Blues Scale Funky Grooves

When I was a kid, the way I first learned to improvise was by learning all of my blues scales.  I don’t remember if I was taught the different blues scales or if I just figured them out.  I remember learning pretty quickly that most modern Top 40,Pop,Funk and Smooth Jazz was all mostly in one key and that a blues scale would usually sound great over those types of chord progressions  (I tried to make them fit over Charlie Parker tunes but didn’t have much luck).  I used to practice for hours over different tunes while learning my blues scales.  Sometimes I would just put on the radio and try to figure out what blues scale would work on the song that was playing.

Sometime last year I think,  I had a young student that was really into funk dance type music.  He was practicing jazz out of the Omnibook but all he ever listened to on his iPod was this funky dance  trance type stuff (I don’t even know what it is labeled officially)  We had a good talk and it turned out that he wasn’t all that into jazz.  It was ok but not something he liked to listen to at all.  I asked him for a list of some of the songs that he liked off his iPod and later that week I did some searching on iTunes for similar sounding grooves.  My goal was to find a song for each of the 12 blues scales.   I have 16 songs listed here but I am still missing one key.  I could not find a funky groove for the C# blues scale (concert key).   I have one or more for the rest of the keys though.

You can look these songs and artists up on iTunes and hear some samples of the music to see if you like it.  This stuff isn’t for everyone.  It’s more like something you would hear in a dance club.  A lot of the arrangements and horn lines are really cool though.  If you have work to do on your blues scales and you love this kind of music then download them from iTunes and get to work.  Most of these songs are mostly just grooves with little to no melodies so they work great to play over as they give you a lot of room to play.   It’s .99 cents a song I believe.  After every song title I have added which blues scale works over the song.  (These are all in concert key so you will have to transpose to find the blues scale key for your instrument) If you run across a similar groove for C# blues scale (concert) please let me know so I can complete my collection.  If this is hard to read on the website, you can also download it here.

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Steve About Steve

Steve Neff has been playing and teaching saxophone and jazz improvisation around the New England area for the last 30 years. He is the author of many effective jazz improvisation methods as well as founding the popular jazz video lesson site


  1. Avatar Jason Asimakis says

    Nice post, not something i would normally listen to but it does make me come up with new ways to play, especially experimenting with rhythm and playing perfectly in time. Got about 10 of them to practice on, might check out the rest later.

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