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Adding Some Jazz Fusion Spice To Your

Blues Soloing
Most of the phrases that we perceive as sounding “jazzy” sound that way due to the
inclusion of notes which sound dissonant or odd… “wrong” notes if you like. The best
place to add these notes in is at the point where one chord is changing to another. This
is why jazz players often refer to “playing over the changes”. You are basically playing
notes which sound harsh and uncomfortable in order to increase the tension &
excitement. When the chord change has completed, it is important that you resolve this
tension by landing on a note which sounds sweet and harmonious over the new chord.
Here’s an illustration…

So you can see that it’s a matter of placing your dissonant note choices on the “cusp” of
the chord change. For most of the solo I’m using as an example I’ve stuck to the kind of
blues ideas outlined in the previous two blog posts. It’s the jazzy sounding phrases
we’re looking at today, and you can see below exactly where, in the chord sequence,
I’ve placed each of the six licks we’ll be looking at.

So, lets take a listen to how these phrases sound. Click HERE to listen to the solo.
And here are the licks tabbed out and explained:
Lick No.1
This lick occurs over the change from A7 to D7. Any time you have this chord change
you can use the A “altered” scale. This scale can be viewed as being the Bb melodic
minor scale starting on it’s 7th note (A Bb C C# Eb F G), but don’t worry about that for
now. I don’t think in terms of that scale when I’m playing this kind of lick. What I am
thinking of are the following notes: A C# & G (the “core” notes of an A7 chord), plus the
extremely dissonant sounding Bb (a flat 9th of A7); C (a sharp 9th of A7) Eb (a flat 5th of
A7) and F (a sharp 5th of A7). Simply by adding these notes into otherwise “ordinary” A7
type licks you will be playing the “altered” scale (sometimes known as the “superlocrian
mode”). Here is a fingering for the scale:

Lick No.2
This one happens over a Bm7 – E7 – A7 sequence. This is known in jargon-speak as a
II-V-I progression, and the standard jazz way to tackle this type of thing is to use a
melodic minor scale. I mentioned this scale briefly earlier, so here’s a bit of
Strictly speaking, the melodic minor scale uses different notes depending on whether
you’re ascending or descending the scale. This is due to the vagaries of history and not
something which you need to worry about. To all intents and purposes, we’ll be
concentrating on the ascending version of the scale which is simply a common-or-
garden major scale with a flattened 3rd note. To play over Bm7-E7-A7 use a B major
scale (B C# D# E F# G# A#) but with the 3rd note (D#) flattened to D. This is a B melodic
minor scale (B C# D E F# G# A#). When you arrive at the “destination” chord of A7,
simply take the A# down to an A note and you’ll resolve the tension created by the
melodic minor scale. Here is a fingering for the B melodic minor scale:

Lick No.3
Another commonplace scale, and one which is favoured by Robben Ford, is the
diminished scale. It can be used in much the same way as the altered scale we looked
at earlier. Here I’m using it over the E7 to A7 chord change as we move into the 2 nd time
through the 12 bar chord sequence. A diminished scale is made up of alternating 2
fret/1fret steps which means it repeats itself every 3 frets on the neck. This is very
useful, as you only really need one fingering for it which you then just move up/down in
3 fret stages. Here is the fingering I used:

Lick No.4
A great way to add tension to any A7 – D7 chord change is to do what blues players
already do instinctively… play 3 frets up. Most blues players are familiar with the idea of
playing A minor pentatonic over an A7 chord. Am pentatonic is exactly the same as C
major pentatonic so effectively, if you do this, you’re playing 3 frets higher than the A7
tonality. This is something that jazz players do to a greater degree by going up another
3 frets, then another 3 and so on until you arrive back at your “home” chord of A7.
Here’s the cycle: A goes up 3 frets to C; C goes up 3 frets to Eb; Eb goes up 3 frets to
Gb; Gb goes up 3 frets to A. This lick uses arpeggio based ideas from that cycle. It
begins with a Gb arpeggio, then into an Eb7 based lick. I then move the shape up 3
frets and get an A major arpeggio going to a Gb7 lick which resolves onto a strong D
note from the newly arrived D7 chord.
Lick No.5

Again, another Bm7 – E7 – A7 sequence where I use the B melodic minor scale.
Exactly the same principle as lick No.2
Lick No.6

And there you have it… how to embellish your blues solos with a little Robben Ford-
esque jazziness.