2 Powerful Licks Starting On the 11th

jazz piano licksNeed more licks don’t you? Well, you’ve come to the right place.

In today’s free jazz lick lesson we’re going to explore a couple licks starting on the 11th of a minor chord.

I think you’re really going to enjoy this lesson for a few reasons!

Not only do I have notation of the licks but I also have audio recordings, a video demonstration, and analysis included in this lesson as well.

Most importantly, I had just gotten back from a gig when I shot this video. So, i’m wearing a suit as you will see below.

For those of you who are new to our community please just assume I always dress like this. 😉

Just as a quick reminder this is the 4th article in our “How To Play Great Jazz Licks Starting on Any Note series”.  You can find the rest of them here Jazz Licks starting on the root, Jazz Licks starting on the 9th, and Jazz Licks starting on the 3rd.)

Ok on to our new jazz lesson! Here’s the first lick in video format.

Here is the notation of the jazz licks. Be sure to check out all the additional tips and analysis below!

jazz licks on 11th

(You can print out a .pdf file of these licks. Feel free to share this page as well! The only thing I ask is that you link back to the site in return.)

Here is an audio recording of the second lick.

Tips for Lick #1

1. For the first part of the lick I’m thinking modally when I’m playing over the Gminor7th.  I am playing up and down different arpeggios inside the dorian mode. (Check out this minor mode lesson for a much more in depth study of how to play and use the dorian mode.)

2. For the second bar of the V chord I use what’s called a tritone substitution.  Instead of playing a full bar of C7 I substitute it for the last 2 beats with a dominant chord a tritone away. (As a reminder a tritone is 6 half steps up).

This is a very common substitution in jazz harmony. (For example, I use it in this Misty Chords lesson as well.)

3. Need more info about the chords I play in the video? I have a whole lesson where I teach more about the left hand chords. Watch the shell voicing lesson to learn more.

Tips for Lick #2

1. This lick starts on an approach pattern. I start on the 11th but play two chromatic notes and target the 5th (the note D).

These types of approach patterns are all over jazz improvisation. They’re an integral part of the sound. They’re used to propel a line forward and keep it moving. 

Check out this Red Garland transcription lesson ,Charlie Parker lick, and even this sweet Wynton Kelly riff for more info on approach patterns.

2. I continue with a 4 note approach pattern targeting the 5th of C7 (the note G) on the 3rd beat.

I’m playing 2 chromatic notes below the G and then 2 chromatic notes above the G and then finally resolving to the G. Once again a different approach pattern and tons of forward motion!

4. I end the lick one again with….wait for it…wait for it….wait for it…..another approach pattern! 🙂 Go figure! In order to target the 5th of the Fmajor 7th chord (C) on beat 1 of play 2 chromatic notes below and lead up to it.

Listen to lick #2 and play it multiple times so you can start getting a feel for how to use this important approach pattern technique.

Final Thought

Please remember to try using these licks in all your favorite tunes. By themselves they are nice pieces of vocabulary but they become true expression when you can apply them organically to your own music 🙂


So, what tunes are you working on right now?  Where can you apply these licks? Please leave a comment below!

Also, if you’re new here please be sure to subscribe to the free jazz lessons email list to receive all the latest and greatest lessons right in your inbox. The forms are on the top left of the website and right below this article.

Steve Nixon