- Notice the ‘ghosted’ notes, marked in drum notation. They’re important in establishing the groove.
- Get the notes down first; once you have them more or less committed to memory, work on feeling the groove.
- For the blues crunches, take your time before resolving the grace notes: they shouldn’t be too short.
- A few of the chords are marked with numbers of the chord degrees. Keeping these in mind helps when transposing a given lick to other keys.
- Try playing along with a funk drum loop. See if you can play ‘in the pocket’: try holding back just a bit behind the beat.
- Try adding your own variations in terms of motif and rhythm. You could keep it really simple to start with: maybe just a B flat in the left hand and the A flat above in the right. It doesn’t need to be rhymically busy. Leave space.
The phrase below demonstrates a foundational jazz pattern called ‘enclosures’. There are a couple of them here, marked with brackets:
The basic idea is that you move around a target or destination note, starting a whole- or half-step below then moving above, or vice versa. An enclosure can have three notes, or you can extend the melody with additional notes, before arriving at the destination note.
The most typical, idiomatic enclosure involves the notes a half-step above and below the target note, but this need not always be the case, such as in the second enclosure above.
The harmony in the above example is a classic ii-V7-I (or V-I) cadence. We’re in F major so the ii is G minor 7, the V7 is C dominant 7 and the I is F major 6.
Try playing it in all 12 major keys.
Another phrase containing enclosures:
Practice tip: hold down a chord, say Gm7, and work out your own enclosures over it.
A great way to improve your command of bebop and improvisation in general is to take a phrase and modify it melodically and rhythmically and see how it sounds against different chords.
Here’s the first example but played in double-time (sixteenth notes) and offset by a beat, set against B♭6, Cm7 and F7: