Guitar Instructor Lick of the Week 09-21-2010
Posted by Michael Mueller on September 21, 2010 at 1:35 PM
This past week, I was reading through an old transcription of the John Coltrane classic "Impressions," as recorded by jazz guitar master Pat Martino. If ever there was a tune that could be called "jazz shred," this straight-ahead blow-fest with its cut-time tempo of 152 (that's 304 bpm!) would be it.
"Impressions" is a modal tune, with sparse harmonic change, alternating between Am7 and Bbm7 chords, with each acting as temporary key centers. This makes the song an ideal introduction to jazz improv for rock players who want to cop some cool bop lines without having to worry about typical jazz changes (e.g., ii-V-I or I-VI-ii-V).
While Martino's interpretation offers many signature examples of his soloing style, like ostinato riffs and syncopation, it's the final bop lick in section A2 of the tune that really caught my ear as I played it (hear it at 1:23 of the Martino video below). The lick, which is rooted in an A minor arpeggio, demonstrates Martino's ability to imply chord changes over a static harmony, in this case, Am7. It starts with an inocuous A minor arpeggio, then uses an F natural passing tone that leads to an F#–A–C sequence, which represents the 3rd, 5th, and 7th, respectively, of a D7 chord, which in turn would be the V chord in an Am7–D7 ii-V move—pretty nifty substitution.
To be honest, I think this lick actually sounds better at a slower tempo, as opposed to the lightning-fast pace at which Martino plays it. Either way, it's definitely one to add to your bag of licks.
Here's the lick. I've included the original recording (via YouTube video) so you can hear it in context. Plus I recorded a video demo at a "merely mortal" tempo of about 200 bpm, with a slow demo of about 100 bpm. Enjoy!