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5 Must Know George Benson Jazz Guitar Licks

www.mattwarnockguitar.com George Benson is one of the greatest jazz guitarists of all time, theres no doubt about it. Whether you are a fan of his playing, you have to admire the musical and professional accomplishments Benson has achieved over his long and successful career. One of the great things about Bensons playing, is that his solos are full of creativity, but at the same time steeped in the jazz tradition, making them perfect vehicles for transcribing and studying when youre wanting to expand your jazz guitar vocabulary. Early on in my development, I transcribed Bensons solo on the Charlie Parker blues tune Billies Bounce, and have been returning to it for inspiration and new material ever since, as its chalk full of great lines, concepts, swing feel and creativity. In todays lesson, well be exploring 5 licks from Bensons solo on Billies Bounce, analyzing them, learning them on the guitar and breaking them down for future study and practice. So grab your axe and lets go!

George Benson Jazz Guitar Lick 1


This rst lick is my favorite George Benson lick of all time. Its note overly complicated or adventurous, but man does it ever swing and sound bluesy, two things Georges playing has become known for. Originally the last chord was an F7, as its from a jazz blues chord progression, but I like to take this lick and use it over ii V Is that end in a maj7 chord as well. So feel free to do both in your practicing and performance of this cool-sounding lick. What to notice in this George Benson Guitar Lick The Bbmaj9 arpeggio in the rst bar being used over the Gm7 chord, creating a 3 to 9 arpeggio sound The bluesy double-stop with Ab-C to start the second bar The use of the F Major Pentatonic Scale to lead into the Fmaj7 chord in bar 3 Mixing triplets, 8th-notes and quarter notes throughout the lick
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Click to hear audio for this George Benson Jazz Guitar Lick

George Benson Jazz Guitar Lick 2


The next lick is another short and simple lick, but one that sounds great and is full of little twists and turns that make it so effective in Georges playing, and in yours when you work it out and bring it to a performance situation. Mixing the major and minor blues sounds is something that many of the Blue-Note era players did, and just about every great jazz musician uses for that matter, so it is worth exploring that concept further in your practice routine beyond just learning this lick as is. What to notice in this George Benson Guitar Lick The use of the F Major Pentatonic Scale in the rst bar of the lick The b3 to 3 in the tonic key of F bluesy sound in the rst half of bar 2 The resolution to the tonic note, F, in bar 3 The syncopation between the two 8th-notes and the quarter note in the second half of bar 2

Click to hear audio for this George Benson Jazz Guitar Lick

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George Benson Jazz Guitar Lick 3


This 3rd lick shows Georges use of Triad Pairs, a modern-jazz concept that brings forth the Post-Bop avor of Georges playing. By using triads as the basis for his line, George is using a small, easy to recognize melodic device to create tension, both melodic and rhythmic, over the course of this short F7 lick. Triad pairs can really open up your playing to new directions, and so they are also worth extrapolating from this lick and working on further in the woodshed. What to notice in this George Benson Guitar Lick The use of the Eb and F triad pairs that creates a Mixolydian vibe in the the rst bar The Bb and B triads in the second bar that create an Altered vibe in that part of the lick The three-note melodic devices, triads, being played in a two-note rhythm, 8th notes, to create a cool, rhythmic effect that hides the barline The space between the D# and G in the second bar that helps break up the steady 8th-note pulse up to that part of the phrase Click to hear audio for this George Benson Jazz Guitar Lick

George Benson Jazz Guitar Lick 4


The next line is short but very sweet, as it shows the Bluesy-Swing side of Bensons vocabulary. Again, we see him mixing major and minor blues sounds in that classic, Blue-Note vibe that is such a staple of the George Benson sound.

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What to notice in this George Benson Guitar Lick The 5th interval that opens the line, leading to the chromatic notes that follow, followed by a 5th interval that nishes the line The use of the 1 Jazz Lick Every Guitarist Needs to Know The mixture of blues notes, G# (Ab) and B, along with the notes of the triad, F-A-C, to create a sound that mixes major and minor tonalities Click to hear audio for this George Benson Jazz Guitar Lick

George Benson Jazz Guitar Lick 5


Last but note least, we have a blues-based triad lick over the rst four-bars of an F blues. Keeping things simple, George uses the b3rd of each chord, along with mixing rhythmic durations over the course of the line, to create a gradually building phrase that outlines the changes, yet creates interest at the same time. What to notice in this George Benson Guitar Lick The use of the b3 blues note in both bars 1 and 2, G# and C# respectively The walking feel of the quarter notes in bars 1 and 2 Mixing the triad with blues notes in both bars 1 and 2 in a similar fashion to the previous lick The trill in bar 3 and how it effects the feel of that part of the lick The resolution to the b3 (G#) note over the F7 chord in bar 3 of the phrase Click to hear audio for this George Benson Jazz Guitar Lick

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How to Practice These George Benson Licks


As well as learning to play these licks as written, and at a number of different tempos and in all 12 keys if possible, here are 7 ways that I like to work on licks in the woodshed that you can take to your next jazz guitar practice routine. 1. Play the underlying chords and sing the lick on top of each progression 2. Sing the root notes of each chord and play the lick on top of those root notes 3. Jam along to a tune you know or are working on in the woodshed and use any/all of these licks as the basis for your soloing lines 4. Alter the licks by adding notes into each phrase from the appropriate scales/ arpeggios 5. Alter the licks by taking notes out of the licks and leaving more space instead 6. Alter the licks by changing the given rhythms to expand or contract the length of the lick 7. Write your own licks in the style of any/all of the licks above Do you have a question or comment about this lesson, licks or George Benson? Head on over to the Matt Warnock Guitar Facebook page and post a question on my wall. Always happy to answer any questions and help you out any way I can.

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