The Licktionary

What is a “Licktionary?” It is a resource for jazz vocabulary that I’m putting together with students. Scales and modes are important, but in themselves, they don’t sound like jazz. When trying to learn basic jazz vocabulary, it’s nice to go back and listen to the masters – especially more economical players like John Lewis, Miles Davis, Duke Jordan, and Chet Baker.

Here are the steps to putting together your own Licktionary:

  • Learn some short solos (John Lewis blues solos are ideal)
  • Take out some “licks” that appeal to you
  • Put them in a notebook, arranging them by chord quality and scale degree (what note does the lick start on? can you learn the lick in all keys and apply it to the same type of chord in a new tune?)
  • Write a solo using the licks. You can either use a bunch of them, or just a couple – maybe try transposing one in several keys and repeating it.

You can start by using some of the transcribed solos on this site!

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