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Lewis Turner - The Art Of Jazz Soloing Part 12: Functioning Dominants

Lesson Notes

** As featured in issue 53 **

Last month we looked at playing over Static Dominants, a dominant chord that doesn’t resolve, also known as a vamp. We saw how there were a number of different types of dominant chords and a variety of scale and modal options to play over them. In this lesson we are taking a look at some ideas over “Functioning Dominants”. These are Dominant 7th chords that resolve to their I chord, i.e. G7 – Cmaj7. We have seen in previous lessons how important and common this movement is in jazz, especially in the every popular II V I progression. A V chord that is resolving gives us the chance to create tension in our lead lines before resolving strongly to the I chord (that’s the idea anyway..!). There are many many options when playing over a V chord, and in this lesson I have written out a few lines using some of the most common ones. As always be sure to check out the video to hear them in action.

Lick #1

This uses a fairly traditional approach of Mixolydian and then diminished a half step above to create a bit of tension before resolving to the 5th of C. The diminished idea is very common and heard a great deal in Bebop it outlines the b9 in an altered dominant chord.

Lick #2

Here we have a line that uses the Altered mode or Super Locrian. This is a more modern sound and is favoured by players like Scott Henderson. As we saw last month it sounds really odd at first against a normal Dom 7th chord and takes a little practice to get it to sound convincing, once again making a strong resolution is really important.

Lick #3

Using Mixolydian b6 gives a familiar Mixolydian sound with a slight hip twist, this line also finishes on the 6th of C, which isn’t considered a strong chord tone, but with the shape of the line beforehand it should work fine.

Lick #4

Favoured by musicians ranging from Thelonious Monk to Oz Noy, the Whole Tone scale is considered very modern sounding and a little out there. Here we have a simple but rather effective idea that moves up in tones before resolving to the Maj7 of C.

Lick #5

Here we are using a combination of Half Whole and Altered to give a very “Outside” sound. Half Whole can also be thought of as the Diminished scale, therefore we have an old school meets modern kind of line going on.

Lick #6

A combination lick like the previous, but this time using Altered and Lydian b7 going for an all out modern sound. This lick also uses Lydian over the Cmaj7 to bring home that up to date vibe.

Lick #7

“Just because you can doesn’t mean you should” This common quote best describes this line! Using a combination of pretty much everything in a 16th note barrage. Its tricky, and I'm not sure where it stands on the musical front, but its pretty cool and good fun once you get it under your fingers. This lick would be best used at your local blues jam, its sure to go down a treat..

As always, learn the licks but learn from them and how to use the ideas in your own playing.


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