These Blues solos that we’re learning will help us to think about soloing in the context of the song form.

They show us how to fit our licks in at just the right place.

Steve Flack

The Secret To Improvising Like A Blues Pro

Everyone will tell you that it’s nearly impossible to teach “how to” compose music or “how to” teach someone to improvise. Improvising is simply composing on the spot so they are very related subjects. It was always important to me to develop my improvisational skills so I worked hard at it.

I practiced a lot, listened to good recordings, went to concerts, read interviews with great improvisers and of course I’d take lessons with teachers that could help me.

I had lessons with a lot of different teachers and each of them gave me something that would point the way for me to achieve my ambition. I found that there were different approach’s to improvising and the various masters of improvising would have different ways of going about their soloing and that was a really interesting discovery for me.

Blues Solo No. 2 Preview

Golden Lessons I learned From Buck Pizzarelli

A long time ago I went to New York to have lessons with as many good teachers that I could find. It was a great time,

I saw a lot of good live performances also. It was a long time ago because the Twin Trade Buildings were still standing.

One of the great teachers that I had lessons with was Bucky Pizzarelli. Bucky had replaced Charlie Christian (the Jimi Hendrix of his generation) in Benny Goodman’s band. Bucky was enormously experienced and had a wealth of knowledge to share.

Bucky Pizzarelli
Bucky Pizzarelli

I remember we played a tune “Out Of Nowhere” and Bucky played a real slick solo. Then it came time for my solo and I was having a ball. Bucky stopped me and asked “what are you doing”…

I answered “improvising”.

He asked me about my approach so I told him “here are the chords, here’s the chord progression, here are the scales and arpeggios that go with the chords and progression – so go wild”.

That’s what I’d been taught

but to Bucky that was a formula for chaos and could be an accident waiting to happen. He said “what you need to do is get all of Charlie Christians records and learn all of his solos”.

He went on “what more do you need?”

How Lego Can Teach Us To Construct Licks Into The Right Place.

This was a valuable lesson for me, that took a little time for me to fully appreciate but Bucky’s point was if you have a big vocabulary of great sounding licks derived from solos that have proven to work in the past then your soloing will always be good.

This approach is a bit like Lego, if you have 100 in your bag of tricks you might start your first solo with lick number 1 then follow it with lick number 4 then follow that with lick 14. In your next solo maybe start with lick 14 then go to lick 4 etc.
Bucky wanted to hear a solo that’s very genre specific, which works beautifully.

These Blues solos that we’re learning will help us to think about soloing in the context of the song form. They show us how to fit our licks in at just the right place.

So let’s get to work on “Blues Solo No 2”.

Steve