Solo Jazz Input

Cornelius TX

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Hello!

Last summer I played several solo gigs with a looper, using "jazzy" progressions. Didn't follow the changes, but it worked okay as background music. That said, I want to do better. What that looks like (to me): playing rubato without accompaniment, playing the basic melody, with lots of improvisation using the changes.

I'm using the Real Book and am (re)learning how to read treble clef. Seeking your input:

- I'm currently working on "Autumn Leaves" and "How High the Moon". These are relatively easy for me to read and improvise over. I need about 8 more like this (fairly straightforward melody to read and learn, with nice changes that are not too fast). I also like that for the most part, I can connect the chords using the song's key scale. Suggestions for additional songs?

- Any tips from those who have done this? It will be like performing without the safety net of a band/backing chords. This excites me, but I also know it's a big undertaking.

I want to reiterate that the reading part is possibly the toughest part right now. I grew up reading bass clef, and this is definitely some brain work for me. But so rewarding.

My goal is to gig by June (I'm a teacher, so I'll have the time in the summer).

Thanks, and Merry Christmas!
 

Rockinvet

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Basic gist of chord soloing, play melody an octave higher than written played on top of the chord. You’ll have to learn some chords and there are lots of books and videos to help you with this. But, you may already have some good chord knowledge to get you started.
For instance, ”All the Things You Are,” The first chord is an F minor 7. You probably know an F minor 7 bar chord on the eighth fret if you only play it to the 2nd string the melody note is already on your second finger. Wala! Or the next melody note with a Bb minor bar chord on the 6th fret with your pinky on the Db and so forth.
Very similar to what he his doing in that previous video.

That’s for the chord soloing part. Soloing over changes is another thing. To get started play scales in the key the song is in on an easy song that does not modulate. Like Autumn leaves is essentially in G and E minor which is the same key signature. The difference is the D# over the B7 chord which now makes it e harmonic minor. This brings in another technique. Playing the 3rds and 7ths of chords and are already in the chords you already may know.
Like those bar chords I mentioned earlier.

For an example in “Autumn leaves if you play the A minor bar chord on the 5th fret the 3rd of the chord is in your first finger on the third string. The next chord D7 bar chord is on your 4th finger 2nd string. You can noodle around between those notes to get the most of how they sound.

playing just the changes or comping can also be done using those basic bar chords to get you started but they are not the best options but can get you on your way.
As you can see it is not as easy to explain in written words but I hope you can see the connection. You need to learn some new voicings and expand your chord knowledge.
Hope this helps!

tunes:
Days of Wine and Roses
Misty
How High the Moon
Satin Doll
All the a things You Are
There will Never Be Another You
My Funny Valentine
My Romance

To help your reading, Berklee Guitar Method by William Leavitt. All 3 volumes in one. A Modern Method for Guitar
 
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14strings

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Don’t abandon the looper. Mix your set up with tunes with a looper and without. Also even if you are playing with a looper you could always stop the loop and add some “a cappella “ playing and then start the loop again. There are some some good YouTube tutorials on playing jazz with a looper..

Regarding “solo jazz guitar” otherwise known as “chord melody”

The melody is THE most important thing. A well played melody can stand on its own if played with good time and tone. Then it’s a matter of adding bass notes and chord tones as you see fit. Bill Frisell is a master. at this. He demonstrates this concept quite convincingly on the tune Days of Wine and Roses. Go to 2:40

Bill Frisell on the melody


You do not need big block chords on every melody note as a matter of fact that style sounds too dense and dated IMHO. Just google Bill Frisell solo guitar for more examples.

If you try to learn others chord melody arrangements don’t forget that you can leave out some of the chords and just play the top melody note if they are too difficult to grab. Remember melody is king.

Chris Whiteman has some of the best chord melody arrangements on YT. His transcriptions are available for purchase.

Regarding reading. Just keep doing it with your Real Book sheets. No need for a course or book; just keep reading.

As far as tunes to play….plays songs that you LOVE and speak to YOU never mind if they are someone’s opinion of a “must know” standard.

For more looping and solo guitar inspiration check out John Scofield’s recent album titled “John Scofiled”.
 
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Cornelius TX

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Round Rock, TX
Don’t abandon the looper. Mix your set up with tunes with a looper and without. Also even if you are playing with a looper you could always stop the loop and add some “a cappella “ playing and then start the loop again. There are some some good YouTube tutorials on playing jazz with a looper..

Regarding “solo jazz guitar” otherwise known as “chord melody”

The melody is THE most important thing. A well played melody can stand on its own if played with good time and tone. Then it’s a matter of adding bass notes and chord tones as you see fit. Bill Frisell is a master. at this. He demonstrates this concept quite convincingly on the tune Days of Wine and Roses. Go to 2:40

Bill Frisell on the melody


You do not need big block chords on every melody note as a matter of fact that style sounds too dense and dated IMHO. Just google Bill Frisell solo guitar for more examples.

If you try to learn others chord melody arrangements don’t forget that you can leave out some of the chords and just play the top melody note if they are too difficult to grab. Remember melody is king.

Chris Whiteman has some of the best chord melody arrangements on YT. His transcriptions are available for purchase.

Regarding reading. Just keep doing it with your Real Book sheets. No need for a course or book; just keep reading.

As far as tunes to play….plays songs that you LOVE and speak to YOU never mind if they are someone’s opinion of a “must know” standard.

For more looping and solo guitar inspiration check out John Scofield’s recent album titled “John Scofiled”.
This is awesome, inspiring, and motivating. Thank you!
 

14strings

TDPRI Member
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Hudson Valley, NY
This is awesome, inspiring, and motivating. Thank you!
You are quite welcome. Solo jazz guitar playing is a passion of mine. I love working on it and getting better at it. It is long but worthwhile process. Happy to share what I’ve learned after going down many rabbit holes.

And it doesn’t always have to be a jazz tune. Here is one of my vids on a well know country classic

Tennessee Waltz - chord melody style
 

Joe-Bob

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Remember, all those jazz times were popular songs in the olden days. Use that to shape your phrasing, rubato, and dynamics.
Also, rubato is "stolen time", which means you have to give some back, too. This can add interest, but may be difficult with a looper.
 




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