John Mclaughlin Jazz Fusion Line Breakdown

There are two parts to this. The second lesson is a variation. The dominant chord in this 2 5 1 is altered.

This creates a nice way to create flow with the fingering when alternate picking in the style of John Mclaughlin. As you play through the Notation/Tab [below] this will become apparent very quickly.


John Mclaughlin guitar lesson finishing with a D flat Triad for G7 alt


John Mclaughlin Jazz Improvisation guitar lesson jazzimproviser

LINE BREAKDOWN: Breaking down the line into 4 note cells [Tetrachords]




this is the way I do it


this is the way I do it


This is the way I do it


Mclaughlin this is the way I do it


This is the way I do it


This is the way I do it John Mclaughlin


This is the way I do it

VARIATION of the John Mclaughlin jazz fusion improvisation guitar lesson finishing with an E flat Triad for the G7 alt

John Mclaughlin Jazz Improvisation guitar lesson. Altered scales

For more info John Mclaughlin has a DVD:

John Mclaughlin This is the way I do it

Don Mock/Brecker “Outside” Chromatics for Jazz/Fusion Guitar lines

Outside playing using approach notes/target tones.

Below is a Jazzy Bebop sounding line from Don Mock. It also has that Brecker chromatic feel to it where it can easily be pushed in to a more fusion-esque line. Here we are targeting  arpeggio and scale tones

Don Mock Jazz Improvisation guitar lesson

If we look a little closer we can see all of the Target tones/Approach notes setting the line up

Don Mock Jazz Improvisation guitar lesson target tones

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Breaking Down Jazz Improvisation “OUTSIDE” Playing

Breaking down Michael Brecker!

When looking at musical notation it can seem like random notes. But if we break down each group into 4 note groupings called “Tetrachords” we can break down the music theory and play each group on our instrument.

We can then remember the “Sound and Shape” of each cell and then join them together. In turn we can then apply these cells to our own instrumental playing/improvisations.





1st Grouping of 4 notes [Tetrachord]=E flat Pentatonic shape/sound [Mixolydian]

jazz improvisation michael brecker outside solo

2nd Tetrachord=A flat Minor triad and 4th interval [or #11  #9 and #5]

jazz improvisation michael brecker outside solo

3rd Tetrachord=Minor scale fragment [#11 Lydian]

jazz improvisation michael brecker outside solo

4th Tetrachord=Changing cell. [From flat 9 to C Jazz melodic minor]

jazz improvisation michael brecker outside solo

5th Tetrachord=Very “Outside” D major pentatonic/4ths

jazz improvisation michael brecker outside solo

6th Tetrachord =D major Pentatonic sound/shape [very “Out”]

jazz improvisation michael brecker outside solo


7th Tetrachord=C minor arpeggio and 4th

jazz improvisation michael brecker outside solo

8th Tetrachord=B flat major Pentatonic sound/shape

jazz improvisation michael brecker outside solo

9th Tetrachord=C Melodic “Jazz” minor [Augmented] sound/shape [same as 4th Tetrachord]

jazz improvisation michael brecker outside solo

10th Tetrachord = Perfect 4th and major 3rd creating triad pairs sound/shape [or E flat minor 11 implication or G FLAT/a flat]

jazz improvisation michael brecker outside solo

Lastly= Flat 6 for C minor

jazz improvisation michael brecker outside solo


In terms of fingering and musical application on our instruments learning shapes and “Connections” and breaking phrases down into 4 note cells [Tetrachords] is really useful because complex lines can be understood and learnt quickly.

In turn this gives us lots of patterns for improvisation and theoretical knowledge to improvise with as opposed to just playing scales and arpeggios.

If you found this easy then try and break this little solo down into” Hexatonic” scale application. You might find it really interesting!

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Jazz/fusion improvisation Altered scale Theory Lesson

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Today we will look at a John Mclaughlin alternate picking Jazz/Fusion improvisation cadence employing the altered dominant chord! Please watch the video below and then try it out yourself.

As you will see this cadence employs the Altered scale. It is a 2 [minor 7 flat 5] going to 5 [ “Altered Dominant”] 1 [major 7th]. This being Dm7 flat 5  G7 altered resolving to C major7.

I also employ a flat 5 substitution on the Dm7 flat 5. All of this resolves though and slips nicely into the altered dominant 5 chord. I also use pentatonics within the altered scale for rhythmic flow. Please look at the TAB/MUSIC below and play through it yourself to see and feel how it all “Naturally” unfolds. I employ alternate picking the same as John Mclaughlin.

John Mclaughlin alternate picking altered scale line Music/Tab

John Mclaughlin Alternate picking Altered scale jazz improviser line

VARIATION With an A flat Pentatonic shape replacing A flat minor/Major Arpeggio for the flat 5 substitution.


Altered scale jazz improvisation, jazz improviser lesson

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Target Tones for Jazz [Guitar] Improvisation Chromatics

Making Jazz sound, well, Jazzy?

Many people learn modes and scales and arpeggios and copious amounts of music theory. They are then confronted with the biggest problem of all. How to make music out it!

The key to all of this is to look at the rhythm. Rhythm is the key to fluid professional sounding lines. But, how to we do this from a beginners perspective?

Firstly: The most important thing to do is outline the chord tones that are “On” the beat. This way the ear can follow. Because the chromatics on the “Off beat” will then sound correct, interesting and colourful.

