“Coltrane, Wes & the Power of 5ths”

If like most of us you first learned to play rock and blues on guitar, I’m sure you have spent considerable time playing perfect 5ths all over the neck. Yes…I’m talking about those infamous power chords. Fortunately, there is so much more that we can do with 5ths, and way cooler too! So read on…

In this video lesson, I teach you some patterns using consecutive perfect 5ths to modulate “outside” the changes and resolve back in. All of this within the context of a II-V-I. And just in case you’re wondering, this is not the “side slipping” concept that you frequently encounter in most lessons on playing “outside” of the changes.

The 2 concepts in 5ths I demonstrate in this lesson are inspired by John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” cycle and Wes Montgomery’s intro to “Four on Six”. These patterns are formulaic in nature and can be inserted anywhere within a progression to create a stronger sense of not only “tension and release”, but also added motion. They definitely add a modern post-bop sound to any phrase…

So, “what if I’m not ready for this ‘outside’ stuff?”, you might ask… “I can barely improvise ‘inside’ the changes!”. Well if that’s the case, the honest truth is that you probably won’t be able to incorporate this into your playing anytime soon. Nonetheless, it is still a great exercise that you can use to master the technique of playing consecutive perfect 5ths (ascending and descending), while modulating through different keys all over the fretboard. It is guaranteed to build up your chops! ¬†Actually, several great musicians (eg. John Coltrane, Allan Holdsworth) first practiced similar exercises for some time before adapting them into their solos.

I know this stuff may sound intimidating. But before you decide to write this stuff off, watch the video and listen to how cool this concept sounds! Whether you are a rookie or advanced jazz guitarist, I’m sure you’ll learn a lot…

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How to Solo over Rhythm Changes using Pentatonics- Part 2

The Giant Steps Turnaround

3 Turnarounds from Giant Steps by Mike Stern


  1. Jonathan Bowerman

    Ok, cool sound. Can you show me an example of it on a jazz blues turnaround, as I would like to employ it on the V, IV, I portion.

    • Richie Zellon

      Sorry, due to space limitations, lack of notation resources and time constraints, I can’t do a lesson here, but you are welcome to book a lesson anytime.

  2. Richie Zellon

    Yes, it’s below the video where it says “Download Lesson PDF.

  3. Ryan McMurray

    Is the PDF for these lines available? Thanks!

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