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3 Adam Rogers ii V I Licks

Adam Rogers is one of my all-time favourite jazz guitarists, one that has a very modern sound but also a thorough foothold in the tradition at the same time.

Because of his understanding of both traditional and modern jazz harmony, Adam is a great player to study when working on jazz guitar improvisational techniques.

When I was a DMA student at the University of Illinois, I spent a whole summer transcribing nothing by Adam’s solos, I got through almost two whole albums before school started up again, and so I want to share some of the lessons I learned from those solos in today’s lesson.

The licks below will help you understand some of the concepts that Adam uses in his ii V I lines, as well as get three Adam Rogers inspired phrases into your playing at the same time.



Adam Rogers ii V I Licks 1


In this first line, a short ii V I in F major, you can see one of Adam’s favourite modal colors, the 7alt Chord.

In this case, it is being used to outline the Gm7-C7, using C7alt in the process, and focuses on the half-step resolution between Ab-G, E-Eb, Db-C and Bb-A along the way.

When put together, these notes add up to the 3rd Mode of the Harmonic Major Scale.

But, if that’s a bit advanced for you at this point in your development, you can think of it as moving down by half-steps to chord tones, both diatonic like the 5th (G) and root (C), or altered notes such as the #9 (Eb).

Playing the 7alt sound over both the ii and V is a great way to simplify your thought process, while outlining the underlying key center at the same time.


Click to listen to this Adam Rogers ii V I Lick.


Adam Rogers ii V I Lick 1



Adam Rogers ii V I Licks 2


In this long ii V I lick in F major, the interesting bit involves the chords being outlined over C7 in the second measure.

A big fan of interesting chord subs and superimpositions, Adam’s playing is full of these types of lines where one chord is used to create new colors over the given harmony.

By playing Abmaj7 over C7, the line outlines the intervals b13-R-#9-5, or two diatonic notes and two notes from the 7alt sound.

As well, the D7 chord that is superimposed over the second half of that bar helps to bring a Lydian Dominant Scale sound, 7#11, to the line.

Playing a 7th arpeggio from the 2nd note of a chord, such as D7 over C7, is a great way to bring that 7#11 sound into your lines without playing a scale-based idea.


Click to listen to this Adam Rogers ii V I Lick.


Adam Rogers ii V I Lick 2-png



Adam Rogers ii V I Licks 3


The last Adam Rogers inspired ii V I lick that we’ll look at involves a cool sub over the Gm7, iim7, chord in the first bar of the phrase.

Here, there is a typical sub being used to create tension over Gm7 that then resolves to the C7 chord in the next bar.

Playing bVI7 V7 Imaj7 instead of iim7 V7 Imaj7 is a great way to bring tension to your ii V I lines, while properly resolving these tensions at the same time, which is something that Adam is great at doing in his improvised lines and phrases.


Click to listen to this Adam Rogers ii V I Lick.


Adam Rogers ii V I Lick 3



Practicing Adam Rogers ii V I Licks


Once you have learned one or more of these Adam Rogers inspired licks, you can use the following exercises to take them further in the practice room as you continue to explore these melodic phrases in your playing.


1. Play the chords for each line and sing the phrase over those chords, repeat in 12 keys if possible.

2. Solo over a ii V I backing track in one more keys and run these licks over that track to hear these lines against harmony

3. Begin to alter the lines by changing the rhythms, adding notes, taking notes away etc., in order to personalize the lines rather than just play them as memorized ideas.

4. Solo over a tune you know and use these lines when you encounter a ii V I progression on that tune.

5. Write out 3 licks in a similar style to these ideas, using the building blocks of each line discussed above as the basis for your own Adam Rogers inspired ii V I licks.


Do you have a question or comment about these Adam Rogers ii V I Licks? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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