The 2 little chromatic set ups/melodies below detail this.

jazz improvisation target tones for jazz improviser

Play through the exercise below and you will hear and see the C7 arpeggio outlined on beats  1 and 3 in all bars. Also, notice the “Up beat”. This sets up the rhythm by targeting the “On beat” chord tone.

jazz improvisation target tones lesson

Here is another example in double time. Notice that this time the complete C major scale is played on each 1/4 note beat of the bar. Again we have the upbeat to create forward motion.

Jazz improvisation lesson target tones C major scale

This doesn’t mean that we do this every time but it shows how to create and then develop really hip lines that are “Musical”. From here on in you can manipulate it.

Jazz/Fusion Line: Don Mock classic “Anacrusis”

Don Mock target tones jazz improv line

John Mclaughlin Classic beginning “In the bar”

Below is a variation using a John Mclaughlin phrase. Notice how Mclaughlin starts on the second semiquaver [off beat] of the second beat of the bar.

John Mclaughlin Target tones example

Here are a couple of other rhythmic set ups to try out,

Notice the off beat to triplet arpeggio. This is a very common rhythm but it always sounds good and works well.

Charlie Parker Be Bop jazz improvisation line

 This line starts “On the beat” but the rhythm gets pushed.

Charlie Parker Be Bop jazz improvisation line

This is just a taster of what makes Jazz sound like jazz. Looking and learning about rhythm is "Everything" because without understanding where the "On' and "Off "beat are it is impossible to syncopate and anticipate musically. All the theory in the world won't help without good forward moving rhythm.

The best book that I have ever read and studied on the subject of enclosure/approach notes/rhythmic set up is,

"Target" Tones by Don Mock.LINK DON MOCK

Target tone Don Mock

For a deeper and intellectual look there is a book called "Forward Motion" by pianist Hal Galper. This book is for someone really wanting to go deeper into the rhythm of jazz.LINK HAL GALPER

Forward motion book by Hal Galper

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23rd Chords Jazz Improvisation

Lennie Tristano’s Augmented 15th Arpeggio

Screen Shot 2019-10-25 at 17.19.59

Above is the “Classic’ Lennie Tristano superimposed #15 arpeggio for C Major7. The #15 sounds “Correct” because all of the 5ths in the arpeggio are PERFECT 5THS.

Lennie Tristano Cmaj7.Dmaj arpeggios. #11 #15th diagram lesson


23rd chord extension



If we keep stacking 3rds with superimposition and extension we create “Tertian” harmony. So, above a 15th we have a 17th, above that a 19th, above that a 21st and above that a 23rd. Hence a 23rd chord will use all 12 notes.

The 23rd chord example below has a major leaning

major 23rd chord example for music jazz improvisation

This example provides a 23rd chord with a minor leaning

minor 23rd chord jazz improvisation lesson tertian harmony

Here we have a 23rd chord with an augmented leaning

AUGMENTED 23RD CHORD jazz improvisation lesson

Lastly we have a 23rd chord with a diminished  leaning

DIMINISHED 23RD CHORD for jazz improvisation lesson and diagram

Going back to our old friend George Russell and the Lydian Chromatic Concept we become aware of the shifting of tonal gravity and what is available with a 23rd chord that shifts out and how we can manipulate it to create new ideas and avoid cliches. Also going back to our 1st example of Lennie Tritano’s #15th arpeggio we hear how we can exploit the perfect 5ths to make something not right “Sound” right but fresh and new.

Lydian Chromatic Concept LCC

How to create music and improvisation with the 23rd chord

Below is a great example of my personal favourite 23rd chord creating a lovely Tertian Stack. TERTIAN STACK 23rd chord for jazz improvisation lesson and example

This example also reverts back to our 12 tone blog for improvisation and jazz heads/tunes. There are 3 sets of TETRACHORDS. Or 3 sets of 4 note groupings.

23rd chord tetrachords example for jazz improvisation

Next we can take the same 23rd chord pitches and make Hexatonic or 2 groups of 6 from the 23rd chord tertian superimposition.

23rd chord hexatonics for jazz improvisation

Finally we can make 3 note cells to form a 12 tone line from the same tertian 23rd chord extension.

23rd chord 3 note cells 12 tone lesson example for jazz improvisation

23rd chord Improvised line ideas:

Employing 23rd chord outlines in Major, minor, diminished augmented.

Line 1

23rd chord improvised jazz line example lesson

Line 2

jazz fusion 23rd chord improvised line and music theory lesson

Line 3

triplets 23rd chord improvised jazz line and jazz lesson

Line 4

23rd chord improvised line for jazz improvisation lesson

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My Top 5 music educational books I use!

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When it comes to learning music I still love to lean into the old dusty trusted paper. Man, I still really love paper!  

The smell of candle fragrance, coffee and paper makes me want to enter into that private world of knowledge and digest!

I love the feel of a book. the allure and all that awaits like a beautiful women. To enter that secret world where magic happily appears and all that was old and grey is transformed into the fresh and colourful.

Paper always brings with it a sense of peace and stress relief from the distractions of computer learning. A book is a place where texts and messengers and news feeds have no place.

A book is a place where the mind is still and childlike filled with curiosity but all the time knowing  that it will eventually absorb the magic that is presented before it and turn the pages of stardust into living breathing art. Man, I love paper! 

Here are the top 5 music education text books and scores I use at the moment,

5] Twentieth Century Harmony -Vincent Persichetti



4] John Mclaughlin Improvisations [Transcriptions]-Mediastarz



3] Exploring Jazz Piano Book 2- Tim Richards



2] Jazz composition theory and practice-Ted Pease [Berklee press]



1] A chromatic approach to jazz harmony and melody-Dave Liebman