Composed by Miles Davis
Solar is one of the tunes that jazz musicians call the most at jam sessions. It was written in 1954 and written on the album “Walkin'”, this one is definitely one of the first 20 or so tunes that any jazz musician should learn.
All of the greats have played this tune many times over the years in different time signatures and grooves, including everyone from Lee Konitz to Brad Mehldau.
The Nuts and Bolts
Be sure not to let the simple 12-bar form for this one fool you. It begins on C minor, then goes to a ii-V to F major. Then, that F major becomes the F minor for a ii-V in Eb, and so on. This continues until we get to Db major and, finally, there is another minor ii-V back to C minor.
This sort of thing where keys descend like this happens in quite a few standards, including “How High the Moon,” “Recordame,” “Afternoon in Paris,” and more, so make sure you are able to handle it!
Solar: Comping Ideas
Here are some very basic shapes that you can use to begin comping over Solar. Be sure to take these into the different sets of strings and all over the neck.
Solar: Comping Etude
As this is one of the more fast-paced tunes, we won’t be making a chord melody for this one. Instead, we’ve provided a comping etude with walking bass for you!
Solar: Single-Note Solo
I took some liberties with this one and added a few touches of “outside” playing. I think this is one of the more advanced single-note solos in our standards library. Take your time!
Solar: Backing Track
If you’d like to download the backing track, you can do so here.
Solar: Chord Reference Sheet
As always, we’ve included a chord reference sheet with some voicings using extensions for you to further your comping ability over this tune.
Please find Podcast #8 on JazzGuitarLessons.net for a complete harmonic analysis and some ideas on blowing this tune.
-Miles Davis’ Walkin’ collection of recordings from 1954-1957. This is a great reference for the tune as it is the original.
-Bill Evans’ Solar album released in 1960. Here is a swingin’ and wonderfully melodic version by none other than Bill Evans.
-Pat Metheny’s Question and Answer album released in 1989. A great jazz guitar take on this classic with Pat’s unmistakable tone and approach.
-Brad Mehldau’s Art of the Trio Vol. 4 released in 1999. This has to be my personal favorite take on this tune. Mehldau is just in a class of his own.
Marc-Andre Seguin is the webmaster, “brains behind” 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.