Pro-sounding - Side Slip Your Way to Blues Piano Improvisation

Posted by: Willie Myette on October 5, 2021

In this episode, I have a special treat for you. I am going to show you how to play a pro sounding blues piano improvisation. This is a way to sideslip your way into the audience's ears.

If you want to follow along with the sheet music for this lesson, just head back to or check out the card that just popped up on your screen.

Tritone Substitutions and the Blues

In the last few podcast episodes, we talked about tritone substitutions and the blues. We learned how to add in the triad tones and the bell tones, and in this episode, we're going to bring it all together.

The Left Hand

The concept behind the left hand is simple. We have our anchor chords, which are the one, four, and five. In this improvisation, my anchor chord is C7. From there, I move down a half step to B7 and then back up to C7. In the right hand, I play a G, which is the fifth of C7. I move all the notes down and back up while playing a G in the right hand.

Pay attention to the articulation in the music. A line over the B7 means that you hold out the eighth note for its full value, while a dot over the C7 means you play it staccato. This creates a unique sound that really drives the beat home.

The Rhythm

The rhythm is simple. It's a quarter note followed by two eighth notes. In measure three, I play three quarter notes because we have a lot of syncopation going on. Hitting that downbeat really sounds nice and drives the beat home.

The Right Hand

In the right hand, I keep the G as a common element that runs through the entire 12 bars. This gives my improvisation some structure and almost sounds like a song.

Playing Octaves

When playing octaves twice in a row, I recommend using your fourth finger instead of trying to come down and play with your pinkie. This allows you to play octaves faster and with more accuracy.

Using the Pedal

I use the pedal when rolling chords to blend them together. You can choose to use the pedal when doing roll chords or not, depending on your preference.

Playing Along with the Backing Track

Now, let's play along with the backing track. You can challenge yourself by bringing the speed up and changing the dynamics. Have fun with it and bring your own personal flair to the improvisation.

In Conclusion

Playing jazz piano improvisation is all about having fun and expressing yourself. By incorporating tritone substitutions, triad tones, bell tones, and side slipping techniques, you can create a pro sounding blues improvisation that will impress any audience. Don't be afraid to experiment and find your own unique sound. Thanks for tuning in to The Confident Improviser podcast, and I'll see you in the next episode.

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