How To Play Great Jazz Licks Starting On Any Note (Part 1)

jazz licksIn today’s free jazz improvisation lesson we’re going to take a look at some cool new jazz licks.

Now, this won’t be your normal everyday run of the mill type jazz lick lesson.  No, we’re going to approach this jazz improvisation lesson in a unique way.

We’re going to learn how to play a lick starting on any of the 12 notes of the chromatic scale.

With the power to start on any note in the chromatic scale you’re musical possibilites could be endless!  All notes then become “correct” if you know how use and resolve them properly.

New Piano Lick Series Starting

Since this is such an important concept I’m actually going to turn this “start on any note” concept into a whole series. This is lesson #1 in the series so make sure you catch every lick as we go forward.  These will definitely help your jazz solos!  I will teach you between 2-4 licks for each starting note.

We will start with playing over minor chords. The first note that we’ll start on will be scale degree 1 or “the root” (If you need a good jazz piano voicing to use in your left hand while playing these licks check out this minor jazz piano chord lesson or this lesson on shell voicings.)

Each lick will lead smoothly into a dominant chord a 4th higher. This will be very useful as you’ll be able to use this over all your II-V-I’s (2-5-1). II-V-I of course is the most popular chord progression in jazz music.

(If you need good voicings to use in your left hand for the dominant chords be sure to check out this dominant chord lesson and also this II-V-I-VI monster jazz piano chords lesson.)

Now, onto our licks!

Jazz Lick #1 Starting On The Root

jazz lick

 (click to expand this lick)

Jazz Lick #2 Starting On The Root

jazz lick

 (click to expand this lick)

Jazz Lick #3 Starting On The Root

jazz lick

 (click to expand this lick)

Make sure you really sit down with these licks and try to digest them. There’s a lot of really nice bebop vocabulary on almost every beat.  Also, take them through several keys!

Be sure to check out the next lesson in the series (coming soon) where we will learn several piano licks that start on the 9th of minor chords.  Until then…happy practicing!

Update: Here’s the other articles in the series so far: jazz licks from the 9th, jazz licks from the 3rd, and jazz licks from the 11th.


I hope you’ve enjoyed these free jazz licks. If so, then please don’t be a stranger. Let us know about them by leaving a comment below!

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On a final note, remember these little gems don’t have to be just piano licks. They can be played by any instrumentalist. Keep your mind open! 

Steve Nixon