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2 Tricks for Playing Better Solos

If you’re looking to improve your solo chops, you’re not alone. In fact, it’s a topic Chad LB regularly covers in his masterclasses.

To help make these masterclasses more accessible, Chad and his quartet created an interactive masterclass to give you some practice playing with a virtual ensemble. This masterclass is a super helpful resource that you can come back to anytime!

We’re going to share some pieces from this Soloing Techniques masterclass—two tricks to play better solos, and you can follow along with the video here to play along with the quartet and nail some of these concepts in real time. Remember, you can always rewind, change the speed and pause when you need to!

Chad LB jazz quartet master class for soloing

What’re we waiting for? Let’s get playing.


Using rhythmic devices

A major piece in improving your solo technique is using rhythmic devices. When you’re soloing, it’s easy to make the notes you’re playing the primary focus. After all, shouldn’t you be keeping up with the chord changes, watching your voice leading, and all the rest?

Well, yes, but rhythm is equally as important. You know the saying “it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it?” Well, think about “it’s not what you play, but how you play it!” Your rhythm is a key piece to making your playing unique and fresh.

One great exercise is to take one rhythm and change up the notes you’re playing. This ties in to playing and developing motivic themes, all while working on your rhythm.

Here’s a triplet-based rhythmic device from the masterclass that we use on a jazz blues.

Rhythmic motifs in jazz

When we get into the major ii - V - I in bar 9 of the jazz blues form, we’re using the same rhythm that we’ve used throughout the chorus. But we’ve added in some chromatic approach notes to get into the minor third of this minor seventh chord. Then we play 5, 7, 9, and go back to the root.

Using triplets in jazz line construction and rhythmic devices

In the next measure, we do a diatonic enclosure of the third, then we play 5, 1, and 7.

How to use enclosures in jazz exercise on triplets

By repeating this rhythm in the chorus, we get to try out different devices for making the same rhythm sound good throughout the form.

But you’ll notice the same rhythm doesn’t always work verbatim. If we use the same exact phrase on bars 9 and 10, but we apply them to the first two bars of the form, it wouldn’t sound nearly as good.