NIGEL PRICE, PART 4

In the fi­nal in­stal­ment of this won­der­ful se­ries, the ta­lented jazzer looks at the mi­nor blues.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

Wel­come to the fourth and fi­nal part of our Nigel Price video mas­ter­class. In this ar­ti­cle we’re go­ing to look at Nigel’s way to play over a jazzy mi­nor blues. To make the most out of this fi­nal en­counter we de­cided to play a blues in bossa feel in or­der to see how Nigel ap­proaches play­ing on a straight groove. The re­sult is, again, taste­ful play­ing of the high­est cal­i­bre. A plea­sure to lis­ten to.

Be­fore we start look­ing at Nigel’s solo, let’s talk about the mi­nor blues struc­ture and clar­ify what we mean. In jazz there are many pos­si­ble ways to play a mi­nor blues. Some blues are very sim­ple har­mon­i­cally and fea­ture only three chords: Im-IVm-V (or Vm). Oth­ers are a bit more colour­ful and in­tri­cate. The struc­ture that Nigel played on is a very pop­u­lar mi­nor jazz blues and prob­a­bly con­sid­ered the most stan­dard struc­ture. We’ve cho­sen the key of A mi­nor for var­i­ous rea­sons: it’s a gui­tar-friendly key and is a bit eas­ier to get one’s head around it har­mon­i­cally. Here’s the struc­ture: | Am / / / | Bm7b5 / E7 / | Am / / / | A7 / / / | | Dm / / / | Bm7b5 / E7 / | Am / / / | F#m7b5 / / / | | F7 / / / | E7 / / / | Am / F#m7b5 / | Bm7b5 / E7 / | Com­pared to a stan­dard blues there a few ex­tra chords added to cre­ate more har­monic move­ment that the play­ers can use. Mostly this is achieved by adding II-V to a des­ti­na­tion chord; for ex­am­ple, a II-V to get to Am would be Bm7b5-E7. Al­though all the chords in a pro­gres­sion are im­por­tant, some are a bit more im­por­tant than oth­ers. For in­stance, the A7 in bar 4 is a chord that a lot of play­ers like to play over be­cause it cre­ates a nice tran­si­tion to the Dm in bar 5. This makes it the per­fect place to use the V-I vo­cab­u­lary, which is such an in­grained part of the jazz sound.

An­other key chord is the F7 in bar 9. This chord can be seen as the re­sult of a cou­ple of sub­sti­tu­tions that mu­si­cians started us­ing sim­ply be­cause it ‘sounded’ right. With­out get­ting too much into the de­tails of how this is pos­si­ble, here’s a short ex­pla­na­tion from a the­ory per­spec­tive. The ‘orig­i­nal’ chord that, stick­ing to the di­a­tonic har­mony, should have been there is Bm7b5. That would have cre­ated a II-V into the Am (Bm7b5-E7-Am). How do we get from a Bm7b5 to an F7? Jazz mu­si­cians like to make most chords dom­i­nant 7 so that they have more op­tions har­mon­i­cally. So Bm7b5 be­comes B7. Jazz mu­si­cians also like is the tritone (b5) sub­sti­tu­tion (ie a di­min­ished 5th in­ter­val away from the orig­i­nal chord). So B7 be­comes... bingo! F7! A long story for some­thing our ears pick up nat­u­rally.

This type of mi­nor jazz blues is worth know­ing even for the play­ers who are not, strictly speak­ing, jazz play­ers. Even BB King and tra­di­tional blues play­ers have played over sim­i­lar struc­tures. I hope you’ve en­joyed this se­ries as much as I have pre­par­ing them!

NEXT MONTH We be­gin a brand new se­ries with LA blues and fu­sion mae­stro Allen Hinds

This Type of mi­nor jazz blues is worTh know­ing even for The play­ers who are noT, sTricTly speak­ing, jazz play­ers

Nigel Price: for­mi­da­ble UK jazz gui­tarist

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