Lately I’ve been stealing lines from my favorite fusion players and this post takes a great phrase from Greg Howe’s Jump Start and applies it to some common jazz chords.
In this post we’ll look at the opening phrase to Greg Howe’s Jump Start from the album Introspection (Shrapnel/1993). Here’s the opening figure:
We are interested in the phrase starting on beat two:
Which is really two 7-note phrases as shown below. Play both phrases in Figure 3 and notice that they are very similar in terms of the left hand pattern.
Greg plays this quickly using his signature “hammer-on from nowhere” technique. However, we’ll be applying these phrases at slower tempos where this is not required.
If you are interested in working on the “hammer-on from nowhere” technique, I’ve outlined the picking pattern in Figure 3. The notes marked ‘H’ are the hammer-ons to a string that hasn’t previously been played. The mechanical challenge is moving your pick in the opposite direction as your fretting hand. Practice slowly and then build speed.
Once you are comfortable with the two parts of this phrase, connect them as shown in Figure 4:
It is useful to know what scale these notes are coming from. Jump Start starts with at C#-7 chord and the notes in this lick come from the B-major scale, giving us a Dorian sound.
If you are familiar with the natural minor “box” shape, you’ll see that the notes come from a G# natural minor, which is the same as B Major, or C# Dorian.
With this knowledge in hand, we can start to apply this sequence to other harmonic situations.
First, let’s re-apply this sequence to the C#-7 chord:
Here’s another variation played at a different location on the neck:
Here’s yet another variation using the same scale over the tonic chord, Bmaj7:
We can continue to apply this idea over different harmonic foundations by choosing the correct notes from the underlying tonic chord/scale. Figure 8 shows an application of the Jump Start phrase over a G7 chord with notes from the C major scale, giving a Mixolydian sound.
We can also alter the rhythmic pattern as shown in the next example:
Another idea is to add an introduction and some passing tones, as shown in Figure 10. The first two notes form an introduction, and the C# at the end of the second bar is the passing tone.
Stretching even further, we can apply this to the altered scale (7th mode of the melodic minor scale) which emphasizes the b5, #5, b9 and #9. This is a great way to add tension over a dominant 7 chord.
As you have probably guessed by now, we can use this idea over any mode, here’s an example of a lydian sound over A7#11:
The next example uses a half-whole diminished scale over A7b9:
Finally, we’ll apply this idea to a descending ii-V resolving to a dominant 7:
This is a challenging lick but I hope you find ways to apply it to your soloing. I plan to post more licks in the future as I continue to dig deeper into the techniques of my favorite fusion players.
Here is a PDF with all of the figures from this article: JumpStart