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Watch the Week 2: Listen to the Masters online guitar lesson by Bob Wolfman from Essential Guide To Jazz Blues Comping

Check out the Chord Dictionary in the PDF file attached ("Theory on Tensions"). It has all the most common and basic chord formulas for all 3 chord families; major, minor and dominant 7th. Notice the availability of tensions varies from family to family, meaning not all chord types are created alike, and thus they do not utilize all the same tensions. This chord dictionary should become a familiar tool for you in a short period of time.


I was in my early teens when I had my first real exposure to jazz guitar and when I actually started listening and paying attention to what I was hearing. I didn't really have a clue as to what the guitarists or other instrumentalists were doing to get the incredible sounds and colors they produced, but I sure loved what I was hearing. I was immediately blown away by the variety and richness that jazz artists could produce, but I didn't know how they did it. I was also impressed by the way jazz and jazz/blues players had such a different color and texture than say the pop, rock and roll, and folk/rock I had grown up with. I had much more exposure to the pop music on the radio and television until I turned 13. I soon discovered players like Wes Montgomery, Grant Green, Kenny Burrell, George Benson, Joe Pass, Tal Farlow, Larry Coryell, Jack Wilkins, and several others. I was mesmerized by the way George Benson would take a simple classic chord progression like a I - VI- II - V which Willy Nelson would play as:

||C |Amin. |Dmin. |G7 ||

Benson would add all those tensions to the chords and make the music so rich, and he would play the same tune, but he'd use ||Cmaj9 |Amin11 |Dmin9 |G13(b9) || I didn't realize there was this thing known as "chord substitution". I've had so many students throughout the years who were thoroughly intimidated or that just felt overwhelmed and just didn't have a clue as to where to start learning how to comp like their favorite jazz players. True, it takes some time to familiarize oneself with many new chords and a bit longer to learn how to aptly apply them in different musical contexts and situations. It's not really that hard and it doesn't have to take long when one is properly shown the way. I emphasize the word properly because I sure didn't learn all this chord stuff in the best and most sensible sequence, and it took me much longer than it needed to. In this 8 week course, I have presented all the material in what I feel is the best sequence for not only learning and understanding, but also for retention and thus application of all the material in a practical way.