Jazz Standards

Welcome the Jazz Standards section for jazzguitarlegend.com. We are continually updating this section with new lessons and material.

Here is an outline of the course material along with an explanation of the methodology used in these premium lessons.

The Standards List:

In our ‘Standards lessons’ we focus on the practicing and performance of classic jazz standards, chosen from a list we compiled after many months intensive research. Our main aim was to find tunes that students liked and wanted to learn so initially we compiled 3 lists:

1. A search-based list of standards comprising commonly-searched tunes in web browsers and associated media / websites etc.

2. My personal list of favourite tunes that I love to play and call at gigs or tunes of interest that I’ve studied.

3. A list comprised of JGL student’s most requested* jazz standards.

We then cross-matched the 3 lists and came up with one super-list of tunes that were hit on each list – and the first JGL standards list was born! The list currently contains about 30 tunes, and we have just chosen the first 12 to be integrated into the site in the next 6 to 9 months or so.

*please leave your ideas for standards in the comment section below, we’d love to keep adding to our list!

The JGL ‘Tiered System’:

Once we had our list, the next goal was to divide the standards into 3 graded ‘Tiers’ of content, (which match the lesson tiers found in the premium members section of the JGL site) to ensure that the differing level of student abilities and needs would be met. This grading is partly represented by the difficulty of the melody and chord progressions, but more so by the chosen improvising concept that is applied to each standard.

The 3 categories are:

1.Fundamentals (Beginner level standards and improvising concepts)
2.Core (Intermediate level standards and improvising concepts)
3.Master-Class (Advanced to Expert level standards and improvising concepts)

The JGL ‘Standards Learning Method’

Each video is divided into 2 main parts. These are:

1. Melody and Chords

Primarily when learning a tune, I believe the student should be concerned with the composers own (written) melody and chords. Finding a lead sheet for each tune is the first step, the next is finding versions* of each standard you want to study. This is absolutely crucial to the process of coming to understand and eventually fluently improvising over any given tune.

*Google or YouTube search to find different artist versions, research the history of the tune in Wikipedia, take note of different stylistic approaches, tempos, keys, instrumentation, arrangements etc. And most important of all transcribe your favourite versions.

The first part to the learning method we devised for standards is based around:

The melody – including how to play it, where to play it, different articulations, focus on fingerings and technical approaches (where necessary).

The chords – including simple guide tone based chords, voicing options based around guide tones, root 5 and 6 common fingerings and stylistic / musical applications.

2. Improvising Concepts

The second part to each video is focused on giving students tools for improvising, through the application of one particular improvising concept for each standard. These concepts are also stand alone abstract ideas that could be applied to any musical context, jazz standard, improvising vehicle, chord progression or vamp.

Here is a sneak peek at some of the concepts we will cover in our standards series:

Dominant Diminished
Swing Lines and swing phrasing (8th notes)
Tritone Substitution
Melodic Embellishment
Bebop Scale applications
Playing in 3/4
Latin rhythmic comps
Plus plenty more!



Lesson 10: All the things you are – ‘Playing the 3rds’ [JS10]

In this lesson we examine ‘All The Things You Are’, a commonly called show tune Jazz Standard taken from a late 1930’s Musical (A Very Warm May), music composed by Jerome Kern. Please check out this Wikipedia Page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_the_Things_You_Are  This page…

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jazz standards

Jazz Standard 9: Giant Steps [JS9]

This week we are releasing the 9th JGL Jazz Standard Video based around a tune that has proven to be my most popular tutorial on YouTube: John Coltrane’s ‘Giant Steps’. It’s over 25 minutes in length and focuses on two very important concepts that will help you on your quest to conquer this…

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jazz standards

Jazz Standard 8: 12 Bar Jazz-Blues: ‘Ten Down’ [JS8]

In this lesson we examine the 12 Bar Jazz-Blues. In order to better understand this, we should first examine the common 12 bar Blues form: We find chords (by order of relationship to the tonic or root chord of Bb7) as follows: Bars 1 – 4: | I | IV | I | I | Bars 5 – 8: | IV | IV | I…

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jazz standards

Jazz Standard Lesson 7: Stella by Starlight [JS7]

In this lesson we look at developing longer, more melodic, swinging lines. This entails a study of 4 important improvising elements: 1. Learning how to make the strong tones in your line fall on strong beats (or be anticipated in a strong / melodic manner) 2. Learning how to play…

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jazz standards

Jazz Standard Lesson 6: Autumn Leaves [JS6]

Introduction Why did we choose this as our first JGL Jazz Standard? A few reasons – it was the most commonly asked for standard in recent surveys, it was the 2nd jazz tune I learned at school (‘Sugar’, a minor- blues tune, was the first!), it is easy to learn the melody and chords and it…

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jazz standards

Jazz Standard Lesson 5: A Child Is Born [JS5]

A slow 3/4 ballad by Thad Jones, I heard a version of Jim Hall playing this in a trio (or quartet) when I was very young and it quickly became a staple of my jazz repertoire. The movement between the tonic (Bbmaj) chord and the sub dominant minor (Ebmi) chord is one of my favourite cadences to…

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jazz standards

Jazz Standard Lesson 4: Have You Met Miss Jones [JS4]

My intention with this arrangement was to show how you can voice a melody on top of the chords, best illustrated in the bridge section where the chords move downwards every two beats through the ‘Coltrane matrix’ chord series (descending major third apart key centres of Bb, Gb and D). Also I…

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jazz standards

Jazz Standard Lesson 3: Georgia On My Mind [JS3]

I saw John Scofield play a solo version of this on his ‘Funk Guitar’ DVD (although his version was much bluesier) and I really dug his approach to blending traditional blues bends and textures with jazz chord voicings / lines. So my arrangement here is an adaptation of this, again not straying…

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jazz standards

Jazz Standard Lesson 2: My Romance, Rodgers/Hart [JS2]

A 1935 show tune by Rodgers and Hart taken from the musical ‘Jumbo’. Having played this classic standard countless times at gigs, I felt inspired to write a guitar chord-melody arrangement that kept the original melody and chords fairly intact, with only a few super impositions, passing…

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jazz standards

Jazz Standard Lesson 1: Corcovado, Antonio Carlos Jobim [JS1]

One of my favourite Jobim tunes, this is best played slow and ‘lazy’. As a guitar solo arrangement, it feels most authentic with the bass note rock solid on the 1 and 3 and any chord comping / melodic stylings played lazily against this steadfast bass rhythm. This relaxed style can be heard…

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