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!!!)
first two bars have I - IV in alternation (instead same chord for 4 bars)
3 - Most Common "Jazz Guitar Blues" (w/ sec. dominants and turnaround)
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).
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.
5 - "Bebop" Blues (aka New York Changes or Bird Blues or Parker Blues)
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 :
Right away, harmony goes to VIm (the relative minor key) in bar 3
The end is a good old II-V-I (+ turnaround) to settle back the harmony and go back to the top again.
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: