SOLO1 bb king-style, zaire 1974
Our first complete solo showcases King’s approach to outlining the harmony, in this case moving between Im7 (Dm7), Vm7 (Am7) and IVm7 (Gm7), while staying almost exclusively with the E- form box pentatonic shape (R b3 4 5 b7). He does briefly add a couple of colour tones, specifically the 2nd (E) in bar 2 and the 6th (B) in bar 8. From a conceptual perspective, your job here is to align the target notes with the underlying harmony to quantify his note selection. A clear example is in bar 3, where BB points his D minor pentatonic lines towards the note A, the tonic of the underlying chord, followed by a first- finger bend towards an E, the 5th degree and another fundamental building block from our Am7 chord (A C E G). Technically, this bend is probably the most challenging and idiosyncratic phrase within this solo, as the first finger is used to push the sixth string up a whole tone. It’s crucial that you create a pivot point between your thumb and the base of the first finger, using a turning motion of the wrist rather than just pure finger strength alone to achieve this bend.