Bruce Saunders - Jazz Guitar 201: Advanced Jazz Guitar Improvisation

Bruce Saunders - Jazz Guitar 201: Advanced Jazz Guitar Improvisation digital download.

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Bruce Saunders - Jazz Guitar 201: Advanced Jazz Guitar Improvisation

Type: Digital download

Bruce Saunders - Jazz Guitar 201: Advanced Jazz Guitar Improvisation

Bruce Saunders - Jazz Guitar 201: Advanced Jazz Guitar Improvisation

Picking up where Jazz Guitar 101 left off, Jazz Guitar 201 explores the advanced techniques that great jazz guitarists use in order to successfully solo over chord changes found in both traditional and modern jazz compositions. Each lesson will provide you with a step-by-step approach to jazz improvisation, covering both rhythmic considerations as well as effective use of scales, arpeggios, and modes. Topics include altered pentatonic scales, across-the-bar-line phrasing, creating melodic tension on dominant chords, blues in jazz, and non-functional harmonic improvisation. You’ll also explore transcription and rhythmic techniques applicable to both comping and soloing.

The course also provides a number of listening examples that you will study and model—recordings from past and present jazz giants, including John Coltrane, Wes Montgomery, Miles Davis, John Scofield, Grant Green, Pat Metheny, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Mike Stern and many others. You will gain a more complete knowledge of the guitar fretboard—and how scales, modes, chords, and arpeggios are applied to jazz. By the end of Jazz Guitar 201, you will be able to compose your own modern jazz songs and have further developed your own jazz improvisational personality.

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • Improvise over chord changes through the use of scales, modes, and arpeggios
  • Play solo transcriptions of Wes Montgomery, John Coltrane, Grant Green, and many other jazz greats
  • Apply advanced rhythmic concepts to comping and soloing
  • Demonstrate a more complete knowledge of the guitar fretboard
  • Improvise over nonfunctional harmony and modern jazz progressions
  • Compose your own modern jazz songs


Lesson 1 Major Modes & Chord Scales and Harmonic Minor Review

Lesson 2 Modes of the Melodic Minor Scale

Lesson 3 Continuity: Across the Bar Line Phrasing

Lesson 4 Blues in Jazz Continued

Lesson 5 Rhythm Changes

Lesson 6 Pentatonic Scales

Lesson 7 The Diminished Scale

Lesson 8 Phrasing, Dynamics, and Rhythm & Jazz Guitar Comping

Lesson 9 John Coltrane’s “Moment’s Notice”

Lesson 10 John Coltrane—The Coltrane Matrix (“Giant Steps” )

Lesson 11 Contemporary Jazz Guitarists (Jim Hall, John Scofield, Bill Frisell, Pat Metheny);

Lesson 12 Nonfunctional Harmony, Contemporary Jazz Guitar, and Slash Chords


Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements

Completion of Jazz Guitar 101 or equivalent knowledge and experience is required.

Required Textbook(s)

  • None required

Students are required to record video for assignments. You can use your smartphone, digital camera, or webcam to do this. If you do not already have a preferred video software, you can use the built-in recorder tool within your assignment post. You can play the backing track through your speakers as you record and the microphone will pick up both the guitar (acoustic or through an amp) and the track as you play along.

Hardware Requirements

  • Electric or acoustic guitar. Check outReverb for guitar deals*
  • A built-in microphone or an external microphone plugged directly into your computer (via built-in ports or an external audio interface)
  • A printer is recommended for printing music examples used in the course


Bruce Saunders - Jazz Guitar 201: Advanced Jazz Guitar Improvisation
Bruce Saunders

Author & Instructor

Guitarist Bruce Saunders is a Professor at Berklee College of Music. With New York City as his base since 1988, he has toured Europe, South America, Australia, Japan, and the United States as a band leader and as a sideman. He has recorded with musicians such as Jack DeJohnette, Peter Erskine, Dave Holland, Kenny Werner, Bill Stewart, Michael Cain, Glen Velez, Harvie Swartz, David Berkman, Tony Scherr, Mark Murphy, Ben Monder, Steve Cardenas, and many others. He has four recordings CDs as a leader: Fragment (Moo Records, 2002); Likely Story (Moo Records, 1998); Jazz Hymns (1995 and 1998); Forget Everything (Moo Records, 1995).

Saunders has taught at Berklee since 1992. He has also taught at New York University and various clinics worldwide, including the International Jazz Seminar in Xalapa, Mexico, numerous times in Colombia, South America, and the Maine Jazz Camp. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree in classical guitar and theory from Florida State University, and a Masters in Jazz Performance from the University of North Texas, where he studied with Jack Petersen and Tom Johnson. He is the author of Pentatonics, Modern Blues, and Melodic Improvisation (all Mel Bay Publications). For further information on Bruce Saunders.

What’s Next?

When taken for credit, Jazz Guitar 201: Advanced Jazz Guitar Improvisation can be applied towards these associated programs:

Associated Certificate Programs

  • General Music Studies Professional Certificate
  • General Music Studies Advanced Professional Certificate
  • Jazz Guitar Professional Certificate
  • Guitar Advanced Professional Certificate

Associated Degree Major

  • Bachelor’s Degree in Guitar