Jazz Guitar – Blues Elements in Jazz Playing

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 21,392
    Expert guitarist Dan Leonard discusses blues elements in jazz guitar playing.

    Dan Leonard

    Guitarist Dan Leonard has been a full time performer and teacher since 1987. He has taught hundreds of students jazz, blues and rock improvisation; from intermediates to working professionals. Over the years he has distilled his approach into the basis for his forthcoming instructional book “Organizing the fretboard for improvisation”. Dan began his career playing in regional rock bands. After studying classical guitar and composition in college he turned his focus to jazz, which is where it has stayed to this day. He is currently guitarist with Blind Pig recording artist Deanna Bogart as well as leader of The Dan Leonard Trio. His first solo recording “Time Alone” was released in 2000 with the follow-up, “The Middle Path” due out in the fall. His many performances include The Vaison Jazz Festival in France, The Monterey Blues Festival and The Clearwater Jazz Festival.

    Dan Leonard: Hi! I'm Dan Leonard and we are going to talk about Blues Elements in jazz playing.

    First, I'm going to demonstrate the Minor pentatonic and the Major pentatonic scales and then go from there.

    So, staying in the key of G, the Minor pentatonic scale -- this is a G dominant seventh chord which is a type of chord often used in blues. The Minor pentatonic scale, which is used a lot in obviously blues, its also used a lot in rock, sounds like this, the Major pentatonic scale based off of this major chord form, sounds like this, which once again is used quite a bit in blues and rock and even in some country music.

    These are both often blended together with what are called Blues Notes to create a blue sound in jazz. I'll demonstrate where the blues notes would fall. In the Minor pentatonic you get a blues note there, its the flatted fifth note, and in the Major pentatonic you can add a minor third to that scale to give it a bluesier sound.

    Often these scales are blended together to come up with bluesy-jazzy type phrases. So, what I would recommend is to work out these scales around each of those chord forms first, without the blues notes and then with the blues notes, and then experiment with combining them, obviously learning licks by players that you hear that have a blues sound to them or blues inflection to them, often use these scales and familiarity with them really help to save your lot of time in terms of getting that sound together.