"Hop, Skip and Jump" - Bennie Green
The blues is more than just the blues form. Beyond the dozen bars, the use of pentatonic scales, both minor and major, provides the melodic foundation for the American songbook. In fact, the popular “Rhythm” changes used in this tune could be thought of simply as an expanded version of the blues form, with the first eight bars essentially the same while the bridge is just an elongated turnaround.
Thus, improvising over the “Rhythm” changes doesn’t have to be any more complicated than the major tonic or the blues scale, as demonstrated in this recording. Alternatively, the changes can also be reduced to a repeating I-ii harmony that can provide a basic shape to any melody. During the bridge, the improvised melody simply walks down the scale of its borrowed harmonies. Try as much as you want to complicate it, but Bennie Green proves how simple and effective the blues can be in any form.
Here is where I usually include a YouTube video example for reference, however there isn’t much existing footage of Bennie Green in general. Perhaps with enough Patreon support, I could create a video of myself working this tune. *cough, cough*
Recommended reading: “Bennie Green: An Appreciation” by Gordon Jack, as appears on Jazz Profiles