I received more than one email this past week asking about where things were headed with my Practicing Blues Guitarist series. One person wrote, "Is there somewhere in all of this that addresses playing changes over jazzier blues that include VI-ii-V-I turnarounds, diminished chords, etc.?" There is indeed, and since I'm making Unit 3, Hard Bop And Boogaloo available this week, I'll do my best to explain how and where it all fits together.
My personal taste runs to the blues-oriented jazz musicians I talk about all the time, the Grant Greens, Kenny Burrells, Stanley Turrentines and Tommy Flanagans of the 1950s and '60s, and my course material reflects that. For whatever reason – probably reading too many liner notes during my formative years – I tend to keep in mind the evolution of swing into bebop, emphasize the way the two eras interact with the blues, and teach in a way that reflects that. So I first show how to look at swing lines as simply more linear, eighth-note blues licks, then show how to use that swing sound as a scaffold upon which to drape the more elaborate bebop details.
Unit 3, Hard Bop And Boogaloo, out this week, reviews the swing scale fingerings from Unit 2, introduces two more important positions of the swing scale, and provides hands-on ways to create chromatic bebop lines for dominant 7th chords. The emphasis is on helping you get fluent using a different swing scale for each dominant chord on the blues, a typical sound for '50s hard bop players like Hank Mobley, Lee Morgan and other musicians associated with the Blue Note label. Historically, the hard boppers' back-to-basics approach runs parallel to the bluesy bebop material in Unit 4, Jazz Blues Changes. Hard Bop And Boogaloo is a key step in becoming more flexible and fluent over dominant chords while also providing you with ways to play through the I-IV-V changes in a more jazz-inflected way.
The ideas in Hard Bop And Boogaloo about playing in more than one position and creating jazzier, more chromatic lines over the I IV and V chords stand on their own, but also set you up for the altered and diminished material coming in Unit 4, Jazz Blues Changes. Hard Bop And Boogaloo emphasizes fretboard fluency and the power of contrasting blues and bebop lines, both of which are integral to playing the changes, with or without the addition of diminished and altered chords to the form.
As to that timeless question, "what's a boogaloo?" it's a straight-eighths feel with Latin origins, the basis for the "funky" side of '50s and '60s jazz, and frequently paired with stripped-down, I-IV-V chord changes on the twelve-bar form. Check out Lee Morgan's "The Sidewinder" (which actually has a sort of ii-V), Lou Donaldson's "Midnight Creeper" and "Alligator Boogaloo," or for a more guitar-centric take, Buddy's Guy's "Mary Had A Little Lamb" and Earl Hooker's "Two Bugs And A Roach."
You can get more details about Hard Bop And Boogaloo and check out a sample lesson at the link below:
Hard Bop And Boogaloo