If you're a jazzer, you're probably thinking, "what can some country player teach me about improvisation?"
A lot. Here's a couple of things to start. Firstly, working within the confines of just two chords (not even a IV chord?!), Pete Anderson, the guitar player, manages to wring out a beautifully phrased, perfectly formed Country solo. The strength of the solo relies on two things-- the simplicity of the idea that he works with and repeats throughout (see bar 3 of the transcription for his basic idea) but even more importantly, it's the articulation of this idea.
In my transcription, I have a basic harmonic analysis of what Pete's doing as it's good information for structuring your own solos, but it doesn't even begin to approach what he's doing here. Pay attention when listening to his attack and phrasing, how he bends these notes and uses pull-offs to shape the lines rhythmically. That's how you make Pentatonics sound like music.
If somebody put this chart in front of you and you played the notes in perfect time, like the way a computer would read it down, without bends, without the slurs and pull-offs I guarantee you'd think it was a terrible solo. Too square, too obvious, too simple-- boring. But the way Pete articulates these simple lines is what gives the solo life. His phrasing is killing. He swings.
That's something to remember in your playing. A lot of times we think we'll be saved if our ideas or lines or chords are complex and hard to play. Surely everyone recognizes how hard it is to play that Pentatonic stuff you've been shedding for the past couple of weeks. How come no one's banging down your door? Cause it's how you say it that matters.
Some of Miles Davis' greatest solos were basic modal lines full of whole and half notes. Very easy to play, but the magic was in the phrasing and articulation.
Check out Pete's swinging solo in the video. It starts at around :53. The transcription and analysis is below and I'll have the second solo transcribed for next week.
Click on chart for full-size