Recent Articles

Jazz Guitar Lick – Cmaj7/Am7 »

Hey all,

Here’s a jazz guitar lick that can be played over a Cmaj7 or Am7 chord. If you’re already getting my free email newsletter, you already recieved the pdf tab version of this lick. As I promised, here’s a video demonstration of it.  If you’re not yet getting my free email newsletter, why not sign up? it’s free.

To download the tab for this lick for free, click the download now button below:

Enjoy,

Leon

How High the Moon with George Benson and Lage Lund »

Here’s an excellent video that i’ve been listening to a lot lately. George Benson playing with Lage Lund, winner of the 2005 Thelonius Monk Jazz Competition for jazz guitar. Notice the contrasting styles. Lage is playing in more of a traditional straight ahead jazz style and George is just playing….well….like himself.  Funny…Lage just shakes his head after George’s solo. What else can you do after playing with him?

Pay Attention to This Every Time You Play »

As jazz guitarists, it’s often a good practice to remember your roots and to stay grounded in the fundamentals.  The most important fundamental in jazz is it’s rhythm and the concept of swing.  If the way you’re playing doesn’t swing, then that’s a major problem.  This applies to every type of jazz player regardless of the instrument you’re playing.

We often get so bogged down with what notes we should be playing over certain chords that we forget that none of this matters if what you’re playing doesn’t swing. Even if every note of your solo matches up perfectly with the chords, if you’re time is off or if you’re not swinging then basically you’re entire solo just went down the drain.

I know this sounds harsh but it’s true. With every practice session, you should be aware of your sense of time and rhythm to determine whether you’re swinging or not.  Play with more experienced musicians and ask them to honestly give you their opinion of you’re rhythmic concept.  Don’t just ask anyone because they will tell you what you want to hear just because they don’t want to hurt your feelings.

I would much rather have my feelings hurt early on so that I could fix the problem now than to go on for years never knowing that I have a problem with my timing.

So with that, here’s a video of the masters—the originators of bebop music. Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. The song is Hot House. Listen to how they and the band, particularly the drummer swings. Listen over and over if you have to.  In fact, never stop listening to them and other jazz musicians who swing hard.  That way you will begin to KNOW intuitively what swings and what doesn’t.

Best Wishes,

Leon

A Rare Joe Pass Performance »

Take a look at this performance by Joe Pass. Not only is it a great performance way back when he was young but he’s also playing on Fender Jaguar solid body guitar! First time I’ve ever seen him playing a solid body. Enjoy.


  


Leon


Jimmy Raney – Masterful Jazz Guitar »

Here’s a few videos of the great bebop guitarist Jimmy Raney. He played with many of the great jazz players including Barry Harris and Stan Getz.  I really enjoy his playing because he had an excellent lyrical and melodic flow. Check it out.

Here he’s playing Billie’s Bounce:

I love this one of he and Cal Collins playing “Just Friends”:

Finally, here’s Jimmy giving some masterclasses.  In the first clip, he’s answering the question: “Do you think about chord/scale relationships?”  In the second video, he talks about the importance of timing.

Enjoy!,

Leon

More Essential Jazz Chords »

A while back I posted an article entitled “8 Essential Jazz Chord Forms for the Beginning Jazz Guitarist“. This article focused on the importance of developing your knowledge of seventh chords with their roots located on the 5th and 6th strings.  To take this concept further, let’s take a look at the same jazz chords that we learned in last article but with the root(the note “C”) located on the 4th string. 

Here they are for CMaj7, Cm7, C7 and Cm7b5:

4th string root chords - 1

4th string root chords - 2 

Identify and pay attention to which notes change with each chord.  Practice these chords as well as the ones in the previous article, by playing them up and down the fretboard chromatically.

After you do that, try applying them to some tunes.  In fact, that’s what we’ll do in the next lesson.  Stay tuned!

 

Leon

Planning, Structuring and Writing out your Jazz Guitar Solos »

I remember when I first started playing jazz guitar. I was simply overwhelmed by everything that I had to learn. So many tunes, chords, scales, arpeggios, licks…. It was crazy. How was I supposed to learn all this stuff in a reasonable time. But I was really passionate about the music and the instrument and I was determined to figure out how to improvise. I bought every jazz guitar book I could find. Some of them were good. Most, however, were very limited (as I later realized). It was just too much!!

