Brilliant Blues Licks For The Piano

Jay Oliver  /  Styles  /  UPDATED Jan 13, 2023

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Acclaimed Jazz pianist Jay Oliver’s approach to the blues is really awesome. In all of his soloing, the heart and soul of his lines always come down to the blues. When Jay came into the studio to film some lessons and share his thoughts with us, I had to ask him about his powerful approach to integrating the blues into his larger jazz playing.  

In our discussion of what Jay deemed ‘The Four Streams Of Jazz Soloing’, he described the blues as a sort of ‘punctuation point’ within his playing to really drive the emotion of his music home.

Jazz as a genre was sourced from the blues, and as it developed more complex harmonies and chord movements, the role of the blues in a jazz solo became a sort of cathartic release of tension. One of the things that really struck me about Jay’s playing was how he would build these solos with intense, BIG chords and then settle into a beautiful blues line that would just feel like HOME.  

And the best thing about the blues is its scales and licks really do work over just about any form, as long as you’re listening and musical with it. You can take an elegant jazz standard like Autumn Leaves and create a really wonderful emotional trajectory through it, started off technical and then resolving in pure bluesy emotion.  

Try it out on a jazz standard you like!

Jordan Leibel is passionate about songwriting, improvisation, and helping you become a creative musician! He’s worked as a composer for film, commercial, and theatre projects as well as a session musician and producer for recording work.

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