Watch the Prospect Shuffle online guitar lesson by David Hamburger from Essentials: Fingerstyle Blues

We interrupt the steady bass for two measures in this tune, in measures 7-8, just before going from the I to the IV chord. This kind of move, where the steady timekeeping is suspended for a single-note lick, is called stop time, and it’s a great way to add some drama to a tune. Improvised stop time goes back as far as the early recordings of trumpeter Louis Armstrong and turns up in all kinds of blues and jazz compositions as well, from Scott Joplin’s “Stoptime Rag” to Horace Silver’s “Stop Time.”