One day I was talking to a saxophone player friend of mine and he said something that really stuck with me. He said that when you’re learning to improvise, “you can’t start at infinity”. In other words, you can’t improvise while thinking about all of the ideas and techniques that you could be using all the time. Take one idea at time, work with it—work it into your vocabulary and then move on to the next idea. You actually improve your soloing by purposely limiting yourself and the possibilities when you practice.

This idea eventually led me to an idea that has improved my improvising. What is it? Planning, Structuring and Writing out solos. Now I have to admit I haven’t done this as much as I should. But I’m doing it more and more and I encourage you to do it as well. Of course, this isn’t a novel idea. Horn players do this sort of thing all the time.  I don’t think guitarists do this even half as much as other instrumentalists, though and we’re really missing out.

Read the rest »

Benson Plays Take 5 »

I thought I’d share this excellent video of jazz guitarist George Benson playing the tune, “Take 5” on the Tom Snyder show sometime in the 80s.  This is only the second video I’ve seen of him playing this song.  There are some great shots of his right hand technique and some amazing lines. His timing, rhythm and flow are impeccable as always. 

Enjoy.

 

How to Improve Your Smooth Jazz Improv Skills »

Anyone who’s followed my site for awhile knows that I emphasize building your jazz vocabulary by listening to the players you like and working with good transcriptions of solos.   The idea being that the more you work those licks and phrases into your own playing, you’ll eventually create your own voice when improvising.  This is how you avoid sounding like you’re playing scales!!

If any of you enjoyed my smooth jazz guitar solo that I posted a while back, I want to let you know that you can now get your hands on the tabs and jam track for this solo.  This is an awesome way to improve your soloing vocabulary in this style.

First, here’s the video of the solo if you haven’t seen it already:

 


I’ve put a lot of time and effort into creating an accurate transcription of this solo and the great thing is that you can download it now.  Here’s what you get:

  • Standard Notation – An accurate PDF transcription of all the notes that I played in that solo including chord symbols for the chords played throughout the solo.
  • Tablature – You’ll know exactly where I played the notes on the fretboard with notation of slides, pull-offs, and hammer-ons.
  • Fingering – You get my exact fingerings.  You’ll be able to use these fingerings as a starting point when learning phrases from the solo.
  • Jam Track – You can also practice the licks that you learn from this solo with an MP3 jam track.

You can download the PDF chart with MP3 jam track today for only $9.95.

You guys know how big I am on improving your soloing vocabulary and this is an excellent way to do so. Besides, where can you get a solid, fully tabbed out smooth jazz guitar solo like this?

To take advantage excellent offer, just click the add to cart button below and checkout with Paypal.

Thanks for supporting this site!

Leon

Smooth Jazz Guitar Solo and Jam Track $9.95

Your Shopping Cart

Your cart is empty
Visit The Shop

Norman Brown Plays His First Composition »

I thought I’d share this video with everyone.  I was pretty shocked when I came across it. It’s an old performance by Norman Brown at GIT(the Musician’s Institute in Los Angeles).  Norman studied there in 1983-84. According to Musiciansguide.com, “In 1984, Brown joined the Musician’s Institute of Hollywood as a staff instructor, having completed the school’s one-year vocational curriculum. For ten years thereafter he taught guitar technology, for two days every week, as many as ten sessions per week. Brown became a devoted educator, teaching guitar lessons privately, organizing and hosting guitar seminars, and performing outreach in general.”

In the video, Norman plays a tune he wrote entitled, “The Beginning of a New Creation” and it was the first song he ever wrote.  He actually says this at the end of the video.  The performance itself is awesome as usual and it displays his talent and maturity even at a younger age.

I hope this inspires you guys!  If any of you are interested in the Musician’s Institute, check out www.mi.edu. I believe they still offer the one year guitar program. It probably won’t transform you into a monster guitar player like Norman but I’ve heard it’s an excellent program.

Enjoy!  and turn the volume up.  The recording is old…and check out the keyboard solo too,  Yamaha DX-7!!! Old school!!  The guitar he’s playing looks like a Benson model, GB200 or some older variation of it.

Leon