Canadian Musician


Hal Rodriguez

Mike Stern’s Chromatic Lick

Mike Stern at Humber 2014

I had the pleasure of seeing Mike Stern perform at Humber College last night with three very talented student jazz ensembles. Mike played amazingly as usual, mixing blues and bebop licks fluidly and building each of his solos to an exciting frenzy. Here’s another lick I’ve transcribed from his tune “AJ” on All Over The Place that demonstrates the kind of chromatic freedom that permeates his improvisations. Mike has admitted to transcribing tons of solos from horn players like Charlie Parker and advises lifting chromatic ideas and studying with a teacher to develop this skill (for more on this, check out the following video interview by GuitarThaiOnline:

Mike Stern Chromatic Lick Jazz Guitar

On my own practice time, I try to break down long complex lines into smaller fragments that are easier to work on. For example, I’m currently practicing the first two beats in bar 1 above and trying to connect it to my existing licks over C7. I find that chromatic licks like these can add a fun element of surprise to solos and keep things interesting! For more on Mike Stern and where he’s playing next, visit his official website and purchase All Over The Place on iTunes. Want to see a certain topic or lesson covered on this blog? Send a me a message at

Hal Rodriguez is a Toronto based musician, transcriber, teacher, and published writer. For Skype lessons and transcription services, he can be contacted at You can also follow him on Twitter @halwit, on, and at

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