Here's just what you need to play jazz guitar blues: a set of 5 distinct, progressively more difficult, chord progressions in the key of C, F and Bb.
The article on this page also includes explanations as to why certain chords are being used / substituted for one another. All the theory is given in the key of C with added roman numeral for analysis.
Print + use the PDFs (click on the pictures below with the big red letters to get the PDFs), but please memorize the blues form quickly (save some trees!!!)
For comping with those progressions, refer to this "Jazz Guitar BLUES COMPING" page (w/ video and pdf).
This is the foundation, the simplest jazz guitar blues there is!
Commonly used in traditional blues, blues-rock, pop, rock & roll, funk ... and seldom used in jazz since the bebop era (late 1940's).
Not quite the jazziest blues yet, but has many element of it (especially the IIm7-V7-I cadence at the end). This is a great preparation step for the "real" jazz blues with many more chords (see below)
Please Note :
Previous elements are kept here but the "VI" chord is added in bar 8.
Remember this : VI is the dominant of II. Here's why : In the key of C, A7(b9) in bar 8 is the dominant of Dm in the next bar! We call this a secondary dominant. (You should read about this when you can; it should clear up a lot of the "mysteries" within chord progressions for you...)
Same applies to bar 4 going to bar 5 : We have the "flat 9" on the C7 (the I) to raise the tension level and then resolve back to F7 (the IV).
Business as usual here except for :
These elements are often used by seasoned improvisers and accompanists. It creates nice textures, especially at slower tempos. Note that is possible to using passing diminished in other spots, like bar 2 for instance.
This is a great blues form to improvise over. I like it in the keys F and Ab the most. Listen to the tunes : "Blues for Alice", "Chi Chi" and "Freight Trane".
The last 4 bars are pretty straight forward as the "juice" is really happening in bars 1 through 8 :
I hope those 5 jazz guitar blues progressions helped you. Feel free to come back here and re-read the theory, it will make more sense after a few weeks. ;-)
Please, consult the other pages/videos in the blues section of this website. If you are looking for genuine jazz blues improvisation book of reference, I highly recommended this great book / CD set by Dan Greenblatt. It contains tons of neat blues lines, the "right" scales to use and timeless licks for jazz legends: