Licks

EPIC Michael League Lick!

We all know Michael League as the power house bassist behind Snarky Puppy, but did you know he also has some serious jazz chops? The kind of chops that make these kind of faces…

Oh yeah!

We’re going to take a look at a lick that I took from a jam with Cory Henry (that you can listen to here), the lick comes in at 06:55 and is a swinging chromatic line that makes the crowd explode, you can’t miss it! Let’s check it out.

Download the backing track from the video here!

So why is this lick so awesome? Let’s break it down.

1. Target notes on strong beats.

A G Lydian sound is implied in the opening bar by targeting the first four scale notes (G A B C#), these notes all land on the beat giving them more weight than the other notes in the bar. The backing track I’m jamming to in the video is over an A7 groove, the target notes would then be b7 (G) R (A) 9 (B) 3 (C#).

2. Approach Patterns

League uses a variety of approach patterns to arrive at his target notes, all of which come from the bebop tradition. Ascending and descending chromatic approach notes are used along with an enclosure.

3. Sequence

The repeating pattern in the first measure provides a solid foundation for the lick which helps engage the listener, the ascending pattern also builds excitement.

Learn more about Using Sequence In Your Improvisations here!

4. Harmonic Structure

The second measure outlines an E major chord before descending the E Mixolydian scale. (NOTE! The D natural in this run is pretty difficult to hear and could well be a D#, making it and E major scale but D natural seems a better fit!)

Using this technique League is implying a | I | VI7 | progression. At this point in the lick, Cory Henry (the awesome keys player) lays out giving League space to bring in whatever harmony he likes before resolving to the G in the final bar.

5. Long Double Time Line

This lick is played in double time, or all as semi quavers, rather than the expected quaver based lines commonly found in jazz. Playing in double time you burn through your ideas in no time at all! League glues together three separate ideas (chromatic approach notes, scales fragments, scale runs) to create one long line, as each idea comes to an end the excitement is built further by the delayed resolution as he runs seamlessly into the next phrase.

Download the backing track from the video here!



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3 Killer Louis Johnson Licks – Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough

Hey bass fans! In this lesson we are going to look three super funky bass licks courtesy of Louis Johnson from the song ‘Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough’. You can find a link to the full transcription for this tune at the bottom of the post.

This track has a killer groove and uses a combination of synth bass (possibly played by Louis Johnson – leave me a comment and let me know!!) and Louis’ signature Musicman funk tone. The song is in B major and the main body of the tune only uses two chords, A/B and B.

A note about slash chords… 

Slash chords are usually a short hand way of writing other chords, usually if a specific voicing is required by the composer, A/B can also be thought of as B7sus.

A/B = B7sus

B (R)  C# (9) E (4) A (b7)

What scale to use?

This track is in the key of B Major, so what scale are we going to use to build these funky licks with? B Major, right?! Wrong!

Check out the string melody to the tune below.

Note the use of the Bebop Scale, using both the major 7th and flat 7th. A G natural, or b13, is also used and although it functions as a chromatic approach note, it’s fairly safe to say that both chords in this tune are being treated as dominants and that means we can give them all kinds of tasty alterations.

Check out the licks below, notice that all three make use of the b3 (D) and the b7 (A).

1. This lick makes use of the B Minor Pentatonic scale with the first grouping of sixteenth notes accenting the sus (E) quality of the chord and the second grouping outlining a B-7 arpeggio. Minor scales are commonly used over dominant chords when playing the blues and the same concept works great for funky fills!

2. This cheeky lick targets the b3 and b7 with some funky articulations, again from the B Minor Pentatonic scale.

3. The final lick begins with octaves on the root and b7 before descending the A Major Scale, implying a ii minor sound or B Dorian.

 

The full transcription to this tune is available to my Patreon subscribers from $1 per month!

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Chick Corea – Spain Lesson. Awesome Pentatonic Lick.

Recently I’ve been looking further into the music of Chick Corea, he is an incredible improviser, composer and a great inspiration to me and many other musicians! If you haven’t heard much Chick Corea I’d recommend you check out the ‘History’ album available on Spotify for a quick intro!

In this lesson we’re going to look at a typical Chick lick, a few key features of it and there is also a free backing track at the end of this post for you to practice with! The lick in this lesson is taken from Chick’s classic tune, ‘Spain’, you can hear the lick at 06:36, check it out below:

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Exploring Minor Scale Choices

The idea for this blog post came from another transcription request I received from one of my subscribers. It is one of the stranger requests I’ve received being that the line they wanted transcribing was actually a sound clip from a review/demo of the new Sire Marcus Miller bass. If you haven’t heard about this bass yet, where have you been?!? Catch up here! 

The original sound clip can be heard following this link. The sound clip is called 3. Bridge PU in playback’ and is eight bars of tasty minor grooving! The bassist in question must be Rainer Wind, a guy I’ve not come across before but he is the author of the article so we can only assume that these cool licks came from him, if anyone can shed any light on this please let us know in the comments below!

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Are Be Bop Licks Just For Be Bop?

Not all of the subscribers to this site are jazz fans and I wanted to post this quick lesson to show how learning jazz, or more specifically for this post, be bop, can still be relevant to the modern day bassist.

Check out the video below, I’m using a Charlie Parker ii V lick over an F7 funk groove. Scroll down to download the backing track and a PDF with notation and TAB!


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ii V I Walking Bass Lick Using Altered Dominant Harmony

After my week away I was pretty eager to get back into the Ray Brown transcription I have been working on. (Click here to see the progress so far!) Yesterday I got through another chorus and found this awesome little ii V I lick that I had to share with you guys!
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