Charlie Parker Lick Lesson and Video

Here’s a free Charlie Parker lick lesson and tutorial video.

I had a lot of fun shooting this one.  Make sure you also scroll down for the notation of the lick and some quick tips. 

charlie parker II-V-I lick

Some Cool Things About this Jazz Lick

1. The lick starts on the “and of 1”.  In general, jazz licks tend to start on the offbeat more than on downbeats.   (Here’s another lick that also demonstrates this concept minor jazz lick.)  (You can also check out this Miles Davis lesson for more phrasing tips)charlie parker lick piano

2. I’m using expanded shell voicings in my left hand or Bud Powell chords.

3. Notice how after every ascending arpeggio Charlie Parker then immediately resolves by playing down the scale.  This creates a really nice flow to his phrasing.

4. Over the I chord on beat 2 Charlie uses an enclosure (approach) pattern.  He delays the resolution to the note Bb on beat by playing the notes C and A on beat 2.  Approach patterns are a fantastic way to lengthen and extend your lines. Very bebop!

5.  Charlie arpeggiates a descending Cmin7 chord on beat 3 and 4 of the 3rd bar…over the Bbmaj7.   He eventually resolves down to the Bbmaj7 on bar 4.  By doing this he has once again delayed his resolution and made the line much more interesting.

Good jazz licks tend to have lots of forward motion and if you resolve to early the licks can get boring and predictable.  Fortunately Charlie Parker was a master among masters and kept his line moving beautifully.

6. This particular lick is over a 2 5 1 chord progression. This progression is the most popular chord progression in jazz. You’ll find this in hundreds of great jazz tunes.

So, having some great licks to play over the progression will be very helpful.

By the way, if you want to learn more about the 2 5 1 and jazz harmony check out this jazz theory lesson on the basics of a 2 5 1.

**If you enjoyed this Charlie Parker lick lesson and video please leave a comment below and make sure you subscribe to the email list .**

  • Weiyan Wo

    As I seen most of the left hand chord play at octave + third wide, but my hand is  too small can only play an octave wide, should I still learn Jazz piano?

  • perraud nicolas

    Thanks a lot Steve for these comments on Charlie Parkers phrasing. You
    don’t put too much at a time and it does really gives clues to the ever
    lasting diggers like me!


  • Brian Vanhook

    Your the best man, please keep it up because young budding musicians around the world need it! Thank you for all that you’ve done!

  • baby_grand

    good one, I’m getting better at learning these things, my first was the free “satin doll” tune, this went much faster. Wish I were able to reach that long Cm7 10th stretch Steve does so easily, I need to borrow 1/4 inch of pinky there… 🙂

  • Olly Cooper

    thanks Steve always an inspiration