Soloing with Blues Scales
As you can imagine, blues scales are the meat and potatoes of blues improvisation. However, they still must be used in a logical, commonsense fashion. You do not want to just simply run blues scales up and down the keyboard. If you do, your playing will sound mechanical and sophomoric.
FIGURE 8-10 is a jazzy blues riff that uses only the notes found in a basic blues scale. In the last two measures, a tri-tone is used between C and G-flat. This tri-tone outlines a C9(flat5) chord, which would be used by players such as Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, and a cornucopia of other jazz-blues pianists. With the proper phrasing and intervallic jumps, this simple blues scale quickly comes alive, hinting at the chic “uptown” riffs used by Harlem pianists in the late 1940s and beyond.
FIGURE 8-10: Using the Basic Blues Scale
Blues scales are discussed here only in brief, so be sure to see later chapters, particularly Chapter 10, to learn more about blues scale applications. Also, don't hesitate to review Chapter 5 for information on the full, more comprehensive blues scale.
As you can imagine, blues scales invoke the essence and flavors of the blues in ways no other scale can. Therefore, you will want to use them generously. However, don't restrict them only to blues music. Blues scales have wide applications in modern rock and pop. For example, if you listen to rock pianists Keith Emerson (ELP) and John Lord (Deep Purple) or pop pianists Billy Joel and Joe Jackson, you will hear blues scales used constantly.