"Blue in Green" was written in 1959 for the Miles Davis classic, Kind of Blue. As with most of the other tunes on the record, it is very modal. It also the only other ballad on the album along with "Flamenco Sketches."
With regard to the tune's origin, there has been some speculation about who actually composed it. Several accounts suggest that it was actually composed by Bill Evans, but Miles won't budge. He says the tune is his. Regardless of its origins, this is a great tune and a must-know for any jazz guitarist.
The Nuts and Bolts
Players usually perform this piece very slowly as a ballad. The form is an unusual 10 bars long, so be careful.
Additionally, the chord changes themselves are also unusual. Around bar 8, you will feel like it's coming back to the top of the form, but it's not! It's important to really be on your game with this one.
To complicate things a bit further, the tune goes into double-time for the solos. To be sure, I'm not saying double-time feel, I mean actual double time. Each chord lasts half the time of its actual written value. This, of course, depends on the band and/or players, but it's important to be aware of the possibility.
Listening to the original album should clear things up. Be extra careful and practice it for a while before calling this tune at jam session. Get a hold of the chord changes first!
Blue in Green: Comping Ideas
In this chart, we've provided some shapes that you can use to comp for this tune. Since this is such a moody ballad, it's important not to play too much rhythmically driven content here. Try to think of textures more than anything else.
Blue in Green: Chord Melody
Once again, as this is a ballad, there is going to be a lot of space for exploration. The chord melody provided here is a very simple melody + chords type of thing. Be sure to explore different things you can do to fill in the gaps without going overboard.
Blue in Green: Single-Note Solo
The harmony for this tune is unusual and deceptively difficult. For the majority of the tune, we are thinking of each chord as its own sound to be treated independently. There are moments of functional harmony, but it all doesn't move around "logically."
Blue in Green: Backing Track
Here's a nice little backing track for you to practice some of the material covered here!
Blue in Green: Chord Reference Sheet
Along with everything else, we have provided an easy-to-read chord reference sheet to give you some ideas for comping as well as your own solo guitar playing!
-Miles Davis' Kind of Blue album released in 1959. This album launched the "modal" era of jazz and its accessibility has made it the highest-selling jazz album of all time.
-Bill Evans' Blue in Green: The Concert in Canada album recorded in 1974. Evans really lets you have it here with his wonderful texturally rich approach that we have all come to know and love.
-Gretchen Parlato's The Lost and Found album released in 2011. This version is a bit more "up", giving it kind of a jazz-rock sort of groove. I'd never heard this tune sung until I heard this version and boy am I glad I did!
-Pat Martino's Live at Yoshi's album released in 2001. I really like this take. First, because it's a guitarist's rendition! It's also got the wonderful Joey DeFrancesco playing organ, which I love.
Marc-Andre Seguin is the webmaster, mastermind and teacher on JazzGuitarLessons.net, the #1 online resource for learning how to play jazz guitar. He draws from his experience both as a professional jazz guitarist and professional jazz teacher to help thousands of people from all around the world learn the craft of jazz guitar.
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