Guitar Instructor Lick of the Week 02-01-2011

Posted by Michael Mueller on February 1, 2011 at 4:25 PM

As I was reading through some classic jazz transcriptions recently, I couldn't believe how much I had to slow the tempo down to get through some of those bebop charts accurately. But before I beat myself up too much about it, I also noticed that great bebop licks sound great whether played at 300 bpm or 120 bpm. And then I began to think about how cool a bebop lick might sound in a blues.

Jazzin' the BluesSo I pulled out a trusted resource, John Ganapes' excellent book Jazzin' the Blues (click here or on the picture at right for more info on it), and sure enough, John touches on that very topic. This week's lick, which is borrowed from Jazzin' the Blues, features a phrase so common to jazz solos that John calls it "the bebop lick" and implores his readers to learn it and learn it well.

The lick itself is the six-note phrase that occupies beats 2-4 of the first bar. It is usually played over a ii-V progression and begins on the root of the V chord. In this example, the ii-V (Cm7-F13) progression is spread out over two bars, so the lick is repeated, using a little rhythmic variation to keep it fresh. Note in both instances, however, that the "bebop lick" begins on F, which is the root of the V chord, F13.

Jazz-blues guitar tabs, video lessons, and jam tracks

In terms of technique, it's pretty straightforward, except for the position shift on the "and" of beat 3 in bar 1, and on the "and" of beat 2 in bar 2. At the lick's bluesy tempo of 120, it's pretty easy, but killer bop tempos may present a challenge if you dive right in, so use your metronome to gradually work up to it.

As John says in his book, this is a lick you'll hear often if you're a regular jazz listener, so make sure you get it under your fingers and practice using it in your own improvisations.

Lick of the Week 22

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