Category: The Blues

Gospel Blues Comping PT2 – Practical Soloing Guide

In this video, I start by explaining that the chord progression is a 12-bar blues. The first step I suggest is finding the pentatonic scale that corresponds to the key, in this case, C minor pentatonic. By using my ears, I try to find notes within that scale that work well with the chords, even though there are some substitutions in the progression.

I play along with a backing track using a looper, sticking to the C minor pentatonic scale. Most of the notes work well, except for a section where there is a 2-5-1 progression in minor. I suggest that in that section, it might be better to play more sparingly and focus on the root notes.

I then discuss how to analyze the chord changes in more detail. For the C7 chord, I can play a blues lick. But for the Bm7-E7-Am7 progression, which is a 2-5-1 in A minor, I can choose between playing a jazz lick or shifting to the A minor pentatonic scale.

Next, I demonstrate the importance of spelling out the chords. For the Bm7♭5, E7, and Am7 chords, I show how to play the corresponding arpeggios or find phrases that fit those chords.

Moving on to the Gm7, C7, and F7 chords, which form a 2-5-1 progression in F major, I suggest playing the pentatonic scales but adding the ninth for more flavor. I also mention the option of learning phrases that fit the isolated dominant chords, such as D7 and G7.

In the last part of the video, I emphasize the use of diminished arpeggios for the diminished chord and explain how to connect phrases to the chord shapes. Finally, I touch upon playing a blues lick on the turnaround, ending on the G note.

Overall, this video serves as a practical guide for approaching chord changes in a blues progression. By focusing on the pentatonic scale, chord arpeggios, and connecting phrases, you can enhance your improvisation and better navigate through the changes.

Gospel Blues Comping PT1 Example 7th Chords

In this video, I discuss a page from one of my books titled “Contemporary Blues: Cause and Comping.” It’s a resource I provide to my students who are interested in learning seven chord shapes but prefer not to dive straight into jazz or complex theory. The content is applicable to blues and R&B tunes.

I emphasize the use of seventh chord shapes, including major, minor, dominant, and even diminished chords. The focus is on blues, there are no major seventh shapes incorporated. I demonstrate how to play the chords as written, but I encourage taking liberties and adding rhythmic variations to make the music more expressive.

Throughout the demonstration, I start with a C7 chord shape and progress through different chord changes, incorporating substitutions and variations. For instance, instead of strictly playing an E7 chord, I show how you can substitute it with a D half diminished chord over E.

I discuss the importance of paying attention to the melody when creating chord progressions, even during improvisation. By listening to the top melody line, I aim to create smooth and singable melodies that complement the chords. I also emphasize the significance of smoothly connecting chords and avoiding jumps that might distract from the soloist.

I cover various chord shapes and progressions, including a classic turnaround using dominant chords and secondary dominants. I demonstrate how to play different voicings and provide insights into their musical applications.

Overall, this video serves as a musical guide to help students develop their comping skills, focusing on musicality, smooth chord transitions, and supportive accompaniment. In the next video, I plan to discuss soloing over the same chord progression, offering further ideas for analysis and improvisation.

Minor Blues

Quick lesson on Minor Blues:  I play mostly on a Am blues similar to this

| Am       | Dm       | Am        |Am      |

|Dm         |               |Am         |             |

|Em          |Dm        |Am         | E7      |

The obvious  choice for soloing is the Minor Pentatonic in A…but I also add the 9th here and there (the not B in this case) and often use the Dorian modes from each single chord.

How to comp on a Blues Jazz Progression

I’ve been asked many times how to comp on your usual jazz – blues progression. Here I give a few rhythmic/harmnic tips  on how to approach this topic.  The form and chords of our typical jazz/blues progression can be found in this other post. The material I talk about in the video is pretty basic and straight forward, but it’s amazing how effective it is.

You can download a transcription of what I play at around 1:45 of the video HERE – (PDF file)