All Levels


iOS Apps by justinguitar

The JustinGuitar Store


Buying things through the links below cost you no more but contribute a little to the site! Thanks, J.


Justinguitar - Free Guitar Lessons

Blue Bossa (Jazz Standard)

The Jazz Guitar Lessons

"Rhythm Changes" are the chord behind George Gershwin's jazz standard "I Got Rhythm" but the chord changes were so popular with Be-Bop players that they started writing their own heads (melodies) over the same chords and making thier own songs.

I personally find Rhythm Changes a 'roast', meaning very difficult, which is partly why I'm writing this now... I'm working on it myself and a great way of clarifying it in your mind is to explain it to someone else (which is why I recommend teaching to all students!).

Very interesting article on NPR about the evolution of rhythm changes here.

There are loads of approaches to this tune, so I'm going to try to tackle some of them in this mini series!

Stage 1. Listening

Before starting work on the song, you rneed to listen to a few versions, particularly vocal versions, I think listening to one with a lyric really helps you understand the phrasing of the melody. Of course some songs don't have words, and you should check out instrumental versions as well!

Check out how they all vary the melody a bit, and remember when you play it you don't have to play it 'exactly as the book says', in fact if you do, you are missing the point!

Vocal Versions:
George Gershwin - the one that started it all! Never sounds like the mother of all sheddin' ;)
Ella Fitzgerald - what a voice! And you can hear how different version this is!

Instrumental Versions - same chords, different melodies:
Martin Taylor - incredible fingerstyle solo version with melody, chords and bass at the same time!
Django Reinhardt - the gypsy legend tears it up over rhythm changes

Instrumental Versions - same chords, different melodies:
Charlie Parker - Dexterity (1947) - one of his own melodies based on Rhythm Changes
Charlie Parker - Mooch The Mooch
Charlie Parker - Anthropology
Johnny Smith - Tired Blood - some other stuff going on here, my fave jazzer playing on the rhythm..
Thelonious Monk - Rhythm-A-Ning (1962) - anothercreative use of rhythm changes, getting modern!

There are HUNDREDS more songs on rhythm changes and millions of versions, so look around, google is your friend ;)

In the following lessons we'll be looking at

JA-591 • Rhythm Changes - Chords
There are a lot of ways of looking at this, we'll explore some of them here!

JA-592 • Rhythm Changes - Melody
We'll explore the classic Gershwin melody and some common variations.

JA-593 • Rhythm Changes - Harmonic Analysis
We'll cover a lot in the chords as well, but we'll get some more ideas going on here to explore!

JA-594 • Rhythm Changes - Harmonic Concepts for solos
Because of the nature of this, it's worth exploring how the changes work and ways to navigate them.

JA-595 • Rhythm Changes - Licks




You'll find the chart for this tune in both of these Real Books!

Real Book 1

The Real Book Vol. 1 in C

This is the "real" real book. The original one, well not quite, it's the slightly newer version that the one 'everyone uses' which is the 5th edition - but this one is LOADS better, seriously, loads better. I bought this 6th Edition after starting this course and wish I'd bought it sooner!

Buy at
Buy at

New Real Book

The New Real Book in C

This is a "new" edition with lyrics and more modern jazz classics and fusion tunes - compliments the above real book, both are recommended.

Buy at
Buy at






Lesson ID: JA-540