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Learn From 5 Jazz Fusion Legends

Zakk Jones

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Mike Stern on Miles Davis’s “Jean Pierre” (Video Start 2:53)

Another ubiquitous name in Fusion history is Mike Stern. From his sideman work with Miles Davis and Jaco Pastorious to his own legendary solo career, Mike is a serious force in the development of fusion language on the guitar. His extended solo on “Jean Pierre”, a simple A7 vamp tune, is a classic. 

Jazz Fusion Legends #2
  • This excerpt is almost entirely comprised of pentatonic sounds and shapes, superimposing these over the original harmony
  • The first phrase is all Eb/Cm pentatonic, against the A7 this creates a major tonality a tritone away
  • He then shifts up a half-step and plays in E/C#m for the next part of that measure and a little bit over the barline before stepping back into Eb/Cm quickly
  • He ends the line by going into C/Am pent. Bringing us back into the tonic harmony
  • Besides the harmonic movement, the coolest part about these lines are the rhythmic phrasing. Although the basic rhythmic value is 16th note triplets, he groups them in different ways to get an “over the barline” sound
  • Notice how the first ascending line is all grouped in 3’s, then when he jumps to the E maj. Pent, he plays his triplets in 3 groupings of 4. 
  • What’s even more striking is that he starts this new grouping of 4 on the 3rd partial of the triplet (end of beat 2, measure 1), which skews the line over the barline. The E maj. Tonality ends on 2nd partial of the first triplet in m. 2
  • Again, he plays another grouping of 4 starting on the 3rd partial in m. 2 (Eb maj. pent) then quickly shifts to normal triplet groupings in the C maj. Pent., ending us solidly back in the original groove and tonality
  • This all is a clever usage of basic idiomatic shapes that are moved around both rhythmically and harmonically. 

Check out these other great Mike Stern cuts:

Chromazone

One World

Friday Night At The Cadillac Club (Bob Berg)

5 Jazz Fusion Legends Lesson continues – NEXT


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