Bbm6 | Bb7
    Ebm | Ebm | Bbm6 | Bbm6
    F7(#9) | Eb7(#9) | Bbm6 | Cm7b5 F7 |

    Could be a bit off on the turnaround, will check tonight when I get some headphones. But it's a pretty standard minor blues form.
    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

  28. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bahnzo View Post
    I would generally assume the choruses simply follow the intro, but you think they use something different?
    Definitely. Listen to it, count the bars. There are far too many Bbm's in a row!

    As for the m6 idea, the fact is that it's played sometimes and sometimes not. Same with the Bb7 in bar 4, only very occasionally.

    Like most minor blues I think they're loose with what they play because there are so many variations one can use. It gets boring just repeating the same form over and over.

    The trouble with transcribing a Bbm blues is that the key sig is actually Db, that's five b's. That's complicated. I notice you were writing Bb as A# which is enough to confuse anybody!

    Anyway, as I keep saying - and I will probably die saying it - it's just music, it doesn't matter. Don't copy others too much. A lot of them are unskilled and just play it. The analysts make it seem more than it is. If Grant Green was here, and you asked him what he did, he'd probably look at you vaguely and say 'Dunno, man, just some kinda minor thing'. I'm not joking.

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    Bbm6 | Ebm | Bbm6 | Bb7
    Ebm | Ebm | Bbm6 | Bbm6
    F7(#9) | Eb7(#9) | Bbm6 | Cm7b5 F7 |
    Used these to create a backing track, and I think it's right on. Which would explain why my previous version with all dom7's...didn't sound right.
    Last edited by Bahnzo; 03-19-2019 at 01:22 AM.

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    The trouble with transcribing a Bbm blues is that the key sig is actually Db, that's five b's. That's complicated. I notice you were writing Bb as A# which is enough to confuse anybody!
    That's probably down to using Guitar Pro. I have it setup with the key signature as Bb, so I'm not sure what it's doing there. My reading actual music is very limited, with piano lessons back when I like 10 being the only reason I know what the staff and notes mean. But I did upload a new version, so maybe that's fixed.

    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    If Grant Green was here, and you asked him what he did, he'd probably look at you vaguely and say 'Dunno, man, just some kinda minor thing'. I'm not joking.
    I might disagree a little here. Looking at his lines, he is very specific with switching from one scale to another. I would doubt he didn't know that. Back then modes and scales weren't really taught the same as they are today, but I think he certainly knew what was going on, even he didn't call it a "Phrygian Dominant".

    And maybe he would say that, but then my experience is also that a lot of musicians talk vaguely like that because they either don't want to try to explain it to a non musician, or it's what they've heard others say and it sounds "mystical" when they say shit like that. I can understand the first reason, but I don't care for the second.

  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bahnzo View Post
    That's probably down to using Guitar Pro. I have it setup with the key signature as Bb, so I'm not sure what it's doing there. My reading actual music is very limited, with piano lessons back when I like 10 being the only reason I know what the staff and notes mean. But I did upload a new version, so maybe that's fixed.



    I might disagree a little here. Looking at his lines, he is very specific with switching from one scale to another. I would doubt he didn't know that. Back then modes and scales weren't really taught the same as they are today, but I think he certainly knew what was going on, even he didn't call it a "Phrygian Dominant".

    And maybe he would say that, but then my experience is also that a lot of musicians talk vaguely like that because they either don't want to try to explain it to a non musician, or it's what they've heard others say and it sounds "mystical" when they say shit like that. I can understand the first reason, but I don't care for the second.
    It’s more likely Grant Green thought of improvising in the Bb minor key, perhaps.

    The harmonic minor is such a natural part of the minor key and has been for hundreds of years.

  32. #31

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    Bahzno -

    I wanted to do this so you may as well have it. This is a short demo of various things you can use over a simple Bbm blues. The form's the same as the Grant Green thing.

