Jazz Lessons Jazz Blues Stanley Turrentine

Published on March 23rd, 2015 | by Sam

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4 Must know Jazz Blues Licks – Stanley Turrentine

Stanley Turrentine was one of the great jazz blues saxophonists from the 1960s.  His album with backing band, the Three Sounds who were from Detroit, was called Blue Hour and featured many great jazz blues solos by Turrentine and pianist Gene Harris.  Turrentine was one of the greatest jazz blues artists who could equally play jazz and blues, often crossing the two freely.  The two styles definitely have a lot of overlap, but there are very distinctive elements of each that can act as separators.  Turrentine was great in both.  Lee Morgan, Pat Martino, Wes Montgomery, and Kenny Burrell also fall into this category.

One trap that is common among (especially young) jazz improvisers is to look down on the blue language that was so instrumental at the beginning of jazz.  As a top offender, I am now a reformed blues lover.  This vocabulary is absolutely essential to playing classic jazz, and it is a huge mistake to ignore it (one that I’ve made in the past!).

Turrentine’s solo on “Blues in the Closet” features some great licks.  We’re going to look at some static (over one chord) licks and some licks over a chord movement.

Jazz Blues Lick 1

This first lick is over a plain F7 chord.  This one is strictly from the blues scale.  One thing I like about this particular lick is the ending of the phrase.  The “One and” ending is a really great way to tie up a phrase and in this case it’s using the root and b7.

Stanley Turrentine Jazz blues licks



Jazz Blues Lick 2

This lick uses some nice chromatic movement from the flat 3rd to the fifth of the chord – a common vocabulary move for jazz blues improvisers.  Again, it’s over one chord and ends with the “One and” rhythm.  T

Stanley Turrentine Jazz blues licksJazz Blues Lick 3

Here Turrentine is moving from the V/ii (D7) to the ii chord (Gmi).  This is one of the spots in the blues that can help you sound like really know what you’re doing!  If you aren’t taking advantage of that chord movement in the blues, start now!  This line resolves to the 5 of the G minor chord, giving it a really strong resolution.  The line is really simple, but very effective.  The resolution and context give an otherwise very simple line some life.

Stanley Turrentine Jazz blues licksJazz Blues Lick 4

This final lick is an absolute “must know” jazz blues lick.  This one works great to end the form.  In this case, Turrentine ends his solo with this lick, but it works great to end a tune as well.  Make sure to learn this one and put it in all keys!  The theory behind this one is really simple – play scale notes surrounding the IV chord root (Bb) and then follow the IV triad up to its 5th – which is the root.  Once you play this one you will recognize it.

Stanley Turrentine Jazz blues licks


Make sure to check out some of the other jazz articles here. Also check out 80/20 Jazz Guitar, available on Amazon as well as here.


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