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Jazz Guitar Chord Lick – Chromatic ii V I

A big part of learning how to play jazz guitar chords, is learning how to apply these shapes to your chord soloing, chord melody and comping ideas in a musical way, that sounds improvised and not like an exercise.

To help you apply common chord shapes to your jazz guitar chord solos and comping phrases, here is a quick lick that you can study, break down, work in 12 keys, and bring into your jazz guitar chord ideas in order to increase your vocabulary and practical application of chord shapes at the same time.



Jazz Guitar Chord Lick – Chromatic ii V I


The crux of this lick is the chromatic movement that is first felt in the bass notes of the Am7 chord, moving down from the 9th to the root, 7 and b7, before resolving to the F#, the 3rd of D7 on beat 3 of that bar.

This is a technique, moving from the 9th of a iim7 chord down to the 3rd of the V7 chord, that I’ve taken from Ed Bickert’s chord work, as he was a fan of this type of line in his comping and soloing ideas.

The second half of the first bar switches the chromatic line from the bass to the melody as you move down from the 13th, B, of D7 to the root, G of Gmaj7 on the downbeat of the next bar.

You’ll notice that the first three chromatic notes, B-Bb-A, are played over the same chord shape, a D9 (F#-C-E), and then to spice things up a bit I’ve added a chromatic approach chord, Ab, that resolves by a half step down to the Gmaj7 chord at the end of the line.

Since there is a lot going on with this phrase note and chord wise, start slowly with no time when you first learn this lick. Then, after you can play it with free time, practice with a metronome or backing track to take it to the next level in your jazz guitar woodshedding.


Click to hear audio for this jazz guitar chord lick.


Jazz Guitar Chord Lick Chromatic ii V I



Jazz Guitar Chord Lick Practice Tips


To help you get started with taking this jazz guitar chord lick further in the practice room, here are three exercises that you can do in order to further solidify this idea into your playing.



Do you have a question or comment about this jazz guitar chord lick? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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  1. Marty, October 12, 2013:

    love it! A nice easy riff to learn on a Saturday morning. Reminds me of the Ed Bickert comping one from last summer.

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