Category: Jazz Standards

Dive into “Sticky July” by Butcher Brown

Butcher Brown is a jazz-funk band known for their eclectic style and improvisational flair. Their song “Sticky July” showcases their talents, with an especially impressive guitar part and solo. In this tutorial, I’ll break down the chords and scales used in the guitar part and offer tips for improvising over this funky tune.


The chord progression follows a simple AB pattern, with the A section consisting of:

  • F#m7 – Classic minor 7 chord shape with a hammer on from A to B on the B string
  • Bm7 – Minor 7 chord, playing the root on the B string twice
  • A7/Bb – Interesting voicing with the A7 on top and Bb bass note
  • Esus2/G# – Played with thumb, sus2 chord without the A string
  • Gmaj7(9/13) – Basically a G major 7 with added 9th and 13th
  • Db7 – Hendrix-style chord barring B and E strings
  • Dmaj7 – Standard open position D major 7

The B section uses:

  • Bmaj7 – Same shape as the Gmaj7 chord
  • Em11 – Minor 11 voicing
  • Abm9 – Unique voicing like a Gb/Ab
  • G/A – Simple sus chord
  • Dmaj9 – Classic jazz Dmaj9 sound
  • C#sus – Barre or B/C# voicing
  • C7b5 – Dominant 7 flat 5 resolving to F#m

Scales for Improvisation

The A section is straightforward, just using the F# minor pentatonic scale. For the B section, target the chord tones of each changing chord while avoiding dissonant tones. Useful scales include:

  • Bmaj7 – B major, avoid the #11
  • Em11 – E minor or D major
  • Abm9 – Ab dorian (Db major scale)
  • G/A – G major
  • Dmaj9 – D major
  • C#sus – C# or F# minor pentatonic
  • C7 – C mixolydian

Soloing Over the Changes

When soloing over “Sticky July,” aim to smoothly connect the chord tones through each section. Outline the F# minor tonality over the first part, and switch scales measure-by-measure in the second section. Pay close attention to the chords and avoid dissonant tones.

“Mastering Jazz Soloing: Breaking Down ‘Bright Size Life'”

In this blog post, we’ll dive into the art of soloing over jazz standards, focusing on the classic tune “Bright Size Life.” Known for its ECM-era 70s jazz style with suspended sounds and modulations, this piece offers an excellent opportunity to explore creative soloing techniques. Join us as we break down the chords, discuss scale choices, and learn to connect them seamlessly.

  1. Understanding the Key and Chords:
    “Bright Size Life” is set in the key of D major. The chord progression begins with the IV chord (Gmaj7), moves to the bVI major 7 (Bb Lydian), and then resolves to the V chord (A7) and back to the I (Dmaj7). The bridge section introduces a series of constant structure chords and a V-I progression.
  2. Scale Choices for Soloing:
    To effectively solo over these chords, it’s essential to select appropriate scales. I recommend using D major (Ionian) over Dmaj7, Bb Lydian (flat six major seven) over Bbmaj7#11, and D Mixolydian over D7. These scales complement the chord tones and provide a solid foundation for improvisation.
  3. Expanding Your Vocabulary:
    While understanding scales is crucial, developing a unique and expressive jazz vocabulary is equally important. I demonstrate how to connect the chords by using phrases and licks within a modern jazz style. I learning from other jazz players and incorporating these ideas into your playing.
  4. Transposing to Different Keys:
    To enhance versatility and adaptability, it’s advisable to practice the tune in various keys. The blog post provides an example of transposing “Bright Size Life” to the key of G major, encouraging readers to explore different tonalities and apply their knowledge across the fretboard.
  5. Playing with Singers:
    For musicians interested in collaborating with vocalists, being adept at transposing is invaluable. Singers often have different ranges, and altering the key can accommodate their vocal abilities. Developing this skill broadens your opportunities as a jazz musician and enhances your overall musicality.

