Watch the SECTION 1: Essential Concepts online guitar lesson by Fareed Haque from Soul Jazz Survival Guide

The important thing to realize here is that the 5-note pentatonic scale, not the 7-note major or minor scale, is the essential building block of jazz and, frankly, most music from around the world, certainly most American music. Jazz, funk, gospel, bluegrass, and other American music styles all come from or are related to the blues. The blues is unique in that it exists in major and minor tonalities at the same time. The fancy word for this is bi-tonality, meaning 2 tonalities (or more) at once. The pentatonic scale allows us to embrace major and minor key sounds, and it also eliminates the problem 1/2 steps in each key (for example "F" and "B" in key of C) that create all kinds of theoretical complexities and difficulties.

Long story short, you can solo with the blues scale and hit all of the essential notes in most jazz chord progressions. Once you can do this, then we will start to add chromatic notes in to connect the 5 notes together...and that starts to sound like...bebop!