SYOS

Building the Perfect Jazz Blues Solo (well a really Good one as a start)!

Tobes

Member
Messages
174
Have just been recording some of my improvisations recently and realising that, more often than not, my solos are missing some key jazz ingredients. I have a tendency to:
1) play too many quavers (not enough rhythmic variation),
2) don't leave enough space / rests
3) don't use as many harmonic devices (e.g. diminish / octatonic / whole tone patterns) as I could.
4) don't make use of simple motif repetition

Anyway, I thought I'd start a thread where people could post some of their ideas and solos they are working on. I'm thinking about creating a basic 12 bar jazz blues outline (may be over 3 solos) of basic ideas / kind of memory jogger, that I could use as a guide to help avoid some of the above bad improv habits...there's a few good solos I've found on the internet that I am currently trying to transcribe bits of to kind of generalise as basic ideas...
 

Randy Hunter

Member
Messages
34
One thing a lot of folks forget about when playing the blues, especially jazz players, is the concept of "call and response." The call and response approach makes it much easier to incorporate rests, motif repetition and development, and even rhythmic variation. As for the harmonic devices you mention; these can be great as long as you remember to convey the fact that you are playing the blues.

Randy
www.randyhunterjazz.com
Lessons page: www.beginningsax.com/Jazz Improv Lessons.htm
 

Tobes

Member
Messages
174
Thanks for that Randy. I'll have to add the "call and response" idea for sure! Just to clarify I was thinking 'Jazz blues', as opposed to just pure blues, so there would be ii-v-i, turnarounds, substitutions etc, so that once you'd really nailed the 12 bar 'jazz' blues patterns you could then transfer a lot of the ideas to other jazz standards, with similar changes. The 'call and response' is universal though so as you say would naturally help one leave appropriate spaces, vary rhythms etc...
 

stefank

Member
Messages
366
There's no such thing as "the perfect". It's all in the context of the moment, and all moments are different (at least a little bit).
 

Tobes

Member
Messages
174
OK here's my first stab. About 4 or 5 solos over a 12 bar jazz-blues progression backing track. Of course it's no where near 'perfect' and never will be either. Couple of things I did I liked, mainly quick flourishes to vary the rhythm and a few diminished scale passages (quite new for me :)). I feel like it's missing quite a bit though...All feedback welcome...it's all work-in-progress

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/30652037/Jazz Blues Alto In G v1.mp3
 

Tobes

Member
Messages
174
Just listened to this (the morning after!) and is it just me, or am I quite sharp (particularly in upper register)?

Here's one I did on the tenor - I actually worked it out / wrote it out prior to recording, so hopefully better structured. It is lot shorter - just 2 solos:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/30652037/TenorBluesModel_v1.mp3
 
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Randy Hunter

Member
Messages
34
Just listened to this (the morning after!) and is it just me, or am I quite sharp (particularly in upper register)?

Here's one I did on the tenor - I actually worked it out / wrote it out prior to recording, so hopefully better structured. It is lot shorter - just 2 solos:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/30652037/TenorBluesModel_v1.mp3

Very nice! I like the idea of writing the etude (so to speak). I've written quite a few myself, and have found that to be one of the best phrasing and vocabulary exercises around. It's great for helping your organize and learn to incorporate the concepts you're working on. Again, very nice!

Randy
www.randyhunterjazz.com
Lessons page: www.beginningsax.com/Jazz Improv Lessons.htm
 

Tobes

Member
Messages
174
Thank Randy. Yeah aboslutely agree - also recording yourself is a revelation and a half - I think it's something like only 20% of your conscious brain is actually paying attention to your sound when you are actually playing, so when you can listen back to yourself, you hear a lot more - warts and all! Took quit a few recording attempts to iron out some of the more annoying aspects of my sound / playing that I hadn't picked up on before.
 

Randy Hunter

Member
Messages
34
Thank Randy. Yeah aboslutely agree - also recording yourself is a revelation and a half - I think it's something like only 20% of your conscious brain is actually paying attention to your sound when you are actually playing, so when you can listen back to yourself, you hear a lot more - warts and all! Took quit a few recording attempts to iron out some of the more annoying aspects of my sound / playing that I hadn't picked up on before.

You're quite right; recording yourself can be quite a revelation. You do start to hear a lot of things that you may or may not realize about your playing. The cool thing is that it also makes you more aware, and helps you learn to listen from that 3rd perspective, even when you are not recording yourself.

Randy
www.randyhunterjazz.com
Lessons page: www.beginningsax.com/Jazz Improv Lessons.htm
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Funny thing about recording yourself is that you hear things that you weren't aware of. Then you go back and work to improve - and there's the sound you heard in the recording, but you'd been mentally tweaking it to remove the nasty bits....
 

AndyB

Member
Messages
203
I really enjoyed both takes, tmuir. The tenor track does sound more tight so the extra work you did must have paid off. I am really a blues fan. I am experienced on electric blues guitar but a restarter on sax. Could you explain some of the process of how you composed the tenor solo? It would really help me understand the process. Where did you get your lines - ad lib or learning by ear?
Thanks!
 

Tobes

Member
Messages
174
Hey thanks Andy. The tenor written solo was more of a reigning in / focussing of things I liked from the first series of solos on alto, which was mostly ad-lib, with some resemblence of a few lerned ii-v-i sequences coming through.

I then added put in a few well known licks from Charlie Parker (Donna lee 6 quaver pattern before bar 5 change to IV 7) and Phil Woods (diminish triplets over VI 7 leading to ii) and general blues scale motifs to add some repetition and puntuate rhythm. Of course there's some well used ii-v-i patterns in there as well. I'm currently learning the two solos in as many other keys as I can.

If you like blues, this all out blues solo Pete has transcribed by Lee Allen is really good:
http://tamingthesaxophone.com/solos-lee-allen-walking.html

Although not blues, my favourite of the solos in transcription area is the Sonny Rollins one - it has a really simple motif and awesome middle 8 break - looking forward to the final transcription...
 
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