This week’s practice has been some of the most fun and enjoyable yet because I’ve focused on a few on my favourite jazz lesson topics; new jazz language, getting better rhythm chops and learning new repertoire. This week showcases a cool Pat Metheny polyrhythmic tetrachord lick.

My major and minor recital projects are coming together nicely, and the extra hours in the woodshed are making big changes in my jazz guitar playing.

In this article I’ll be sharing some of the beneficial highlights of what I’ve learnt this week to help make you become a better jazz guitarist.



Pat Metheny Lick


In my minor ‘Pat Metheny Project’ lesson, my supervisor Jamie Taylor taught me a very cool Pat Metheny triadic lick.

Jamie said that Pat uses it all over the place, and a few days later after learning it I was listening to Pat and couldn’t believe how I’ve missed hearing this lick before, but sometimes when learning jazz language you don’t realize how common something is until you’ve actually learnt it.

This lick is quite straight forward and works great with different rhythms, against different chords, and fits really easy on the guitar, check out the diagram below.

The first example shows how you can change the rhythms (sometimes referred to as ‘gear shifting’) for a pleasing affect from eighth notes to triplets.


Note that the fingering changes slightly over the E minor 7th chord, and that this lick is the common Coltrane pattern 1, 2, 3, 5 just played backwards so 5, 3, 2, 1. The second example shows how you can move the lick through the harmonized C major scale moving horizontally across the neck.




Triadic Workout


Besides learning this new lick I have also been working on upper structure triads to play over the changes.

After only playing around with some of these ideas for a week, I am becoming more found of using triads to define a chord sound rather than the more conventional chord-scale approach.

Of course both of these approaches give you the same sounds, but with jazz harmony usually moving quite fast there’s rarely time to use or think of a bulky scale, so the triad can be easier to grab on the fly.

I’ve been working on applying these triads in my comping and soloing over ‘Bright Size Life’ for my minor project, but rather than trying to imply them all at once I have broke it down into digestible chunks working on small areas at a time by isolating one chord at a time then combing them all together.

In order to connect all the triads I’ve been working on voice leading them together and connect them to form 6 note scales.

Hopefully I’ll get time in the future to write a full detailed article on this topic.



Using Delay for a Modern Jazz Guitar Sound


Now I know that many guitarists can get caught up with focusing too much on gear, but devoting some time to getting a good sound is definitely time well spent in conjunction with effective jazz guitar practice.

I am often asked about getting a jazz sound so in the future I’ll be writing a short article of some little tricks I use to gain a very convincing jazz guitar sound without spending a lot of money.

For my Pat Metheny minor project I’ve started using a delay pedal for a more open and modern jazz guitar sound.

In recant years a lot of jazz guitar players have started to add delay to their sound for a pleasing effect.

While it’s not an effect that will suit all jazz guitarists and situations, it’s certainly something I recommend you try if you’re looking to add a new dimension to your jazz guitar sound.



A Tune A Day Keeps The Jazz Police Away


This week in my guitar practice routine I have been working on learning four new tunes; Black Nile by Wayne Shorter, Evidence by Monk, and two Pat Metheny tunes; Bright Size Life and James.

When learning new tunes there’s always the question of what should I learn first, the chords or the melody?

Truth be told, I don’t think it matters too much which you learn first,  but I usually start with the melody, because I like to have it in my head so I can sing it and hear it against the chords making it easier to learn the progression.

The trickiest melodies I learnt were Bright Size Life and Evidence. Although I’ve examined both of these tunes in previous articles they’re still not quite as up to starch as I would like.

The rhythms are quite tricky on Evidence, so I isolated one bar at a time. I put the metronome on a reasonable tempo on all 4 beats (120bmp), clapped the bar, then played it on guitar. I did this for each bar of the tune, then applied it to the guitar.

Yes, it’s quite a lengthy process but knowing what rhythms you’re playing at any given time makes you more in control of your own playing and a better jazz guitarist overal.

That briefly sums up some of my practice this week, what have you been working on lately? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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