Guest Teacher Libor Smoldas

Rob’s Guitar School is very privileged to be welcoming Libor Smoldas, one of Europe’s leading jazz guitarists, to its guest teaching program. Libor will be conducting a limited number of private lessons, along with a group clinic on Saturday 3rd March 2018. Libor, “Europe’s rising young jazz star” according to All About Jazz, USA, has performed and taught extensively throughout Europe, the USA and Australia, released a number of albums, and won a number of awards for his compositions.

Cost for a private 30 minute lesson with Libor will be $45. Cost for the 2 hour clinic will be $50.

The clinic will run from 2PM to 4PM, Saturday 3rd March, at 39 Kirri St, The Gap. Bring your own guitar and notebook.

A private lesson can be booked between 12PM and 2PM, same location!

As numbers are strictly limited, secure your spot today by booking for the clinic now!
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This is a fantastic opportunity to get the good oil from a great guitarist, so book now! Don’t miss out!

Check out Libor’s web site for list of concerts…try and get along to his Brisbane gigs!

Here is a couple of youtube videos of Libor playing….

G major II-V-I practice track

This practice track is intended for bass players who are getting to grips with there II-V-I progressions. The key is G major, with a basic jazz feel, the backing track contains guitar playing the chords and drums doing a slow tempo swing. The chords are

||: Am7      |D7                 |Gmaj7         |                : ||

You can try some of the following exercises:

(1) Play the root note of each chord on beat one of each bar. Find as many different root notes as you can in different regions of the neck.

(2) Modify exercise 1 by playing up or down the scale from the root note when you land on the chord Gmaj7. Play one neat per beat.

(3) Repeat exercise 2, but playing up or down from the root note of the other chords.

(4) Try playing up or down from the root notes of each chord in the progression.

(5) Once the first four exercises are going comfortably, try exercise 1 again, but this time land on the 3rd of each chord. Repeat exercise 3 and 4, but playing up or down from the 3rd.

(6) Repeat exercise (5), but landing on the 5th, and again landing on the 7th.

Repeat all exercises using all 5 moveable major scale fingerings, and the open fingering.

Gmajor 2-5-1 Jazz progression without bass

Minor ii-V-I in A minor

The minor ii-V-I is one of the key progressions in all kinds of jazz. The two chord has a flat 5, and the V chord may have a flat nine or a sharp five. They are great fun to improvise over using a harmonic minor scale. The following practice track is in A minor, with a bossa nova feel. An example of a tune using this progression is “Black Orpheus”, otherwise known as “Menha de Carnival”. While any of the A minor scales will work over the progression, the A harmonic minor picks up the “b5” in B minor and the 3rd and the b9 in the E, so will match most closely with the progression.

||: Am                    |Bm7b5              E7b9      : ||

A minor 2-5-1


Practice Track – Autumn Leaves

Many jazz compositions are built up on the II-V-I progression. An example is the tune Autumn leaves, which alternates between II-V-I progressions in G major and E minor (the relative minor of G). This set of practice tracks will help you to develop your soloing over a major II-V-I and its relative minor II-V-I, such as in Autumn Leaves.

First we will develop skills in the major II-V-I, with a IV chord added at the end. With the added IV chord, we go right around the circle of fourths into the minor II-V- I. Here is a practice backing track for the major II-V-I-IV. Use the G major scale to improvise.

||:Am7      |D7         |Gmaj7      |Cmaj7     : ||


Next we develop up our minor II-V-I. Use an E minor scale to improvise – the melodic minor scale with a (C# and D#) is suggested by the melody, however the b5 of the F#m and the b9 of the B7 are C, which indicate the harmonic minor scale. You can also experiment with the natural minor scale (same notes as G major), which gives a #9 sound over the B7. Constructing a melody using the arpeggio notes of each chord (especially 3rds, 7ths and altered tones) on beats 1 and 3, or all down beats in eighth note passages will always sound strong!

||:F#m7b5      |B7 (b9)    |Em          |                   : ||


Now we can alternate between the major and minor, as in the tune autumn leaves:

||:Am7      |D7         |Gmaj7      |Cmaj7     |

|F#m7b5      |B7 (b9)    |Em          |                  : ||

|F#m7b5      |B7 (b9)    |Em          |                  |

|Am7      |D7         |Gmaj7      |Cmaj7     |

|F#m7b5      |B7 (b9)    |Em          |                  |

|F#m7b5      |B7 (b9)    |Em          |                  :||


Have fun – and devote plenty of time to working with these practice tracks, as they will give you a solid foundation which will help you in your improvising on many jazz tunes. In a future note I will talk some more about strategies for soloing over these chords!

Rob’s Residencies continue at the Homestead and Zegatos

I am continuing to play Friday Nights at the Samford Homestead Restaurant (first Friday of the month excepted) and Zegatos at the Ashgrove Golf Club on Saturday nights during February and March. I play a set of atmospheric jazz comprising Ballads, Bossa Novas, and jazz standards, with a few originals thrown in for good measure. Music begins at 6:30pm and goes through to 9:30pm or so. It is always a pleasure to see a familiar face in the crowd! Steve will look after you very well at the Homestead, as will Shane and Tony at Zegatos.