“Bright Size Life” offers an exciting canvas for jazz musicians to experiment with improvisation and soloing. By understanding the chord progressions, selecting appropriate scales, and expanding your jazz vocabulary, you can create captivating solos that complement this classic jazz standard. Moreover, mastering transposition adds another layer of skill, allowing you to collaborate seamlessly with vocalists and fellow jazz musicians. So, take your time to explore the nuances of “Bright Size Life” and embrace the journey of becoming a versatile and expressive jazz soloist. Happy playing!

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!

A list of the most popular jazz standards

This post if for the jazz guys, and possibly those that want to venture into jazz territory. I talked about repertoire yesterday, and today I was asked by a friend to put together a list of the most popular jazz standards that might be called at a jam session…this is what I came up with, and I thought of sharing it with you. Comes without saying that this list is by all means incomplete and dictated by my experience with jazz jams.  Feel free to add your suggestion in the comments section!

A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Sqare

Agua De Beber

Ain’t Misbehavin’

All Blues

All of Me

All of You

All Or Nothing At All

All the Things You Are

Alone Together

Angel Eyes

Autumn Leaves

Beautiful Love

Billie’s Bounce

Blue Bossa

Blue Monk

Blue Moon

Body and Soul

But Not For Me

Bye Bye Blackbird

C Jam Blues


Chelsea Bridge


Come Rain Or Come Shine

Cry Me a River

Darn That Dream

Days of Wine and Roses


Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me

Don’t Get Around Much Anymore

Donna Lee


Easy to Love

Embraceable You


Everything Happens to Me

Everytime We Say Goodbye

Fly Me To The Moon

Foggy Day


Gee Baby Ain’t I Good to You

Gentle Rain

Georgia On My Mind

Giant Steps

Girl From Ipanema

God Bless the Child

Good Bait

Green Dolphin Street

Have You Met Miss Jones

Here’s That Rainy Day

How Deep is the Ocean

How High the Moon

How Insensitive

How Long Has This Been Going On

I Can’t Get Started

I Could Write a Book

I Didn’t Know What Time It Was

I Get a Kick Out of You

I Got Rhythm/Rhythm Changes

I Hear a Rhapsody

I Loves You Porgy

I Remember You

I Should Care

I Thought About You

I’ll Remember April

I’ve Got You Under My Skin

If I Should Lose You

If I Were a Bell


In A Sentimental Mood


Isn’t It Romantic

It Ain’t Necessarily So

It Could Happen to You

It Don’t Mean A Thing

It Had to Be You

Jitterbug Waltz

Joy Spring

Just Friends

Just One of Those Things

Killer Joe

Lady Is A Tramp


Lazy bird

Like Someone In Love

Love For Sale

Lover Man

Lullaby Of Birdland

Lush Life

Mack the Knife

Maiden Voyage

Mercy, Mercy, Mercy



Mr. P.C.

My Favorite Things

My Foolish Heart

My Funny Valentine

My Little Suede Shoes

My One and Only Love

My Romance


Nature Boy

Night and Day

Night In Tunisia

Now’s The Time

Old Devil Moon

Old Folks


On A Slow Boat To China

On The Sunny Side Of The Street

One Note Samba

Over The Rainbow

Polka Dots and Moonbeams

Prelude To A Kiss

Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars (Corcovado)

Round Midnight

Satin Doll

Scrapple From The Apple


Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

So What

Softly as In A Morning Sunrise


Someday My Prince Will Come

Someone To Watch Over Me

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Song For My Father

Sonnymoon For Two

Speak Low

St. Thomas

Stella By Starlight

Stormy Weather

Straight No Chaser




Sweet Georgia Brown

Take Five

Take the “A” Train

Tea For Two

The Man I Love

The Nearness of You

The Night Has 1000 Eyes

The Shadow Of Your Smile

The Very Thought of You

The Way You Look Tonight

There is No Greater Love

There Will Never Be Another You

They Can’t Take That Away From Me

Things Ain’t What They Used to Be

This Masquerade

Time After Time

Tune Up

Watermelon Man


Well You Needn’t

What is This Thing Called Love

When I Fall In Love

When Sunny Gets Blue

Work Song


You and the Night and the Music

You Don’t Know What Love Is

You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To