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5 Classic Pat Martino Minor Licks

When learning bebop licks for jazz guitar there are few players that have more vocabulary than the great picker Pat Martino.

As well, while we often have a lot of vocabulary, or spend a good amount of time on major key ii V I licks and phrases, we can sometimes have less vocab or spend less time working out minor key ii V i’s in the practice room.

Because of this, in today’s lesson we’ll be dissecting 5 classic jazz guitar licks played by Martino over a Minor Key ii V I Chord Progression, digging into the licks themselves as well as to the components of each lick so you can take this material and use it to build great-sounding lines of your own.

So grab your axe, turn up your amp and dig in!


 Pat Martino Minor Licks 1


In this lick Pat is using the 5th mode of D Harmonic Minor over both the Em7b5 and A7alt chords in bar one of the example.

With this approach, Pat is ignoring the Em7b5 chord in place of focusing on the A7alt chord, the V7 in the ii V i progression.

When playing the fifth mode of the Harmonic Minor scale over a 7alt chord it produces a 7(b9,b13) chord sound that builds tension before resolving to the im7 chord in the second bar of the lick.


Click to listen to the Lick 1 Audio Example


Pat Martino Minor Lick 1



Pat Martino Minor Lick 2


The second lick brings to the forefront a DmMaj9 arpeggio in the second bar of the lick.

After setting up the b9 of the A7 chord in bar 1, the repeated Bb note, Pat then runs up and down a DmMaj9 arpeggio in the second bar, playing the notes D F A C# E.

This arpeggio comes from the D Melodic Minor Scale, which is a solid scale choice when soloing over the i chord in a minor key ii V i progression.

Try soloing over a minor key progression and use either the tonic Melodic Minor Scale or the tonic mMaj9 arpeggio to bring this concept into your own lines and phrases.


Click to listen to the Lick 2 Audio Example



Pat Martino Minor Lick 2



Pat Martino Minor Lick 3


Here is another example of Pat using the mMaj9 arpeggio over the Dm chord in bar two of the lick.

In this case Pat leaves out the root of the arpeggio, which produces an Fmaj7#5 arpeggio, which contains the 3-5-7-9 intervals of the DmMaj9 chord.

Playing 3 to 9 arpeggios is a common Bebop technique that many players use in their solos, and this lick is a good example of how Pat brings this sound into his minor key ii V i phrases and lines.


Click to listen to the Lick 3 Audio Example


Pat Martino Minor Lick 3



Pat Martino Minor Lick 4


The fourth lick showcases a common rhythmic grouping that Pat loved to use in his lines, as well as other great players such as Wes Montgomery.

The rhythmic pattern is three repeated notes, quarter note-two eighth notes, followed by two other notes using eighth notes as well.

In this lick Pat uses the rhythmic pattern to outline the Em7b5 and A7b9 chords in the first bar, with an emphases on the C#-Bb notes which bring forth the sound of the underlying A7b9 chord.


Click to listen to the Lick 4 Audio Example


Pat Martino Minor Lick 4



Pat Martino Minor Lick 5


The last lick shows how Pat mixes modes over the first and second bars of the minor key ii V i chords.

In the first bar Pat is playing a D Harmonic Minor Scale, which outlines the 7b9 sound of the V chord, before switching to the D Dorian mode in the second bar which brings out the Dm7 chord that is heard in the harmony.

As well, there is a classic Bebop phrases occurring at the end of bar 1 and the beginning of bar 2 where Pat plays Bb-G-G#-A.

This short Bebop phrase is worth extracting from this line and taking it to other licks and chord progressions in your practice routine.


Click to listen to the Lick 5 Audio Example


Pat Martino Minor Lick 5



Learning licks is an important part of and Jazz Guitarist’s development.

But, if you can dig deep into the licks and discover the thought process behind these phrases it will not only give your jazz guitar vocabulary a boost, but will give you the theory chops you need to build your own classic sounding Jazz Guitar Licks and Lines when bringing these ideas to your own solos.

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  1. Waba, November 24, 2012:

    Hi there Matt, good lesson there. But by the way what do you really mean classic, I’ve been hearing that for sometime now, but is a classic solo, tnx.

  2. Matthew Warnock, November 25, 2012:

    Thanks glad you dig the lesson. Classic licks are one that other players have studied and that have become a part of the jazz guitar vocabulary

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