Please ring to make a booking, and to make sure there are no late changes in the entertainment – details for each venue below!

Samford Homestead Restaurant

Zegatos Steak and Pasta Cafe

Practice Track: Waves of the Danube

This is a practice track for beginning to intermediate guitarists and bass players! The Waves of the Danube was also recorded as “Anniversary Song” and appears under that name in the recordings of jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt. This track is at a very slow 90 bpm, so beginning and intermediate players can work the changes with plenty of time to get their arpeggios working! In Gypsy Jazz circles, it is played much more quickly, but you have to practice slow in order to play quick! Enjoy!

Waves of the Danube

Practice track for bassists

Here is a practice track for bassists interested in playing jazz. One of the fundamental building blocks of jazz is the ii-V-I progression, and practicing the ii-V-I progression in every key should be a must for every aspiring jazz musician! So here is a start for bass players, a slow (90 bpm) ii-V-I in the key of Eb, comprising a basic drum track with some rhythm guitar. Practice your walking bass lines, and then let loose with your solo ideas. First you will need to have the Eb major scale under your fingers. In the following fretboard diagram, the squares represent the tonic, or the Eb. Start with the open position scale pattern, and once you know this very well, add the 3rd position scale pattern. Once that one is known, add the next, until you have a command of all the scale patterns. If you have got that far, there is an additional scale pattern corresponding to the open position up an octave I have left you to work out for yourself! These fingerings and scale patterns are for electric bass. If you are learning double bass, use your double bass fingering patterns which are a bit different.

Once you have one (or more) of the scale patterns above under your fingers, use the practice track to explore the progression.  I would suggest identifying the root note of each chord first, and then the third, fifth and seventh of each chord. Have fun!

Eb flat ii-V-I practice track


Practice track for Bassists

This is a practice track for beginning and intermediate bass players who are interested in playing jazz styles. I have taken the following four chords:

||:Am7 |D7 |Gmaj7 |Cmaj7 : ||

which are the chords ii V I IV in the key of G major.

These chords are common in many jazz style progressions, and can be found, for example, in the first four bars of Autumn Leaves. To construct a bass line over these chords, take the following steps.

(1) First have the G major scale under your fingers. You can use the open position, or any moveable scale shapes that you know.

(2) Play through the progression playing the tonic of each chord on beat one of each bar.

This very simple bass line is the foundation upon which many things can be built. To this we can add a note leading into each new chord.

(3) On beat 4 of each bar play the note of the G major scale below the note of the chord root you are about to change to. For example on beat 4 of the Am7 bar, play a C, the note below D.

(4) On beat 4 of each bar, we can also play the note above the chord root we are heading for:

(5) Once you are familiar with both of these, you can mix them up, leading into some notes from below, other notes from above.

This technique makes for a strong bass line, particularly when going around the cycle of fourths, as in the progression above. One reason is that the diatonic (i.e. from the major scale) leading note is either the fifth or the third of the current chord in the above progression. The only exception is the change from Cmaj7 to Am7 in point (4).

(6) Now try combining two leading notes on beats 3 and 4:

(7) To play a simple walking bass line, simply add scale notes in between in pitch, between the other notes, making sure that the note on beat 4 always leads into the next chord:

The above are only my examples – there are a great many variations on bass lines you can create using this simple technique – and they will all sound great over these chords and over many other jazz style progressions. Using this technique you can play something different on every run through the chords, but always strongly working the changes. That’s one way you can create interest and dynamism in the music!

This is only one “concept” for constructing bass lines, and you will need to develop a selection of such approaches. As you gain experience in listening and playing, your ear will tell you more and more what will sound good in any given situation.

And here is the practice track to try these techniques with – for best results, get completely comfortable with each step before going on to the next!

Autumn Leaves First 4 bars

If you find that the chords are changing too fast for you, try the following track, which has the same four chords, but each chord goes for two bars:

Autumn Leaves First 4 Bars – 2 bars per chord



Rob’s Residency at the Homestead Continues

You can still catch me down at the Samford Homestead Restaurant on Friday nights in February and March – (except Friday 2nd March). I play from 6:30pm till 10:00ish.

Phone Steve at the restaurant for bookings or more information, on 3289 1485.

I do a set of guitar jazz favorites, accompanying myself using looping pedal! Here is my version of the theme from Black Orpheus – a Bossa Nova classic by Luis Bonfa! Enjoy!

Practice Track: C major ii-V-I

At the heart of very many jazz tunes is the ii-V-I progression, in the key of C major, that’s Dm7, G7, to Cmaj7. Learning to improvise over ii-V-I progressions is an important skill for jazz improvisation. This practice track allows you to start honing your improvisation skills over the ii-V-I progression in the key of C:

||:Dm7        |G7          |Cmaj7          |             : ||

Use notes from the C major scale to make up your melodies over the chord progression.

Free MP3 download: C major ii-V-I practice track.