    Don't forget it has no head, it's just a demo. I'm not bouncing off a tune, just picking the notes quite carefully according to what I'm trying to demonstrate. In real life it would be much more fluid. That's the trouble with demos :-)

    What I've used is this:

    Bars 1-3 - Bbm:

    Bbm blues pentatonic
    Bb dorian (Ab maj)
    Bb melodic minor
    Bb harmonic minor

    Bar 4 - Bbm/Bb7 (transition to Ebm):

    Eb harmonic minor
    B,D,F,Ab diminished (to simulate B7b9)
    F wholetone
    G major triad (to simulate B13b9)

    Bars 5-6 - Ebm:

    Bbm blues
    Eb harmonic minor
    Eb lydian harmonic (gives a Spanish feel and probably has other names)

    Bars 7-8 - Bbm:

    As before

    Bar 9 - F7:

    Bbm blues
    Fm arp
    Fm blues

    Bar 10 - Eb7:

    Bbm blues
    Ebm blues
    F7

    Bar 11 - Bbm:

    As before

    Bar 12 - F7:

    Bbm blues
    F7
    F7alt (F# melodic minor)

    The chord at the end is a Bbm/M9 just because I like it. 6x7668.

    The point is this sort of thing breaks away from the usual options. Really it just provides a lot of alternate sounds. In the end, though, I suspect the good old blues sound is best. Bigger and better impact than all this clever stuff :-)


  33. #32

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    Cool song! My quartet is called Tracin’ Tracy after this song ;-) (Tracin' Tracy (Tracing Tracy))

    (But the song is not even on our setlist anymore).

    I am a big Grant Green fan, but I doubt Grant was really giving it much thought if he was playing harmonic minor, melodic minor or whatever.... I think he’s a very intuitive player that probably worked out his own system. Myself, to me all minor blues is minor pentatonic with borrowed harmonic/melodic/augmented notes added to taste: raise or lower your 3rds, 5ths, 6ths, 7ths and 9s whenever you think it sounds right (raising the b3 of the root chord to a major 3rd when you go to the IV is something Grant does very often - add a b9 to the same lick and you’ve got instant Greenery .
    Last edited by Little Jay; 03-19-2019 at 06:25 AM.

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    ::::::: Listen to Hip Jazz a Go Go! :::::::
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  34. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by Little Jay View Post
    to me all minor blues is minor pentatonic with borrowed harmonic/melodic/augmented notes added to taste.
    That's the way I usually do it too, but that takes experience. Easy to say, harder to do. Scales can sound contrived if you're not careful. Otoh, jazz often needs longer lines, which means notes...

    I saw your band. It's right there under Grant Green. Pretty groovy :-)

    Unless there's another one with the same name

  35. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    That's the way I usually do it too, but that takes experience. Easy to say, harder to do. Scales can sound contrived if you're not careful. Otoh, jazz often needs longer lines, which means notes...
    True, you need to develop a feeling for when to add the right note, but minor blues feels very natural, I bet if you whistle or sing you would do it naturally already! So just play what you would whistle..... ;-)

    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    I saw your band. It's right there under Grant Green. Pretty groovy :-)

    Unless there's another one with the same name
    Thanks! Should be us, don’t think there’s another group with that name. I see some pretty old stuff coming up though, maybe time to remove some....

    :: Jazz, Funk, Soul & Boogaloo: My group ::
    ::::::: Listen to Hip Jazz a Go Go! :::::::
    :: Jazz, Soul, Blues: Eva & The Tracies :::

  36. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    Bahzno -

    I wanted to do this so you may as well have it. This is a short demo of various things you can use over a simple Bbm blues. The form's the same as the Grant Green thing.
    Thanks, that was a good example of some of the different sounds. I made a backing track and played over it last night, experimenting with the pentatonic, minor scale, harm minor, etc to get an idea of how things sound. I'll probably go at again tonight, and I'll give what you posted a go as well.

  37. #36

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    Great, I was hoping to see what happened

    Doesn't need to be perfect :-)

  38. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bahnzo View Post
    Thanks, that was a good example of some of the different sounds. I made a backing track and played over it last night, experimenting with the pentatonic, minor scale, harm minor, etc to get an idea of how things sound. I'll probably go at again tonight, and I'll give what you posted a go as well.
    The big thing too--which you've already been noticing--is WHEN in the form those different approaches sound good.

    Like with that Harmonic Minor...there's a reason GG used it in that specific spot...
    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

  39. #38

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    It’s a cool track I don’t think I’ve heard before. I heard no clams. About 1/4 into the track he plays one lick that seems a bit tentative as it trails off. What he’s playing there seems exploratory but not wrong. Later, he repeats a lick several times as the chord changes under it, but that’s a common blues device. I think it’s intended to create some tension that’s relieved when the chords come back home.

  40. #39

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    I just sightread through the example... and looked and sounded like simple sub V... E7 approach to Eb7.