This tune is a 12-bar blues in the call-and-response vein and, instead of a slow blues, we’ve got a more up-tempo groove, in the jump blues vein. Jump blues was (and still is) an ensemble style, popularized initially by the likes of T-Bone Walker and Louis Jordan, so it’s both challenging and fun to try and channel this sound in a solo fingerstyle context. To do so, we’re using a steady bass to hold things down, and answering a series of triplet- and eighth note-based licks with repeating 13th-chord figures on top.

This kind of half-stepping into the chords happens all over the blues, at various tempos, and the compact three-note 13th chord voicings we’re using here pack a lot of sound into just a few notes. If you’ve never encountered them before, it may take a little practice before you can just grab them quickly, but they don’t use any more fingers than any open chord you know. That’s what I tell myself, at least, when I run into some weird new voicing that’s giving me fits.

To help strengthen your feel for both the melody and the groove, try playing through the tune a couple of different ways. You can leave out the melody, and just concentrate on where the chord hits fall over the steady bass. Then, forget about the chord hits, and just play through the melody, taking care to still place each lick in its rightful spot in the progression. This way of isolating the elements of a tune can actually be more challenging that playing it intact, but it’s a great step to take once you’re ready to start varying the original tune yourself.

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