How to solo over jazz standards #1 – Stella

Hey there, fellow jazz enthusiasts! Today, I want to share something exciting—a new video format where we explore the art of soloing over jazz standards. And guess what? We’ll kick things off with the classic “Stella by Starlight”

You might be wondering why I’m doing this. Well, I’ve been asked countless times about the thought process behind improvising during gigs. Sure, a lot of it comes naturally, like playing by ear and letting your fingers do the talking. But there’s more to it—trust me!

So, let’s dive in! First off, we’re going to break down “Stella” into recognizable progressions—those sweet 2-5s. Don’t worry if you’re not familiar with the tune. We’ll take it step by step.

Okay, here’s the deal with the first section—a lovely E-7b5 to A7b9, just a minor 2-5. What I want to do is find a cool phrase that fits the rhythm perfectly—one phrase for each bar. Got it? So, we’re looking for eight notes per bar to get that bebop vibe.

Moving on to the Cm7 to F7, another 2-5. This time, I want to connect it with the previous one. Sure, I could just go all technical with modes and stuff, but that’s not my style. I want it to sound musical, you know? So, let’s find a note that bridges the two phrases smoothly.

Now, I want to target that F note on the Cm7, which makes it an extension of the chord. And guess what? We’ll do the same for the Bb7 section—ending with that Bb note.

Oh, one more thing before I forget—this isn’t just about playing changes, it’s about sounding jazzy. So, let’s add some flavor to our playing. Remember, use your ears, not just fancy theory or tablatures. Feel the music, let it guide you.

Alright, now we hit the Bbmaj7 section. Here, we can smoothly play a premade phrase. Nothing wrong with that! It could be melodic or bebop style, like you’re playing a Wes Montgomery lick.

Moving on to the next 2-5 in Dm—quicker this time! So, we keep the phrase simple, maybe just spelling out the arpeggios or playing some triplets. And, hey, end with a color note like the ninth to make it shine!

Finally, we have another 2-5 in A. Here, I want to play it as a minor 2-5, setting the stage for the next part. It’s all about connecting, remember? So, pick a note, like the flat five of the half diminished chord, to transition smoothly.

And that wraps up the first section! I know it’s a lot to take in, but take your time, play around with the ideas, and use your ears. Trust me, that connection between your ears and fingers is gold!

Well, folks, that’s it for now. I hope you enjoyed this little journey into the world of jazz soloing. Stay tuned for more videos like this, where we explore connecting phrases and playing melodically. Remember, it’s all about the music, not just notes on a page. Keep swinging, and I’ll catch you next time!


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