Published on December 29th, 2014 | by Sam1
5 Essential Barney Kessel Jazz Guitar Licks
We have already looked at Barney Kessel’s expert chord playing. This time around we are going to check out some of his playing over the classic ii V progression. All jazz guitarists need to have a lot of different things to play over a ii V progression and we get a few different flavors here from Barney Kessel.
Barney Kessel Jazz Guitar Lick 1 – I Love You – Minor ii V
The minor ii V is a common progression that can be somewhat difficult to find good licks for. At least it was for me! In this lick, Barney Kessel starts off with a plain F minor arpeggio, and then comes down exactly through that arpeggio. These two things are pretty simple but really effective. Over the C7 chord it gives you a #9 (written as Eb here) and b9 (Db).
The tune I Love You uses the minor ii V, but resolves to a major I chord (Fmaj7). The lick he plays over the Fmaj7 chord is a classic – jumping to the 4th (Bb) and chromatically moving up to the 3rd. We’ll see this same resolution in the next lick.
Barney Kessel Jazz Guitar Lick 2 – Another You – Minor ii V
Barney Kessel uses the same ‘device’ here – going from the 4th and then chromatically up to the 3rd of the A7 chord. This lick ends with a plain minor triad arpeggio that really works to wrap things up.
Barney Kessel Jazz Guitar Lick 3 – Another You – Minor ii V
This lick shows us some really useful ideas on the A7 chord. First off he moves down the scale and resolves to the third of the A7 chord. (As a side note, the b9 note can be really weird over the half diminished chord, but it works here because of the direction of the line). The second half of the A7 uses a b9. It’s very clear, and works great. Remember, sometimes clarity is the best, don’t try to hide everything!
Barney Kessel Jazz Guitar Lick 4 – Satin Doll – ii V
The final two Barney Kessel jazz guitar licks we will look at are major ii V licks from the tune Satin Doll. Kessel plays this tune in G (as opposed it the typical C major key). The first lick is from the end of the A section. The chords in this key would usually be an A7 and Ab7. I’m showing the lick over a regular ii V progression though. The lick has an E minor triad and then an Eb minor triad. Over the D7, the Eb minor chord gives us the #5 (Bb) and b9 (Eb) along with the 3rd of the chord (Gb). I’ve used the flat spellings here just to show the chromaticism of moving from the E minor to the Eb minor. The resolution of the lick gives us a look into Barney Kessel’s country background. I don’t mean chicken pickin’ but he does have a distinctly country vibe in many of his lines.
Barney Kessel Jazz Guitar Lick 5 – Satin Doll – ii V
The last lick is over a C major ii V progression. He plays a nice chord punch on the ‘and’ after 4 in the first bar. The V chord just uses a #5 to 6 move that gives the lick some nice chromaticism. The ending of the lick again gives us another look at some of the country/blues vocabulary.
If you’re a fan of Barney Kessel’s playing, make sure to check out the other licks and transcription of his throughout the site.