50 Jazz Blues Licks: #30 Tommy Flanagan

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50 Jazz Blues Licks is an exclusive series of video guitar lessons by David Hamburger covering the jazz blues styles of historically great guitarists like George Benson, Kenny Burrell, Joe Pass, and many others. A new lick will be released each week, so be sure to subscribe and check back often!

Jazz musicians have a whole different way of thinking about playing blues in a minor key, and at first, if you don’t know what they’re thinking, it can sound, to quote songwriter Richard Julian, like “that blind man played piano like he knew another key.” But it’s basically a two-part matter to understand what’s going on. First, you need to know what additional chords they’re swapping in or substituting for the basic I, IV and V you’re used to, and why that works harmonically. Then, you can look at what they’re doing melodically to make their solos *reflect* those more elaborate chord progressions. And really, if you get what’s been going on so far in terms of the occasional ii-V-I logic, some of the altered tones we’ve swapped in, and the idea behind the basic chromatic moves we’ve looked at, you’ll be able to navigate these minor moves as well. The best part is, it often sounds good to *imply* these more jazz-inflected chord changes even when the band isn’t, which means you can be grooving like Albert on “Born Under A Bad Sign” and make heads turn when you let just a little chromatic, altered or secondary dominant action sneak into your solo. Sweet.

Video Guitar Lesson

If you like these guitar lessons, be sure to also check out Frank Vignola’s Jazz Up Your Blues, which showcases essential jazz blues vocabulary and techniques, Mark Stefani’s Jazzed Blues Assembly Lines, which takes you on a sonic learning tour through the funky rhythm and blues stylings and fretboard concepts of top jazz blues players, and of course all of David Hamburger’s courses.



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