Dealey's Dixieland Diddy

That hot jazz jam is a great sound from the early days. It is a fun time in a group scenario. Read on to learn a secret to that hot swinging sound - then go share that secret with your buddies. Some secret, eh?

Ultimate Guitar
That hot jazz jam is a great sound from the early days. It's a great jam in the group scenario, and the rhythm is even fun all by yourself. Best of all, it's just another way of playing I-IV-V; so it's really something we already know instinctively. The magic is all in that bouncing rhythm created from the alternating bass technique, and feeling the swing of the dance while you bob your head.

This jam is based around a variant of the 6/9 chord, D. However, if you look at the shape of it, your muscles might recognize it from another angle. Begin planting your hand on the fretboard by making the A minor shape (only up two frets), and after planting that, use your pinky to bounce back and forth on the lowest two strings at the fifth fret. If your pinky finger is big enough, you can fret both, low E and A, strings at the same time.

This is what it sounds like: Audio Example 1 - D 6-9 (no 3).

This style of jam calls for a bit of pep, so introducing an alternating bass rhythm to the chord, and while palm muting, it will really jazz up.

Audio Example 2 - Swing Rhythm.

When the chord above is played with a hot swing rhythm, it makes a different flavor, one which plays on the fact this chord is heavily influenced by its companion chord, Bmin7, which would put us in D major territory. However, because we are not playing the third interval in the D chord, we could also begin to hear it as D minor territory.

No third interval means that we can swing in all directions, major or minor.

If have a jam buddy, one guy solos over the chords using B minor pentatonic licks. Then you switch while the other guy solos over the chords using D minor pentatonic licks. Changing the soloists in this fashion, creates a positive melodic movement without changing the core rhythm and bass. The rhythm is always treading water, and the lead is drifting away in all directions, tethered loosely with a long rope. The farther away the lead drifts from the rhythm, the harder it is to wind the rope all the way back in, unless one uses melodic gravity to stabilize the orbit, reign it in and create a sonic relationship resembling the one between the Earth and the moon. Pentatonics are very good at this task, and so is the 6/9 chord. Working together, they will stop us from hearing the dark side of the moon. Or, we could all decide to stop listening to classic rock radio repeats. There are plenty of other songs, from sixties through the eighties, which are also very awesome and we haven't heard them seventeen times today. Oh terrestrial radio, you aging dinosaur refusing to evolve, how you've squandered your once mighty power.

Audio Example 3 - Progression 1.

When comfortable with the rhythm and muscle memory behind the first chord, refer to the audio example above and train your hands how to flow the last two chords over the last two beats of the first row in the image above.

Then after gaining confidence with those new movements, take it on down to the IV. Maintain the same flow already built, but this time instead of three chords, it is two chords. Refer to the second row of chords in the image above.

Now loop the whole thing. Stay tuned for next time when we'll turn it around and bring the whole thing home.

Happy jamming!

About the Author:
Dealey is a Vancouver, Canada based guitarist, songwriter, recording engineer and producer. He is the author of the forthcoming independent book, The Relative Nature of Chords: A Street-Smart Field Guide for Guitar. Watch for exclusive excerpts on Ultimate-Guitar! You can support his ventures by buying his music here or talk to him about collaborating on your project by email.

2 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Hey, but if we're fretting the 4th fret D string when playing the D 6/9 chord, then we ARE playing the 3rd interval for the D Major Scale, surely?